American Samoans helping the Center for Micronesian Empowerment, a non-profit organization based on Guam; [KUAM News]

 While students are out on Spring Break, one southern Guam school gets a much-needed makeover with the help of students from American Samoa. 22-year-old Tony Solaita left his home in American Samoa two months ago in search of better opportunities.

"Guam to us is a place for us to find better jobs to help support our family back home," he shared. While on Guam, Solaita is one of thirty American Samoans helping the Center for Micronesian Empowerment, a non-profit organization based on Guam.

The CME recently partnered with the Guam Trades Academy and the Department of Education to restore the condemned 5000 Building at Southern High School. "I'm hoping to gain more knowledge and more skills so that when I get a job I have experience in using tools and so on," he added.

According to DOE facilities manager Billy Cruz, the 5000 Wing was in terrible shape. The bathrooms were vandalized and had no faucets or working toilets, lights were burnt out, and classrooms were in dire need of fresh paint. Also on the to-do-list: repair 300 student desks.

"It's our third day already and these guys have helped us get more than 15 classrooms ready," Cruz said. "I think with another three or four days we'll be able to finish all the 5000 Building. Now is a great opportunity now that we have extra manpower given to us to help us in terms of getting our schools up and ready."

Southern High School principal James Petite welcomes his school to be used as training ground for those looking to gain work experience in the field of construction and masonry. More so, Petite is excited to open the 5000 Wing next school year for incoming 9th graders as a Freshmen Academy. The concept helps underclassmen transition from middle to high school using team teaching methods and by isolating the students from sophomores, juniors, and seniors.


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