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Liahona High School Graduates ‘Rise Up and Press Forward’

A record-breaking 193 senior students at Tonga’s Liahona High School celebrated their graduation with family members, teachers and friends last Friday (11 November) in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.


The students—who make up the school’s largest Year 13 (Form 7) graduating class in five years—received their diplomas from Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; local leader Elder Aisake Tukuafu; and the Church’s Director of Schools in the Pacific Area, Michael Carthew.

In 2012 the school changed its graduation ceremonies to the end of Year 13. Formerly Year 12 students graduated. This change was made to better prepare students for further education and training after high school.

Liahona High School is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Responding to the theme of “Rise up and Press Forward,” school officials, teachers, parents and senior-class members all celebrated the hard work, dedication to learning, and life-strengthening experiences which culminated in the granting of high school diplomas to each young man and woman who graduated.


Reflecting on the graduation ceremony, Elder Nielsen said, “It was an overwhelming feeling to be in the midst of a record-breaking graduating class at Liahona High School. As I looked at the 193 graduates I thought of them sharing their light all around the world. The rising generation is pressing forward in Tonga.”

In his remarks to the graduating class, Elder Nielsen encouraged the students to embrace four principles in their Christian faith that would enable them to rise up and press forward.

He urged students “to be one with their Heavenly Father and their Saviour, Jesus Christ. To be one with the teachings of The Book of Mormon. To be one with the Lord and their families through regular temple attendance. And to be one through further education.”

The 2016 dux of the school, Fe'ofani 'a Kakau Huni, said, “Liahona has taught me a lot of things but most importantly it has made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves me, and how important I am to Him."

She urged her "classmates, teachers, friends and family [to] have fun with education." 

"Inspiration to achieve in education is everywhere; just find the right motivation, and education will become one of your sources of happiness.”

One of the students' teachers, Temalisi Hingano Makaafi, observed, "I'm proud of the graduates on their great achievements today knowing that they have accomplished their goals and purposes as Liahona high school students. This should not be the end for them, but only the beginning of a new chapter in life to further their education and make a difference in the world."

School principal, Fatafehi Fifita, told students: “Today marks the end of your high school years and the start of a new era in your life. You have chosen ‘Rise up and Press Forward’ as your theme for this year. You must press forward with confidence and with a clear vision as you enter the world of opportunities ahead of you.”

She continued: “Believe in yourself, that you can make a difference in the world through sharing the wonderful blessings and experience you have had in this institution of learning. You cannot afford to stop here after graduation. You must not rest in your development. Find opportunities for further education and become self-reliant. Rise up, as you dare to dream, and do not give up trying to make those dreams a reality. Press forward and always remember that hard work works.”

Michael Carthew read Matthew 5:14 to the students. He then invited them to "go forward and shine, to use their talents and strengths to make a difference in their homes, communities, nation and in the work of the Lord."  

Image credits: Sione Langi.

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