Campus Expansion

New facilities will expand student opportunities and programs

January 19, 2017

‘Iolani School announces its campus expansion to include the development of new classrooms, studios and labs for the Lower School, as well as the construction of a dormitory to restore the school’s boarding program. The vision represents the culmination of a multiyear strategic planning process – a collaborative effort that included direction from the school’s Board of Governors, faculty and administration. G70 is the lead architecture firm on the project.

According to Dr. Timothy R. Cottrell, ‘Iolani’s head of school, “‘Iolani’s Strategic Plan articulates a commitment to creating leading-edge facilities and programs that enable students to develop their unique talents and skills. The Campus Expansion is a further realization of this commitment. This expansion will also allow us to accept 24 more students at kindergarten, therefore giving more local students an opportunity for an ‘Iolani education.”

Lower School Improvements

‘Iolani’s new Lower School facilities will include an expansive and dedicated Kindergarten-First Grade (K-1) Community. The design features 10 classrooms in five buildings that uniquely blend outdoor learning spaces with indoor instructional areas. Each classroom opens onto the center of the community and a large natural playground. Nature will be welcomed indoors with elements such as gardens and tree house reading spaces built inside of classrooms. The K-1 Community will be a unique blend of nature and man-made elements where creativity, imagination and curiosity thrive.

Teaching space within the new K-1 Community will more than double the current available learning area per student in ‘Iolani’s kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. With larger classrooms reducing density and encouraging growth, teachers and students will interact in a flexible environment that adapts to their needs, and allows seamless co-teaching and co-learning. Interior spaces – configurable for both individual study and group collaboration – will support multidisciplinary learning and allow educational programs to evolve and keep pace with our ever-changing world.

Construction is planned to begin on the K-1 Community in 2017 and will comprise:

  • Five free-standing buildings, each containing two classrooms that more than double the teaching space of the current K-1 classrooms
  • Exceptional student-to-teacher ratios: 12:1 for Kindergarten and 16:1 for First Grade
  • A park-like natural playground encircled by winding covered walkways that connect the five buildings
  • Shared space and inspiring learning areas, such as indoor tree houses serving as reading nooks, indoor gardens and private lanai behind each building
  • Space for an additional 24 kindergarten students – bringing ‘Iolani School’s kindergarten classes to 96 students overall

“We are very excited that our new K-1 Community will enable approximately 30 percent more local students to enter ‘Iolani in kindergarten – the entry point of greatest demand – and experience the nurturing, small school atmosphere and intimate learning environment for which the school is known,” said Jenai S. Wall, chair of ‘Iolani School’s Board of Governors.

“‘Iolani has long recognized the critical role early childhood experiences play in establishing a foundation for lifelong learning. That our new K-1 Community will allow more local children to benefit from the school’s commitment to building self-confidence while providing a strong foundation of educational excellence at a very young age is especially meaningful to us,” adds Wall.

There will also be two new buildings constructed to serve the entire Lower School community. These buildings will include learning labs and studios, which will be connected by a shared performance space.

Highlights of these Lab/Studio Buildings include:

  • High-tech science labs
  • State-of-the-art maker space and technology center
  • Religion education classroom
  • Flexible workshop spaces for English and mathematics excellence
  • State-of-the-art dance and music studios

“Whether it’s project-based learning, hands-on experiments, digital production or live performance, the new Lower School Labs and Studios will give children in the entire Lower School access to unique spaces that incubate creativity, collaboration and cross-disciplinary learning,” Cottrell said.

Reviving the Boarding School Tradition

In 2017, ‘Iolani will also break ground on an on-campus residence for local, domestic and international students. The completed building will house 112 students in grades 9-12 and will be built where the current head of school residence is located.

Reinstallation of the school’s residential program will also address one of the goals of the Strategic Plan:

“To create meaningful, sustainable and reciprocal global relationships that stimulate the exchange of ideas, foster a deeper cultural awareness, and build students’ desire to improve the world around them.”

All ‘Iolani students will benefit from an ability to communicate with – and appreciate the perspectives of – people who come from a wide range of different backgrounds and traditions. ‘Iolani has set a goal for all students to develop the skills to be successful leaders in the competitive global marketplace, while also having the empathy necessary to act effectively in the cause of helping others on an international scale.

“‘Iolani’s residential program will house local, international and mainland students with diverse backgrounds and experiences,” Cottrell said. “An education that includes cross-cultural experiences for all ‘Iolani students will build truly meaningful and relevant competencies for their future careers.”

‘Iolani was originally founded by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma as a boarding school and housed students from around the world from 1862 through 1959. Currently, more than 50 international students attend ‘Iolani. The school’s most famous alumnus, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was a boarding student who graduated in 1882.

“As one of the nation’s premier independent schools, we believe offering a boarding option presents an opportunity for O‘ahu to be positioned as a premier destination for a top college preparatory school education,” Cottrell added. “‘Iolani’s boarding program marks a significant step in establishing this reputation around the world.”

Campus Expansion and Enhancement -- Questions & Answers

Board of Governors commitments with regard to this project:

  • 'Iolani will not increase tuition to pay for this campus expansion. Tuition increases will occur as they normally do but will not be related to any of the projects we are undertaking.
  • The endowment will not be used to fund these projects. It may be used to secure financing, if necessary.
  • The school is proud to offer more than $4.5 million in financial aid each year. Aid will continue to increase annually as it has historically.
  • 'Iolani School will remain committed to small class sizes and low student-teacher ratios. Our student-centered approach toward learning promises that at 'Iolani, “you are known.” In fact, in some grades the low student-teacher ratios will decrease further with campus expansion and enhancements.

What changes are being made to the campus?

  • Construction is tentatively planned to begin in 2017 on a new K-1 (Kindergarten / First Grade) Community. The K-1 Community will be comprised of ten new classrooms in five buildings centered around a natural playground. Two buildings will also be added, which will benefit the entire Lower School (grades K-6). These Lower School Labs and Studios will include new science labs, an innovation and technology center, religion classroom, reading center, as well as dance and music studios. This campus expansion will allow `Iolani to accept an additional section of kindergarten, 24 more students, and also reduce class sizes (12:1 in kindergarten and 16:1 in first grade).
  • Also planned to begin construction in 2017, a residence hall for Upper School (high school) students will be constructed to provide boarding opportunities for local, domestic and international students in grades 9-12. This is a reinstatement of 'Iolani's boarding program which has been an important part of the school's history.
  • Further development of the Date / La'au property will happen in the future, but has yet to be formalized. Discussion includes a new student center, parking garage and performing arts center.

What impact will the Lower School developments and the addition of a boarding program have on the academic, social and cultural environment on campus?

  • The campus expansion and enhancement will allow us to realize the mission of the strategic plan to create exceptional 21st century educational spaces and to provide all 'Iolani students with a more globally connected educational experience. This is an important part of preparing students for the future and will help with global connections for our state.

When will the new facilities be available?

  • Timing is still dependent upon permitting and other processes. We will keep you posted on the progress and anticipated opening of each of these facilities.

Will the number of students admitted at kindergarten be increased?

  • Yes, an additional section of 24 students will be added at the kindergarten entry point. This will increase the number of students admitted from 72 to 96. This will also result in more than 300 additional students given access to an 'Iolani education over the next 13 years.

Will the addition of more students at kindergarten change the number of students admitted at the school’s other entry points (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th)?

  • No, the school will admit the same number of students at all other entry points as it does currently.

How many students will be added to the Upper School as a result of the boarding program?

  • In the first year, the Upper School student population will increase by up to 84 (grades 9, 10 and 11) and the following year it will grow by another 28 to its full capacity of 112 students.
  • 'Iolani will also remain committed to small class sizes in the Upper School with this expansion. With the addition of the Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadership, dozens of new courses were added to the catalog, creating space for expansion without growing class sizes.
  • Boarding students will be "in addition" to regular acceptance totals at the high school entry points. These students will not be taking spaces away from other applicants. Boarding students must also be proficient in the English language and pass the same entry exams and protocol as other students.

Where did the idea to reinstitute a boarding program come from? What does the school hope to achieve by embarking on a residential program?

  • The initiative came directly from the strategic plan. One of the key areas of the plan is a Global Classroom experience for all `Iolani students to “create meaningful, sustainable, and reciprocal global relationships that stimulate the exchange of ideas, foster a deeper cultural awareness, and build students’ desire to improve the world around them.”
  • There are currently more than 50 international students who are living with family members or friends off campus and attending 'Iolani School.
  • This is an exceptional opportunity for our students to develop meaningful, lasting relationships with students from other cultures and countries. This is a crucial part of preparing them to be world leaders for the future.