Wilcox School (Lihue English School) was established in September 1881 with Mr. John A. Moore as principal. His assistant was Miss Ada Tanner. Eighty-seven pupils were enrolled. In 1883, Mr. Henry Townsend became the principal. Ninety-eight pupils were enrolled so an extra assistant was secured. One of these assistants taught in the Hawaiian language.
In the spring of 1923, the school was moved to a site west of the Lihue Plantation mill. The move to the present site was made on January 6, 1958. Governor William Quinn was the keynote speaker for the occasion. There was an official change of name in the spring of 1959 when the school commissioners as requested by Senate Resolutions #27 (1955), named the school in honor of the late Miss Elsie Hart Wilcox - - “this beloved and public-spirited daughter of Hawaii for her life devoted to community service”. Today, the school is located in the civic center of Lihue, Kauai surrounded by the Lihue Public Library, the Kauai Memorial Convention Center, and a county park.
Elsie H. Wilcox Elementary School now serves approximately 915 students in grades K-5. It also has a special education preschool. The school boasts a Character Education Program that focuses on developing a solid foundation of character through nine Hawaiian values: Aloha, Ho'oponopono, 'Ike, Kokua, Kuleana, Laulima, Lokahi, Malama, and 'Ohana. Each grade level is responsible for a value and does a presentation at a monthly assembly that recognizes students who display these values. Teachers regularly conduct classroom activities to help the students learn and internalize these values. Every day students are encouraged to be kind, safe, and responsible through our “Caught Being Good” program, which recognizes these values at each assembly with prizes awarded to students from a random drawing.
The school has a hydroponics greenhouse that is staffed by the retired head custodian. All students have an opportunity to plant lettuce that is taken home when fully grown. Other vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, and herbs are grown throughout the year and tended by the hydroponics club that meets twice a week after school. The school was recently awarded a grant for $78,000 to re-build the greenhouse and implement associated standards into the curriculum. Several grade levels are currently growing their own mini garden in various areas around campus. Each of these gardens is linked to standards being taught in that particular grade.
Over the past 5 years the PTSA has become an increasingly supportive entity of our school. Yearly fundraisers are conducted with the proceeds made available to support grade level projects or school-wide needs. They have recently joined the national PTA organization and sponsor several parent/child evening functions throughout the year.