On June 7, 2010, Elise will attend second grade in Salve Regina, the previously named "Mary, the Mediatrix".
It is a private Catholic school that has relocated from downtown to a site slightly off the National Highway, which is about ten minutes away from here. It is still partially under construction. Physically, it is a far cry from the other two schools we visited, which had nice school grounds and were several floors high. This one is simply composed of classrooms, a school office and a computer lab.
I also saw a small canteen...
There is also a multipurpose basketball court and a garage for several school service vehicles.
There was also a building that was almost finished, which I hoped was a library. I did not see any playground, but I know that every Friday, they have Physical Education and even teach their students tennis. We are not too concerned about the lack of swings or slides, as she can always relax on a hammock, climb trees, play in the beach or swim in the pool. The classrooms are not air conditioned, but each has its own toilet, which I appreciate.
The lockers are all outside the classrooms.
Nacho had a could not resist opening each and every one of them...
...and picking up whatever was left behind from last school year: paper clips, erasers, bookmarks...
Salve Regina is a relatively new school, and still quite small. The School Directress is also the owner, and she also teaches some subjects. She personally administered the achievement tests of Elise, scored them right after they were taken and even took the time out to let her know what she did not get right. Fortunately, Elise scored high enough to be placed in the Advanced Class. Rene proudly said that he did not expect anything less. Meanwhile, I was a bit nervous because whatever she did not know would reflect on her teacher during the previous grade - and that was me.
She was only given English, Math and Science tests. They also had a Filipino proficiency test, but after Elise asked too many questions while taking the test, they decided not to let her take it anymore. I was sternly advised to work on Elise's Filipino grammar and pop culture double-time, as she did not even know who Regine Velasquez is. The Department of Education is now requiring students to take a nationwide Filipino proficiency exam on the 3rd and 6th grades, and we still have time to make her catch up. I was so tempted to tell her that even if my daughter cannot speak Filipino fluently, she truly loves the Philippines: And even if she does not know who Regine Velasquez is, she knows who Lea Salonga and Manny Pacquiao are! I bet her existing students do not even know who Efren "Bata" Reyes is! Last school year, she was most engaged when we studied the different land and water forms in our country. She breezed through Grade One Philippine history, is an environmentalist, has decided on her candidate for the the upcoming elections, and she has her own opinion about migration to other countries!!! But I decided to just let the Directress discover Elise's love for country herself.
After that very defensive train of thought, what I really like about the school is its homey atmosphere. Their teachers are so warm and nice. It is also still a very small school, and only accept up to 20 students per class. Other schools have too many students and I was not comfortable with some teachers whom I witnessed during the class visits.
Another good thing is its Catholic formation. They remember Our Lady often by reciting one decade of the Holy Rosary a day and the Angelus at noon. There are also First Friday Masses and special celebrations of feast days.
We are most pleased with the afternoon schedule of the advanced class. They start at 1:00P.M. and end around 5:30P.M. In the other schools, there is no advanced class, and they usually start at 7:00A.M. and end at 3:00P.M. (I am thinking that 2 hours of that would mean their lunch and recess breaks, lining up, getting everyone moving...) With Elise's half day schedule, there is less rush to get to school and we can still spend time together eating a relaxed breakfast together as a family, maybe even lunch. I can supplement her learning and partially still home-school her in the mornings, or help her prepare for quizzes and exams without having to study too late into the evenings. We'll work out a good, well-rounded routine!
Meanwhile, we have a month to polish our Filipino...