Nestled at the base of Pu'u Pa'u Pa'u (Hill of Struggle), Lahainaluna Seminary was founded in 1831 by the American missionaries with the intent of creating a high school to educate the greater population. This was made possible with the tract of land gifted to Lahainaluna by Chiefess Kalakua Hoapiliwahine, wife of Governor Hoapili.
Under the care of the American Board of Missions, Lahainaluna Seminary opened its doors to twenty-five students, among them David Malo, age 38, who became part of a work/study program "to instruct young men of piety and promising talents". The Reverend Lorrin Andrews was its first leader and principal. All subjects were taught in Hawaiian by the missionaries. David Malo, among the first to graduate, went on to become the first Superintendent of Schools, an entrepreneur, an advisor to to King Kamehameha III, and a minister.Then, in 1836, thirty-two boys, ages 10-20, were admitted as the first boarding students. They attended Lahainaluna Seminary in a work/study boarding program, one that still exists today. In addition to constructing their early classrooms and sleeping quarters, students studied a variety of courses including Geography, Mathematics, History, English, and Astrology along with Writing.
With the arrival of the fist printing press placed in Hale Pa'i, the teachers and students were able to print books, magazines, and newspaper to accompany their studies and to fulfill printing requests from the rest of the islands. The first newspaper west of the Rockies, Ka Lama (The Torch) was printed in Hale Pa'i on February 14, 1834.
In 1849, Lahainaluna Seminary went from a private mission seminary to a public institution of higher learning. English then became the venue of instruction. A year later, King Kamehameha III put the school under direct control of the Hawaiian Monarchy. By 1864, only Lahainaluna graduates were considered qualified to hold government positions such as lawyers, teachers, district magistrates, and other important posts.
In 1903, Lahainaluna became a Vocational Trade School; in 1923, a public technical high school, admitting both boys and girls as day students. The Boarding Program continued enrolling male students into its program; then in 1980, female students were admitted into the Boarding Program.
Always meeting the needs of the students in an island community, Lahainaluna High School evolved, chronologically, from a seminary boarding school for men in 1831, taught by the missionaries to assists in the education of the community, to a public technical high school, admitting both male and female students in 1923, to a comprehensive high school in 1961, and to a college, career, and citizenship ready school in 2013.