Community raises funds, builds 2 new playgrounds for Kealakehe students

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today A new playground takes shape at Kealakehe Elementary School.

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today A new playground takes shape at Kealakehe Elementary School.

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today Soldiers from Pohakuloa Training Area help assemble storage sheds on the first day of the community-led playground build at Kealakehe Elementary School.

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today Volunteers assemble a new playground for students at Kealakehe Elementary School.

Kealakehe Elementary School students will have two new playgrounds when they return to school thanks to a grassroots community effort.

The Kona school’s parent-teacher organization began raising money nearly two years ago with a goal of $150,000 to build two structures — one for keiki in kindergarten through second grade and another for students in third to fifth grade.


After fundraising efforts, building started at the beginning of spring break and was scheduled to be complete Saturday.

Parent volunteer Jim Dahlberg said credit for the effort goes to principal Nancy Matsukawa and the PTO’s Amber Ah Chin.

“Nancy and Amber did an awesome job getting it done,” Dahlberg said.

Dahlberg also credited David Haeamau and Keoni Paoa, past Kealakehe Elementary School students who could relate to the current inadequate playground equipment, for their volunteer help in grading the areas through RIVCO/Triton Trucking and E.M. Rivera and Sons, which provided all of the equipment and labor to prepare the area where the new playgrounds are located.

“The present principal, Nancy Mastukawa, was their math teacher,” Dahlberg said. “ … All labor and equipment was done at no cost to the parent-teachers organization.”

Dahlberg said students lined the fence during their spring break, watching the progress unfold before their eyes.

“They were delighted to see the playground take shape,” he said.

The play areas were built with the help of community and parent volunteers.


“Many hands make light work,” Dalhberg said.

Email Laura Ruminski at

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