Afemaline tops Manumalo Baptist School, Savai'i

Fourteen-year-old, Afemaline Emma Lauano-Kolai, has been named the Valedictorian for Manumalo Baptist School, in Savai'i this year.

The third child of Malaki and Seine Kolai's five children from Salelologa was overwhelmed with joy during a graduation ceremony held at the school hall, at Salelologa, on Monday.  Afemaline credited her hardworking father, Malaki for her success. 

"I dedicate this success to my father," she told the Samoa Observer.

With English being her favorite subject, Afemaline said she aspires to become a soldier in the future. 

"I don't know which College I will attend next year," she said.  "But I might go back to Pago (America Samoa) and pursue my dream to become a soldier."

Asked about how she felt, the reserved 14-year-old said: "I'm very excited and overwhelmed with joy. As they say, the end of another journey is the beginning of another one. So I am looking forward to whatever lies ahead for me."

Easter Li'aliai was named Salutatorian of the Year 8 graduating class at Manumalo Baptist school. 

The celebration of all the hard work for this academic year was well attended by the students, teachers, parents, and friends of those attending the school. 

Manumalo Baptist school was first established in the year 1971, according to the school's principal, Leituala Seumanu Creta. 

It was the first preschool to have opened up on the big island.

"This school was founded by my mother Fonoifafo Seumanu in the year 1971," Leituala told the Samoa Observer. 

"It started off with just a pre-school, and as it started to grow, we extended it and started a Primary school. 

"It started with a few children from our neighbors and the business owners living close by. A lot of them who started this primary school and attended Manumalo Baptist school in Savai'i are now successful. 

"It has been 26 years since we've extended the school to have a primary school. 

"The school was managed and operated by my late mother, Fonoifafo Seumanu, who dedicated 82 years of her life to the education sector."

According to Leituala, a total of 318 students enrolled at the primary school for this year, 2020.

For the preschool, a total of 75 students enrolled this year. 

One challenge the school continues to face said Leituala is the attendance of the students. 

"Some students who enroll at the beginning of the year are children of church ministers and business owners.

"So when they move to another village or move back to Upolu, they take their children with them. A problem that our school continues to face."

Moreover, the lockdown and the orders of the States of Emergency for COVID-19, had an impact on this academic year. 

However, Leituala said they tried their best to make sure that the syllabus for the students was up to date. 

"For the first five weeks of the lockdown, what we did was prepare homework and assignments for the students. 

"The students were asked to stay home while the teachers still gathered at school to prepare learning materials and assignments for the students. 

"We (the staff), then delivered it to our students and asked them to drop off their assignments on Thursday. Once we got the assignments, we marked them, then prepare other materials for the students. 

"We did that until we got the official notice that schools were to open again."

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