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SPA bids farewell to 15 Dolphins

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Last Saturday morning at South Pacific Academy ‘Home of the Dolphins’ the school held their 18th Commencement Ceremony, to bid farewell to fifteen Seniors — the Class of 2018 of SPA. Their theme was “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” - Anheuser-Busch.

Special remarks were offered by Lt. Governor Lemanu Sialega Peleti Mauga who encouraged graduates to ‘dream big and stay humble’, and noted that “we succeed in different stages of life, and don’t worry about fatal or flaws or your mistakes, because it’s part of life… the key to success is how you get back up, how do you stand up? How do you dust off yourself? How do you lift your head up and not be ashamed of the mistakes you’ve made?”

Leading the ceremony with his opening remarks was the Principal of South Pacific Academy Alexander Baker who challenged the graduates in the different aspects of life. “I challenge you to not give up, I challenge you to continue to fight, I challenge you to be courageous in your remissions and to continue to work hard throughout this life.”

The keynote address was given by SPA’s Math Department Head, AhSam LeiSam who told the graduating class: “Just enjoy your moment, it’s all about you, let your heart overflow with gratitude to all of those who have contributed to your success today.”

He continued, “Thank your parents for their countless sacrifices, thank your teachers for their tireless work, thank your advisors for giving you a headache, thank your peers and those around you, for their faithful friendship, thank your leaders for making time to be here to witness your graduation today, but most importantly, thank your Heavenly Father for his grace.”

LeiSam concluded “Graduates, don’t let this be your final, nor your greatest success in life. As high as the plane flies to Apia, and as much as the view astounds, there are much greater summits and the grand of lists is awaiting you … Our successes are meant to lead us into further successes … Only ultimate success ultimately satisfies. And ultimate success can only be measured throughout the span of your entire lifetime, it can only be fully realized in eternity.”

SPA’s Class of 2018 Salutatorian is Michelle Alvarez Nunez Wisneske; while Valedictorian honors are shared by Gayathri Murali and Karallyn Emma Sivai Fitisone.

Both Valedictorians graduated with a Cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Wisnesk delivered a short and sweet message to acknowledge and thank those who’ve helped them throughout their journey to success.

Co-Valedictorian Murali in her speech thanked all and pointed to high school as being “brutal” with its RRJ’s, science papers, Math notebooks, Economic worksheets —“But like a rainbow that shimmers in the sunlight after the big storm, the fruits of our hard work continue to aid us to refrain from regretting.”

She spoke of the class being worthy of their graduation day for the hard work they put in to arrive on this day and to acknowledge “success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is merely the courage to continue that counts. I hope that we all continue to stay true to that quote throughout the course of our lifetime. Fa’afetai tele lava and thank you, I love you guys.”

Co-Valedictorian Fitisone also thanked everyone that helped her throughout her journey, noting ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is exactly what has transpired today. I am that child, and collectively, you are the village that raised me. Fa’afetai le fai tama, fa’afetai le alofa.”

She said, “While it saddens me that I will be leaving what I have known all my life, I will go forward with the confidence that you have instilled in me the courage to continually seek success and the courage to overcome failure. I am your product, and you have raised me well. Fa’afetai, fa’afetai, fa’afetai. Thank you all for being here today, it means the world to me. E lelei le Ali’i! Soifua ma ia manuia”.

Following the Co-Valedictorians’ speeches was the confirmation of eligibility and the Acceptance of Graduates by the Chairperson of the South Pacific Academy Board, Salamasina Satele, followed by the presentation of Diplomas and the Turning of Tassels. The benediction was provided by Reverend Elder Fiti Sofia with the closing hymn provided by the graduating class of 2018.


Michelle Alvarez Wisneske (Salutatorian)

Losalini Vila Buikoto

Karallyn Emma Sivai Fitisone (Co-Valedictorian)

Timothy Josef Vicencio Gayapa

Monique Afamasaga Hollister

Pita Vi Lui

Semurana Vaaialealofaoleatua Mapu

Torey-Armina Teuila Montage

Gayathri Murali (Co-Valedictorian)

Valeria N. Nunez-Spencer

Francella Centennial Pola

Marian Shobita Rajamohan

Joshua Tabui

Anastasia Tausi Tue

Sailimalo-Mira Leafaitulagi S.M.M.F. Vele


All 15 graduates received the Congressional Award


Michelle Alvarez Wisneske

Karallyn Emma Sivai Fitisone

Timothy Josef Vicencio Gayapa

Monique Afamasaga Hollister

Semurana Vaaialealofaoleatua Mapu

Gayathri Murali

Valeria N. Nunez-Spencer

Francella Centennial Pola

Marian Shobita Rajamohan

Saili-Malo Vele


Karallyn Fitisone (University of Chaminade – Biology & Medicine)

Michelle Wisneske (Southern Oregon University – Biology & Nursing)

Monique Hollister (University of San Francisco – Accounting)

Francella Pola (American Samoa Community College – Biology & Health Science)

Sailimalo Vele (American Samoa Community College – Criminal Justice)