A.P. Lutali elementary wins Just Play competition

A.P. Lutali elementary from Aunu’u took top honors in the FFAS/DOE Just Play Program’s Festival competition, beating out seven other schools in the finale at DYWA’s gymnasium in Pago Pago on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

Pandemonium erupted amongst the 50 A.P. Lutali students when last year’s winner, St. Theresa, was announced for the No. 2 position, leaving them as the only team yet to be announced for the No. 1 spot.

A.P. Lutali finished second last year to St. Theresa, and came in third the year before. This is the third year since the festival competition was first started. Just Play has been in the DOE schools since 2011.

 “The hard work has paid off!” said the Aunu’u-based school’s JPP instructor, Christina Nili. “We came a long way, this year we decided to make some changes on how to run the program, therefore we came to perform for that first place. The students were happy to place first this year!

“It’s an honor to see the students enjoying their win, and they were excited to bring the 1st place trophy home,” she added. “This is my first year as a Just Play instructor, and taking over for the program was very exciting.”

This year’s Just Play Program (JPP) festival competition pitted the top eight elementary schools against one another, with each school presenting a session from the JPP booklet based on social issue themes.

17 elementary schools, one of them private and the rest government-run, have the JPP curriculum in their schools. The DOE’s PE division, and FFAS, held a pre-selection process on the last week of March, and first week of April, to pick the top eight schools for the finale last Thursday.

For the final standings from last week, Tafuna elementary came in third place, followed by Pava’ia’i, Lupelele, Le’atele (Fagasa), Mt. Alava (Vatia), and Afonotele elementary.

Mt. Alava elementary was given the Most Improved Award during the awards ceremony.

A rubric was used to point each school on their festival session presentations, and three judges were selected for the competition – FFAS Vice-President and FIFA Council member Sandra Fruean, Netini Sene, ASDOE Assistant Director and head of the Office of Curriculum and Instruction, and Tapumanaia Galu Satele, Deputy Director of the American Samoa Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled.

The rubric for the JPP Festival competition used six categories – a time limit of 20 minutes, paperwork detailing their presentation, the warm-up session, skills session, the game/match demonstration and conclusion.

The Festival competition consisted of each school demonstrating one session each from the guide given to all JPP instructors. There are 34 sessions in the guide, and a topic was pre-selected by the DOE’s PE division.

A session uses a theme that ties into one of the four Just Play Program objectives — to increase healthy lifestyle choices and reduce the risk factors associated with NCDS, promote gender equality, the inclusion of persons with special needs and to promote child protection.

A session is composed of the introduction of the objective and theme, and ending with a game that is to allow the children to express themselves. Before the game gets underway, there must be a warm-up activity, followed by a skills portion, and all three components must relate to the session’s theme and objective.

All schools had the students act as instructors, in place of the teacher, delivering the session to their fellow students. It was a method that was first started by St. Theresa’s vice-principal, and current JPP instructor, Katherine Taleni, when she was at Leone Midkiff elementary. That method was then adopted by all the elementary schools having JPP as part of their curriculum.

Each school had their own way of conducting their festival sessions, with the school from Aunu’u basing theirs on a militaristic style, with their students forming themselves into a platoon with squads.

Standing at ease or at attention when called upon by the student instructors, their deliverance was crisp, efficient and quick.

St. Theresa, and many other schools, took on a more classroom-like style, first explaining the actions to the students, demonstrating it, and then having their charges perform the activity.

Below are the schools and the themes they based their festival presentations on for the finale:

Lupelele – Gender equality
St. Theresa – Promote the inclusion of all children

Le’atele – Making healthy choices
Tafuna – Girls and boys work together
A.P. Lutali – Eat well stay well
Mt. Alava – Water is good
Pava’ia’i – Respect everyone
Afonotele – Respecting each other by working together

The only private elementary school participating in the Just Play Program is St. Theresa. Nine public schools, besides the seven in the list above, were – Alofau, Aoa, Aua, Lauli’i, Coleman (Pago Pago) elementary, and Matafao from the eastern district, and Alataua II, Leone Midkiff and Manulele Tausala from the western district.

Just Play for the next school year, 2017-2018, will start with a teacher’s workshop scheduled for September 2017. The program is delivered to the schools through the DOE’s PE Division, with the assistance of FFAS.

“It is another great ending to a great program, and congratulations to A.P. Lutali for the win,” said FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua. “Again, I want to let all the schools know, that when the new school year starts, do not hesitate to contact our office if you need help with the program. Like our president (Sen. Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet) said, we are here to help.”

Other guests included DOE Assistant Director and head of the elementary division, Puna Tanielu, elementary division coordinator Siauini Ta’ala, Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs’ Deputy Director Pau Roy Ausage, several of the elementary school’s principals, and a few members of the FFAS executive committee.

Ta’ala provided the opening invocation for the program, and FFAS executive member, Rev. Ioane Evagelia, closed it with a benediction.

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