Councilmember Harimoto recognizes Momilani Elementary School for #1 public school ranking


Momilani Elementary School was presented a certificate of appreciation on Wednesday by the Honolulu City Council at Leeward Community College in Pearl City.  The school was recognized for being ranked the top public school in the State of Hawaii by Honolulu Magazine for the sixth year in a row.

City Councilman Breene Harimoto recommended that the school be recognized by the City and County of Honolulu and the full City Council Board for their achievement in educational excellence that has earned the school numerous awards that includes winning the National Blue Ribbon Award a record three times, the most by any Hawaii public school.

“Being recognized in the Honolulu Magazine as the number one school since 2006 is really an honor,” said Momilani Elementary School Principal Doreen Higa. “For the councilman to do this special award is very touching because Breene is "Momilani". He works in so many areas with the Pearl City Foundation and Pearl City Community Association. It’s just warm to know that’s he’s recognizing our school.”

Councilman Harimoto also recognized the educational leadership team and creative visionary partnership between Principal Higa and Counselor Lance Nishihara who are celebrating 25 years together at the school.

“It’s really amazing,” Higa said. “I think when we first were hired at Momilani, I remember it was in August, and Lance was going to get married and I was coming on board and we both came at the same time. It’s kind of hard to believe that its 25 years. You know the number 25 is just like a milestone. It’s been really, really a wonderful family journey to mold the school and just knowing all of the families through all the many generations. Also to know that we continually work towards providing for the children and making sure they’re safe and happy. It’s great to be working with someone like Lance."

Together they continue to introduce and implement into their school curriculum special programs that involve the students in the Arts, Drama, Sciences, Food and Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports. Most of all they have incorporated the “fun factor” that helps to enhance learning.

“We have to make it fun for the kids to get their interest,” said Counselor Nishihara.  “I guess that’s part of learning too. But with fun comes learning, and they might not know it, but they’re learning and that’s part of it.”

“The amazing thing is that school is doing better and better each year and that surprises us because being a family at Momilani, everyone takes on their part,” Higa said. “If we had to think back 25 years ago that the kids would be performing, or measured as the way they are now, we would be really shocked.  I can’t even remember how we used to perform back then, but we were at the top even back then. But now we’re just leaps and bounds way above that and I think our educational programming is such that it embraces the inner you, the better you, and that’s the part that Lance is in charge of. It’s just working on making the children to be better people. Our staff works at that too. That’s what makes our school unique.”

Both Higa and Nishihara are truly grateful for the support that they have received from staff and parent involvement that has guided their success for the past 25 years. Recognizing their support team and giving credit where credit is due is comes from the heart.

“Our faculty is just second to none,” Higa said. “They’re just very, very precious people. Together we walk and fulfill whatever dreams we have. We could dream, but we ask parents to join us hand in hand and walk towards that dream, and you know, when you give the parents that invitation they want to be part of their children’s lives so they walk together with us.”

“I think it’s not about us,” said Nishihara. “It’s about the family and the people that really work hard together. It’s really not about us. Our parents are wonderful. Everybody has a part in it.”

“It’s nice to see all the hard work the staff does being recognized,” said Sjarif Goldstein, Hui O Momilani PTSO President. “I’ve been here seven years as a parent and the experience has been wonderful. There’s no bigger thrill seeing the people who create that environment and create the achievement be recognized. I enjoy being a part of the community. It’s very welcoming and very enjoyable for everyone.”

“Momilani is a wonderful school,” said Quinn Goldstein, Momilani Elementary School graduate and currently in the 7th grade at Iolani School in Honolulu. “I have just left there actually, but when I was there, the school was amazing. It was an awesome opportunity to go there. I got all of my knowledge from them and that’s how I became a great student now. Mrs. Higa was a wonderful principal. She made the school how it is today.”

To learn more about Momilani Elementary School, log on to the school web site at:

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Momilani Elementary School Principal Doreen Higa receives a certificate of appreciation from

Councilmember Breene Harimoto on August 8, 2013 during the Honolulu City Council Regular

Meeting held at Leeward Community College in Pearl City.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Pictured: City Councilman Breene Harimoto (center), Momilani Elementary School Principal

Doreen Higa (left) and Momilani Elementary School Counselor Lance Nishihara (right).

City Councilmembers top row.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Pictured at Leeward Community College in Pearl City (from left to right) Momilani Elementary School

Counselor Lance Nishihara, Hui O Momilani PTSO President Sjarif Goldstein, Momilani Elementary

School graduate Quinn Goldstein, Momilani Elementary School Principal Doreen Higa, and Leeward

Community College Human Resources Assistant Manager Lori Lei Hayashi.