Congratulation on the Silver Jubilee celebrations! I am certain many former students will agree with me that Waimapuru has been a place where dreams were realised, notions were challenged and students were equipped with practical life skills and intellectual knowledge.

I remembered having gone to Waimapuru in 1998 (four years after its opening) to commence form one was both exciting and scary. For the first time I was left to myself to manage my own affairs - of course, within the bounds of school rules.

Like many other boarding schools in the Solomons, breakfast generally comprise diluted tea and biscuits, (SDA students have Milo, as you can imagine, quite a few converts and befriending took place). Lunch and dinner is usually 'rubber' rice and/or cassava/kumara with slippery cabbage and taiyo or '777'. During the time of Leva (apologies if this is wrongly spelt) as agriculture teacher, Waimpauru was producing root crops and vegies to the point where we were selling the surplus in Kirakira.

When people missed out on meals (or simply didn't like the food), there is always the coconut plantations or 'mining' (a term used to describe the removal of cassava roots with the plant remaining erect) of the school garden for 'extra pot' under the water tanks. I've heard rumours that the water tanks also provide a vantage point for some rather interesting activities like occult worship and 'Nasu' sessions (there was an incident when David Olisi and Rupert Peja had to flee when they were sprung upon by the duty teacher one particular night). There was also a period when Scripture Union really took off - it was a revival.

The school is well served by surrounding local communities like Rongoidjeni, Maepua and Kokana (yeah people sneaking off at night to fetch tobacco despite harsh penalties for going out of school bounds, normally their beds were stuffed with clothes to resemble someone sleeping).

I must mention the school sport teams (football, netball & basketball) who won in Kirakira and at school organised competitions most of the time to the envy of the local residents. These were the days when Batram Suri and Stanley Waita were making their mark in football.

There were some teachers who had great influence on the students; this includes the likes of the late Bartholomew Tauto, Bob Castleton, Gary Mueggenburg, Solomon Pita, Wairamo, Wesley, Fr. Abel Ta'ai, Mrs Omani and other local and expat teachers whom I cannot remember their names (apologies for that). Great contribution was also received from support staff (cooks, drivers...etc...) like Pehuru, Mae, Leonard and others (are these guys still around?).

I am very proud to be part of an institution that has produced and still produces students who went one to be great achievers. Names that come to mind include Dr Paul Orotaloa, Dr Jackson Rakei, Dr Gabriel Tubuna, Dr Francis Fono, Clay Forau (current member of VATUD), John Keniapisia, Ambrose Malefoasi, Rupert Peja (brewer at Solbrew - kaen start lo high skool finis ia!) and the list goes on.

Personally for me, Waimapuru equipped me not only with intellectual knowledge but moreover with life skills. As an example, I could remember when I was doing my first year at Auckland University, NZ, there was a job at the Student Job Search that had been on their books for months because no one could build concrete steps. With my knowledge I gleaned from industrial arts at Waimapuru under the tutelage of Solomon Pita (where is he nowadays?), I was able to complete that job one afternoon and collected NZD$120.00 cash in a few hours, it was good money back then.

To all former students and teachers thank you for making Waimapuru such a memorable experience, to future teachers and student, I wish you all the best and pray for God's favour and guidance. Thank you again Waimapuru and enjoy the silver jubilee!