Visit to Portsmouth Abbey
The Philippine educational landscape continues to change with the implementation of the K to 12 program. Our institution is continuously seeking for innovations particularly for the Senior High School that will build on the long time tradition of molding Scholasticans as leaders. Being a novice in the K to 12 curriculum, it is imperative that models of its implementation are visited to have a clearer grasp of its structure and dynamics. The trip to Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island last April 30-May 5, 2014 for benchmarking provided enriching insights and experiences not only about the dynamics of K to 12 but on how other Benedictine schools live out ora et labora.
Portsmouth Abbey is home to 350 senior high school students from Grades 9-12. 70% of its population stays in the campus as boarders supervised by student representatives and faculty members. 30% are called day students. The school year is divided into three terms (Fall, Spring and Winter) with approximately 9-10 weeks of contact time. All academic classes are held from 8:15am until 3:00pm. They have regular consultation, assembly and church time for 40, 35 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. This practice allows the student to have a balance of school work and prayer time. The rest of the afternoon is spent for co-curricular activities such as varsity training and outreach services to their adopted community.
Given the small population, each student is assigned to a faculty adviser who keeps track of his/her academic progress, and social needs. This adviser makes sure that prior to graduation, the student has completed 10 hours of Christian Community Service.
The learning atmosphere in Portsmouth Abbey is very personal. Since the class size is small (15-18) students per class, discussion is very interactive. I was fortunate to observe the Social Sciences classes and the strategy is very Benedictine. The integration of values and social issues is very evident hence learning transcends the classroom text. Consequently, this practice makes critical thinking natural for the students.
99% of their population continues to take tertiary education in key universities such as Georgetown University, and George Washington University, hence, it is no wonder that Portsmouth Abbey only offers one track of learning for the students-academic.
One of the highlights of my visit is the Marian procession last May 1, 2014. It was a solemn practice of walking from the Grotto to the Chapel with everyone reciting the rosary and singing Marian songs in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An adoration of the Blessed Sacrament culminated the event.
For the 5 days of the visit, I took a mental picture of every turn, building, face that witnessed my steps. I was so certain I would go home with a wealth of experience and insight. The warmth and hospitality extended to me was very Benedictine. Every one offered their time to bring me around, join me during meal times and show an interest in the purpose of my visit.
For those 5 days, I felt I was home…home in SSC-Manila.
On a personal note, I wish to thank Sr. Tammy for initiating and funding this linkage with Portsmouth Abbey, and Abbot Caedmon Holmes and the academic community of Portsmouth for accommodating the request to visit their school. The challenge for K to 12 did not end when the plane landed on NAIA 1, it continues to unfold with the contribution of this journey of learning.
By: Mrs. Ma. Lourdes Cura
High School Assistant Principal