The annual school day celebrations are very important to students, the college, parents, teachers, community and ex-students. Did I forget anybody ? On this day, the school remembers its roots, tries to give something back to the community and reminds us that she still has a big part to play today and tomorrow.
In the morning, a sermon is given with a message from the guest minister. The ex-students have their annual general meeting on campus, select their leaders for the year and review their work with the school for improving facilities and the direction of the school.
During the day, and into the afternoon, the school feeds the thousands of visitors here to take part. After the feeding, guests, friends and relatives are invited to a show of Tongan performances by the school.
The ma’ulu’ulu, a traditional dance traditionally emphasised with hand movements and song has always been an especially unique experience when performed by Queen Salote College. A thousand students, well drilled, disciplined, singing while their hands echo the meaning of the lyrics is something special.
Queen Salote’s ability to repeat year after year, a well drilled and alive performance of new material has earned it the ‘ownership’ of the ma’ulu’ulu. As seen in the photo, 1,000 students in six rows still gets you 166 students abreast facing the crowd. Of course, students at the back have to stand on chairs and desks to be seen since this performance is not for viewing pleasure alone.
It has been a long tradition in Tonga to place gifts on the performer in appreciation of their skills, and as a gift for the cause which they support (in this case, our cause is our school). Anyhow, it is good manners to wait until the highest ranking member in the audience has seen the initial part of the performance and has chosen to present their measure of appreciation.
After the gates have been opened, the performance quickly degenerates to a mass of bodies moving back and forth, up and down with parents looking for their child to place some money on them or other gifts. Friends of the family, the students and ex-students also join in the fund raising, support for the school’s financial commitments.
But of course, this wouldn’t be a school for girls if we didn’t do something that was uniquely feminine and the boys couldn’t best us in. The Fakaha Teu is an especial parade by girls in the school where each girl is decked to the hills with ornamentations of oil, the trappings of society. This is another history lesson on the different histories and relevance of the Tongan clothes for females. The girls make a short parade for guests, family, and friends to see while the announcer calls her name and her outfit.
At the end of the day everyone is extremely tired and almost ready to hit the books.
[ref: Photos used © Sarah Raasch]