TWO HUNDRED Ateneans will be walking around the Ateneo de Iloilo-SMCS grounds in their new uniforms as Grade 11 students next school year. One out of ten of them is a transferee. Three out of ten of them will take the ABM strand, while the rest will take the STEM strand. And they will all have their own technology-friendly classrooms in the upper floors of the Ateneo building in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
“This is the likely scenario that will happen starting June 13, 2016 as the new school year starts,” Dr. Herman Lagon, incoming associate principal for Senior High School said, adding, “although they are still considered high schoolers, but they are also being prepared to become astute college students.”
“From the demands of the subjects that they will take to the mature role that they will assume in school, our SHS students will be facing a more challenging task in getting ready for their chosen college courses. This is a tall order, a serious matter that each SHS student must take into by heart.”
High School Principal Rosario Dordas agreed adding: “SHS brings about transitions. Schools are faced with various logistical concerns. In the Philippines, most of the incoming Grade 11 students have to adjust to the fact that they are not yet in college but are presented with a curriculum that is a hybrid of the secondary and the tertiary levels of education.”
“But more than logistics such as curriculum, facilities, and human resources, the school is deeply committed to provide its SHS students the holistic education that is strongly grounded on the ideals of Jesuit education and the vision of the school—‘to form leaders who pursue excellence that is driven by love and service,’ Mrs. Dordas added.
Curriculum and Formation
The school has earned a certification from the Department of Education (DepEd) to offer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and ABM (Accountancy, Business, and Management) strands last May, 2015.
Basically, Dr. Lagon said, the school follows DepEd’s SHS curriculum with an added Jesuit flavor to it. This includes the inclusion of “Ignatian Spirituality” subjects and the integrated formation program. The courses to be offered per semester for the next two years are already in place. It generally complies with the local DepEd’s ‘Unified Curriculum’ that aims to synchronize all the core, applied, and specialized subjects offered by each school in the region.”
In the area of value formation, Dr. Lagon said: “So far, the Campus Ministry and Social Involvement (CMSI) office is now working on the school’s SHS socio-spiritual program which will focus more on parish involvement and labor while the Guidance Office is now devising a systematic package on career pathing and on age-appropriate (adolescence) guidance program. On the other hand, the student activity office is planning to offer at least eight relevant clubs and a suitable strong leadership program while the office of the Prefect of Discipline is hoping to finalize the new Student Manual which will include the new seniors.”
All the members of the community, mainly the teachers, staff, students and parents, were already informed about relevant SHS updates through separate and formal orientations and communications held this school year.
Sectioning and Classrooms
Since last year, the school has been working on the right STEM-ABM ratio that would fit the demographics of its Grade 10 completers. After series of surveys and final pre-enrollment this early March, it was found out that the most practical proportion would be 3 sections for STEM, 1 section for ABM, and apparently one section mixed for STEM and ABM. About 90% of our Grade 10 completers will be enrolling in Grade 11 while others chose to transfer due to migration, strand mismatch, or financial concerns.
Entrance tests were held mid-January and early February, 2016 and 15 from the applicants were chosen to fill in the available slots. Enrollment for all Grade 11 students was late April but few slots are still being vied by a number of transferee applicants.
Budget for the five (5) classrooms and the SHS faculty room was already earmarked and are now being used for the current construction and refurbishment of the rooms. The audio-visual rooms (AVRs) in the fourth floor and the two Chinese rooms in the third floor of the Ateneo High School building will serve as the temporary Grade 11 rooms.
According to the drawing board, the Grade 11 rooms will all be air-conditioned, wifi-ready and LED-monitor assisted. The open space adjacent to the AVRs will be transformed into a faculty room for SHS. Construction will start this April.
It is worthy to note that these rooms are just temporary. As soon as the construction of the Ateneo Grade School and Administration buildings are finally done in school year 2017-2018, the Grade 12 rooms shall be permanently placed in the fourth floor of the GS building while the Grade 11 rooms will be on the third floor of the HS building adjacent to the present Faculty Room. In few years, Ateneo plans to erect a stand-alone SHS building adjacent to its newly-constructed Grade School building in the San Rafael campus.
Faculty and Administration
Maintaining an excellent faculty demographics is a trademark of Ateneo. According to Dr. Lagon, job vacancy for SHS plantilla was opened last November, 2015. Teaching demonstrations, interviews, and exams followed thereafter. All the needed full-time and part-time teachers were already hired in March and trained in April for two weeks.
Dr. Lagon said: “All but one of the teachers hired or identified have either master’s degree or are still finishing their master’s degrees. They are all believed to be experts in their respective fields with enough experience to bank on. Considering the kind of students and the subject content to be handled, most of the SHS teachers are senior teachers coming from the school’s Junior High School. Those hired from the demo were assigned to fill in their JHS tasks.”
Administratively, incoming SHS associate principal Dr. Lagon will be helped by the high school subject area coordinators who will still be the ones who will supervise the SHS subject teachers. Mrs. Dordas will still be on top of everything, as principal for both JHS (Grades 7-10) and SHS (Grades 11-12).
Since last school year, the school has already been purchasing STEM and ABM books for the SHS. In fact, the school library will assign a SHS corner specially intended for SHS printed materials. Textbooks are now identified by the subject area coordinators and senior teachers after months of evaluation. Similar necessary upgrading of equipment is also happening in the two computer and four science laboratories of the school.
Meanwhile, according to Dr. Lagon, in order to maximize the use of the schools facilities and laboratories, a scheduling scheme to be adopted that is different from that of the JHS. This aims to answer possible concerns regarding traffic and order. On the other hand, the school plans to invest in purchasing another set of iPad cart (with 45 iPad devices) and to assign more efficient WiFi hotspots in the SHS area to augment logistical concerns. This will give teachers more opportunity to use technology for learning.
All is set
There five weeks more before the actual implementation of the SHS. Constructions are now going on while curricular enhancement is also in place.
With this, Mrs. Dordas guaranteed.: “Surely, our SHS journey will not be a walk in the park, but, as with other schools who are serious in their resolve to provide quality education to young people, Ateneo is prepared to rise to the challenge, no short cuts, no compromises.”
Dr. Lagon agreed, adding: “The new SHS is a moving bull’s eye that needs to be aimed with dexterous precision. So far, despite protracted and tentative reference from DepEd, we can humbly say that the Ateneo de Iloilo SHS is right on target, hoping that everything will be seamless and operative. In God’s grace, we can say that we are SHS ready.”(Ripples)