Island School began in 1977 in Kealia, on the east side of Kauai, in an old plantation store built in 1919. It was the dream of seven women who wanted an alternative to the public schools on Kauaʻi. From 1977-1983, Island School was a kindergarten through 12th grade institution. The high school was discontinued in 1983, and taught only up until the 8th grade. In 1997, the high school was reinstated, and graduated their first class in 2000.
In 1989, the American Factors, Inc., (AMFAC) agreed to donate 10 acres in Puhi to Island School, which remains the present location. Construction of the present-day elementary classrooms began in 1990 and thus, in addition to a generous donation of two large buildings by Hawaiian Dredging which now house the Main Office and Main Hall, Island School’s current campus was created. The new campus opened in September of 1991 with a total of 123 students enrolled from kindergarten through 12th grade.
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki hit. Roofs of classroom buildings were either entirely gone or severely damaged. Eleven days after the hurricane, Island School was rebuilt and reopened. Grades kindergarten through three remained at Puhi, but grades four through eight used facilities generously made available at Kahili Adventist School. By early December, all students were able to return to Island School’s Puhi campus.
In March of 1992, additional classroom buildings were moved to campus through the Federal Emergency Management Administration. At the same time, construction of three new classrooms for grades six through eight began. By the fall of 1993, all was in order, with old facilities repaired and new ones completed.
In 1996, expansion continued with the Weinberg Enrichment Center, which was constructed as a gift from the Weinberg Foundation and the Purdy Hall in 1998. During this time, the Board of Directors voted to restart the high school, and ninth grade was added in 1996-97, followed by tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades each year after that. The Board of Directors again entered into discussions with AMFAC, this time about land immediately adjacent to the campus. This led to the purchase of twenty additional acres in the spring of 2000; half of this acreage has become soccer fields and a grass track.
In 2000, 18 students graduated from Island School’s High School. Since 2000, Island School has graduated over 500 students, almost 100% of whom have attended four-year colleges, and many have matriculated at some of the highest ranking research universities and liberal arts colleges in the nation. The class of 2022 graduated 42 students, double the entire student body during Island School’s first few years in Kealia.