Family is a high priority in Hilo and Hawaii Island and extended families are often the primary social groups that residents spend time with. Families have fun together at the local beaches, parks, and events. The importance of and activities for children is one of the reasons that we were drawn to Hilo.
Here are some resources for families and their children and teens.
Our son was home schooled, so we don't have direct experience with the public or private schools in Hilo. We have heard good and bad stories from parents about the public schools; it depends on the family and the student and the school. We recommend visiting the school and individual classes before deciding whether it is the right place for your children.
We have experience with the Hilo Community Adult School which offers GED testing and evening classes. The staff was fantastic supporting our son in getting his GED. Hawaii also offers a Competency-Based High School Diploma Program which combines taking classes and passing the GED to award a Hawaii high school diploma. These programs are great for home schooled children allowing them to get into colleges and offering high school equivalency for jobs and the military.
Hilo has 8 elementary schools (Ernest Bowen deSilva, Haaheo, Hilo Union, Kalanianaole, Kapiolani, Kaumana, Keaukaha, Waiakea, and Waiakea Waena)
and 3 intermediate schools (7-8) schools (Hilo, Waiakea, and Kalanianaole).
Hawaii's home school requirements are different than other states, but the environment is very supportive. There are a lot of groups and families around the Big Island that support home school families, so if you are already home schooling or choose to start home schooling you won't be alone. GED testing is available regularly in Hilo and Kona through the Community school for Adults. Here are some resources and informational web sites about Home schooling.
Hilo has swim teams that practice at the county indoor Kawamoto Swim Stadium and NAS pool. The county also sponsorAmerican Red Cross life guard training for youth as well as summer swimming classes. Swim teams also practice at Kamehameha School , St. Joseph, Hilo High School, Christian Liberty, and Waiakea High School pools. The YWCA has a heated pool which offers swim classes.
A Gymnastics school practices in Hilo at Pantheon Gymnastics located on Kalanikoa Street. The Pacific Gymnastics Flippers team competes nationally.
Hilo has many activities for young people in addition to sports. The location of the telescope observatories, museums, the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Community College, and an active arts community creates an exciting intellectual and artistic community in Hilo with many activities tailored for families, children and teens participation.
'Imiloa Astronomy Center has many programs for children and families in addition to their regular planetarium shows, exhibits and Hawaiian cultural programs. They have afterschool programs during the school year and camps when school is out of session. And the center is a great place for teens to volunteer.
Astronomers at UHH and local Hilo Observatories have created amateur Astronomy clubs and provide families the opportunity to view the stars in Hilo and at the visitor's center on Mauna Kea. Astroday Institute sponsors astronomy events year-round.
Workshops at the East Hawaii Cultural Center include Kid's art camp, children's theater workshops, comedy workshops, ukulele instruction and more.
Many Hilo schools have competitive Robotics Teams. RoboticsHawaii describes the programs in Hawaii including FIRST, Botball, RoboFest, ROVs and others.
Hawaiian Hula Schools, Halau Hula, teach Hula to children and adults and often compete internationally in hula events. As a part of the instruction, students learn the Hawaiian language, chants, meles, and lei making. Some of the most famous Kumu's are in Hilo such as Paul Neves and Johnny Lum Ho. You can find a list of the many Halau Hula in Hilo at mele.com. The Merry Monarch festival takes place in Hilo every Spring; it is the premiere international Hula event. Living in Hilo is a unique opportunity for families to learn about and become involved in Hawaiian culture and dance.