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School History


Pahoa High & Intermediate School was originally Pahoa School established in 1910.  In 1914, the school was known as Pahoa High and Elementary School.  The school served students from the rural Puna District communities.  Students were being bused in as far away as Volcano.   The original buildings on campus are still in use including the front High School building, the gymnasium and two of the elementary school buildings.

The original main elementary school building was torn down in 1979.  A new two story building and portable classes replaced it.  On the High School and Intermediate School campus, a new parking lot adjacent to the gymnasium, a three story classroom building, a two story building and six new one story buildings were constructed. The following year, another two story building along with a new cafeteria, a track and football field, basketball and tennis courts and a baseball and softball field were added on the High School side. In 1981 a 45 space parking lot was constructed behind the Intermediate School along with a few portable classrooms.

In the late 1970s, the school population grew when the rural Puna district was sectioned off into subdivisions after the Sugar industry went under. Pahoa High & Intermediate School doubled in size during this period, and many new buildings were built on the campus. In 1993, Pahoa Elementary School separated from Pahoa High and Intermediate. In 1999, Keaau High School was constructed ten miles away to relieve Pahoa High & Intermediate Schools overcrowded student body, virtually downsizing it in half. In 2011, a new gymnasium opened on the south end of the campus, adjacent to the athletic fields.



Pāhoa High & Intermediate School (PHIS) occupies 23 acres in the lower Puna District of the island of Hawai‘i, a geographic area half the size of O‘ahu. Puna contains a widely diverse population with an overall socioeconomic status below state averages. Pāhoa Village is connected to the city of Hilo, 20.6 miles away, by one roadway and has limited county bus service. Most of the working populace is employed in Hilo, while others rely on the limited jobs available in agriculture, schools and small businesses. PHIS is surrounded by 22 subdivisions, and many lack public transportation, county water, electricity, telephone, paved roads and shopping areas. Students are not able to walk to school from many of these subdivisions. A substantial number of PHIS students qualify and receive a variety of special services. In spite of the district’s geographic size and diverse population.  PHIS has been very successful in providing students with opportunities for learning beyond the academic setting. Pāhoa High & Intermediate School received a bronze medal ranking by US News & World Report in 2012, out of 21,776 US high schools evaluated. The school won $5,500 as one of the 18 schools nationwide selected as GRAMMY Signature Schools, an award program honoring top U.S. public schools for their outstanding commitment to music education. PHIS was one of six Hawai‘i schools recognized by the Hawai‘i State Department of Education for energy conservation and environmental efforts in the inaugural Green Ribbon Schools program. Also, the school won the Keep America Beautiful “Recycle-Bowl” national recognition award for Hawai‘i in 2012, for its contribution in reducing greenhouse gases through its recycling program.

In January 2012, Pāhoa High & Intermediate School celebrated the opening of its 1,000 seat gymnasium as the new home for Dagger sports and schoolwide activities. For the prior 69 years, the county gym was utilized for athletic and school events. The agriculture program prepares students by teaching life long skills in agriculture and related fields, as well as increasing students’ awareness of the global and technological importance of agriculture. Intermediate school students are provided with free after school online tutoring and a variety of character building activities. The Transition Center facilitates programs that prepare for post-graduate programs through work experiences that include the Education and Career Opportunities System (ECOS), Early College Running Start, Upward Bound, and internships. Additionally, PHIS helps students develop character building attributes, which promote effective communication and citizenry. We believe these efforts help students realize our school’s vision of succeeding as “a graduate who has the skills and knowledge to succeed socially, personally, and academically in a global society.”

U.S. News & World Report awarded Pahoa High & Intermediate School a bronze medal  recognizing  the school as one of the 2013 Best High Schools ranking.

Pahoa High and Intermediate provides rigorous standards-based education and tailors interventions to meet students’ needs.  Data is shared weekly through professional learning communities, where professional development for educators is also planned. The school has established a monthly peer walkthrough for teachers to observe good practices.