Former students, teachers mark anniversary

National

THE St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary School remains one of the most prestigious schools in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The all-girls secondary school celebrated its diamond jubilee (60th anniversary) in a three-day event last weekend to commemorate the legacy of a school that has had a long and colourful history.
The school was founded in 1956 by the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) amidst much controversy as an all-female institution was not an entirely accepted concept in those days.
The prevailing spirit of founding principal Sr Mary Catherine Martinuzzi, saw her response to see an all-girls Catholic high school being built for the young women of Bougainville.
Bougainville’s first bishop, Thomas Wade agreed to sponsor the project and in 1965 Sr Mary Catherine and Sr Mary Lawrence Edge were given the responsibility to start Asitavi High School and the primary school next to the high school in Wakunai district, Central Bougainville.
On Feb 26, 1956, Bishop Wade blessed the school and gave financial assistance to the get the school underway and the rest is history.
Many of the guests who were present at the diamond jubilee celebrations reminisced about the early years of the school and lead up to the tumultuous years of the Bougainville Crisis that saw a whole generation of students missing out on their education.
Former board of governors chairman, Joe Pais said that it was the perseverance of the SMSM nuns and the people of Wakunai who worked together for the school to reopen and take in students despite the crisis and the same perseverance has kept the school open and regaining its prestige from pre-crisis days.
Sr Margaret Tisch, an Australian who spent 14 years as the principal of the school, was the guest of honour.
She expressed her gratitude to incumbent principal Elaine Baris and her staff for striving to ensure that the students were receiving the quality education that they deserved.
She was also glad to have met her former colleagues and many former students whom she expressed a fondness for.

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