The newly formed Leo Club of South Pacific Academy, whose officers and members were installed on Friday evening, March 9, 2012 at the Deluxe Cafe as family and Lions Club members looked on. This is the first school-based Leo Club sponsored by the Lions Club of Pago Pago, who inducted 38 members that evening. [courtesy photo]

Earlier this month, the Lions Club of Pago Pago accomplished a long-cherished goal, one which brought a school-based youth group into full participation in the Lions organization, under the guidance and sponsorship of the local Lions Club.

Under their own banner (they are known officially as the Leos) the first school-based Leo Club was inducted during a special evening held at the Deluxe Cafe in on Friday, March 9, 2012. Taotasi Archie Soliai, a past president of the Lions Club served as Master of Ceremony and 1st Vice President Isabel Hudson organized the evening, along with Lion Treasurer Susie Casem, who gave a brief description of the Leo organization.

Casem noted that the Leo Club Objective is "To provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for development and contribution, individually and collectively, as responsible members of the local, national and international community."

Their Motto is derived from the acronym, which gives them their name:

Leadership– to develop skills as a project organizer, time manager and team leader;

Experience– to learn how teamwork, cooperation and collaboration can bring exciting changes to your community and the world; and,

Opportunity– to make friends and feel the rewards of community service.

President of the Lions Club of Pago Pago, Jacinta Brown presided over the event, and welcomed the guests, who filled the restaurant to capacity, with standing room only.

While several members of the sponsoring Lions Club looked on, 38 students of South Pacific Academy were warmly welcomed and officially made members of the largest volunteer community service organization in the world. As members of the LEO club, they are under the auspices of the local Lions, who are members of Lions Club International with over four million members in 162 countries and territories worldwide. Leo clubs number more than 6,100 Leo clubs in 138 countries with approximately 152,000 members.

The newest Leo Club members were presented with their official pins and handbooks. A Certificate of Organization was presented to SPA principal, Evelyn Lilio Satele for the new club, whose official sponsor is the Lions Club of Pago Pago.

She will serve as the LEO Club advisor, and SPA parent, Marilyn Tolmie will serve as Assistant Advisor.

Evelyn noted that a charter member of the original Lions Club of Pago Pago, High Chief Faumuina Tagiisia, was on hand for the evening, as his daughter was one of the inductees.

In her remarks, she said, "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lions Club of Pago Pago for organizing this beautiful evening tonight. Being a member of the Lions Club, I know well the dedication, commitment and determination necessary to bring to fruition a project of this magnitude. It is truly an honor to be a part of the first school-based Leo Club ever in American Samoa.

“And, I know we will make you proud for amongst you are not only young students who have seized the opportunity to become experienced leaders, but they are also some of the most intelligent and enjoyable young people I've ever had the pleasure to know.

“But, above all, they're ready to go to work, making our community a better place through their decision to become members of the Lions Family.”

According to Evelyn the first Leo project will focus on “Going Green” which will involve working together with the National Park Service to bring awareness to the serious issue of invasive species, especially as they relate to our fragile forests.

The students will be planting native trees around the perimeter of the SPA campus and studying the cultural uses of each tree. In addition, the project will culminate in the building of a traditional Samoan fale on campus, funded in part through the Arts in Education Program.

(The Leo tree-planting project is also in keeping with the Lions International President’s goal to plant a million trees worldwide this year)


Early on, the Lions Club hoped to sponsor a youth group, and under Lions International rules, the youth group could be school based, or community based.

With the community-based group in mind, the Lions Club of Pago Pago adopted the American Samoa District of the Boy Scouts of America under the Aloha Council as its youth program.  Resulting from this, the Club was awarded one of the most prestigious Lion awards, the Pat Ryan Award for having the largest youth program within the District, which includes Samoa, Fiji, and Auckland, New Zealand.

With the support and backing of Lions Club Charter President Mike Sala, and through successive Lion administrations, the Boy Scouts were funded and supported by the Lions, including financial help for their jamborees, training sessions, and Eagle Scout Courts of Honor. It is a relationship that continues to this day, as the Lions continue to provide support to the local Scout organization.

Still, the school-based club was a cherished goal, as the youth are able, through the Leo club, to learn leadership skills, teamwork and community-minded service through their school based friendships and associations. This new club will be no exception.

They will learn that they truly can have a positive impact on people’s lives, said President Cinta Brown.


The Lions handed out following the LEO club induction another special set of awards. Three young ladies who had each placed 1st in their districts (Eastern, Central and Western) for the 2011-2012 Peace Poster contest were honored that evening.

The local Lions have sponsored a Peace Poster contest for the past seven years, and each year awarded a cash-prize and certificate to young artists who are best able to depict the yearly theme for the worldwide contest, hosted by local clubs as well as Lions International.

This year’s Peace Poster theme — “Children Know Peace" — presented a real challenge for the students, who must be 11, 12 or 13 years of age to enter.

Nearly one hundred posters were submitted for this year’s contest. A panel of judges selected the winning entries according to the international rules and criteria, which includes “originality” “artistic merit” and “expression of theme”.

Pauline Vaivao of Matafao Elementary, Siniva Siaumau of Lupelele Elementary and Meagan Eustaquio of South Pacific Academy were each honored with their awards, and each were given a chance to speak on the subject of peace; how they feel about it, where it is found, and why it is so important.

Peace poster winner Meagan Eustaquio (also inducted the same evening as a member of the new LEO club) summed it up when she said, “ the world may be chaotic, but children do know the true meaning of peace, and strive to make the world a better place.”


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