Ernest Bowen De Silva

Elementary School

Hilo, Hawaii

Ernest Bowen De Silva was born on April 27, 1900 in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. He devoted his life to improving the educational system in Hawaii. He was first a teacher at Hilo Junior High School, then became a Supervisor of Physical Education, and later, a principal of Honomu, Kalanianaole, and Konawaena schools on the Big Island. In his later years, he served as the District Superintendent of Education, Hawaii District.

In the years before Hawaii's statehood, there existed many social problems in part due to the mixture of different immigrant cultures. Mr. De Silva had helped to modernize the educational system by raising the professional standards of teachers and b helping to do away with the discriminatory standard school system in which children went to different schools according to their ability to speak English. His principal goals in education were to assure that each individual, regardless of his cultural background, would be given equal educational opportunities.

Besides education, Mr. De Silva was also active in the community. He was a charter member for the Hilo Lion's Club, and became the Deputy District Governor of Hawaii Region, Lion's International. Also, he was involved with the Boys Club and the Tuberculosis Society of Hawaii. His involvement in the community and in education demonstrated his outstanding qualities of leadership, dedication, fairness, and a caring for others.

Because of Mr. De Silva's contributions, a public school, Ernest Bowen De Silva Elementary School, was named after him. In 1959, he passed away at the age of 58, just as this school was to open. Although Ernest De Silva has passed away, his spirit lives on with the Alma Mater of De Silva School.