Last year I saw the Opening of Parliament as a tourist. This year, I had a place to be: with my school as it marched and took part in the day. The day before, Class 6 and Form 1 and 2 students practiced their marching.
|Practicing marching with Mr. Maka.|
After marching through the Palace Grounds, the students sang this song of freedom.
The next day, Thursday, we met at our regular time, but the Class 1-5 students had a day off from school. Soon the students from Beulah College, the Seven Day Adventist High School, arrived in the school's bus and all of us got lined up and ready to march to town. The teachers wore black with mats as the Royal Family and the government were still officially in mourning for King George Tupou V. Also, no bands played this year as a sign of respect for his passing.
We were assigned to stand next to, and across from, the Police Station. We got there, lined the sidewalks on both sides of the street, and began the waiting. Many students and staff went to a nearby falekaloa (small store) to buy noodles or soft drinks to have while we waited.
|Getting lined up.|
|Two Hilliard teachers eat dry noodles for "taimi tea" while we wait.|
When we heard the booms of the cannon we knew the King was coming and we once again got into our lines and watched and waited.
|Here comes the King!|
The cars passed and we got into line in the street to march toward the Palace and parade past King Tupou VI.
|Marching toward the Palace.|
|On the Palace grounds.|
The students of Queen Salote College lined the way on both sides of the Palace. After we left the Palace grounds the students sang a song of freedom that it was allowed for them to sing. They sang with great joy! The day was warm and we were glad to march back to school, get a drink, and school was dismissed for the day.
All the High Schools marched and took part in the day. It is inspiring and wonderful to see block after block of young people lined up, showing respect for their King and the government. I was honored to be a part of it and experience the day.