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Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani Middle School principal on educating students in a historic space

Central middle school princess ruth keelikolani middle department of health
Department of Education
Central Middle School has been restored to its former name honoring Princess Ruth Keanolani Kanāhoahoa Keʻelikōlani.

Central Middle School recently changed its name back to Keʻelikōlani in honor of Princess Ruth, who the campus was first named for. It came on what would have been her 196th birthday.

But while the campus sports a new sign, an old name on the facade won’t come down because the building is a historic structure. There is a new colorful mural gracing a wall on one of the newer buildings in a nod to the aliʻi connection — which school principal Joe Passantino aims to re-establish a sense of pride among students. Believe it or not, the school has changed names about half a dozen times.

This interview aired on The Conversation on March 21, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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