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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 22) – The president of the Parents Teachers Students Association of Hopwood Junior High School in Saipan says they welcome more investors to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, but "not at the expense of sacrificing the schools."

Former Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Maggie Wonenberg said she believes that the school belongs to the people and that government officials should seek public opinion before displacing Hopwood students.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial earlier announced that Hopwood is being considered by Okura Hotels & Resorts as the location of its proposed facility in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The company operates 23 hotels throughout Japan, South Korea, China, Hawaii, Guam, and the Netherlands.

The governor met with company officials during his visit to Japan early this month.

Fitial said Hopwood may be relocated to Koblerville.

"I am all for making our economy better but not at the expense of sacrificing our schools," Wonenberg said. "We should not sacrifice the education of our children just because we need to improve our bank accounts."

She said she acknowledges that the governor is trying to revitalize the economy by welcoming new investors.

"That is his job. I also support revitalizing our economy, laying the foundations for a better tomorrow, and providing for more jobs for people on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota," she said.

Wonenberg said relocating Hopwood will not be a bad idea provided that appropriate analysis and planning are conducted and proper facilities provided in the new location.

She said they only learned about the proposed relocation in the newspaper.

"On behalf of the Hopwood Parents Teachers Students Association, I welcome Governor Fitial, Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez and the leadership of the Legislature to come to Hopwood’s Parents Teachers Students Association meeting next month, scheduled for April 13 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria," Wonenberg said.

She said, "it would be great to have an investor who will pay for the relocation of the school — an investor who will provide new facilities like new classrooms, libraries, English, science, and math laboratories, an arts center, gymnasium, health center, student center, and appropriate administrative offices."

She added, "These are the basic facilities for a good junior high school. Hopwood is doing the best that it can with the resources that it has. There is only so much one can do with the band-aid repair under the Public School System’s meager budget."

Wonenberg said they appreciate the support of various private businesses and individuals who have provided Hopwood with resources so it can continue operating.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a report by Hawaii-based Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, established in 1949, Hopwood Junior High School has become a trend-setter for educational innovations among schools in the Pacific region.]

March 22, 2006

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