School Life

School Life at Tupou High School

Some may wonder, and others have asked, what it is like to be a student at Tupou High School, or for students at a strange far away place such as Tonga. These pictures, and hopefully colourful commentary, is a bit into the life of the student at Tupou High School, Fasi-moe-Afi, Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga.

As students tend to gather around, watching the world go by, things don’t seem that different from one country to another. Except of course, that the clothing may be different, or the music or food flavours desired are different.

Suffice it to say, at the end of a long day of studies, or in anticipation of the dreadful (or exciting depending on how good you are) day ahead, students tend to just hang around. Tupou High School, a co-education institution (that is to say that both girls and boys attend the school), enjoy the chance to just sit around and chat about things important to boys and girls at high school. Sometimes talk is about school work, many times its about something else.

When it comes down to getting some work done, Tupou High School students also take the opportunity to go to where the sites are. On this day, students travelled with their teacher to the Maui-Ha’amonga Trillithon, a stone monument used in pre written history to help chart the weather and appropriate times to take out war boats to raid unsuspecting neighbours.

Even in Tonga, students find it hard to believe the tales of grandparents about their history, and when it is only written in books. Seeing with one’s own eyes, touching the structures/pieces sometimes makes things seem just that more real.

Of course, we do not want to stay stuck on school and subject matters only. Getting involved in the school football team is a big thing for boys and girls. The girls also love their basketball (which is actually called netball by other countries, but since the game is about putting the ball into the little ring we decided to call it basket ball anyway.) But, since guys tend to be more fanatical about their sports, everyone sooner or later gets involved with supporting the local team.

Our Tupou High School team is the All Blacks, and has always been the All Blacks. This is because our major rival (and brothers) Tupou College has always had Blue as their sports colours, and since we were younger we had to take Black as the football guernsey colours. This is a little strange, when we see that our guys and girls wear Blue for school uniform while Tupou College wears black as their colours ?

By the Way, the photo actually shows our First XV (1995) playing against another school, Liahona High School. We would like to say that we prounce on anyone, but the truth is that you have to hold a significant respect for everyone if you want to win.

Anyhow, one of the great things about playing for the football team (or hanging around the team, which ever is your forte) is feeding time. During football season the football teams at each school go into ‘camp’. (Well, we call it camping, but because it is difficult to get vehicles to take the players home at the end of the day (buses stop around 5:00 p.m.) the only way to develop the teams is to have the kids stay at school during the football season, and get them fed and some warm spots to sleep in.

Sometimes the feed’s not too hot/good. But, when its good it is real good with all sorts of meats, vegetables, the whole works. For the football season your body gets run ragged by the unrelenting coach, but the teachers in the ‘support’ staff put a great deal of effort into cooking a good meal, organising to get the washing done, getting beds and showers for everyone. Mind you its all a bit too much for some people’s grades.

Our parents send us to Tupou High School for a number of things, and one of those is to get an education.

At the end of the day, most of us leaving Tupou High School can really say we’ve learned a whole lot.

  • We have gained a lot of friends who we have become dependent on at school, and who we will call on again in our lives. We now know the importance of not only taking, but also in giving.
  • We have learned that making sacrifices is not a loss, but an opportunity to make a difference to others and our own futures.
  • We have learned that its great to have lots of things, and We have learned that even without many things, we can still work together to make things better for ourselves and for those to follow.
  • We have learned that sometimes (many times) it is not enough to say things, that we have to do it. Just as we have learned that our senses of touch, hearing, smell, and sight are just as important as the things we read in the books or hear about in tales.
  • We have learned that there are many things about life, not only in the subjects we take at school, but the many groups we have at school such as the sports teams, the music committees, gardening group etc. Each has its part to play in the richer life of the school community, as each has its role to play in the enrichment of our society.

These and many other things we have learned at Tupou High School, not from the curriculum or syllabus, but from each other, our teachers, our parents and friends of the school who have been with us throughout our time at the school.

Did we get the education our parents wanted ? We think “yes”, and the school motto so valued, “a useful life”. [ref: Photographs © and used courtesy of Peni ‘Ake Koloamatangi]