ʻAiea is centrally located, on the island of Oʻahu near Pearl Harbor, approximately 9 miles from Honolulu. ʻAiea, a cultural plant which grows up to 30 feet tall and has greenish, yellow flowers, once dominated the ahupua’a (land division) now known as ʻAiea. The flowers of the ʻAiea were once used to make beautiful leis. The ʻAiea ahupuaʻa stretches from the area now known as Pearl Harbor to the mountains high above where the school now stands. At the end of the 19th century, the Honolulu Plantation Company opened a sugarcane plantation within the district. However, after World War II, the plantation shut down its operations and the mill was converted into a sugar refinery. In 1996, when C&H closed, so did the operations at the ʻAiea sugar refinery mill. ʻAiea has since become a thriving community with many small businesses, Aloha Stadium, home to the University of Hawaiʻi Warrior Football team, Pearl Harbor, many shopping centers, and home to many residents.
Overlooking historic Pearl Harbor, ʻAiea High School (AHS), home of the Nā ʻAliʻi opened its doors in 1961. ʻAiea is a community of approximately 41,000 residents. The school currently services approximately 1,000 students on 15 acres of land in a diverse community, including children representing many ethnic groups. ʻAiea High is one of six high schools in the Central Oahu District of the Department of Education and a part of the ʻAiea Complex. Five elementary schools and one intermediate school feed into AHS.
Students come from a range of housing options including several prosperous neighborhoods with multi-million dollar homes, to Puʻu Wai Momi, a low income housing project owned and managed by the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority. ʻAiea High School is ethnically diverse. Filipino, Hawaiian or Part-Hawaiian, and Japanese students comprise about 62% of the school’s population. Approximately 50% of the students attending ʻAiea High School participate in the Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program. Additionally, 12% of students receive support through the Special Education program and 6% of students receive English Learner (EL) support.
Formerly a thriving sugar plantation community, ʻAiea has a rich history with Hawaiʻi’s agriculture. Since the shutdown of the sugar mill in 1996, ʻAiea has become a hub for many other opportunities, including small and family-run businesses. ʻAiea is also home to Pali Momi Medical Center, the new Pali Momi Women’s Center, and many independent medical and dental offices.
Overall, ʻAiea is not a transient community with many families remaining in the ʻAiea area, with multiple generations living in the same house. There is also no new large scale property development going on in the community, so for now, the number of available new homes is limited. As a result, the median age of the community is higher at 42.4 years, than the 38.6 year median age of the state. Our school community also has only 15.8% of the community who are of school age as compared to 18.4% in the state.
It should also be noted that 50% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch, which is higher than the state average; however, the median household income for our community is over $80,700, compared to the state’s median household income of about $66,400. This illustrates the diversity of our community, which includes a state low-income housing community, and at the other extreme, the multi-million dollar homes of Royal Summit. In conjunction when considering our student population, we need to be aware of the different situations our students may face at home.