Founding Day Coronation

This year coronation was separated from Founding Day. The committee made the decision to hold coronation at 4:00 P.M. on March 30th, the eve of the Rahn en Tiahk cultural holiday here on Pohnpei. None of the numbers below should be quoted as being factually correct, these are what I thought I heard the announcer say.

Blue team, Pohnpei national, came in third runner up with $300.00 contributed to the endowment fund. The start of the ceremony was slightly delayed awaiting the arrival of Mimi-Lane Weital, the blue princess. Alex Alexander is the prince.

White team, Chuuk, were the second runner up with $646.57. If I understood the announcer correctly, $586.53 of that was obtained here on island, home island fund raising apparently raised the remainder. Jessica Reyes and Artray Irons are the princess and prince.

Red team, Yap, were the first runner up with $1100 dollars. Jeanie Gabriel and Dominic Gadad were the princess and prince.

Green team, Kosrae, captured Founding Day Queen and King with $1735 dollars, with some $1235 from on-island donations and the remainder from home island contributions. Maggie Tolenoa and Winson Elley are the princess and prince.

Mimi-Lane had a beautiful flowing gown which featured an almost cape like wrap above a one piece open shoulder dress.


The couples performed a short dance choreographed by Jazmin Gonzales and Roldan Laguerta. The dance went well, although a section of reverse stepping was difficult for Mimi-Lane as this backed her up over her trailing gown. Despite this wardrobe complication, she remained composed and graceful.

Crowning the Founding Day Queen and King

One of the side discussions was the choice of Pohnpei campus to withdraw from the fund raising effort and thus from the coronation ceremony. Although there was a $500 minimum, what that really means is that a group will not get 10% back for their own use if they do not raise $500. 

Jazmin instructing the couples where to stand

Whether the amount raised has any real significance to an endowment fund that is using 503C IRS tax status in the United States to seek significant donations from corporate and private individuals remains an open question. Whether students should be expected to fund raise for the endowment is also an open question. Two years ago the college received some negative feedback from the community in the wake of tuition increases, new fees, and increases in existing fees. The community wondered why, given all of those new infusions of money, the college was still looking to students to help raise money for the college. That was a conversation the Founding Day Committee committed to having in the wake of the 2014 Founding Day, a conversation that never occurred. Whether students should fund raise come 2018 remains an open question. 

Coupled with this was the discussion of what the minimum means, and why a team does not always get to retain 10% for their future use. There was also the suggestion to let all teams participate in coronation so every team will have a princess and prince. The winner might still be the team which raised the most funds. 

Attendance was sparse, an almost inevitable downside of a 4:00 P.M. time slot on the eve of a holiday. The students at the railing are part of a group from the Marshall Islands. A scan of the audience suggested that most of the audience were residence hall students. Bearing in mind that the national campus is on the  order of 76% Pohnpei state students, the absence of "day students" has a disproportionate impact on events such as coronation. Yet for a local student from the village, the eve of a holiday is a time that the family expects the student home as early as possible.


Whether coronation should be detached as this year, or the kick off as it was in 2014, is not simple to answer. Even this year a princess was late and delayed the ceremony. The ceremony was brief and still wrapped by 5:00 P.M., but the time slot was still suboptimal. That said, getting princes and princesses ready for an early morning ceremony is equally problematic and the 2014 ceremony was delayed for over an hour waiting for a princess to come in from having her hair done.

I was also saddened to note the absence of administrators at the ceremony. Our students really do look wonderful and feel spectacular. The virtual absence of administrators and faculty suggests that lack of value the ceremony has to these constituencies. Yes, there were some faculty present, some staff, and a few mid-tier administrators. Yet not a single cabinet level administrator. There ought to be discussion of the role of the fund raising and the whole princess and prince, coronation process prior to 2018. Does the college want this activity or prefer that this not happen? These are complex questions. I have long noted that the king and queen should logically be ambassadors for the college that the administration can call on to welcome guests and visitors. These should be our best and brightest, the students who can represent the college, perchance accompany administration to meetings with Congress.

Kosrae Student Organization men

Group photo op

Selfie time!

Sisters on the left

Everyone is dressed as if a royal court. The baby is also a reminder of a key difference out here: family and children are an integral part of the lives of our students. The college still does not do enough to reduce barriers to education for our many young mothers. There is no on site day care capacity or other amenities. To date the existence of the extended family in the community has handled babies and children for our students with children, but this is a world that is changing. Not all of our students have access to their extended family. The college could do more in this area as well. 


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