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Students cheer new stadium at Farrington High School

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    Farrington Principal Al Carganilla checked out the showers at the stadium.


    Reece Carganilla, son of Farrington Principal Al Carganilla, checked out the new boys locker room.


    Vice Principal Ronald Oyama toured Edward “Skippa” Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field on the Farrington High campus Wednesday.


    Sophomore Angelique Moore celebrated near the Governors logo on Farrington High’s new football field Wednesday.

Farrington High School’s 2,396 students have been asked to wear Governors maroon today when Farrington dedicates its first football stadium — a facility that Principal Al Carganilla hopes will spur new traditions for his students and the Kalihi community at large.

“Everybody’s been waiting for it,” Carganilla said Wednesday as he walked around the brightly colored, artificial turf. “We want it to be the hub of the community because the community deserves it. It’s been a long time coming.”

More than 80 years, in fact.

The new stadium means that Farrington’s varsity football team, the Governors, actually will play its home games at Farrington and enjoy a true homecoming for the first time since the school opened in 1936, instead of at Roosevelt High School or other prior “home” locations that included Honolulu Stadium and Aloha Stadium.

After years of worrying about broken and aging facilities, Carganilla said he feels a new sense of pride swelling among the students and the community surrounding today’s unveiling of the $19.7 million stadium.

Most of Farrington’s students will get their first look at the field, stands and digital scoreboard during a dedication ceremony this morning. Then, tonight, hundreds of community members are expected at a second event from 5 to 7 p.m.

“A lot of our kids go through hardships at home and don’t have a true home life,” Carganilla said. “So they use the school as a second home, and they take a lot of pride in that.”

The roof of the school auditorium collapsed during a winter storm in 2012.

But the renovated auditorium reopened this school year. And on Wednesday, Carganilla presided over two assemblies inside that gave students background on their school’s history and the two legendary coaches — Edward “Skippa” Diaz and Henry Kusunoki — whose names hang over the home team’s new stands.

“Friday night lights are coming to Kalihi,” Carganilla told the students, who cheered and applauded in response.

As many as 3,000 to 3,500 Farrington fans will get to see their home team — framed by a view of Punchbowl and Diamond Head — as H-1 freeway traffic hurtles past the stadium. About 500 to 700 visiting team fans will fit in the Diamond Head-side bleachers, Carganilla said.

But the stadium — outfitted with art deco lettering that echos Farrington’s past — will host more than football games.

The track team is practicing on a track that once was a dangerous minefield of boulders. Soccer goals are in place for upcoming matches.

Graduates starting with the class of 2018 will have a stadium full of friends and family to watch them walk during commencement. And Carganilla hopes to revive the dormant Farrington tradition of a homecoming parade throughout Kalihi that would end up at the stadium.

“It’s ours,” said 15-year-old sophomore Angelique “Angel” Moore, who photographed the stadium Wednesday for the Governors’ yearbook. “Our school is one of the proudest in the island and this is good for Kalihi, too.”

Angelique was one of a few students to get an early peek at the new boys and girls locker rooms, concession stands and equipment, training and laundry rooms.

She’s excited about watching her first Farrington football game at home, which likely will be in August against Kamehameha Schools. Also, Angelique is looking ahead to her graduation inside the stadium in two years.

“It’s going to be the greatest,” she said.

Carganilla expects that Farrington fans will be excited by the new concession stands, and that Roosevelt will mourn the loss of their visiting “home team” and the money they spent on food.

“Roosevelt’s going to miss out on our fans,” Carganilla said, “because we bring a lot of them.”

The varsity football team got to see the new field during practice last summer, when the players spontaneously gravitated to the G painted at midfield.

But the seniors won’t be able to enjoy a real home game, homecoming or graduation in the new stadium, because officials are still figuring out how to take care of the new turf before next fall. “It sucks,” said Freedom Alualu, an 18-year-old senior fullback and middle linebacker.

Asked whether they’re jealous of their underclassmen, a group of senior football players nodded in agreement.

“Most definitely,” Alualu said. “We really wanted to play on the field.”

Tai Gaulua, an 18-year-old senior defensive lineman, added that the seniors were “big-time” jealous of the junior and sophomore players.

Gaulua remembered the moment when he first saw the G on the field.

“It felt good,” he said. “We finally got our own home field after years going to Roosevelt.”

The stadium represents the centerpiece of even more renovations to come at Farrington.

In the next few years the campus is scheduled to get a new cafeteria, student center, library and media center, and three stories of new classrooms.

But all of that is for another time, a few years in the future.

For today, for the first time, Edward “Skippa” Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field is expected to be filled with Farrington students dressed in maroon.

During the first of two student assemblies on Wednesday, Carganilla — a 1986 Farrington graduate — told his students that, “You guys have your own legacy to leave. It’s bigger than any individual person.”

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