“The only trade high school in American Samoa needs a gymnasium,” say Voc-Tech students
Senior students studying government, as part of their Social Studies class at Nu’uuli Vocational Technical High School (NVTHS), last Friday, exercised their right to “freedom of speech”, by taking to the street in front of the school with their message — “The only trade high school in American Samoa needs a gymnasium.”
The “wave” event, which is part of the government’s class’ “Let’s Make Some Noise” project highlights the students ‘freedom of speech’ to voice their “opinions to the public about one key need at their school — a gym.”
Class instructor is Rosalee Shoulders, and school officials and observers said students held banners and posters that stated this message and parents, underclassmen, administrators as well as other teachers came out to support this goal.
They say It was a good turnout and they are hoping that the community will spread the word about NVTHS’ need of a gym for school events, functions, graduation as well as for sporting events.
High school principal Tupa’i Rod Atafua said his report every month to the main Education Office “humbly requests” a gym, which is not only for school activities such as sports, but physical education (PE) and health classes so “our young students do not have to be outside in the hot sun or rain.”
“I feel for them and my heart goes out to our students with no gym and we have to deal with what we have,” Tupa’i told Samoa News. “And we don’t have a gym to hold our own graduation ceremony, so we depend on the facility at Kanana Fou.”
He said Shoulders, who heads the social study department, thought about exercising this right of Freedom of Speech since the Bill of Rights is taught in her government class. “So it was like a practice for students, exercising their individual rights being out there before school started,” he said.
Tupa’i said the school has made the request to the Education director and the governor, who makes the final decision, and “we are hopeful that we will someday be blessed with a gym for the high school, which educates students from all over the territory.”
The principal is hopeful that the community and local leaders heard the frustrations from the voices of students last Friday that they too need a gym. He added that because of the lack of a gym the school seldom holds school assemblies and on those rare occasions for an assembly, students sit on the stairways of the building as a makeshift grandstand.
And when the school holds major activities and the community is invited, “We ask DOE for funds to rent large tents because we don’t have a gym and the cost of the large tents and chairs for events is around $500,” he said.
If DOE main office is unable to provide the costs, “We asked our PTA, which has been very supportive and helpful all the time,” Tupa’i said, adding the school with an enrollment of 345 students, “please all we humbly asked is a gym.”
And funding to build a gym was raised during fiscal year 2017 budget review more than a week ago, during the Fono Joint Budget Committee’s review of the Special Programs, which is overseen by the Governor’s Office. Under the proposal $500,000 is allocated for gymnasium renovation at public schools.
Rep. Vaiaitu Mulinu’u Maluia says that the same amount is allocated for the same purpose in FY 2016 but NVTHS is still without a gym and it’s the only public high school without such a facility.
He requested the governor’s chief of staff, Fiu J. Saelua, who testified on the Special Programs for use of some of the FY 2017 allocation — at least $300,000 — to start off a gym for the school, which educates students from all over the territory.
A look at some of the students from Nu’uuli Vocational Technical High School (NVTHS), who exercised their right of freedom of speech last Friday, by participating in a wave — calling attention to the school’s key need, a gym. The wave was a part of the school’s government class project called, “Let’s Make Some Noise”. [courtesy photo]