Japan provided gymnasium officially open for multi-purpose use

Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

December 3, 2018

DSC02010Pohnpei—Through its Grass Roots Human Security Projects fund, the government of Japan has provided a brand new gymnasium to Nett Elementary School, the largest elementary school on the island.  This morning, students, community members, government leaders and other dignitaries gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the recently completed gym.

Though this year marks 30 years of diplomatic relations between the FSM and Japan, Ambassador Ryoichi Horie deferred his remarks on the history of the relations to the two page spread that was on the newsstands at the time.  Instead, he and his wife, Yuko stunned the audience with a surprising vocal rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Ambassador Horie accompanying the duet on guitar.

The signing ceremony for the $250,000 project was held on March 10, 2017 with Japan providing $180,970 as a grant and the FSM Congress providing the remainder.  The ground breaking ceremony for the gym construction was held on June 16, 2017.  Black Sand Construction Company was the contractor for the project.

Following an opening prayer at the ribbon cutting ceremony by Deacon Santiago, the eighth graders performed the Nett hymn.DSC02003

Nett District Administrator Iriarte gave opening remarks, thanking the government of Japan for their generosity in helping the FSM.  He said that he felt a bit like a poor man at a rich man’s party, but that despite the economic differences between the two countries, both countries stand for the same principles of democracy.  He said that in the government’s efforts to provide proper infrastructure for the people with few resources it is good to know that Japan is such a good and generous friend to the FSM.  He intimated that he may be making further requests in the future.

Following his welcoming remarks, the Nett School choir, guided by a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer, performed a Japanese song on the theme of appreciation.  They beat traditional Japanese drums and played melodicas, the breath powered keyboard instrument, during the performance.

After Ambassador Horie’s speech, FSM First Lady Maurina Christian, Madam Yuko Horie, and Mrs. Agnes Iriarte cut the ceremonial ribbon for the new gymnasium.

DSC02019Governor Peterson presented remarks on the friendship between Japan, the FSM, and Pohnpei State in particular. After the blessing of the facility by Deacon Santiago, the Iso Nahnken of Nett gave his mahsen/closing remarks.

According to a press release by FSM Information Services, having a gymnasium for Nett Elementary School and the broader Nett community has long been a dream for Principal Loyola, who plans to retire by the end of this academic year. The gymnasium is the latest in a series of recent developments at the school over the past several years, which include a new computer lab, a protective fence, awnings to protect students from rain, and a communal lunch area.

In a press release from the Embassy of Japan after the grant contract signing ceremony in 2017, the purpose for the gym was laid out.  “Nett Elementary School has physical education classes for improving mental and physical health, and preventing a lifestyle-related disease for students.  However, this school has only an outside playground so that unfortunately the classes are often cancelled by heavy rains. Therefore, the provided gymnasium expects to help to conduct the classes regularly and safely which would improve education and health for 897 students and 18 teachers at Nett Elementary School,” it said.

The gym will also be open to the public when not in use by the school.

In addition to the speakers already mentioned, FSM President Peter Christian, Honorable Esmond B. Moses, Vice Speaker for the FSM Congress, Arwelson Arpona, Acting Director of Pohnpei Department of Education, Primo Loyola, Principal of Nett Elementary School, and other distinguished guests attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Nett Gymnasium.

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