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Pacific Horizons School is proud to announce its 25th anniversary! Learn more about our school's history here!

History of Founding of Pacific Horizons School

Pacific Horizons School (PHS) opened in September 1994 with six middle school students, two teachers, an armful of books, and lots of hopes.  By the end of its first school year, the school boasted 14 students in fourth to ninth grades; students were taught together, with a focus on the individual needs of the different students.  The cofounders of PHS, Mara Ashley and Don Hill, were also the first two teachers.  Ashley and Hill founded the school to provide an innovative alternative to the more traditional schools on the island.  Ashley and Hill envisioned a school that was student-centered and developed in students the skills necessary for the 21st century.

In the second year of PHS, the school had expanded to 40 students in first through eighth grades, and students were grouped in four classes.  The school was officially recognized and received its certification from the American Samoa Department of Education in October 1995.  Ashley and Hill continued to teach, and two more teachers joined the faculty.  Hill left PHS and moved off-island during this second school year and was replaced in the classroom by Caroline Tuiolosega, a future director of the school. Ashley continued at PHS as a teacher and the school director for the next 18 years.  A kindergarten was added in 1996, followed by a preschool (K3 and K4) in 1997.  The PHS high school was added in 1999 and graduated its first two seniors in 2002.

Ashley and Hill decided on the school name – Pacific Horizons School – because it embodied the image of students heading in various directions towards their chosen horizons.  Just as the ancient Polynesian navigators had learned the skills to successfully navigate and embark on their journeys throughout the Pacific region, so Pacific Horizon School helps students to chart their direction and build the skills necessary for successful journeys throughout their lives, which is the mission of the school.  In keeping with the mission, the compass rose was adopted as the symbol for the school, and the students are called the Navigators.


Mara Ashley
June 16, 2020

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