Liahona High School

Liahona, Tongatapu.

Established 1948
Function Secondary School
Location Liahona, Tongatapu
Principal Ms. Mele Ongo'alupe Taumoepeau
Contact Address Paul Fender
!["Student Art Work - Agr. Show, '97"](../../../../../../mmedia/schools/lhs/art.jpg?border=0&width="266"&height="200")

Liahona has come a long way since her humble beginning in 1948. The first classes were held in Tongan house with 75 boys and 34 girls, a smaller number than that of our graduates this year (1995).

The name Liahona was thought of and proposed as the name for the College by President Hunstman and Emil Dunn in 1947 when they closed down the old school, Makeke College and moved to this new site. Liahona College building construction began soon thereafter and on September 7, 1949, Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve blessed and laid the corner stone of the school buildings. The construction was completed and dedicated on December 1, 1953 by Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve and Her Majesty Queen Salote Tupou III.

In October of 1959, the board approved to change the name from Liahona College to Liahona High School. Thus, Liahona High School held her first graduation in 1959 with only 13 graduates marching in caps and gowns. It was the beginning of a new era. The levels were called “grades” instead of “forms” and ranged from Grade 7 to Grade 12. The Prize Giving Night for the whole school was changed to Awards and Prizes Assembly held for those in Grade 12 who fulfilled all requirements outlined by the Board.

Qualified Liahona graduates were sent to Church College of Hawai’i, now Brigham Young University, for further study. This was a tremendous breakthrough for Tongans because most, if not all, of those who went to study overseas were either sponsored or co-sponsored by the Tongan Government. Tongans who were qualified to attend any university in the USA could now do so without being sponsored by the government. The era of educating only the ELITE was drawing to a close. More and more Liahona graduates and others from common and humble families had opportunities to further their education. This brought more blessings in various forms and ways to families and Tonga as a whole than was normally expected or envisioned. Just look around Tonga today.

This year is the 36th graduating class since 1959. In 1968, the practise of wearing caps and gowns was changed to wearing the school white uniform. This year we are reviving the tradition for wearing caps and gowns by the graduates. Liahona has grown and matured in many ways. In 1965, she gave birth to 12 middle schools and from then on middle schools became feeder schools for Liahona High School. Liahona retained grades 9 through 12 while middle schools offered grades 7 and 8. In 1976, Sainehæ High School was born.

Now Liahona High School has 53 full time teachers and 1,000 students from Form 3 (Grade 9) through Form 6 (Grade 12). Liahona has lived up to her mission, “The making of Latter-Day Saints.” Most bishops, stake presidents, patriarchs and other priesthood leaders are former students of Liahona. Hundreds and hundreds of Liahona students have served or are now serving full-time missions for the Church. Liahona will continue to prepare youth for leadership positions in the families, Church, communities, and in the government.

As beautifully envisioned, understood and expressed by Her Majesty, the late Queen Salote Tupou III in her Liahona Dedicatory Speech on December 1, 1953.

The objective of founding this school is to build up and encourage Christian civilisation among the Tongan people and the world … The civilisation in which we are united, the kind of civilisation from which we obtain peace, the civilisation whereby we have faith in God and the knowledge of the will of Jesus Christ. I trust that this building and those who will learn here will achieve the end for which this school was built that we might thereby be able to discharge our duty to the work, that God’s kingdom may come."

We have achieved in all areas our goal of being a “Liahona”, a Guiding, Light, a compass and a beacon to all nations and people that we associate with. We must also realise that we can still do and achieve much, much more as we usher in the century. We wish for you who are graduating this year the best in the future, hoping that you have prepared yourselves and have armed yourselves with the proper armour to conquer and win the battle. To those who will be coming back next year, be prepared physically, intellectually, and spiritually for a very exciting school year.

Malo ‘aupito ‘a e ngaue lahi kuo lava’i.

‘Ofa lahi atu,  

Sione T. Vimahi.

[ref: Liahona High School Golden Jubilee 1997, Souvenir Edition, Lali Media Group Ltd.]