|Morning line-up at Everest Academy in Manila.|
August 17, 2011. Manila, Philippines. Everest Academy Manila started
in 2007 with just 34 students: 17 students in grade
1 and 17 students in grade 2.
Four years later,
it has 241 students spread evenly across grades 1 through
The school has been growing steadily since it opened, thanks
to the dedication of its staff of teachers and administrators,
and to the attractiveness of its well-rounded approach to education.
For Angelica Fernandez de Castro, the school principal, the school’s
greatest success is its students.
“We witness their growth and
development, not only academically, but humanly, spiritually and apostolically as
well,” she said, citing the students’ active involvement in the
learning process, their participation in monthly virtue campaigns and school
Masses, and their social outreach projects and fundraising activities.
supports a Mano Amiga school that we helped open in
2008,” she explained. “Our students visit their counterparts at the
school from time to time.”
Parent involvement has also been an
important factor for the school’s growth.
“Many of our parents
also volunteer their time, talent, and funds to ensure the
success of this school as they all feel that this
school is doing great service to the children and the
families of this community,” she said.
The school’s Parent Formation Program
offers women’s and men’s “recollections” at the school, with current
parents inviting their friends to attend with them. In addition,
guest speakers and the chaplain or formation director have offered
Parenting Talks related to educating children at home.
“These talks have
been well-attended and appreciated by our parents and others who
have been able to come,” she said.
Aside from activities
and outreach, the school has also grown in what Principal
Fernandez calls “mystique,” a spirit of charity permeating the students
and staff alike.
After visiting Pinecrest Academy in Atlanta and other
Legion-run schools in Mexico, Fernandez thought it would be a
challenge to recreate that same spirit in the still-new Everest
Academy in Manila. But focusing on being Christ-centered and charitable
has made that “mystique” grow naturally in the school.
|"We witness their growth and development, not only academically, but humanly, spiritually and apostolically as well."|
very pleased to share that the welcoming, joyful, and serene
atmosphere was naturally created in our school,” she said. “The
formative environment I experienced in our sister schools was the
same environment we have here in Manila.”
Having all Catholic staff
members who fully identify with the school’s mission was a
key factor, she observed. But the students’ enthusiasm was also
no less important.
“One boy in 4th grade told his mom
that weekends need not be two days,” she recalled. “He
thinks one day of rest is enough and that six
days of school is what the schedule should be.”
reported to Fernandez that their children wake them up at
5:00 because they are so excited to get ready for
school. Part of their enthusiasm may be the joy that
young children feel about going to school and spending time
with other kids their age. But there are also indicators
that the school is helping kids to flourish in deeper
ways, with an attitude of self-giving and generosity toward others.
years ago, our 4th graders responded to the needs of
people in Haiti after they experienced the terrible earthquake. They
were seeing the devastation in the news daily and saw
how the people were suffering. They did not want to
watch it passively. They were brainstorming on ways they can
help,” she said.
The girls organized a bake sale to fundraise
for the victims, while the boys organized a car wash.
Both groups donated their combined funds to Caritas Manila, the
main Catholic agency for social services and development of the
Archdiocese of Manila, which was putting donations together before sending
“What impressed me was that the students were not
prompted by us to do this,” said Fernandez. “They thought
of these activities on their own. Their deep and genuine
concern for the victims moved them to act.”
“This motivation and
selfless act can only come from their love of Christ,”
she said, noting that the students pray to Jesus every
morning at assembly, asking Him to let them be living
reminders of God’s goodness.
“The children who have been in our
school at least two years have been more conscious of
this,” she said.
“They make an effort to share Jesus through
For more information about Everest Manila, visit the school