Kipapa Ohana Welcomes Symbolic Stained-glass Mural

Kipapa Elementary School is following the path of light, literally, since dedicating its long-awaited stained-glass mural last month. The handsome project now covers an entire wall of one of Oahu’s oldest elementary schools.

“Four years ago, we got the $75,000 state grant to create this beautiful mural,” said principal Corinne Yogi, noting that the initial second-grade student helpers have grown into the fourth-grade artists who made the tile mandalas that now frame the 18-by-14-foot landmark mosaic mural.


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Herman Kanae (from left), artist Calley O'Neill and students Ku'uipo and Hiapo Elisaga at the dedication. Photos by Anthony Consillio,

On March 5, an appropriately sunny day to unveil “Kipapa and the Path of Light,” Hawaii Island artist Calley O’Neill joyfully thanked all the hands involved – about 200 pairs of hands, in fact, working with 3,000 pieces of stained glass for the mural, and 15,000 tiny mosaic puzzle pieces for its border.

“It was a work of heart,” she declared to the crowd, giving special credit to Bryan Akagi and Jon Madsen, owners of CSL Construction, which installed the massive work.

“It turned out to be an awesome project,” admitted Madsen, an area resident, “and it also was a very personal, emotional project.”

The mural reflects the depth of the elders’ love and commitment to their youths, O’Neill explained, as hands hold up two young keiki by a kukui tree, also an important light source.

The hands are those of Uncle Herman Kanae, she said, calling him “the grandfather of the community.”

The keiki dance below the Sun Medallion, a source of light and life. Pineapples anchor the corners, just as the plant was once the core of Kipapa’s economy.

O’Neill had much to share about the mural, which she saw evolve “from an ugly wall to a dream come true for me, and public art for everybody.” Kipapa itself means “level ground or to pave the way.” Now all who learn there can walk tall and proud along the school’s very own path of light.