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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Everest Academy Manila on the Rise
School is growing in numbers and spirit.

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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 6.

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.

“Our school 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
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"We witness their growth and development, not only academically, but humanly, spiritually and apostolically as well."
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.

“I am 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.”

Parents have 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.

“Two 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 to Haiti.

“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 their deeds.”

For more information about Everest Manila, visit the school web site.



Related links

Altius Foundation
Immaculate Conception Apostolic School
Sacred Heart Apostolic School
Sacred Heart Apostolic School
Anáhuac Network of Universities
Canyon Heights Academy
Clear Water Academy
Dublin Oak Academy

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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