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Manumalo graduates 8 Flames —all on to bigger and better things

Manumalo Academy Class of 2019
"Go The Extra Mile"

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The chapel at Manumalo Baptist Church was full of smiles — and tears — as parents, family members, and friends gathered yesterday morning to witness the graduation of eight seniors, the Class of 2019.

Paramount Builders, a local company, prides itself in promoting education and honoring the achievements of the territory’s youth with this year’s sponsorship of graduation coverage.

The event included congratulatory remarks and words of encouragement from Acting Governor Lemanu Sialega Palepoi Mauga. The opening prayer was offered by Pastor Lemmy Seumanu and Manumalo High School principal Tiana Trepanier welcomed the crowd with brief remarks.

This year, the highest honor went to Hewlitt De Lara — class valedictorian — who received a $104,000 scholarship to attend the University of Portland.

Valedictorian Hewlitt De Lara

The salutatorian honor was shared by Aitulagi Alofa and Ben Schuster, the only two local high school students who will be heading out to United States Military Academies: the Naval Academy for Alofa and the Air Force Academy for Schuster.

Co-Salutatorian Aitulagi Alofa

Co-Salutatorian Ben Schuster

Those in the audience yesterday were treated to inspiring poems and beautiful songs, performed by the graduates. It was De Lara and Alofa who spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

In addition to the Top Three awards, other special awards were presented by JROTC Senior Army Instructor SFC Lepuapua Taliau; DOE scholarship office representative Donna Gurr; and Pulu Ae Ae Jr. and Fua Fuatagavi on behalf of American Samoa Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.

Director of Education, Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, in her remarks, spoke highly of Manumalo Academy students, and their academic achievements, especially the graduating class. She said the group consistently took top honors in territorial high school competitions, and based on tabulations by DOE, Manumalo High School students tend to top the ranks.

She also pointed out that the 8 graduates have been offered nearly $1 million worth of scholarship awards from various colleges and programs.

In his remarks, Manumalo Academy director Papalii Laulii Alofa said the achievements of the Class of 2019 are the highest ever in the school's history — raising the bar to a higher level — and the success is the result of the government, especially DOE and private schools, working together to reap better results.

He also thanked the parents of the graduates, who forked out thousands of dollars each school year in tuition costs, and said he hopes they are satisfied with how their hard earned money was spent.