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DOE proposes one combined high school graduation

In a proposal to the governor, the Department of Education is looking at holding one combined graduation in June for all Tutuila public high schools at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, and this move, according to DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, will save time and unite the community.


When Vaitinasa took over the helm of DOE last year she set a new graduation policy, which initially didn’t sit well with many parents, but was supported by parent/teacher associations (PTAs). The major change implemented was limiting the graduation ceremony to 90 minutes, and recognizing the valedictorians and salutatorians— along with their parents— during the ceremony, but no speeches were heard from the top students.


One of the issues — and concerns from previous years — was that some high schools have more than one valedictorian and all of them usually give speeches.


DOE is proposing another change this year.


“Last year's ‘short and sweet’ high school graduations were a great success because of the support from the principals, teachers, students and parents,” Vaitinasa said Wednesday night responding to media inquiries. “We extend our appreciation for our community's willingness to support the changes I required of the unnecessarily long graduation ceremonies conducted for decades.”


For the upcoming graduation schedule, Vaitinasa says she has shared with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga a tentative plan that calls for the Manu’a High School graduation ceremony to be held on June 9 at the MHS campus, while a “one-day combined graduation ceremony” would be on June 11 at the Veterans Memorial Stadium for all public high schools on Tutuila.


(Manu’a's graduation ceremony has always been held first — usually towards the end of a week, and then the following week, graduation ceremonies on Tutuila would begin.)


Additionally, all public high schools would hold their respective awards assemblies, and their baccalaureate services before the graduation days, she said.


“We concur that the one-day combined graduation ceremony for all the high schools on Tutuila will not only save time for the leaders and the community, but will unite the entire community, parents and students, by sharing this special event together in one day,” Vaitinasa explained.


“Further, this combined one-day graduation will give the families ample time during the week to celebrate this accomplishment with relatives and friends,” she said, adding this decision was announced last week during her meeting with principals and earlier with the governor.


It’s expected the proposed combined graduation ceremony on Tutuila will also include the introduction of valedictorians and salutatorians from each high school.