17 Things You’ll Understand if you’re a Stephenian

By Stanley Ong See 13 July, 2017
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While brainstorming and pitching stories about popular culture things that are celebrating a milestone this 2017 (Star Wars turning 40, the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, etc.) I suddenly remembered that my alma mater, St. Stephen’s High School (SSHS, 聖公會中學), was turning a hundred years old this July 22, 2017. 

It’s not the most popular nor the most recognized Chinese school within the vicinity but has a more storied and prolonged past compared to its Sta. Cruz, Manila neighbors. With a centennial theme of “God’s Faithfulness through all generations”, there are countless events, people, and memories that Stephenian alumni can attest, but for the purposes this article, I’ll stick to the more recent ones:

1. Mrs. Ching and Ms. Tan Le Tuan

They official held the title of Elementary Chinese Supervisor and Assistant Head, High School Student Affairs, respectively, but are more known to be each department’s disciplinarian slash enforcer of the student guidebook. Getting into a fight will instantly give you a free trip to their office while a surprise inspection of skirts and hair color/highlight (girls) and hair length (boys) may result into quick uniform alterations and “haircut”.

2. Chinese teacher nicknames

“Fossil”, “Sharon”, “Tamagochi”, “Three-Inch”, “Snow White”, “Jet Li”, “Jabbar”, and “Brush Up”, who for the purposes of “safety”, shall remain anonymous.

3. CAT Room

Back when it was a requirement, the school had a Citizen’s Army Training (CAT) Room at the Ground Floor of the Annex Building. It was probably my Dad’s (a former Corps Commander) favorite place in campus as was other officers and cadets through the ages. Unfortunately, with the Department of Education scraping CAT in favor of community service, the CAT room is now gone.

4. Mini Fair

Opens just after the school-wide Christmas Party, the Mini Fair offers games, food, and entertainment options to everyone and anyone who wants to have a good time before the Christmas break. Several booths and attractions in my days included an Octopus ride, mini Internet cafe for network gaming, and fresh flower stall.

5. The mobile bulletin board

Periodical exams in SSHS last a whole week with the first three days dedicated to English subjects and the last two for Chinese subjects. High School room and seats assignments do not change for English examinations but it’s a different scenario for 綜合, 數學, and 華語. A few minutes before you take the written exam, a couple of bulletin/cork boards are greeting eagerly by a mob of first to fourth year students as they are whisked from the Central Office to the lobby.

It’s quite a familiar scenario or sight to take your exam and not know who is sitting at your front, back, left, and right.

6. Section names

Kindergarten and elementary section names were far cooler and more interesting compared to their high school counterparts. Birds (Canary, Crane, Parrot, Phoenix, Peacock, Swallow, Swan) for KII and Saints (Mark, James, Simon, Philip, Paul, Peter) during Grade Six were much better compared to the colors of the rainbow for 1st to 4th year High School.

7. Mr. Recosana

Just repeat after me: “Ama namin, sumasalangit Ka. Sambahin ang ngalan Mo. Mapasaamin ang kaharian mo. Sundin ang loob Mo. Dito sa lupa, para nang sa langit…”

8. Creaky and wooden auditorium

Way before it was renovated about a decade ago (plush, padded seats and modern light and sound systems), the school auditorium’s seats was made entirely of wood; not a pleasant experience especially if you need to endure a two to three hour performance, contest, or other important occasions involving long speeches.

What the school auditorium currently looks like.

9. Lunch areas

These were essential during my elementary days (my mom would bring freshly cooked rice and viand to school everyday) but not anymore during my secondary schooling years. As students were allowed to go out during lunch breaks then (yes, current Stephenians, we had that privilege), I would either have lunch at my cousins’ house beside the school or eat out at the dining establishments nearby.

10. Christmas carol competition, Story of the birth of Jesus Christ

Being a Christian school means Christmas is a big deal in SSHS. There’s a Christmas carol competition among the third and fourth year students (there was no K-12 then of course), and a play that depicts the birth of Jesus Christ.

11. Spelling, oratorical, quiz bee, math, and science competitions

If memory serves me correct, Stephenians have been competitive against each other academically since the third grade. There’s even a contest for the most beautiful Chinese handwriting (content is already given and you can’t skip a character or commit an erasure/mistake). Still pains me that I never once did came close to even contend for a top three finish.

12. School song

Remembering the English version of the school hymn is a chore, but the Chinese version will probably live with me forever. Everybody now…

13. Vision

To be a school after God’s own heart, a lighthouse in the community.

14. Disney

A short-order type of dining establishment just across the elementary campus. Owned by the family of my batchmate, it served siopao, siomai, cuapao, sago-gulaman, and the best garlic rice-barbecue combination in town.

15. Parish steps

One of the favorite hangouts of students was the area outside St. Stephen’s parish. As the parking lot was also located near the area, students waiting to be picked-up by their parents or guardians would happily spend their after-school hours chatting and having fun with their classmates.

16. CSA Sportsfest

A whole day activity where each high school year send representatives to compete in formal events and games like basketball, volleyball, tug-of-war, etc. By the way, the seniors almost always win the overall championship.

17. Report Cards with Teacher’s Remarks

Form 138 is as much interesting for your grades throughout the four quarters as it is for your homeroom teacher’s remarks. Some phrases/adjectives that have been attached to me throughout my high school days include: “has unfathomable ideas”, “well-rounded”, “industrious”, “has positive self-image”, “responsible”, and “respectful”.

The homeroom teacher's remarks are just as interesting as the quarterly grades.

The school and its facilities has drastically improved these days. Aside from having all classrooms air-conditioned, there are a lot more computer units, science and research equipment, and even a 3D printer for making customized components. Despite all these changes and innovation, it’s still good that some faculty and personnel were still around when I recently dropped by.

Honorable mentions: Mr. Patacsil (Legendary PE teacher), La Torre and its "street food", girls transitioning from wearing skirts with "H" on the front and back to none in high school, senior's camp, marching band songs played before morning flag ceremonies.

What were your favorite and maybe, not so favorite memories of St. Stephen’s High School? Post a comment below.

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Last modified on Saturday, 15 July 2017 13:27

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