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Pacific Horizons School graduates two seniors

Last Friday evening, the graduating class of 2012 for Pacific Horizons School lived their last day as “Navigators” when their graduation ceremony was held at the LDS Stake Center in Ottoville before friends, family and honored guests who were present to fill the evening with memories.

The Pacific Horizons graduating class of 2012 consisted of just two very special senior class members, both females, as they concluded their four years at Pacific Horizons with high honors. Mee Jin Park took the Valedictorian title, and Teresa Lin the Salutatorian title in this year’s graduation.

Opening the ceremony was an invocation given by Marshall Ashley, followed by welcoming remarks from Pacific Horizons’ principal Caroline Tuiolosega. Sia Figiel, of Congressman Eni Faleomavaega’s office, recognized the graduates and she was also the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

Figiel began by welcoming the distinguished guests of Pacific Horizons graduating class of 2012 and thanking the principal. “I am deeply moved by your principal, Caroline Tuiolosega, for selecting me to be your keynote speaker, on this milestone event in your lives, dear graduates. Simultaneously, I wish to thank her for asking me— a complete stranger to her, but certainly not to Pacific Horizons— as during the course of my time as an education staffer for the office of Congressman Faleomavaega, I was given the opportunity to work with students who have graduated from Pacific Horizons to pursue their dreams and goals.

“I know that once you leave the shores of American Samoa, that your intelligence and thought processes will be formed mostly by Western writers, scientists, coaches, philosophers, leaders, and other champions of knowledge. Therefore, I will leave that in the hands of the very capable professors and mentors who will assist you as you navigate that part of your life’s journey.

“For the moment, I wish to fish ancient wisdom as parting gifts to you, dear graduates, from the depths of the ocean that surrounds you, that we Samoans call Moana, and the land upon which we stand, the fanua, the green life that nurtures you, as far as you -and we all -can remember.

“There’s a Samoan saying, ‘e tasi, ae afe’— you are one, in fact you are two today, (as she laughed)... I have spoken in some graduations, but this is the first graduation where there are just two students. For what is very unique about these two individuals, is the high level of accomplishment... this is what strikes me... and made me quite nervous to think, what am I going to impart to you tonight?

“As I’ve said, you will go on, to further your education, in some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, but what you will carry with you tonight, is a little gift from our Samoa, because you were educated here. You look up to the mountains... then, there’s the ocean right there... and those are memories that you take with you, those are things that will always be a part of you. You will be navigating big cities very soon, you will be on the metro, you will be around very fast moving objects, but just remember that mango leaves fall, that a breadfruit will fall somewhere out in the Pacific and that you will be able to hear it, whether you’re in New Jersey, New York, or where ever you go, know that there’s a place, where your parents, where the ‘aiga’— your family... where your values have been instilled in you by people who love you.

 “I want to impart to you, that wherever you go, however fast life will take you there, just remember, that we are all here, and that we are always thinking of you, with our best intentions for you and your future, and hope that you will return back, to give back to those mountains, to give back to that tree, most importantly, to give back to a new generation of students!

“Ia manuia le afiafi, and thank you very much.”

Following the conclusion of Figiel’s speech was a presentation of awards, beginning with the Rotary Club 4-Way Test Award, which was presented by Joe Yandall, and was awarded to Salutatorian, Teresa Lin.

The First Lady’s Ta’ita’itama Scholarship award was presented by Reno Amisone, and awarded to Valedictorian Mee Jin Park.

The American Samoa Government Scholarship presented by Reverend Ned Ripley was awarded to Teresa Lin. Presenting the Congressional Awards was Sia Figiel, which saw both graduates receiving an award from the Office of Congressman Eni Faleomavaega.

After the presentation of diplomas, came the opportunity for the Valedictory address. Concluding the event was the benediction provided by Reverend Ned Ripley.



Good evening everyone, I stand here today as your valedictorian on behalf of the class of 2012. It truly is a small class, but despite its size, excellence prevails. Now to begin with, I am obligated to thank our dear Heavenly Father for this honor today and for everything that he has done in my life to lead me to this point.

I would also like to thank my parents and my sisters for being with me throughout my four hard years in high school. Now as for my parents, I would really like to thank them because two weeks ago, when I was at the airport almost departing on my trip, I forgot my passport, now today, when I was getting ready for my graduation, I forgot my graduation cap, and they are always there to run back and fetch it for me, and I would really like to thank them.

I just returned from my trip to Pittsburgh last night, so I am extremely tired today, and I remember it was just a couple of months ago, I was merely a student with a dream to win the science fair. But I lived that dream, just last week. I have received so much from this trip actually, and I realized that I was far from reaching my dream. Students from all around the world gathered in one spot, just to show me that I am still lacking compared to them.

Now I will try and make my speech today revolutionary. No long lists of thanks, and no ‘hopes and dreams’ blabber to my underclassmen. But thank you Mrs. Tuiolosega and the teachers for preparing me for my college education, I would also like to express my gratitude to Mr. Snyder and to all my teachers for keeping up with my lack of attention during class time. I have reason for that— Mr. Snyder’s classroom is full of mosquitoes! I am sure all of the other students agree with me. Lastly to my fellow underclassmen, whatever vision you might have, chase it, and my last quote to conclude my high school life is “Congratulations to the class of 2012, and this ‘nesian' is off to college!”


Teresa Lin (Salutatorian)

Mee Jin Park (Valedictorian)