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Twelve seniors graduate from Iakina

The Iakina Adventist Academy (IAA) held their 2012 Commencement Exercise this past Sunday morning inside the Iakina Church chapel in Iliili with 12 seniors receiving their high school diplomas—ending twelve years of hard work, and beginning a new chapter in their young lives.

The chapel was packed with parents, families and friends of the graduating class. Master of Ceremonies was Jacinta Puletele Peleti, who is also the principal of IAA.

The Iakina SDA Church Pathfinders posted the colors while the opening invocation was given by District Director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in American Samoa, Pastor Olive Dean. The IAA choir sang an opening song, while other musical numbers were performed by the Sound of Praise from Nuuuli SDA church, Leone SDA choir and two members of the graduating class.

Special guests included the Director of Education for the SDA church Mission in Samoa, American Samoa and Tokelau, Mr. Seiuli Paul Wallwork; DOE Acting Director Designee, Dr. Jacinta Galea’i and representatives from local companies, offices and families who sponsored awards for the graduating class.

The keynote speaker, First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono began by thanking the graduating class for selecting her to address them, and telling a brief story of the progress she witnessed in the Ta’ita’itama program.

Referring to the graduating class theme, “Dedicated to Determine our Dreams for Now and Eternity” Mrs. Tulafono encouraged them to dedicate what they have learned to determine their dreams and fulfill a good future for themselves.

“When I looked at the graduation theme, I couldn’t but help feel a sense of urgency and the drive to move forward to the challenges that lie ahead,” the First Lady said.

“For me, the key word in your theme is “determined” and you must apply that to ascertain and influence something,” she added.

“You have to have a dream— and when you do have a dream, a dream or a vision is a way you see yourself. How are you going to make that dream a reality or what is it that keeps you focused everyday? It is your determination... and if you work hard, stay on track, it will provide a way to achieve your goal,” the First Lady said

“And the career that you determine will be your future. Determine your dream for now and eternity and I can say, determine your destiny and make it happen — your motivation is to make your parents, family, sister, brother, aunty or uncle proud, and you all look up to and that person has been a positive role, a role model for you, or maybe an 80 years old grandmother who sits and prays everyday that you graduate from college and do well.”

“Whatever motivates you, I ask you to stay focused and keep that dream in your mind because that will drive you to get hold of your future without fear, and that will keep you strong when times are tough, and keep you focused on what you need to do to accomplish the task.”

She went on to say that the graduates will meet different people, make friends, some of them good, some of them not so good, “but you must be smart... and I know you’re all there to make the right choice.”

“Today, I want to remind you to make the right choice, every step you take, everywhere you go, please remember, your parents and families are praying for your future and for you to be safe, and also bear in mind that if you succeed in life — come back to your country, come back because we need your ideas, your creativity and all other ways to improve our local community, government, society... because American Samoa depends on you.” she told them.

She ended with a quote from the former first lady of the United States of America, Lady Bird Johnson— “Education is a loan to be repaid with the gift of self.”

“You are a blessing to all of us.” she concluded.

Awards were given out to each recipient following the keynote speech, and then the graduating class was presented by Director Wallwork, and accepted by Dr. Galea’i.

Pastor Dean gave the benediction, and a musical number by Leone SDA choir ended the ceremony.


The Valedictorian award was provided by Mrs. Siliva Fauoo, and was awarded to Naphtaliah Reed, who also received two other awards, a Presidential Merit Award from Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, presented by Sia Figiel, and the Highest SAT award donated by the Curry & Tavita family.

Miranda Galo received the Salutatorian award donated by Ausage & Associates and the Leadership Award donated by the Tiitii family.

Two ASG Scholarship awards were presented by Chairperson of the ASG Scholarship Board, Rev. Ned Ripley, to Naphtaliah Reed and Jasmine Muasau. Muasau was also the recipient of the Florence Saulo & Associates award.

Iosefo Tiitii received the Rotary Club award presented by Joe Yandall while Orlando Tagaloa received the Bible Award donated by Lupe Tapuai. The Citizenship Award was given to Jasmine Muasau.


Greetings and Talofa. The honorable First Lady, Mrs Mary Ann Tulafono, DOE Assistant Director Designee, Dr. Jacinta Galea’i, Samoa/Tokelau Mission of the SDA Church Education Director Mr. Seiuli Paul Wallwork, Pr. Olive Dean, District Director of the SDA Church in Tutuila/Manu’a, Distinguished guests, parents, family, friends, Iakina Staff, students, and the class of 2012.

E muamua lava ona sii le viiga ma le faafetai i le Atua aua ua tatou aulia lenei aso faapitoa.

Praises and honor be to our heavenly father up above, for whom this day is possible.

I thank Him for His Love, His protection, and most of all, His guidance throughout my eight year journey here in Iakina.

I wouldn’t be standing here today, if it wasn’t for Him, because in addition to His unconditional love and support, he also brought into my life some very special people, whom I am going to acknowledge today.

To the Iakina teachers that taught me, you all have given me something that I will take with me wherever I go. You taught me valuable life lesson’s such as believing, being early and punctual, and to always be presentable and be the best that I can be.

You are selfness, compassionate and proactive individuals that always go the extra mile to see that we not only succeed in school, but in life and beyond. I will always remember you for your constant haranguing in the mornings, your advice, your belief in me and your companionship. You all have helped make me the successful person I am today. What would my educational life be without you? God bless you all, and may you be abundantly rewarded for all of the great things that you have done.

To the cooks, Talo, Darlene and Muavae, you guys are the best. Thank you for the meals every day, and for smuggling food for me sometimes as I passed by, whenever I’m late.

To our janitor, Mr. Valaau, I’ve seen you around since I was in fourth grade, and I thank you for keeping my educational home clean.

To my Iakina underclassmen, thanks for the memories. At school, in competitions, in the aiga bus, or wherever we meet, we were always a little family. We may be different individuals at school but when we’re in public, we go as a unit and we’re protective of each other. I hope that you students don’t give our teachers a hard time next year. I love you all and I wish you all the best of luck whenever you go, and remember the Lord in all that you do.

To my friends, family and siblings, thanks for being here and supporting me. I know some of you can’t be here today, but your support means a lot, and I love you. To my grandma, who held my hand when I first entered school a sobering mess, I love and miss you so much.

Finally to my parents. Thank you for your endless love, advice and support. Mom, thank you for being the soft spoken and humble person that you are. Dad, thank you for being open-minded and being my fellow conspiracy theorist, and I hope that after graduation, you will finally deliver on your word and teach me how to drive.

And finally, last but most definitely not the least, my Graduating class. You all have given me so many memories and laughter over the years. To me, you people remind me of a rainbow. You come in different colors, but together, you’re beautiful. I will miss you all dearly, but I believe that we will all meet again in the near future. Don’t let the outcome of today shape in any way, the views that you may have had of your future. We all graduated in one piece, we all make it together,  “Dedicated to Determine our dreams for now and eternity.” Let us be dedicated and determined to not only dreaming of, but of attaining knowledge that’s higher and eternal, for the knowledge of this world perishes, but wisdom found in God is for now and eternity. With God’s wisdom, no one is first or second, or third, for we are all winners in the Lord. May you always be humble in all that you do, remember the Lord so that all your dreams and goals may come true. Thank you everyone and God Bless.


Serafina Aunese

Miranda Galo

Philana Fiafia

Ann Ioapo

Raynada Kitiona

Jasmine Muasau

Naphtaliah Reed

Mona Stowers

Anita Tuavela

Orlando Tagaloa

Marlene Teoni

Iosefo Tiitii