Makalapa Elementary School is located on the slope of Makalapa Crater, which formed perhaps a million years ago. Makalapa is a Hawaiian word that means “ridged features,” referring to the ridge-like features on the side of the crater.
The planning for Makalapa Elementary School began in the late sixties when more schools were needed to accommodate increased student population in the Makalapa area. In 1970, the present site was selected and construction began. The buildings, however, were not completed in time for the start of the 1971 school year, so the students were temporarily housed at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School.
Finally, on January 3, 1972, Mr. Toichi Saito, Makalapa’s first principal, 230 students and 13 teachers moved into their new school. The school consisted of a portable building for picking up lunches, classroom buildings D and F, and Building C, which housed classrooms and the office. Through the years, Makalapa Elementary has seen many changes. In 1973-1974, the cafeteria, the library and Building I were built and the land behind the school was cleared for a playground. In 2012-2014, the cafeteria was renovated and enlarged to accommodate the growing population of 650+ students.