Damien school looks to a bright future

Damien Memorial School was looking at a dim future just a few short years ago.

School president Bernard Ho said “two-and-a-half years ago, we were at an enrollment of about 360 students. Right now, we have a solid registration enrollment of about 660.”

That number represents an 80 percent growth in enrollment. Ho attributes that to the decision to make the school co-educational.

It wasn’t a popular decision at the time and Ho acknowledged that “change is always very difficult. We’ve been traditionally an all-male school. We’ve done a great job, but on the other hand, part of the argument was, since we’ve done a great job for 50 years, why not translate that into a great co-educational school?”

The school is located in Kalihi. Many of the students’ families are financially challenged. Still, those students move ahead to higher education.

“About 95 percent of our students on average attend post-high school education and many of them are fortunate enough to get into major universities, because they’re very needy students.”

Half of last year’s graduates earned scholarships valued at more than $4 million over four years.

Ho has big plans for the campus, such as a new multi-purpose building, a new music building, and refurbishing the track and field program. He said other private schools are looking at the Damien model in planning for the future.

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