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Laupahoehoe point has always been a beautiful peninsula, though rocky around its edges. A school was established in a small fishing village in 1883 and remained in that location until the devastating tsunami on April 1st, 1946. Just like the rest of the island Laupahoehoe had no warning system and students had already begun to arrive for the school day. Marsue McGinnis was a teacher at the time, still fairly new to the island only having arrived in 1945 from Ohio. At that time the teacher cottages were on school grounds, even closer to the ocean than the school itself. “… our front yard, no trees, there …… was the ocean, not a beach—rocks and the ocean…… It was just beautiful.” Each cottage housed four teachers; Marsue was one, Dorothy Drake, Helen Kingseed and Fay Johnson were the others. On that morning in 1946 someone came and knocked on the door and said, “Come see the tidal wave!! Come see the tidal wave!!” They all went out and noticed a small surge and receding of water but didn’t expect it to be more than one wave.  They stayed and watched but eventually the waves kept getting bigger until one wave just kept coming. Marsue and one of the other teachers ran through the back of the cottage to try and reach safety. “… I remember turning around and seeing the, the water just fighting at the window, ….. then the window glass broke and the whole cottage just collapsed, it was crushed.” She and the other teachers were caught by the wave trying to hold on to the floating roof of the cottage. As the waves kept coming, they were all separated. Marsue was pulled out to sea, struggling to keep her head above water and catch her breath. Finding some nailed together boards she was able to paddle herself away from the dangerous rocky outcrops. It was when she was floating out in the water among all the debris, she noticed most of her clothes had been stripped off her body by the power of the waves. The only thing she had left was the large flannel shirt she put on that morning. As she floated on the door, she noticed others out in the water with her. Some were too far for her to communicate with, but others she could yell too. One boy saw a ship far out to sea hoping to reach it, but she said, “It’s too far away.” She never saw him again. She was floating in the water for hours, it was starting to get dark, but she could see a small plane flying overhead. At first it seemed like the pilot didn’t see her, they dropped a raft too far away for her to reach, but they did finally come close enough and dropped a rubber raft close by. Releasing her door, inflating the raft and climbing in, she drifted along the coast. It wasn’t long after that she was rescued by a few men in a boat, one of whom would become her husband.

Marsue’s roommates were among the 24 students and teachers lost that day.

The school was relocated after the 1946 tsunami and reopened in 1952 at its current location up on the bluff.