Members of the Ka‘u High School Alumni & Friends ohana invite everyone to join them at the group’s 13th annual potluck reunion from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the Pahala Community Center.
“Please bring a favorite dish to share and come and enjoy a day of fun, live music and good food,” said Lovey Grantz, a member of the alumni reunion planning committee.
Other committee members are Sally Louis, Jane Santiago, Ju-Ann Kai, Margaret Cabudol and James Yamaki.
“The purpose of the reunion is to bring alumni and residents back to Ka‘u to reconnect with their roots, meeting classmates and getting reacquainted with other Ka‘u alumni, neighbors and friends,” Yamaki said. “The potluck invitation is open to current residents and school administration and staff.”
The potluck luncheon is hosted annually on the Sunday of the Hawaii Statehood Holiday weekend in August. Having this day set aside each year allows individual classes to make plans for their own reunions during the weekend to coincide with the all-alumni Sunday potluck.
Just for fun, to get geared up for the big event, stop by the libraries in Pahala or Naalehu and borrow a copy of the video of last year’s potluck reunion produced by Wendell Kaehuaea. It features the singers, dancers, speakers and attendees — on stage and off — enjoying the get-together.
Among the highlights of the mini-documentary is a rousing talk by Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Joseph Tateyama, who served as KHS Student Body Government president and valedictorian of the class of 1958. Tateyama gave strong testimony in support of a grassroots effort to name the school’s new gym and disaster shelter — now under construction — after the late Laurence J. Capellas, the former KHS principal to whom Tateyama credits his success in life.
Many who attended school during the Capellas years remember the fine example, nurturing and encouragement the educator provided to his students.
In recent years, the KHS class of 1973 has met Saturday evening at the Pahala Community Center, as will be the case again this weekend. Audielyn Cabudol is this year’s class reunion chairman.
Among the members assisting is Darlene Vierra, who is in charge of Plantation Day. She will be displaying pictures of the Ka‘u District of yesteryear at the Sunday potluck.
Vierra believes strongly that it is important for the younger generation to remember Ka‘u’s past. The exhibits are nostalgic and take many viewers back to their formative years growing up in Ka‘u.
The class of 1961 will meet for the second year in a row at the same vacation rental in Pahala. Members plan to take a tour of Ka‘u on Saturday, then meet that evening, and join the rest of the alumni for the Sunday potluck.
Members of the class of 1959, who are the organizers of the popular KHS Las Vegas reunions, usually meet at Julia Neal’s vacation rental at the former Ka‘u Meat Market on Saturday and again after the Sunday potluck. This year’s June reunion in Las Vegas drew 200 attendees.
Among the local entertainers expected to perform at the Sunday potluck party are the “Back to the Fifties” music trio led by Earnest Kalani, “Hands of Time” led by Calvin Ponce and Terrie Louis, and Philip Barro, a key performer at earlier events.
Also on tap is Mahealani Halau, comprised of a group of senior wahine and one kane — Robert Gomes, a retired Ka‘u police officer. The halau, founded by the late Edna Aquil, which has been a regular part of the program since the reunion started in 2002, will perform several hula numbers.
The members of this kupuna halau are featured on the video of last year’s reunion, along with musicians and singers Lei Kaapana Aken, sister of slack key artist Ledward Kaapana, and Ernest Kalani.
Kaehuaea also interviewed members of the KHS coaching staff and team, focusing on their pioneering efforts in introducing eight-man football to the Big Island. The team collected nearly $500 at the reunion last year to help pay for expenses for a trip to compete on Molokai.
The filmmaker also interviewed former coach Earl Crozier, who led the KHS Trojans to their only BIIF football championship in 1963, and his wife, Tootsie. Also featured on camera was an interview with the Avenue family sisters. The video was shown on public access television, Na Leo o Hawaii Channel 54.
To promote the annual potluck reunion, Ka‘u artist Lisa Dacalio created whimsical posters that describe the event as “back to our roots; a blast with friends from the past.
“Come and join us and celebrate friendship, love and peace,” said Dacalio.
Ka‘u Kakou, led by Wayne Kawachi, takes care of cleanup. Dexter Lee, Mildred Imamura and Wade Espejo, respectively, will provide monstera leaves, anthurium and protea flowers to decorate the center, with Grantz handling table decorations.
The setup crew includes Dennis Santiago, Rueben Soriano, Cyrus Sumida and Melvin Yamaki, with registration handled by Dolly Kalua, Dolores Natividad, Sally Louis and Jane Santiago.