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Inquiries from several Fagaitua High School alumni about the FHS 50th Anniversary Celebration — the way the funds for the celebration were used and how the fundraising at certain times used government resources — prompted Samoa News to contact the Faga’itua High School Alumni Association about these issues.

The following is the response from the association, via the President of the FHS Alumni Association, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola, who is also the head of KVZK-TV, the government owned television station.

Samoa News has not edited the following for syntax or content:

As Fagaitua High School 50th anniversary celebration ends, I feel a certain sense of gratitude and appreciation for the countless individuals who supported us throughout this journey. We were extremely blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to come together under the name of Faga’itua High School.

While we were fortunate enough to have more highlights regarding the planning and execution of the celebration, like any event that ever occurred, there were some lows in the form of miscommunication, and misunderstanding.

It was brought to my attention that some individuals felt there was a misuse of government resources. I would like to personally clarify that all government facilities used leading up to and during the celebration were approved through the proper channels prior to use because it will benefit the school and its Golden Jubilee celebrations.

One of the first things we did to begin planning our 50th Anniversary, in order to make the delegation of tasks more efficient, was to create a Steering Committee.

The idea for this committee came from a concern raised by alumni members who resided on the West side of the island. Due to distance and work, attendance of the monthly meetings would not always be possible. So, the creation of the committee was discussed and voted on during an alumni general meeting in September of 2016. This committee was composed of the FHS Alumni Association officers, and 8 individuals who represented the 8 clusters of classes.

Cluster 1 — 1969-1974, Cluster 2 —1975-1980, Cluster 3 — 1981-1986, Cluster 4 — 1987-1992, Cluster 5 — 1993-1998, Cluster 6 — 1999-2004, Cluster 7 — 2005-2010, and Cluster 8 — 2011-2018

The representatives would be the “eyes and ears” of the alumni members within their cluster who were unable to attend the meetings. The cluster leaders oversaw distributing information, and answering any questions their cluster may have regarding discussions during meetings, and financial reports.

In order to create more avenues for the delivery of information, class leaders within each cluster were also created – forming a mini steering committee within each cluster. If a cluster or class leader failed to report back to their fellow alums, individuals were always encouraged to reach out to any of the representatives for more information or further clarification.

These steering committee meetings were always open to the public, and alumni members were made aware of the date, time, and location of each one, through our Faga’itua High School Alumni Association Facebook page.

We always encouraged alumni members to come to the meetings so that they could see the work being done, and input their own ideas about upcoming plans. But, we understood when they could not, and so measures were put into place to ensure that if any questions arose, there would always be a leader who could clarify – hence the cluster and class leaders.

Transparency and communication, through attendance of the meetings, and distribution of information through leaders, was always a main priority for us.

When local members of the alumni began meeting in August of 2016, it was understood that the main purpose of coming together was to start fundraising to prepare for the celebration of our 50th anniversary.

While our celebration was meant to commemorate 50 years of success, we also wanted to take this opportunity to ameliorate the condition of our school for current and future students of Faga’itua High.

As a result, our Projects committee (one of many different committees) that was formed during the September 2016 general meeting, researched and presented different school projects that would address areas of need. The selected projects were discussed and approved by those who were in attendance during the Projects Committee’s presentation.

One main area of need, was the lack of consumable water within the school. To rectify this, the alumni funded two U.S. certified engineered Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration system to ensure that students always had access to quality drinking water. This project will save the PTA and High School Administration thousands of dollars every year from purchasing weekly and monthly 5-gallon water and cases of bottled water for school and sports related-events. The Reverse Osmosis Filtration System and materials cost: $2,017.60.

Another area of need came in the form of excessive heat within our gymnasium. To remedy this and ensure that our students were always kept in safe conditions, two Industrial Fans [like the ones at the airport] were purchased and installed in the school gymnasium at the cost of $20,000.00 to date. The industrial fans still need adjustments to be made in order to lower them, so additional funds accrued will remain undisclosed, until the work is done.

The last project was our commemoration of 50 years to honor the future, while preserving the past. The commemorative monument holds our time capsule of thoughts, prayers, and memories to be opened in 50 more years during Faga’itua High School’s 100th anniversary. The monument cost approximately $15,000.

In addition to our 3 large projects, the alumni also donated $1,500 towards football uniforms upon request from the Principal and team, $1,000 to Faga’itua High School’s “taualuga”, during their Flag Day performance, and $500 for the WASC visitation preparations.

An additional $3,000 was donated, to assist with PSAT costs for FHS underclassmen who wish to enter college after their high school graduation.

The remaining funds in the amount of $30,395.00 were distributed amongst 8-cluster to support their respective sponsored events.

As for the allegation that the Director position of the Office of Public Information – KVZK TV was being misused to promote personal agendas, and Faga’itua High School — I can assure you that it was not.

The broadcasts concerning Faga’itua High School were made to spread public awareness – which is exactly what this station promotes. The same opportunity was given to Manu’a High School, and would have been readily available to Leone High School, had current leadership been in place at that time.

The broadcasts were never used for personal gain, and instead worked towards promoting Faga’itua High School’s Golden Jubilee – an event worth publicizing for community awareness, especially for the magnitude of such an event, which is to celebrate the survival of the Eastern Star these past 50 years.

Our methods were not always perfect, but we did strive to always involve the alumni in the decision-making process when possible.

Regardless of any of the disagreements that may have occurred during the planning of this event, I am still proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together, and I thank active alumni members for voicing their concerns so that we may be able to talk through our disagreements and find solutions that best serve our school.

The 8-day celebration was a success, and I can only hope that the momentum that was created during this event, may continue years onward.

May the Fetu o Sasa’e be the beacon of hope for future generations in American Samoa.

God Bless.

Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola

President — Faga’itua High School Alumni Association