Our History

Today, WHEA serves students from grades 6-12. The current student population is 280 students spanning our different learning tiers.

The Inspiration

Back in the early 1990’s, a Konawaena high school teacher named Bill Woerner ran a famous solar car team that raced across Australia, the continental United States, and in Europe. His experience with this team far outweighed his traditional classroom experience in purpose and progress—the hands-on and project based component approach was a better way to accomplish authentic education.

Konawaena's solar car team

With the positive experience of the solar car team, WHEA started out as a Hawai‘i DOE  school-within-a-school from 1994 to 2000. It received its charter from the Hawai‘i State Board of Education (BOE) on May 5, 2000 as Hawai‘i’s first public charter high school, and on August 14, 2000, WHEA became Hawai‘i’s first, start-up charter school to open.

Our Original Campus

Over two decades, students, parents, staff, mentors, and community volunteers poured cement, built a 3,000 square foot workshop pavilion, put up 6,000 square feet of shade cloth project space, constructed a 9,600 gallon reef simulation tank, and a 14,000 gallon live shark display.

whea old campus.jpeg

Our New Home

In 2013, the school broke ground for a new campus located at the top of Hawaii Ocean Science & Technology (HOST) Park. Our new campus has several multi-purpose rooms, a STEM building, amphitheater, a shark lagoon, a touch tank, and room for student projects.

whea new campus.jpeg

Longstanding student-developed concepts, ideas, and practices were infused into the new campus master plan in honor of the many, many students who built the original WHEA literally from scratch.