Robert Louis Stevenson School celebrated the 30th anniversary at Gym 1, Tuanaimato on Friday night.
The evening was an opportunity to pay tribute to some of the founders of the school including Janet Pereira, Vanya Taulealo, Gaye Stevenson, Peter McShane and others.
Among students, teachers, families and former students who were present at the celebration was the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, and Members of Parliament.
The audience was told that the dream of having a school started with a conversation between Janet Pereira and Vanya Taulealo in 1986. A year later the dream became a reality - a small primary school was set up at Siusega.
Because of the increasing number of students over the years, the need for more classrooms and a secondary school became paramount, so the primary school relocated to Lotopa and the secondary school moved to Mulinuu before settling at Tafaigata.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi congratulated the school and pointed out that it was the government which had originally granted them land at Tafaigata.
Board member, Teleiai James Potoi said future plans were in place to relocate the primary school to Tafaigata, beside the secondary school.
The secondary school’s principal, Masa Faasau said all those who graduated from Robert Louis Stevenson (R.L.S.S.) at Year 13, go further with their education. She also spoke about how much development there has been in the 19 years that she has been with the school.
“Between 40 and 50 students who graduate, most of them have Bachelors, Masters and even P.H.D.s. We have been able to produce 20 doctors in the 19 years I have been here,” she said. “It is worthwhile and they are making their lives more meaningful in going forward with their education.”
She also compared her six years teaching experience in Tonga with R.L.S.S.
“It all comes back to the teacher. It is a calling which creates the passion for teaching. You convey that message to the students which is what keeps them going.
“That’s the difference in how the teacher approaches the kids. We teach the same thing because we all follow the government prescription
“In R.L.S.S., we have our own curriculum for Year 9 and 10 that is where the real learning and teaching takes place.
“It is up to the individual teacher to vary their style, their teaching methods because in a class of 20, everybody learns differently and there are some that cannot even learn.
“So we identify our very weak students and we have a learning support unit that helps them especially with literacy and numeracy
“As they progress, we know that there are some students who will never be able to take academically-orientated courses.
“So it is a pity we don’t have all the resources to offer like vocational and other subjects but we try our best. We offer them health and P.E., visual arts and computers.
“You need vision and have values in order to get wisdom. That is the vision and mission of R.L.S.S.”
Mrs. Faasau acknowledged the contribution of her staff and all those who contributed to the success of the school.
“Everyone contributes, even our cleaners contribute. Not as an individual, it is a collective effort because what happens if you need another teacher to come supervise your test when you have to run down town to make a loan?” she said.
The celebration also acknowledged the first visionaries, Board members and teaching staff at the Wetzell homestead in Siusega where the school began.