Updated: Jul 7, 2019
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Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation
HON. MERESEINI VUNIWAQA
Address at the Launch of 2020 Suva Grammar Diamond Jubilee Reunion
6 July 2019
The organizers, Invited guests, Ex-scholars, Spouses, and partners of ex-scholars Ladies and gentlemen
A very good evening.
It’s a such a great pleasure for me to join you all this evening as we gather for the launch of 2020 Suva Grammar Diamond Jubilee Reunion. I spent one year in Suva Grammar School...1992. Oh what a year that was for me! A totally new and eye-opening school experience that prepared me well for University the following year and the years that followed as an adult.
I’m sure that just like me, you all have very fond memories of this beloved institution where we attained academic and sporting excellence, extracurricular knowledge, made lasting memories and lifelong relationships with our friends and teachers. I’m sure we will be swapping plenty of memories and stories tonight.
Today we stand at different places with different purposes, each an important one in its own way. I thank you all for still having so much love and commitment towards raising awareness and educating others about the greatness of Suva Grammar School. For many of us, our children must be in this school carrying forward the baton that we left behind – with new ideologies and new methods but with the same old spirit we had and what was passed on to us by our seniors at the school.
So what do I consider to be the spirit and legacy of a Suva Grammar education. These are tenets of what I consider to be what Suva Grammar taught me and opened my eyes to:
- Finding strength in diversity; I walked into a classroom full of form 7 students belonging to different ethnicities, communities, religions and gender but in those 8 hours each and every day we were one united well synchronized group of individuals who got along like brothers and sisters;
- Suva Grammar School helped me find my voice. A school that encouraged each voice to be heard no matter how shy one was. There were the vociferous ones and then there were the quiet ones. I like to think that I belonged to the quiet group of new students – the loud ones would be our voice and would encourage us to speak until we were comfortable to voice our opinions like everybody else did;
- Being able to question your teachers without the fear of reprisal and in the same spirit have a debate with your teacher on a topic of discussion;
- Suva Grammar encouraged the individual uniqueness that each child brought to the school to shine through.....without questioning, just encouraging and gently reminding if we stepped out of the school rules; and last but not least,
- Genuine and long-lasting friendships. So as a Grammarian, we have a lot to be thankful for – for what Suva Grammar taught us. Suva Grammar to me epitomized what I want to see more of in our country. A country that is appreciative of the diversities of those who call Fiji Home and appreciating the unique qualities that each community contributes to make Fiji the great nation that it is. This Launch tonight is really a countdown to July 2020, which will see Suva Grammar School turn 60 years. The week will culminate with the big celebration of Suva Grammar’s 60 years as an Institution that’s contributed greatly to this nation. This prestigious institution was established separately as Grammar Boys and Grammar Girls in 1918 and Suva Grammar School was then birthed as a coed version in February, 1960. Initially, the school’s roll was predominantly made up of expatriate’s children taught by expatriate teachers. Only a few children of Fijian heritage attended Suva Grammar in its early days and this was a notable yet unconventional move by parents from the traditional first choices then of ACS, QVS and the likes.
Suva Grammar School has always boasted a curriculum like no other school in Fiji, whereby its students are exposed to Theatre Arts, Drama Club, Music, Ballet, Gymnastics, French, Oratory, Talent Quest, Swimming, Wind Surfing in addition to mainstream team Sports.
Through the years though, the demographics have evolved but Suva Grammar School ensures that the students coming through continue to enjoy the diversity, depth and extraordinary life changing experiences and make life time friends.
As someone said about reunions, we knew each other when we weren’t fathers, mothers, grandparents. And what’s so special about us getting back together after all these years is that we knew each other before we raised a family, educated our children, loved and spoiled our grandchildren, and before we passed our faith on to our children. We knew each other before we worked so hard to become the man or woman we came to be, and the man or woman we are today, before we built that career. We knew each other before all that, when we were just 16, 17, 18 year old kids taking classes in school, playing sports, performing music and drama, engaging in hobbies of all kinds. We knew each other when life was so much simpler, yet so much fun. We knew each other when we all laughed, a lot. What great days those were! How much we all cherish them; how rich our lives have been because of those times and those priceless memories. But we are not through yet. There is still plenty of work yet to be done. We still have miles to go and lots of work to do and I am sure that we will continue to give, and continue to be the lions that we are.
Today as I reflect on the years that have gone by, I can say we were indeed blessed to have had the teachers and mentors that we did. And I take this time to ask us to reflect on our own teachings and mentorship towards our younger generation. Are we able to impart the same values, principles and morals onto our children that we were taught – those that taught us to work hard, to love one another, to promote peace, to excel in what we do by giving everything our best shot, to be honest in who we are and to those around us, to honor our elders and to help the less fortunate and take care of the vulnerable?
May we show our children and peers what true Grammarians really are in whatever we do. May we raise a generation of great citizens. To do that, all you need to do is impact those around you with the Grammarian Spirit.
I’m very proud, and very thankful, to have shared those memorable days with you all and I wish you all the very best in our preparations for the 60th birthday of our beloved Suva Grammar School.
Thank you and God bless you all.