In 1831, Chiefess Kalakua Hoapiliwahine, wife of Governor Hoapili, offered the use of a tract of land on the slopes surrounding Pu'u Pa'u Pa'u to the American missionaries for the creation of a high school.
The high school was established in 1831 by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions to be a work/study program "to instruct young men of piety and promising talents". The school opened with twenty five students, including David Malo, age 38, under the leadership of Reverend Lorrin Andrews. Malo went on to hold important positions in the kingdom, including the first Superintendent of Schools.
Besides constructing their early classrooms and sleeping quarters, students engaged in a variety of studies including geography, mathematics, history, to prepare them for leadership roles in the Hawaiian Community. Until 1877, when there was a shift to English, the language of instruction was Hawaiian.
The first newspaper west of the Rockies, Ka Lama, was printed in Hawaiian at Lahainaluna on February 14, 1834.
In 1836, thirty two boys between ages 10 and 20 were admitted as the first boarding scholars.
Lahainaluna was transferred from a private mission seminary to a public institution of higher learning in 1849, and a year later King Kamehameha III signed the act that put school under direct control of the Hawaiian Monarchy. By 1864, only Lahainaluna graduates were considered qualified to hold government positions such as lawyers, teachers, district magistrates, and other important posts.
In 1903, Lahainaluna became a Vocational Trade School and in 1923, a public technical high school, admitting both girls and boys as day students, and yet still continuing the male boarding program. It wasn't until 1980 that the first girls were accepted into the boarding program.
Rich in tradition and culture, Lahainaluna today is not only one of a few public boarding schools in the nation, but it is also the oldest high school west of the Mississippi River. As part of the Hawaii State Department of Education, Lahainaluna prepares students with essential skills and knowledge to further their education, to pursue careers, and to contribute positively to society.