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St. Agnes Academy

Address: 4500 Rizal Street, Legazpi City, Philippines
Phone: (052) 480-1682
19 Feb 14, 0:36 AM

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The year 1912 saw the great need for a catholic school in Albay. Rev. Fr. Juan J. Calleja, the parish priest then, with the help of Msgr. J.B. MacGinley, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of   Nueva Caceres presented an appeal before the Apostolic Delegate Msgr. Etheus for some Missionary Benedictine Sisters  to start the Apostolate Christian education among the people of Albay. 

In response to the call, Sister Ferdinanda, OSB, Sister Alexia, OSB and Sister Edilburgis, OSB came to Legazpi City on May 30, 1912 and started formal primary classes on July 1, 1912 with 47 enrollees in the parish’s old parochial convent. Thus was born St. Agnes’ Academy (SAA), the oldest catholic school in Albay, originally named Academia de Sta. Ines. 

The Academy grew despite the forces that threatened her existence- the strong typhoons that destroyed the physical structure of the school, the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1928 and World War II that claimed the lives of three (3)  pioneering Benedictine Sisters- Mother Clodesindis, OSB, Sister Edilburgis, OSB and Sister Gertrude, OSB, an oblate.

Amidst trials and difficulties, SAA’s spirit became stronger, and indomitable courage pulled her through.  The seeming setbacks spawned greater strength that accelerated growth.   A free school was opened for the poor. Vocational courses were incorporated with the academics in the early 1940’s.  Not to be overlooked was the Music Department which started in 1921.

From the debris of typhoons and from the ashes of eruption and war, rose a formidable institution.  The sister’s determination to educate the young Bicolanos survived the turbulent years.  The sixth decade of SAA’s historical milestones was the age of school competitions, and recognition of St. Agnes’ Academy as a school that would not settle for anything short of excellence. On January 1974, SAA’s Grade School Department was granted accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), the first in the Bicol region and the fifth in the country to be accredited.  In March 1983, the High School Department was also accredited, the second in Legazpi City.  On that same year, the High School Department became co-educational, primarily to  provide a more integrated education for the young. 

The gradual increase in enrolment in the High School Department necessitated rearrangement and improvement of  existing facilities. The school continued to  keep  alive  the tradition of excellence established by her forbears,  for her growing number of students.

Keeping pace with the changes of modern society, SAA found it necessary to become involved in a wider program of activities.  More and more the school tried to reach out to the poor through its socio-pastoral apostolate to give maximum service to its students and to the larger community as a whole.  The Agnesian family—students, parents, teachers, administrators, office and general services personnel staff involved themselves in many different activities.  Ecological drives, medical and dental missions, catechetical instructions and community workshops formed part of the school’s effort to keep in touch with present-day realities.

In 2006, as SAA prepared herself for the PAASCU re-accreditation, a string of natural calamities led to its postponement. The impending eruption of Mayon Volcano caused delays and the super typhoons Milenyo and Reming damaged the school’s infrastructure and destroyed  all her preparation that brought it to its knees.  But despite all these setbacks, the morale of the school community remained strong and the spirit of volunteerism and cooperation pushed her to start anew.

In school year 2008-2009, the PAASCU visits of the  Grade School and High School departments pushed through.  On May 26, 2009, the PAASCU results were received.  The Grade School and High School departments were both granted re-accreditation for five years.

In school year 2009-2010 the school celebrated her 97th year of foundation.  It was during this year that many physical facilities and equipment development  projects were accomplished . The chapel was renovated; the high school faculty room was relocated and air conditioned; a  lounging room for the teachers  was  provided;  offices for the middle administrators were  repositioned for accessibility, the high school  stage area in the quadrangle was tiled  and the comfort rooms at Gate 1 were renovated.

Alongside the many improvements in physical facilities, the school intensified  and restructured its Social Involvement Program (SIP)/Outreach Program.  Parish and diocesan linkages were renewed and strengthened; program thrusts  and services were refined. Sponsorship of the masses on the 3rd and 4th Sundays of the month by the Grade School and High School departments respectively, was revived. While the High School Seniors and Grade School club members did Cathedral clean-up as part of their SIP/outreach work, the Sisters got themselves involved in diocesan and AWRIL (Association of Women and Religious in Legazpi) programs and activities.

The highlight of the school year was the launching of the school web site:

The following school year, 2010-2011 with the celebration of her 98th year of foundation, additional improvements in physical facilities were undertaken.  The Grade School and High School Computer laboratories were renovated  and  the computer units were  upgraded; the Grade School and High School faculty rooms and administrative offices were improved; the General Services  and Office personnel were provided with a lounging room; the school’s wiring system  was rehabilitated to accommodate the growing energy requirements of the additional  facilities, and the gymnasium was redesigned and rebuilt.

The need to keep up with these changes necessitated a revisit of the school’s Vision-Mission.  A re-statement of the institution’s vision and mission followed and school policies were refined and revised where needed.

In school year 2011-2012, as St. Agnes’ Academy prepared for the launching of the centennial celebration, various activities involving the entire community  were undertaken.  Medical and dental missions to the poor in the locality and the school’s partner communities were organized and conducted in coordination with the alumni and parents.  Former teachers, office and general services personnel were "bought home” to SAA in an afternoon of festive reminiscing.

The school resonated with the voices of the students as they sang the centennial hymn composed especially for the occasion. The centennial logo and prayer along with an assortment of memorabilia items  served as added highlights to commemorate the same.  

Meanwhile, the school continued  with  her physical facilities improvements.  The clinic was renovated; the High School Speech laboratory was put up; a new Grade school AVR was built; a conference room and a green house were provided in the Grade School department; and the water plumbing system was rehabilitated.  An Archives Museum was conceived and put up in order to see, look back and appreciate the school’s history.

The school opened herself to more involvements- in the local community as well as in the  Benedictine communities nationwide.  She hosted the Association of Benedictine Schools’ (ABS) Leadership Training Seminars of the Grade School and High School departments, and the Treasurers and Business Office Staff seminar-workshop. She also hosted the Catholic Educational Association of Legazpi (CEAL) Youth Camp and was an active participant in the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly that reviewed, reset and refined the directions of the diocese.  In addition, she readily accepted the task of serving as a pilot school in the city’s Earth Savers’ Program- the only private school in the city to do so.  During the year-long Centennial Calendar,  the school launched her Centennial Commemorative stamps, in coordination with the  Philippine Postal Corporation.

On her 100th (Centennial) year, in school year 2012-2013, further improvements of the physical facilities and equipment were effected.  The Grade School Science Laboratory, the High Campus Ministry and the Social Involvement Program (SIP) Offices were renovated.  Additional food booths in the canteen were provided and the eating area for the teachers and personnel was improved. The Grade School Administrative offices and the faculty lounging area were enhanced and the High School Physical Education play area was cemented. In both departments, floors were tiled to improve aesthetics.

More events were held to celebrate the centennial year. Cultural and variety shows that traced  the school’s history served as  happy reminders of a wonderful past.  People who were part of this past—Superiors, Directresses, Board of Trustees Chairpersons, Alumni Association Presidents were paid tribute to, in  grateful  appreciation  of  their contributions to the school’s  advancement. 

The centennial  year saw   St. Agnes’ Academy playing host to various religious  assemblies and conferences— the AWRIL Assembly, the National Conference for Youth Ministers and  the First Diocesan  Clergy and Religious Encounter, among others.  In addition, the school also sponsored the diocesan Farewell Mass for St. Pedro Calungsod at the Albay Cathedral.

Various programs- relevant and socially-oriented to meet the needs of the school community were implemented. To facilitate postings and communications, the school opened an official  SAA  Facebook (FB) Account.  It also embarked on a program to denounce harassment with its "Agnesian Ako, Peacemaker: I SAY NO TO BULLYING” campaigns  and  adopted  the government-mandated K to 12 Educational Reform, beginning with the Kindergarten classes  and the Grade 7 students.

The search for 100 Outstanding Agnesians embodying  SAA’s ideals,   and symbolizing her one hundred years of existence culminated in an awards night, held during the grand Alumni Homecoming in May 2012.  Not to be eclipsed was the honoring of more than a hundred alumni priests and religious to  pay special recognition to the "workers in God’s vineyard”.

SAA’s one hundred years of fruitful existence, her numerous achievements and countless contributions to the community, earned recognition through the various awards conferred on her -- a Centennial Service Award from the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP),   Service to the Church Award by the Diocese of Legazpi and the Bishop Jorge Barlin Service Award from the Ateneo de Naga University (ADNU).  The school has also been  cited  officially as a  historical landmark  by the National Historical Institute (NHI), the Province of Albay and the City of Legazpi .

Today, on her 101th year of existence, SAA lifts her hands in praise for God’s unending  blessings, even as she  soars high and stands proud of her achievements.  As another century unfolds, the school continues to commit herself to building and nurturing a living, loving and learning community as she responds to the challenges of today’s realities- new evangelization, family evangelization, ecological consciousness and preservation of the environment, and just peace, for positive social transformation.  THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED! 


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