A School in the Clouds
Aside from our team leader Dano, everyone on the Sayles Team is a proud alumni of Seabury Hall. I have fond memories of my time at Seabury and could not possibly imagine attending high school anywhere else.
The campus was small and the student population was even smaller. The girls would move from chapel to the classroom to their dorms.
“Boys were few and far between,” laughed Kathy Czar, a member of the Class of 1969. “We thought about them a lot, and they would come up by the carload for dances so that was a big deal.”
While the dormitories have disappeared and the boys are now plentiful on campus, both serve as testaments to how drastically the school has change in the last half-century.
The school was founded by 9.5 acres campus, originally owned by the Baldwin family, was deeded to the Episcopal church.
Also acquired by the church was Cooper House, which Katherine McGrew Cooper bequeathed to it before her death in 1963 to use as a girls school. The building was used as a kitchen, library, classroom, and faculty quarters with eight rooms-but now is primarily the administrative office.
“It was such a different school. I cant even relate the two time periods,” said Czar who has a history and geography at Seabury Hall Middle School for 30 years. “It was all oriented toward the needs and wants of boarders,” Czar said. “It was very small, very intimate. It was very much a family with the Melroses as our parents.”
The Upcountry school began with about 50 students, about half of which were boarders from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Charlotte Melrose said that attracting students from the territories was a mission of the school’s board of trustees because Punahou on Oahu stopped boarding its boarding school the same year that Seabury Hall opened.
Roger Melrose, who died in 2008, served as a headmaster and reverend, and physically helped build the school alongside his four children. The family converted the five-car garage into a classroom and held church services are a small chapel, which is now the school’s library.
“It was a dream and we started it from scratch,” Charlotte Melrose said. “While I had gone to a boarding school, my husband had a master’s in forestry so this wasn’t something he thought he would be doing. But and awful lot of people helped to make it happen.”
Czar, a boarder herself from the Marshall Islands, remembered the school life as being “busy and structured,” with study hall every night and church service everyday.
“On Saturdays, we’d enjoyed extracircular activites,” she said. “If we wanted, we’d get on the bus and drive down to Kahului to the one shopping center and go to Peggy Johnny’s, Ikeda’s and Ben Franklin.”
“Then we’d get our Guri Guri and come back up to school for dinner and a movie.”
Other activities included playing on the school’s tennis court or practicing synchronized swimming in the heated pool.
When Sean Wilson, resident math department chair and member of the Class of 1986 started Seabury Hall, said that “the school was changing rapidly,” and had begun accepting boys in the early 1970’s.
“When I started here in the 7th grade we had lunches that were family style, where we all at a table with one teacher for two weeks and then rotate,” Said Wilson, who has taught at the Upper School for more than 10 years. “So you got to meet different people at the school and sit with different teachers.”
The school quickly did away with that style of lunch as enrollment rose rapidly.
As Seabury Hall inched closer to the turn of the century, the college-prep school began to move from its required church studies and it was highlighted by the conversion of its chapel to a library in 1993.
Linda Lindsay, who has served as the librarian at Seabury since 1980 recalled being a little nervous about the conversion and how the Melrose family would react. The chapel had long been used to celebrate graduations, weddings and other services.
“(The Melroseses) seemed to be OK with it, it’s still the center and the kids love to be here,” Lindsay said. “It’s definitely the hub, but a different kind of hub. We try to keep it as academic as possible where students can feel comfortable to do work.”
Despite the numerous changes over the years, the school still embraces the same closeness in the community and “one-on-one teaching,” Czar said.
“The school has grown so incredibly but (is) still trying to hold on to traditions that began in the ‘60s, but really expand and try to innovate and stay current,” she said. “That has been a real challenge but that’s what keeps us going.”
Seabury Hall will kick off its 50th anniversary with a host of events June 29. Charlotte Melrose said that she will be attending the event with her children and is excited to see the school.
“It was really a labor of love,” she said.
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Please consider me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search. Aloha,Anthony Sayles R(S) 808-280-6532 Anthony@DanoSayles.com