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“Connecting the Mind and the Heart”- the 27th Annual Secondary Speech Festival

It was Shakespeare who told us that “All the world’s a stage” and every one a player, each with their part. On Thursday, April 2, Tafuna High School campus was the stage, where the world of literature came alive, and gave students of the territory a chance to play their parts, and shine in many ways — and shine they did.


The 27th Annual Secondary Speech Festival had enough contained energy to power a city. The students from grades 9 through 12, acted, sung, talked, emoted and otherwise put themselves out there, as they portrayed various literary works, both original and classic for the judges, in categories as contemporary as Original Script Writing, and as time honored as Choral Recitation. (It was, after all, the ancient Greeks who first used the group chorus with meter and rhythm to entertain, enlighten and elucidate.)


In her introductory remarks, DOE director, Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau said, “ I marvel at the talent on display.” She stated — to much applause — “I wish there was a National Speech Festival. We would win!”


And quoting Samoan statesman and paramount chief, Tupua Tamasese, she added, “When the mind and the heart connects, it gives birth to words.”


This year’s Festival was especially welcome, as last year’s Speech Fest was cancelled over concerns about spreading pink eye, which had run rampant through the schools at the time. So all of that talent and pent up energy was ready to go on Thursday, and the judges were treated to youthful takes on timeless literature, as well as current and pressing problems of the day — as found in original works from the students themselves.


Students took to the stage to thoughtfully interpret sonnets, eulogize epic heroes, and bravely explore current social problems. Categories included individual performances, such as “Monologue”; “Oral Interpretation: Poetry”; and “Impromptu Speech”. Shared performances were seen in “Dual Acting”, while large groups choreographed “Contemporary Choral Recitation”.


“Original Script Writing” featured teams of actors on stage, using stories penned by the student’s themselves, and created to explore difficult themes within a stipulated time frame. No small feat for seasoned scriptwriters, let alone high school students, most of whom speak two languages, and English is not their mother tongue.


In her program message, the DOE director noted, “while mastery of the English language continues to be a challenge for our student population, it is an amazing feat to see our local students excel in their English language skills through these performances, recitations and speeches.”


Courage was on full display at the Speech Festival as well. Tackling works by artists and playwrights as varied as Neil Simon, Maya Angelou, Mark Twain and William Shakespeare, they also boldly examined, with wit and pathos, the timeless problems of star-crossed lovers, unwanted pregnancies, and women scorned. They examined the social pressures of the “ideal body type” and let loose on the colonization of Hawai’i, as seen thru the eyes of a noble queen, Liliuokalani, who had boldly declared, “I yield my authority to the forces of the United States, in order to avoid bloodshed.”


The decision to keep a baby after a rape; the problem of a homophobia within the family circle, the dilemma of the “Not So Perfect Child”… there was no topic off limits, and the performers approached each work with great honesty — and without fear.


Leone High School took top honors in the show, as they have many times before over the years (this was their 12th win, to date). However, all students, parents, teachers, counselors and staff involved should be congratulated for the countless hours of planning, rehearsals and hopeful work that went into each wonderful production.


Major sponsors of the show should also be given acknowledgement, because without them, the show would not go on: StarKist Samoa, Bluesky Communications, McDonald’s, the Shoe Tree, and the Department of Education all worked to bring the Festival to life.


See more photos in slideshow.


The results of the judging for the 27th Annual Secondary Speech Festival are as follows:


Oral Interpretation: Poetry


1st Jadine Laumoli, Leone High School

2nd Adeline Talaeai, Tafuna High School

3rd Gloria Faʼaeseina Matamua, Samoana High School


Original Script Writing


1st Iakina Adventist Academy

2nd Leone High School

3rd Fagaitua High School




1st Rexona Pouesi, Faʼasao Marist High School

1st Faith Loia, Leone High School

3rd Sylvester Toatelegese, Nuʼuuli Vocational Technology High School


Dual Acting


1st Tafuna High School

2nd Nuʼuuli Vocational Technology High School

2nd Samoana High School


Impromptu Speech


1st Samoana High School

2nd Leone High School

3rd Fagaitua High School


Contemporary Choral Recitation


1st Samoana High School

2nd Leone High School

3rd Fagaitua High School