Students acknowledge former Miss Samoa as inspirational and a role model
At Mulivai Safata Primary School, Sonia Piva, is more than just a former Miss Samoa.
She is someone who inspires them. For many students, they see her as a role model.
To show their appreciation at the end of her reign, the students, teachers and parents organised a farewell reception for Ms. Piva, at the school on Wednesday.
In emotional scenes at the school grounds, the students presented the 2018-2019 former Miss Samoa with traditional gifts and performed dances as a token of their appreciation for her.
Principal, Lutia Ioane Matiasi, said Ms. Piva had been an inspiration, a leader and a teacher to the students and had an impact on them during her time as Miss Samoa.
"Sonia has instilled so much passion and knowledge in our students and she was an inspiration. I can see so much change not only with the resources, but also mentally to the minds of the students," she said.
"Her passion for the students has been excellent. Most of the students were always looking forward to her coming to school everyday, especially those students who were lazy and easily gave up."
In addressing the students, Ms. Piva said that while her time as Miss Samoa has ended, she now has more time on her hands to help the students as she will be based in Samoa.
She said she learnt how to be patient from the students and her 12-month stint as the ambassador of Samoa through the pageant was an amazing experience.
"Education is my background," she said. So what I do is I also study in Australia. Working in the schools in Australia, and working in the schools here has been a massive eye opener and it has really allowed me to see how work on our schools here and what they need in terms of education, resources, staff facilities and so forth," she said.
"I am still studying education so it's been amazing experience working with the students, and be a part of Brown Girl Woke and Doris to keep my passion for education still running, as well as to see how the education system here in Samoa is."
Ms. Piva revealed that during her time as Miss Samoa, she returned to the school and ran a weekly programme in performing arts, public speeches or even zumba for the students.
"We run a little programme and we do like Samoa siva (dance), performing arts, spoken words or zumba, something fun and active like an after school program. And we're very thankful towards them for inviting us to come for a little goodbye to me as a Miss Samoa, sort of, but not goodbye for good."
Her association with the school also saw a number of organisations going forward to give the school furniture, computers and laptops for the students and staff to use.
The camaraderie that Ms. Piva had with the school and its students struck Mrs. Matiasi, who said they will always be grateful for her friendship.
"Before, our school was very empty and it was sad for the students because they also needed the company other students had, but now that everything is looking in place, we're forever grateful to this young lady and Doris (leader of B.G.W) for their service to this school and we can see some real smiles on the students' faces now," the principal said.
Year 8 student Matalasi Atonio told this newspaper that thanks to the work of Ms. Piva in her school, she now dreams of becoming a Miss Samoa one day.
"But that is of course if I finish my studies and do great in them so I'll do my best and try my hardest to achieve my dreams and nothing is impossible," she said.