Lanai school re­ceives bus by way of Hana

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By KEHAULANI CERIZO

After Dol­lar car rental closed, ath­letes needed trans­port

Staff Writer

LANAI CITY — For the first time in Lanai High & El­e­men­tary School his­tory, stu­dents have their very own bus.

The bus, do­nated by Hana High & El­e­men­tary School and re­ceived on Lanai last week, will be ac­ti­vated for the first time on Lanai tonight, when, iron­i­cally, the Dragons ar­rive to play the Pinelads and Lasses in bas­ket­ball. Talk about a warm wel­come.

“We’re not go­ing to change the ‘Hana’ paint right away,” said Lanai Prin­ci­pal El­ton Ki­noshita. “We will leave it up for a lit­tle while.”

“The fact that our sis­ter school would help us like this is amaz­ing,” he added.

Ki­noshita dis­cussed the chal­lenges that the small, no-stop­light town face when it comes to stu­dent ath­letic trans­porta­tion. Through­out its his­tory, the school had rented ve­hi­cles from Dol­lar Rental Car to shut­tle home teams to the ferry for off-is­land games and to bring vis­it­ing teams to the school for ath­letic events. Ki­noshita es­ti­mated that more than $3,000 was spent an­nu­ally for stu­dent trans­porta­tion, with in­di­vid­ual buses av­er­ag­ing $350 per rental.

“Hana, us and Molokai, we share a lot of the same chal­lenges,” Ki­noshita said. “There is no pub­lic trans­porta­tion on this is­land, and when a rental place that helped us went out of busi­ness, we’ve been scram­bling to find trans­porta­tion for our kids and when vis­it­ing schools come on the ferry.”

Dol­lar closed its Lanai doors last Novem­ber, and some on the is­land were call­ing it a “mini-cri­sis” for stu­dent ath­letes. That’s

where small, no-stop­light towns have a home-team ad­van­tage: Com­mu­nity mem­bers often help one an­other.

Ki­noshita turned to Lanai City res­i­dent Coop DeRenne, a

long­time coach who has deep roots in Hawaii ath­let­ics, “to work his magic.”

DeRenne, known through his 40 years of teach­ing at Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii at Manoa as “Coach Coop,” made a lot of calls to his Oahu and Maui con­tacts. When he called Robert Joseph Jr., Maui Dis­trict Schools trans­porta­tion of­fi­cer, Joseph rec­om­mended ask­ing Hana be­cause both are Maui In­ter­scholas­tic League Divi­sion II schools, and he thought Hana may have ad­di­tional buses due to a grant.

Hana’s Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Devon E. Car­roll and Di­rec­tor of Trans­porta­tion Wailani Nakooka found a cou­ple of

buses that were out of daily ro­ta­tion for stu­dent/school trans­port and were used for field trips and ath­letic travel.

They made quick work of do­nat­ing the bus to Lanai.

“This helps our en­tire league out, and we want to see ca­ma­raderie in our divi­sion con­tinue,” Car­roll said. “I have seen how much we work to help each other with the over­all goal of help­ing kids in the MIL.”

The 5-year-old bus, which seats 14 to 16 peo­ple, ar­rived Jan. 2 on Lanai. Its es­ti­mated value is $30,000 to $35,000, ac­cord­ing to DeRe­nee, and Lanai me­chan­ics said the bus will last for a while.

Also, DeRe­nee’s friend, Michael Vic­torino Jr. (son of Maui County Mayor Michael Vic­torino) of Young Brothers, helped waive the ship­ping cost, val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately $1,500. School of­fi­cials said a sec­ond, sim­i­lar Hana bus may be do­nated to Lanai in the spring.

It will be used pri­mar­ily for sports, but Ki­noshita said he’s sure that other school groups will have bus re­quests. Field trips may be a pos­si­bil­ity in the fu­ture.

DeRe­nee, who has ath­letic con­tacts all over Hawaii, es­pe­cially since his son, Keoni, was a hit­ting coach with the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates and now the

Chicago Cubs, said that the bus re­ally came down to God, prayer and the peo­ple who stepped up to the plate.

“This is a God story that all these Maui folks stepped up,” he said. “It’s a thank you to our Lord but to them, too.”

Ki­noshita and many of the Lanai com­mu­nity mem­bers credit DeRe­nee.

“Ku­dos to Coop,” Ki­noshita said. “He’s been a tremen­dous ad­di­tion to our com­mu­nity. He’s been so in­vested in the com­mu­nity . . . . And he knows a lot of peo­ple.”

COOP DERENNE pho­tos

Lanai High & El­e­men­tary School re­ceived its first bus in school his­tory last week, a 5year-old, 15-pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle do­nated from Hana High & El­e­men­tary School.

Coop DeRenne, a for­mer coach at the Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii at Manoa and a Lanai res­i­dent, helped Lanai High get a much­needed bus through a do­na­tion from Hana High.

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