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Shaping minds through sustainable living
Premier Catholic schools promote new ways to learn in NUVALI

Sr. Agana said she’s been to NUVALI twice and she personally liked the place. “I’ve always wanted a green house so I read every article written there at the exhibit area of the Evoliving center. We visited the model green homes and I like it because it’s truly environment friendly. I even tried trekking. All the activities our students did, I did too,” Sr. Agana recalled. Sr. Agana added that exposing students to nature is very important because it’s a God-given gift that is often neglected, “Nature is God’s gift to us. For us to treasure it, we must experience it first.”

SPCP high school principal Sr. Teresita Agana, SPC

Xavier School NUVALI

By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga Photos by Pinggot Zulueta

Touted as a living, thriving ecocity development anchored on sustainability, Ayala Land’s NUVALI puts a premium on integrating topnotch learning with its lush environs without compromising its commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. As the development continues to flourish, NUVALI’s conscientious efforts to promote environmental, social and economic sustainability are now being supported and emulated not only by schools that have planted roots in its community but as well as other educational institutions that have seen and experienced nature in this modern-day green sanctuary. Quality education for all This school year, Xavier School NUVALI (XSN) officially opened its doors for its pioneering batch of kindergarten to grade 3 students. In its thrust to provide Xavier education for all, XSN welcomed both boy and girls in its sprawling 15-hectare campus – a historic first for the 150 year old institution. The precise term for the coeducational model implemented in XSN is ‘flexible co-education’. This means that the boys and girls will be studying together for certain subject areas in particular grade levels (usually the lower grades) and separately for others. “The reason for this is that research shows that while there are some benefits in a coed, there are also certain undesirable by-products which are addressed by a single-sex school like Xavier School San Juan.

In our preparation for XSN, we decided to experiment with a model that tries to offer the best of both worlds to our students, so even the very design of the campus has taken this into consideration,” explained Fr. Johnny Go, Xavier School president. To maintain quality Xavier education in XSN, its entire teaching faculty came from Xavier School San Juan. And while the teachers admit that there is a big difference between teaching only male students and coed, they do welcome the change. “The girls are more emotional and chatty, which is very normal for their age. But I also observed that girls are more mature emotionally and intellectually. It’s nice to discover all these changes. We enjoy having both the boys and the girls. We are privileged to have been experiencing this kind of setup,” Maan Domingo, XSN 2nd grade teacher. However, when they say ‘education for all’ these are not just boys and girls who can afford a premier Catholic education. Through the XSN’s socialized tuition fee scheme, the school will be able to reach out to students who cannot afford exclusive school tuition but very much deserve such education. “The very reason why the Jesuit Province approved the opening of XSN is because they want to provide Xavier education for all. The requirement of the Jesuit Province to open the school is that 25 percent of our student population should be scholars. So far, we only have 21 percent and we’re encouraging more parents and students to come to us to apply,” said Mina Bona, XSN 1st grade teacher. Bona added that the scholarship is mainly for financial assistance and

Nurturing minds, cultivating communities Of the many sites considered by Miriam College (MC) to be its next home, NUVALI was chosen because of three significant reasons: it’s proximity to the Quezon City campus, the rapid economic growth in Laguna and, most importantly, the consistent values and philosophy NUVALI shares with MC on sustainability, community development and environmental advocacy. Apart from its emphasis on a sustainable school design—with 50-50 open spaces, efficient energy sources, and buildings that adapt to the existing environment--the new MC campus will also innovate in the curriculum through a co-educational program that will bring the same academic standards but introduce new and innovative programs using real and virtual learning tools. MC will also develop programs that would benefit the community towards national development like the Miriam Adult Education program, its night school for out-of-school youth and its advocacy in areas of peace, women, environment, teacher-training and community involvement. Miriam College will also offer a Technical Vocational Program which will train the communities to specific industry standards and prepare them for a wide range of careers. In this new partnership, NUVALI and Miriam College will work together in imparting the philosophy of balance and the importance of nurturing young minds to the importance of the community and environment through its excellent academic programs infused with Christian values.

Targeted to open by 2015, the 15-hectare campus will start with a co-education program for basic education (pre-school, grades 1-2) and high school (1st-2nd year), while the higher education units are slated to start in 2019. Fun learning with nature With its unique natural features, green patches and various nature amenities, NUVALI is quickly becoming an educational tour hub for schools that are looking for non-traditional, experiential and meaningful field trips for their students.

The coeducational model implemented in XSN is called _flexible co-education.

Teachers Mina Bona and Maan Domingo together with XSN principal Arlene Choo.

not specifically out of academic merit. There are, however, requirements for maintaining the scholarship; one of which is that the scholars pass their subjects. How will a student qualify? Bona further explained that the qualification for the scholarship is part of the XSN application form and is given to all. XSN follows the K-12 compliant curriculum. San Juan campus and eight-year-old Grade 2 student Joaquim Alonso Yu, who wants to be a Jesuit priest someday, does not mind staying in school longer. “I’m having fun learning new things here in XSN,” shared Joaquim. “It’s okay that I stay longer in school because our teachers can teach us more lessons that will help us when we go to college.” Meanwhile, 10-year-old Grade 3 student Robyn Lianne Cheng, who formerly studied in an exclusive school, is very happy that she moved to XSN because she can finally study Chinese. “I’m happy because when my mom checked with XSN, she thought it only offers Grade 1 and Grade 2. But when she had a meeting with the school, they said that XSN is also opening for Grade 3. My mom was pleasantly surprised because she really wanted me to go to a Chinese school,” Robyn enthused. According to XSN principal Arlene Choo, Xavier School’s Chinese program remains at the core of the XSN curriculum and they do not just require the students to memorize writing and reading Chinese characters, they also encourage students to apply it outside of school to be able to use the language in communicating with other people. In keeping with NUVALI’s vision for a sustainable, eco-friendly community, the students are also trained to throw their trash in the correct

bin; while volunteer students, parents and teachers have been doing tree-planting activities in the campus since the start of the school year. “Sustainability has been a primary consideration from the earliest conceptualization and design stage of XSN. In fact, that is one of the reasons we chose to partner with NUVALI from among the other potential developers and locations for our satellite campus. For us, however, sustainability is not simply something we want to see on campus, but something we want our students to learn in the classroom and live out in their lives. In other words, we plan to eventually see this embedded in our curriculum,” Fr. Johnny said. XSN will be opening grades 4, 7 and 8 next school year.

World of Outbound Corporation, a company that provides experiential nature tours to students from elementary to high school, partnered with NUVALI to create a module that will feature the development’s many ecosites like the One Evotech, Evoliving Center, Solenad lakeside retail, Green Model Home , San Cristobal River and the Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary.

XSN Grade 2 student Joachim Alonso Yu

XSN Grade 3 student Robyn Lianne Cheng

According to Jermarie Atibagos, product, research and education head of World of Outbound Corp., they incorporated NUVALI’s ecosites with lectures on global warming and reducing carbon footprint and called the module ‘Living More by Leaving Less’. But the tours they organize aren’t just multisensory and informative, it must also be fun. “Our itinerary for NUVALI includes fun activities like river wading, trekking, cliff jumping and bridge repelling where the students can simply enjoy nature,” Atibagos said. Last summer, World of Outbound brought St. Paul College, Pasig (SPCP) to NUVALI for its annual leadership training and SPCP high school principal Sr. Teresita Agana, SPC has nothing but kind words and fond memories of their day in NUVALI. “NUVALI is a sanctuary,” Sr. Agana shared. “We were there April last year for our four-day, environment-themed leadership congress. We invited about 700 student leaders from our 40 schools around the Philippines to spend the last day of leadership training, communing with nature in NUVALI and they really had fun trekking, wading, bird watching, boating and rappelling.”

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Monday, October 15, 2012
Educational tours at NUVALI.

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