June’s here, summer vacation is almost over. It’s been a long while since I have last felt that drastic change of mood when June sets in. Now, as I walk down the Memory Lane, mixed feelings of anxiety and anticipation creep up my stomach again and I had to smile at how simple life was when I was still a student. By this time, I should be changing the nocturnal habits, bidding goodbyes to the noon time shows I so ardently watched, extracting the dusty school bags from closets (unless Mom buys me new ones), and cleaning the school shoes that’s been inhabited by spiders. It makes me nervous just thinking about homeworks again, for St. Scho was much known for giving assignments even on the first day of school (hehe). Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see friends again and share stories about the summer vacation.
More than 20 years ago, I was introduced to the world of St. Scholastica’s Academy, which became my second home for 11 years. As a little girl of 6, I was intimidated by the vastness of the school grounds and believed I’d never get to know my way around. But I got out of St. Scho knowing the place like the back of my hand. It’s fascinating to realize how familiarity could make something big look small. But it’s even more amazing to think now, how such a small school ground could house a million memories, person by person, year by year.
This is my memoir of some childhood memories as a Koolasa, each class owning a special contribution.
PREP – WHITE
Photo was taken in the area between the Gate 1 Playground and the Octagonal (or was it six or seven sides?) Building with the Flagpole in the middle. In 1989 (wow that made me feel old), this served as the classrooms for Prep students. It was later converted to the Grade School Library. Mrs. Santos was our Homeroom Adviser and she struck me as strict. Mom and Dad bought a set of World Book Encyclopedia from her, which up to now sits on its place at the China Cabinet, always ready to be browsed even by my little girls, Demi and Daisy. 🙂 One time in school, while we were copying notes from the black board, I got tired and decided to continue my writing at home. I realized this silliness at home when I opened my assignment notebook (Ntbk No. 1) and Mom demanded where the other reminders were. Next day, Mrs. Santos had us in line to check the completeness of our notes. She threw away mine. Hahaha! She was strict alright, but when time calls for it, she could be a really caring teacher. One afternoon, while we were saying prayers before dismissal, I lost control and peed my underpants. She took care in changing me, I don’t recall why she had spare panties though. (*Blush*)
I remember an incident too, which happened when a little bit of my competitiveness stirred and I had long been sorry about this naughtiness. My service mate Precious Grace always got down the service shuttle first. One day, I decided to beat her at least in getting first to the classrooms. The moment we reached the walkway in Gate 7, I ran past her but I tripped on someone’s foot and smacked my face to the ground. I was taken to the clinic. The next day, I had a huge scratch on my forehead, and “NO RUNNING” signs were posted along the stretch of the walkway. I’m not sure though if it existed before that incident hehehe…
GRADE 1 – FAITHFUL
I think the classrooms were still in the Octagonal Building, except that the Preps used them in the afternoon, while Grade 1 pupils used them in the morning. This photo was taken along the Grade School Building though. How embarrassing, I looked like a sickly kid, haha. When I was in Grade 1, I transferred to a new service shuttle since we had moved house, too. We were quite a group, I, Lorraine, Jacqueline, Bem, Jennifer and Elaine. After school, while waiting for the service to arrive, we usually play Chinese garter, ten-twenty or one-by-one.
I believe our Adviser’s name was Mrs. Pineda but I do not remember much. Except that I think, this was the period I became exposed to books and adopted the reading habit because I always had nothing to do at home after school. Both of my brothers were in school, dad was at the office and mom usually took naps. So it was I and the homeworks, plus the books.
I also recall the major 1990 Luzon earthquake during this time. I was outside the house alone picking flowers and catching dragonflies but little droplets of rain started to fall so I decided to go inside the house. By the door, I could see the washing machine shaking but this was no surprise. Sometimes, mom would put in too much clothes inside the spinner such that the machine shakes tremendously when turned on. But it was strange that even the dining table was shaking and so I told mom. I thought it was just the effect of the washing machine. When I saw her reaction, I got frightened, though I do not understand what was happening then while we were hunched underneath the Narra table. When the quaking stopped, we went outside and mom was staring into space while she continuously prayed that no after shocks happen.
GRADE 2 – COURTEOUS
The photo was beside the Playground near the Gate 1 area I think. This was the era of one length hairstyles, hehe. This was also the time when we took our first holy communion and our class adviser was Miss Zamora. I had a vague memory of singing Wind Beneath My Wings for Music class, because everyone was asked to. It took guts to do that of course, especially since I don’t sing anywhere except in the bathroom hehe. It had to be done though to discover the kids with talent.
I guess this was the time I also first heard the Ugoy ng Duyan (and loved it), it might have something to do with our first holy communion. Aissa was probably the one who sung the song, for she was one great talent in our batch. As a matter of fact, my parents recognized her when she sang again for graduation (I hope I’m remembering things right ;)).
Look at how behaved little girls we were, wearing all white from dresses to shoes to accessories. So behaved actually, that I didn’t even dare fix my headband during the photo shoot (haha!). Underneath the white disguises though, sassiness never ceased to dwell hehe.
GRADE 3 – RESOURCEFUL
Photo was taken near the Gate 1 Playground, too, maybe. I forgot the name of our adviser (sorry Miss *blush*) although she was one of my favourite teachers and I find her very pretty. To compensate the memory loss, she used to teach Filipino subject (there I remembered). If I remember it right, this year was the reign of Multiplication Tables. I used to dread that Multiplication drill wherein each girl in a group (grouping was per column according to seating arrangement) took turns and beat each other in multiplication. Karen took the limelight as she casually gave the answers as if she was eating cake, beating the rest of us of course. I learned that instead of counting sheep to sleep, she multiplied numbers in the cards held before her by her mom. Wow. As for me, I wished to just melt or be swallowed by the ground.
I remember too, that this may have been the start of the Slum Book trade among the students, and the competitive research on the latest acronym dedications like J-A-P-A-N (Just Always Pray At Night), I-T-A-L-Y (I Trust And Love You), 7Bs (Books Before Boys Because Boys Bring Babies haha), as well as original mottos. I used to write “Time is gold” and the ever determined “Try and try until you die (which was supposed to be succeed hehe)” but the moment I encountered “What is beauty if the brain is empty?” I never changed (hehe).
GRADE 4 – SOCIABLE
The Gate 1 Playground seemed like a favourite spot for class pictures and it seems that my hair was starting to “fly away”. Our class adviser was Miss Bilag and she may be teaching Science (?). This year, I started having questions about section assignments. If anything, sociable would be the last description for me, because I was really shy then. Simple would be more appropriate, not to mention, I’d be more than willing to join the Star Section, too. Hehehe 🙂
School was for a whole day from Grade 4 onwards. I don’t remember exactly if this was the time that I first experienced becoming a student teacher. We taught younger level classes, Grade 2 perhaps, paired with a representative student teacher from the same level. I got paired with the very charming daughter of Mrs. Bulan, I forgot her name (was it Nicole?). She was a brilliant student teacher but she’s a bit shy with the other sections so I had to take over for her. So far that was the only experience I had as a student teacher.
GRADE 5 – CREATIVE
The spot was at the lawn beside the Gate 7 and just about behind us to the right should be the old music room. My hair was flying away on both sides now and though we were starting to become “young ladies,” bangs were still in.
Campaign for “Speak English” was getting strict. We were even encouraged to widen our vocabulary through a word game, wherein one student would give one clue to a word each day until one student gets the answer. Since this was the popularity of Sara Crewe, I got inclined to French words and one time, tried to play the game giving the clue “French word meaning front.” This was easily cracked since FRENTE was also the name of a popular band back then (remember BLT? Not bacon lettuce tomato, hehe, more like bizarre love triangle).
Our adviser, Miss (I fogot her name *sheepish smile* sorry. Subject na lang ulit, English nga ba? Hehe…), also established rapport among us through a letter box at the back of the room. It was a nice idea and it felt really good to receive a letter or two, somehow, it gave the feeling of secrecy and intimacy. 🙂
Oh by the way, the farthest I got with French was “bonjour, bonsoir and merci beaucoup.” Sorry mademoiselle! Haha…
GRADE 6 – HOPEFUL
And we’re back to the favourite spot beside the Gate 1 Playground and it’s funny how my hair flied away on just one side now hehe. This was the first year I ever belonged to the star section headed by Miss de los Reyes, and the first time I ever became classmates with Lorraine, although we have known each other since Grade 1 because we rode the same service. By the way, Bes often belonged to the star section. Although I’m not sure if star sections were actually announced, we figured it out anyway since the most brilliant students obviously belong to this class. So this was the first time I have gotten to know the popular ones, and my belonging there must had been a mistake (hehe). It was a nice experience though, and I realized that while they were really talented and intelligent, they were very down to earth people, much like us average people.
In preparation for the commencement exercises, the pupils were encouraged to submit original compositions for the graduation song. The chosen song was composed by Pia and Rae from our class. The song has a very likable lyrics and melody. 🙂
I – ST. CLAIRE
This photo was taken beside the high school quadrangle where the students fell in line before classes start. Our adviser was Miss Caparas. Many students transferred to other high schools and though it was sad, the old Koolasas were happy to welcome new faces too. In high school, there were no more star sections I believe. And this year, Lorraine was again my classmate. During this year, we had established our friendship and have become best friends up to now. 🙂
One of the new things in 1st year high was the library. While Sweet Valley and Bobsey Twins were popular in Grade School, there were fewer fiction books in the HS Lib. It was still big, but not as big as GS Lib. Nevertheless, countless recess, lunch breaks and dismissal times were eagerly spent there.
In 1st year, we used to line up along the benches at the high school grounds. I always looked forward to chatting with friends before the day started, namely Bes of course, Didith, Maro, Pauleen, Jewel, Fern, Lady, Wowee, Jamie, Vanessa… I could go on and on, but I’m not quite sure if the rest were from another year’s classmates.
I remember anticipating THE classes too, especially the group cooking. My favourite of all was the time we made baked mac. Pastas were my favourite even up to now. 🙂 We also made butter cookies but I recalled ours were perhaps a little too watery, the mixture wasn’t firm so it was difficult to shape it with cookie cutters. Nevertheless, the cookies were yummy! 😀 Later on, when dad bought our 4-burner stove with baking oven, I coaxed mom to bake cookies but I never really got the correct texture of the cookie batter. We enjoyed the shapeless butter cookies though. Thanks to THE’s practical lessons!
II – ST. ELIZABETH
The class picture was taken again, beside the high school quadrangle. This year our adviser was Ms. Nunag. Second year was known for the speech debates and the speakers were chosen based on the results of the students’ defense on dissertations. My topic was euthanasia, and though my stand used to be pro, over the years I realized why I had to negate my original stand. Anyway, I was such a poor speaker (even at present) and it didn’t compensate that I was good at pronunciation. To be a speaker, you had to be spontaneous and a natural conversationalist. Nevertheless, I found my place in writing when Miss Gorospe, our Applied Lit teacher, read my reflection paper as model for her several classes. I did exert effort to write that composition remembering well that I woke up 5:30am (on a weekend!) just to do that. If only I knew it would turn out that good, I‘d have kept a copy for myself. 🙂
I remember too, that this was the year that each class represented an Asian country to compete in chorale singing and dancing. Our’s was Brunei, and for a long time I still had the costume we used in dancing. We were lucky to have Jac with us, who researched and taught the choreo. As for the chorale singing, Melanie, who was as exceptional in singing as Jac was in dancing, guided us with the voicing and all.
III – ST. OTTILIA
Photo shot on the same spot. Our class adviser was Mrs. Tingson and this was the most inspired year in my high school life. I missed the self introduction part in 3rd year because I had dengue just when classes were starting so I had to rest for a whole week prior to attending school. I must confess now, I was surprised and glad that my crush since 1st year high school became my classmate this year. 😉 so, the reason for the “most inspired.”
I had too many wonderful memories in 3rd year, not to mention that Mrs. Tingson had been such a supportive adviser. Somehow, though I lacked points in extra-curricular activities, she managed to back me up in getting to the honour rolls. As a matter of fact, I did experience being rank 1 in 3rd year, 3rd quarter! 🙂 Again, as in most of my happy memories, I did not dare ask how it happened which is mostly because of divine intervention. I just enjoyed the subjects Chemistry, Geometry and Advanced Algebra, that’s all. Believe it or not, I used to spend my past time reading the 4-inch thick Chemistry textbook even on Christmas break (hehehe) and treated the Geometrical proving as one would treat Sodoku. Plus, we can’t disregard the inspiration factor perhaps.
Among the happiest experiences were the class plays, role playing of Noli characters, declamation, parody (I got to dance with my crush haha) and the mock wedding! And it was best during the students’ week when we get perfect and extra points. And yes, who would ever forget the 3rd year overnight when I got to hold hands with my crush for the longest time I could have possibly hoped for! (Hahaha me and my silliness!) Hay, those were such happy memories. 🙂
IV – ST. FRANCES
This photo was taken at the Quadrangle with Miss Bermudez (THE) as our class adviser. 4th year didn’t start as happy as I expected, for one thing, I didn’t have my Bes around to make the days worthwhile 😦 Thanks to the new and existing friends though, like Jen, Tawa, Tani, Kathleen, Sheryl and the others friends from 1st year who helped me cope until graduation. But just the same, as anyone would understand, it isn’t the same without your best friend.
One of the highlights of 4th year was the Marist interaction organized by THE teachers, which unfortunately was for the experience of every 4th year students except our section. Back then, I had the urge to ask Miss Bermudez, how she could have forsaken her very own class. Haha. :p
The COMTAG plays were also worth looking forward to. I commend even now the ingenuity of the member students who use flash lights and coloured cellophanes for lighting effects, as well as the amateur sound effects that left me captivated as I watched the COMTAG members act. How I admired and loved their plays!
Then there’s the 4th year retreat with Mr. Cagas constantly distracting most of the girls concentration on behaving well (hehe). As I think now, why do a bunch of 16-year old girls need to retreat anyway? Perhaps I need that NOW more than ever! (hehe ;))
There’s just so many memories in St. Scho to tell everything. Some are common to students of all generations like the calling of “Miss” to all teachers, and the horror stories like the phantom girl in the 4th year CR, who repeats you as you say your “hail Mary’s” and the crime of passion (a love triangle) committed in the HS lab during one of the HS dance. Habits and stories passed on from student to student without the need to be questioned.
Finally, it felt good to look back at the memories of 11 years in my stay at St. Scho. Happy and sad experiences alike shaped up the person I am now, and for that, it is just appropriate to somehow refer to the school as my alma matter. Of course, I acknowledge that the perfect guide in my person is the faith I have found long after I left the school but St. Scho had done a good job in filling up the space in my character as a youth. It did a good job in my opinion. True, I wasn’t part of the cheerleading competitions, the glee club, dance club or COMTAG, not even the laid back activities like Math Club or Outreach Programs, but just being part of those hopeful young people molded by modest but quality education, I am more than thankful to have been given that opportunity. It doesn’t matter if I’d recall this part of my youth 5, 10, 20 years from now. I know I’d still get that feeling of anxiety and excitement whenever I do so, as if I was a student again, just like a Koolasa once more. 🙂