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187 Samoana High School graduates ‘prepare for endless possibilities’

SHS graduatesSHS graduates

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “Looking back to our foundation with fresh perspectives to prepare for endless possibilities,” was the theme of the Samoana High School Class of 2024 Commencement Ceremony held yesterday at the Home of the Sharks in Utulei.

The Samoana gymnasium was packed with family and friends of the 187 graduates who received their high school diplomas yesterday morning.

The ceremony started with a short spiritual message and prayer delivered by Rev. Viliamu Leilua of the CCCAS Aua, followed by Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga’s special remarks which focused on the theme of the day.

“…You have acquired knowledge, honed your skills and forged meaningful connections to serve as the bedrock of your future endeavors. But as you bid farewell to this familiar landscape, you must do so with a fresh perspective and an open heart ready to embrace the endless possibilities.

“The future is not a daunting unknown, but a canvas waiting for your unique brush strokes. You open yourselves to new possibilities when you leave your foundation with a fresh perspective. You start to see the world in a new light and realize there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

“You begin to dream, dream big and take bold steps, long strides towards making those dreams a reality. Leaving your foundation with a fresh perspective is not without challenges. It requires you to be brave, to take risks and to step out of your comfort zone. 

“But it is also an opportunity to grow, learn and discover new aspects of yourselves … It means appraising change as opportunities for growth, adaptation rather than threatening your stability or security.

“But perhaps most importantly, leaving your foundation means recognizing that the journey ahead is not a predetermined path, but one you have the power to shape and define.

“You can chart your course, pursue your passions and make a meaningful impact on the world around you.

“The possibilities are endless, limited only by the boundaries of your imagination and the depth of your determination. Your future is not a destination, but a creation. So how can you leave your destination with a fresh perspective?

“Here are a few recommendations and suggestions.

“First, be willing to take risks… Remember that failure is not the end of the world but rather, an opportunity to learn and grow.

“Secondly, be open-minded… be willing to learn from others and adapt your approach as needed.

“Thirdly, be curious… Don’t be satisfied with your understanding. Strive to continuously learn and grow.

“And lastly, be kind to yourself… Be gentle with yourself and be patient with progress.

“In conclusion, leaving your foundation with a fresh perspective is not about abandoning your values and principles, but embracing change and being open to new experience, new ideas and perspectives.

“It’s recognizing that your foundation is not a fixed entity but is a dynamic and evolving force that needs to be inspired and grown.

“Graduates, take the leap of faith and don’t be afraid when you leave Samoana High School.

“Wherever you may go and however long you go, ten or more years, you will always return home because you are Samoan, and this is your heritage, where your parents, families and your people are, this is your home.

“Remember to pray everyday and God will protect you, guide you, raise you and help you achieve your dreams,” Governor Lemanu concluded.

DOE Director Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli accepted and confirmed the 187 graduates, who were congratulated as they left the stage by the Governor and the First Lady, and Congresswoman Uifa’atali Aumua Amata.

Certificates of Special Recognition from Congresswoman Uifa’atali were awarded to each THS graduate as they also received their diploma.

The two top academic positions were a male-dominated affair, with four of the five Co-Valedictorians being male. The Salutatorian was female.

Three of the five Co-Valedictorians of the Samoana High School Class of 2024 (l-r) Aukuso Fruean, Carlos Sanchez, J-La, Mataio Suluai during their graduation ceremony yesterday morning, at the school’s gymnasium. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]

The Co-Valedictorians are Aukuso Fruean, Carlos Sanchez, Jr., J-La Vaelapa Afi’a, Mataio Suluai and Ms Joevy Dela Cruz. The Salutatorian is Ms El-Hannora Toimoana.

Co-Valedictorian Aukuso Fruean is the eldest son of Fotualii Aukuso Fruean and Trixie Scanlan-Fruean. He hails from the villages of Fagatogo and Pago Pago. He is a member of the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish in Fagatogo. His Spiritual leaders are Father Ioane Anitelea and Father Michael Vito. His grandparents are Sesele Tuni Fruean and Epenesa Vaelepa Fruean of Pago Pago and the late Fotualii Andrew Scanlan and Eliza Grace Reid of Fagatogo.  

Co-Valedictorian Carlos M. Fouvale Sanchez is the son of Carlos Sanchez and Christina Lutu-Sanchez, and the grandson of the late High Chief Afoa Leulumoe Lutu and Mrs. Etenauga Lutu. He hails from the village of Utulei. 

Co-Valedictorian J-La Vaelapa Afia is the son of Vaaoloviti Mulivai Afi’a and René Alaelua-Afi’a and a beloved brother to Ben, Inayna, Princess and Viti, Jr. He would also like to dedicate his accomplishment to his Nana Luisa, Grandma Tulua and his aunties Queen and Honey. He hails from the village of Vatia.

Co-Valedictorian Mataio Sipu Talamoa Suluai is the son of Mr. Savaauli and Mrs M. Suluai. He dedicates his accomplishment to his siblings. He hails from the village of Pago Pago.

Co-Valedictorian Ms Joevy Dela Cruz is the proud daughter of Joe and Rosalie Dela Cruz from the Province of Pangasinan in the Philippines. She hails from the village of Fagatogo.

The two young ladies who received top honors for the SHS Class of 2024, Co-Valedictorian Ms Joevy Dela Cruz (right) and Salutatorian Ms El-Hannora Toimoana smiling for the Samoa News camera during their Commencement Exercise yesterday morning at the school’s gymnasium. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]

Salutatorian Ms El-Hannora Agnes Toimoana is the daughter of Tamate Peinamina Toimoana and Diana Kelly Seufale Toimoana. She dedicates her accomplishments to her grandpa, the late Rev. Si’umo’o Toimoana and her grandma Olive Toimoana. Her Spiritual parents are Rev. Toomalatai Fuimaono Lalagofaatasi and Sipaea Sanonu Lalagofaatasi from the Faleniu Lighthouse Assembly of God. She hails from the villages of Pago Pago, Nu’uuli, Faleatiu, Solosolo, Foaluga, Manono and Apia.

ASG Scholarship Board Representative Lisa Gebauer announced this year’s ASG scholarship recipients:

Carlos Sanchez will be majoring in Biology and attending the University of California at Davis.

Mataio Suluai will be majoring in Accounting at the University of Delaware.

David Faumuina will be majoring in Pre Law at the University of Washington

El Hannora Toimoana will be majoring in Education at the American Samoa Community College.