Private Schools In Hawaii: Grades PreK-12

NOTE: If you’re interested in finding a private school for a child age 15 months-6 years, I recommend also reading my post Preschools In Hawaii.

In 2009, average test scores in reading, math, and science for 4th- and 8th-grade students enrolled in Hawaii’s public schools were all below the national average. Because of their dissatisfaction with the quality of education in the state’s public schools, many parents in Hawaii choose to send their children to private schools or homeschool their children. In fact, 17% of Hawaii’s schoolchildren attend private schools (the national average is 11%).


Competing For Admission

Hawaii has some of the largest and wealthiest private schools in the nation. The most prestigious “Big Three” are:

  • Punahou School – Grades K-12. The largest single-campus private school in the U.S., with more than 3,750 students. Among its most famous alumni are President Obama and AOL founder Steve Case. Located in the Makiki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $18,450.
  • Iolani School – Grades K-12. Punahou’s biggest rival, but with a smaller student population (around 1,800 students). Affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Located in the McCully area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $16,900.
  • Kamehameha Schools – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). NOTE: All of its 6,500 students are of Hawaiian ancestry, due to the school’s admission policy. Its preschool program is NAEYC-accredited and was named one of “Hawaii’s Best” preschools for 2010 by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Affiliated with the Protestant Church. Preschools located throughout the state. Grades K-12 located in the Kalihi area of Honolulu; Pukalani, Maui; and Kea’au, Big Island. Annual tuition: $1,670-2,100 for preschool, depending on campus location; $2,971-6,946 for grades K-12, depending on campus location, grade level, and boarding vs. non-boarding.

Parents who want to get their children into these three schools face fierce competition. Tutoring agencies have sprung up all over Hawaii that prepare children — as young as preschoolers — for entrance tests into the state’s most sought-after private schools. These tutoring agencies include:

  • Dr. Takahashi Juku (formerly Kyoiku Juku) (Honolulu)
  • Kumon Learning Centers (Oahu & Maui)
  • Kupono Learning Center (Honolulu)
  • Learning Unlimited (Honolulu)
  • Shichida Hawaii Education Centers (Makiki, Honolulu; Hawaii Kai, Honolulu & Aiea, Oahu)
  • Sylvan Learning (Honolulu & Mililani, Oahu)
  • Wiz Kids Learning Centers (Honolulu & Pearl City, Oahu)

Punahou and Iolani have publicly stated that they are strongly against tutoring preschoolers, and instead recommend that parents spend more quality time with their children to enrich their minds and prepare them for school.

‘Feeder’ Schools In Hawaii

Another tactic some parents use to help their children get into Hawaii’s top private schools is sending their children to a “feeder” school first. Although Hawaii’s private schools insist there is no such thing as “feeder schools,” rumors persist that students who attend certain schools in earlier grade levels have a better chance of being accepted into Hawaii’s most sought-after private schools for later grade levels. This concept of feeder schools starts as early as preschool. It is not uncommon for rumored feeder preschools to have waiting lists 1-2 years long.

A feeder school doesn’t necessarily have to be a private school. This Hawaii News Now article points out that families who are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a top-rated public elementary school (or are able to get a district exemption in order to attend one of these schools outside of their neighborhood) can save a lot of money by waiting until middle school to send their children to private school. Because these public elementary schools have such good reputations, they are rumored to be feeder schools for prestigious private junior high and senior high schools.

These top-rated public elementary schools mentioned in the article are:

  • Aina Haina School (Aina Haina, Honolulu) – Grades K-5.
  • Ma’ema’e Elementary (Nu’uanu Valley, Honolulu) – Grades K-5.
  • Noelani Elementary (Manoa, Honolulu) – Grades K-5.
  • Nu’uanu Elementary (Nu’uanu Valley, Honolulu) – Grades K-5.
  • Momilani Elementary (Pearl City, Oahu) – Grades K-6.

To see more top-rated public elementary schools in Hawaii, check out Honolulu Magazine’s Grading the Public Schools chart.

Other Reputable Private Schools In Hawaii

In addition to the aforementioned “Big Three,” there are many other high-quality private schools to choose from in Hawaii. The list below is not comprehensive, and is based on my best knowledge and research.

With the exception of Horizons Academy on Maui, I did not include any schools covering grades 9-12 that aren’t accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC), as graduates from these unaccredited schools can have a difficult time getting accepted into some colleges and universities.

Please note that some of these schools offer tuition assistance, thanks to donations from nonprofits, foundations, and individuals.

Honolulu | Other Oahu Locations | Big Island | Kauai | Maui

Honolulu

  • Academy of the Pacific (Alewa) – Grades 6-12. Curriculum is project-based, average class size is 8 students. Located in the Alewa area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $16,800.
  • Assets School (Hickam/Salt Lake) – Grades K-12. Specializes in teaching gifted and dyslexic students. Located in the Hickam/Salt Lake area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $17,450-21,200, depending on the grade level. (To find more resources in Hawaii for special needs children, visit Special Parent Information Network.)
  • Damien Memorial School (Kalihi) – Grades 6-12. Currently an all-boys school, but will start accepting girls in the fall of 2012. Affiliated with the Catholic Church. Located in the Kalihi area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $9,775 for grades 6-8; $11,525 for grades 9-12.
  • Hanahau’oli School (Makiki) – Grades PreK-6 (starting at age 4 years). The preschool (junior kindergarten) and 6th grade are self-contained classrooms, while grades K-5 are taught in multi-age classrooms. Located in the Makiki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $17,580. Financial aid available.
  • Hawaii Baptist Academy (Nu’uanu) – Grades K-12. Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church. Located in the Nu’uanu area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $12,610.
  • Hongwanji Mission School (Nu’uanu) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Its preschool program was named one of “Hawaii’s Best” by the Honolulu Advertiser for 2006, 2008, and 2009. Incorporates the teaching of Buddhist values in its curriculum. Located in the Nu’uanu area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $9,400.
  • Honolulu Waldorf School (Niu Valley/Aina Haina) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 2.5 years). Accredited by the Assocation of Waldorf Schools of North America. Located in the Niu Valley/Aina Haina area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $7,950-12,000 for preschool-kindergarten, depending on the age and length of school day ; $12,000 for grades 1-8; $14,000 for grades 9-12.
  • Kawaiaha’o Church School (Downtown) – Ages 15 months-12 years. Uses the Montessori method, but is not accredited by the American Montessori Society. Ages 6-12 are taught in a multi-age environment. Affiliated with Kawaiaha’o Church, a Protestant Congregational church. Located in downtown Honolulu. Annual tuition: $10,921 for its toddler program; $6,711-6,968 for its PreK-5 program.
  • La Pietra: Hawaii School For Girls (Diamond Head) – Grades 6-12. All-girls school. Located in the Diamond Head area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $16,600.
  • Lutheran High School of Hawaii (Manoa) – Grades 9-12. Affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Located in the Manoa area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $10,490 (additional family members get 10% discount).
  • Maryknoll School (Makiki) – Grades K-12. Affiliated with the Catholic Church. Located in the Makiki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $12,500-13,735, depending on the grade level.
  • Mid-Pacific (“Mid-Pac”) Institute (Manoa) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Located in the Manoa area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $17,600.
  • Montessori Community School (Makiki) – Ages 2-12 years. Accredited by the American Montessori Society. Located in the Makiki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $6,597-12,690, depending on the grade level and length of school day.
  • Pacific Autism Center (Kaka’ako) – Ages birth-13. Provides Intensive Behavioral Support services for developmentally delayed infants and toddlers up to age 3 years who are referred by Hawaii’s Department of Health. Also offers a preschool and elementary school program for children ages 3-13 years with autism. Located in the Kaka’ako area of Honolulu. (To find more resources in Hawaii for special needs children, visit Special Parent Information Network.)
  • Sacred Hearts Academy (Kaimuki) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). All-girls school. Named one of “Hawaii’s Best” private schools  for 2010 by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in the Kaimuki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $8,221-11,161, depending on the grade level.
  • St. Andrew’s Priory (Downtown) – Grades K-12. All-girls school. (Sister school of Queen Emma Preschool, a co-ed NAEYC-accredited preschool in the Nu’uanu area of Honolulu.) Affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Located in downtown Honolulu. Annual tuition: $15,000.
  • St. Louis School (Kaimuki) – Grades 6-12. All-boys school. Affiliated with the Catholic Church. Located in the Kaimuki area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $11,400 for grades 6-8 and $12,200 for grades 9-12.
  • Variety School (Diamond Head) – Ages 5-13. Specializes in teaching students with learning disabilities, high-functioning autism, and attention deficit disorder. Located in the Diamond Head area of Honolulu. Annual tuition: $14,500-24,600, depending on services provided. (To find more resources in Hawaii for special needs children, visit Special Parent Information Network.)

Other Oahu Locations

  • American Renaissance Academy (Kapolei) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Private college-prep school for gifted students with an extended school day (8:30am-4:30pm) and after-school classes offered until 6:45pm. Students in grades 11-12 may enroll in the school’s College Program to earn college credit through “a prestigious private university.” Last year, American Renaissance Academy launched its School For the Performing Arts program. Tuition: $12,000 for PreK students, $11,500 for grades K-5, and $12,200 for grades 6-12.
  • The Children’s House (Pearl City) – Grades PreK-6 (starting at age 3 years).  Christian-affiliated. Located in Pearl City, Oahu. Annual tuition: $5,000-8,500 for preschool, depending on length of school day; $8,800-9,000 for grades K-6, depending on grade level.
  • Hanalani Schools (Mililani) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Christian-affiliated. Located in Mililani, Oahu. Annual tuition: $8,495 for PreK-6; $9,175 for grades 7-12. Additional family members get 10% discount.
  • Ho’ala School (Wahiawa) – Grades K-12. Located in Wahiawa, Oahu. Annual tuition: $8,887-9,528, depending on grade level.
  • Island Pacific Academy (Kapolei) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 4 years). Candidate school for the International Baccalaureate program (at all grade levels). Located in Kapolei, Oahu. Annual tuition: $12,995 for grades PreK-5; $13,995 for grades 6-8; $14,995 for grades 9-12.
  • Le Jardin Academy (Kailua) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Offers all three International Baccalaureate programs: Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme, and Diploma Programme. Located in Kailua, Oahu. Annual tuition: $9,925 for its part-time preschool program for 3-year-olds; $15,540 for junior kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Pearl City) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 2.75 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Pearl City, Oahu. Annual tuition: $5,450-$5,775, depending on the grade level.
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Ewa Beach) – Grades K-8. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Ewa Beach, Oahu. Annual tuition: $4,550.
  • Our Savior Lutheran (Aiea) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Located in Aiea, Oahu. Annual tuition: $5,600-8,200 for preschool, depending on the length of the school day; $7,080 for grades K-8. Additional family members get discount.
  • St. Ann’s Model School (Kaneohe) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kaneohe, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,075-6,525 for preschool, depending on the length of school day; $5,060 for grades 1-3; $5,010 for grades 4-8. Additional family members get discount.
  • St. Anthony School (Kailua) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kailua, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,155-7,980 for preschool, depending on the length of school day; $6,275 for grades K-8. Additional family members get $250 discount.
  • St. Elizabeth School (Aiea) – Grades K-8. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Aiea, Oahu. Annual tuition: $4,250-4,400, depending on the grade level.
  • St. John Vianney School (Kailua) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 4 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kailua, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,290 for preschool; $6,040 for grades K-8. Additional family members get discount.
  • St. Joseph School (Waipahu) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 4 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Waipahu, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,061-6,886 for preschool, depending on length of school day; $4,929 for kindergarten; $4,823 for grades 1-8. Additional family members get discount.
  • St. Mark Lutheran School (Kaneohe) – Grades K-8. Affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Located in Kaneohe, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,820 for grades K-5; $7,240 for grades 6-8. Additional family members get $350 discount.
  • St. Michael School (Waialua) – Grades PreK-8. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Waialua, Oahu. Annual tuition: $5,750 for preschool; $4,700 for grades K-8.
  • Trinity Christian School (Kailua) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Located in Kailua, Oahu. $5,200-8,500 for preschool, depending on length of school day; $8,800 for grades K-6; $10,450 for grades 7-12. Additional family members get discount.
  • Windward Nazarene Academy (Kaneohe) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with Windward Church of the Nazarene. Located in Kaneohe, Oahu. Annual tuition: $6,943 for preschool; $6,421-7,711 for grades K-8, depending on the grade level and length of school day. Additional family members get a 10% discount.

Big Island

  • Christian Liberty Academy (Kea’au) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Christian affiliation. Located in Kea’au on the Big Island. Monthly tuition: $500 for PreK-K; $375 for grades 1-6; $425 for grades 7-8; $475 for grades 9-12. Additional family members get $50 discount.
  • Hawaii Preparatory Academy (Waimea) – Grades K-12. Boarding option for grades 6-12. Located in Waimea on the Big Island. Annual tuition (for non-boarding students): $16,200 for grades K-5; $17,800 for grades 6-8; and $20,800 for grades 9-12.
  • Hualalai School (Kailua-Kona) – Grades K-12. Located in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Annual tuition: $11,860 for grades K-5 and $12,290 for grades 6-12.
  • Kona Christian Academy (Kailua-Kona) – Grades K-7. Incorporates Bible study and the teaching of Christian values in its curriculum. Located in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Annual tuition: $6,014-6,365, depending on the grade level.
  • Parker School (Kamuela) – Grades K-12. Located in Kamuela on the Big Island. Annual tuition: $11,400 for grades K-5 and $13,100 for grades 6-12.
  • St. Joseph School (Hilo) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Hilo on the Big Island. Annual tuition: $5,350 for preschool; $6,200 for grades K-6; $7,550 for grades 7-8; $8,000 for grades 9-12; and $10,500 for international students.
  • Waimea Country School (Kamuela) – Grades K-6. Located in Kamuela on the Big Island. Annual tuition: $8,300.

Kauai

  • Island School (Lihue) – Grades PreK-12. Located in Lihue, Kauai. Annual tuition: $7,900 for pre-kindergarten; $11,500 for grades K-8; and $12,100 for grades 9-12.
  • Kauai Pacific School (Kilauea) – Grades PreK-6 (starting at age 4 years). Curriculum is project-based. Located in Kilauea, Kauai. Annual tuition: $10,100 for grades K-6. Additional family members get a 5% discount.
  • St. Catherine School (Kapa’a) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 3 years). Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kapa’a, Kauai. Annual tuition: $4,300-4,500, depending on the grade level.
  • St. Theresa School (Kekaha) – Grades PreK-8. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kekaha, Kauai. Annual tuition: $3,400-4,400, depending on the grade level.

Maui

  • Christ the King School (Kahului) – Grades K-5. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Kahului, Maui. Annual tuition: $4,200-5,025, depending on grade level.
  • Haleakala Waldorf School (Kula) – Grades PreK-8 (starting at age 2 years). Accredited by the Assocation of Waldorf Schools of North America. Located in Kula, Maui. Annual tuition: $5,900-11,675, depending on the grade level and length of school day.
  • Horizons Academy (Haiku) – Grades K-12 (up to age 20), including special-needs children with learning and physical disabilities. Note: Although this school has a good reputation, especially for working with students with learning disabilities, it is not accredited. If your child is in grades 7-12, attending an unaccredited school may make it more difficult for them to be accepted into some colleges and universities. Located in Haiku, Maui. Annual tuition: $14,500-15,385, depending on the grade level. (To find more resources in Hawaii for special needs children, visit Special Parent Information Network.)
  • Maui Preparatory Academy (Napili) – Grades PreK-12 (starting at age 3 years). Located in Napili, Maui. Annual tuition: $7,000-11,330 for preschool, depending on length of school day; $12,980 for grades K-5; $14,600 for grades 6-8; $15,410 for grades 9-12.
  • Montessori Hale o Keiki (Kihei) – Ages 2.8-14 years. Has a full-inclusion, open admissions policy. Accredited by the American Montessori Society. Located in Kihei, Maui. Annual tuition: $9,750-10,500, depending on the grade level.
  • Montessori School of Maui (MOMI) (Makawao) – Ages 18 months-14 years. Uses the Montessori method, but is not accredited by the American Montessori Society. Located in Makawao, Maui. Annual tuition: $10,450-12,155, depending on the grade level.
  • Sacred Hearts School (Lahaina) – Grades PreK-8. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Lahaina, Maui. Monthly tuition: $500-625 for preschool, depending on length of school day. Annual tuition: $5,700 for grades K-5; $6,100 for grades 6-8.
  • Seabury Hall (Makawao) – Grades 6-12. Affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Located in Makawao, Maui. Annual tuition: $16,990.
  • St. Anthony Preschool (Wailuku) – Grades PreK-K (starting at age 3 years). NAEYC-accredited. Sister school of St. Anthony Grade School and St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Wailuku, Maui. Monthly tuition: $520.
  • St. Anthony Grade School (Wailuku) – Grades K-6. Sister school of St. Anthony Preschool and St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Wailuku, Maui. Annual tuition: $4,750.
  • St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School (Wailuku) – Grades 7-12. Sister school of St. Anthony Preschool and St. Anthony Grade School. Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Wailuku, Maui. Annual tuition: $7,500 for grade 7; $8,500 for grade 8; and $10,300 for grades 9-12. Additional family members get $500 discount.

More Resources On Private Schools In Hawaii

Honolulu Magazine’s 2011 Private School Guide
In addition to listing nearly all private schools in Hawaii (skip to pages 51-59 for an alphabetical list, sorted by island), this annual guide is chock-full of useful articles on topics such as:

  • Benefits of a private school education
  • Financial aid FAQs
  • Factors to consider when choosing a school
  • Admissions interview tips
  • 12-month application-process timeline
  • Common myths about applying to private schools

Private School Review
Search for private schools by ZIP code, grade, gender, teaching philosophy, and religious affiliation. School profiles include details such as:

  • Religious affiliation (if any)
  • Grades taught
  • Student population demographics
  • Number of school days per school year
  • Percentage of teachers with advanced degrees
  • Advanced placement classes offered
  • Average class size
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Tuition
  • Sports and extracurriculars offered
  • Admission deadline
  • Acceptance rate
  • Complete contact info

Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS)
Search for an HAIS-member school by:

  • Name
  • Keyword
  • Grade level
  • Island
  • Enrollment size
  • Day school vs. boarding
  • Coed vs. all-boys/all-girls

The Parent’s Guide to Private Schools in Hawaii: Oahu by Jacqui Pirl
If you’re looking for one-stop shopping for a private school on Oahu, this guide has it all. It was published in 2007, so the tuition information is out-of-date. But this hefty, 536-page book contains a lot of info that is still relelvant and often not found on the schools’ websites — it’s obvious that Pirl did a lot of research to write it.

In the introduction, she provides an overview of Hawaii’s educational systems (both public and private), and why you might consider sending your child to a private school in the first place. The book profiles 71 schools, with 5-7 pages describing each one in great detail, including its:

  • Historical background
  • Reputation
  • Specializations
  • Educational philosophy
  • Student population
  • Campus
  • Tuition, deposit, and other fees (circa 2007)
  • Admission requirements and process
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Homework policy
  • Parental involvement
  • Schedule
  • Dress code
  • Meals provided
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Accreditations
  • Complete contact information

All of the schools are mapped, so you can see where they’re located in relation to each other. And if you’re looking for a school with particular qualities, the appendix sorts the schools in 3 different ways: By religious/educational affiliation (e.g., Catholic, nondenominational, Montessori, etc.), by grades/ages served, and by ZIP code. Recommended for families who are moving (or have just moved) to Oahu, or for anyone who wants to thoroughly explore all their private school options on Oahu.