His Excellency Peter M. Christian Attends Wenik ECE Center Christmas Party

FSM Information Services

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On December 20th, 2018 His Excellency, President Peter M. Christian attended the Christmas Party for Early Childhood Education (ECE) students at Wenik ECE Center in Kitti, Pohnpei. Also in attendance were the Honorable Jordan Ardos, Isohkonedi Speaker, Quincy Lawrence, Assistant Secretary at the FSM Department of Education, Dionisio E. Saimon, Program Manager at Department of Health & Social Affairs, Hermann Semes Jr., Special Assistant to the Vice President, Arwelson Arpona, Acting Director of Pohnpei Department of Education, Centry Paul, Superintendent of Southwest (Kitti) Schools, Arthur Hebel, Principal of Nanpei Memorial School, Elise Ioanis, Wenik ECE Center Supervisor, other representatives of National, State, and Local Government, and, of course, the students of Wenik ECE and their families.

Supervisor Ioanis gave a brief speech about the Wenik students, which lead to a song and prayer. Principal Hebel paid his respects to everyone present and the importance of children and their education, which was followed by Acting Director Arpona informing the attendees that the students—each of whom wore a sign around their neck with a topic such as sea animals or teeth—would be presenting on what they learned this quarter. Acting Director Arpona also elaborated on the new administrative structure in Pohnpei Department of Education, i.e. that the Divisions of ECE, Primary, and Secondary have merged into one division served by four geographically-based superintendents instead of chiefs.

President Christian wished everyone a very Merry Christmas, and then went around the classroom to shake the hand of each student.

Then the stars of the day—the students—each gave a brief, perhaps 60-second long discussion on their assigned topic. “Teeth are important, so we must brush them to keep them clean!” said one student on the subject of teeth. “Trees surround us and make air for us to breathe, so take care of trees,” said another student on the subject of trees.

After the students’ presentations, Supervisor Ioanis and her teachers took turns leading various class-based activities, ranging from the students reading the Pohnpeian and English alphabets and sounding out the digraphs (e.g. Mw, Ng, Oa) and the compound sounds (e.g. ah, oah, oh) to identifying shapes and colors. Students were given worksheets to complete across the spectrum of academic subjects—from Pohnpeian Language to Mathematics to Science—and then gave their worksheet to President Christian for him to grade. President Christian was impressed, enthusiastic even, with the quality of the students’ work and the energy the students shared. “You’ve all done a very great job!”, exclaimed the President.

Supervisor Ioanis asked Assistant Secretary Lawrence to give a brief speech on education, where he then discussed the importance of Pohnpeian and Micronesian culture and the spirit of Christmas, to then briefly share that the FSM Department of Education works hand-in-hand with the State Departments of Education.

Following Assistant Secretary Lawrence was Special Assistant Semes, who reinforced the importance of education, the importance of family, and the importance of children, summing it up with wishing everyone in attendance a Merry Christmas.

The mothers and fathers then posed for photographs with their children, and afterwards gifts were handed out around the room. Everyone, from the President to each child, walked home with something.

“Christmas…is a time of family, good values, and togetherness,” said Superintendent Paul.

After group photographs with the President, families began to depart to enjoy their Christmas with each other.

ECE services, formerly entitled Head Start, are available throughout the major islands of the FSM and some remote islands. Numerous decades-long studies have shown that children receiving ECE services prior to beginning first grade are far more likely to complete their formal education.