History of St Marys School by WH Scott

A Brief History St. Mary's School 
1904-1987
by Dr. William Henry Scott
[Copied from the SMS Millennium Homecoming (01 May 2000) Souvenir Program]

The first school building of the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin in Sagada was completed in 1912, just 75 years ago. It was two-and-a-half story building, 36 x 90 feet, with siding roof of pine shingles. Today it is the Girls Dormitory, the oldest surviving building from the original mission. 

But mission education had started eight years earlier when Father John A. Staunton and his wife Maria moved in with Senior Jaime Masferre in Batalao in 1904. They had brought four pupils with them from Baguio - one from Darlik, two mestizos from Banaue, and the grandson of a Spanish friar from the Ilocos - and the Sagada children soon started coming out for lessons. The following May the Staunton moved into Sagada and built a wooden and cogon house at the location of the present Pureza Kiley Memorial Gate. They took ten more students into their households, and here the primary class were taught for the next seven years. In 1907 there were 17 pupils with the mission budget of P60 for each and three Ilocano teachers - Pedro and Fortunata Catungal and Victorino Balbin.

When the girls dormitory was completed, Miss Clara A. Mears and Blanche E. L. Messe moved in with 21 girls, and because they spent four hours a day learning crocheting, lace-making and weaving, the building was called the Girls School. The boys continued to live in the old Staunton house, but attended academic classes together with the girls, and were joined by day pupils coming from town.

The priest-in-charge had moved into what was called Red House - where the present rectory now stands to distinguish it from another house called "Balay a Purao"  where Stapleton Memorial Hall now stands. Then in 1917 three sisters of the Community of St. Mary took up residence in the old Staunton house, and the boys moved into ground floor of the Girls School.

Meanwhile, the stone foundations for the hospital was laid where St. Mary's is now located. It was a two-and-half story building, 34 x 104 feet, with two single-story wings behind and a courtyard in between. Here male nurse Randall Howland - called Apo Doctor by his patients - lived and operated dispensary, and at the other end was the mission office, with lumber stored in between.

When Father Staunton began teaching typing, shorthand and "mind training" to Tomas Galgala in 1921, he started calling it High School building, and two students actually completed first year there - Galgala and Adela Maliaman. But after male students were moved in from the Girls School, it came to be known as the Boys School. This is the building which was set fire by tracer bullets in an American strafing run during the Second World War and, what with its double walls stuffed with pine shavings, burned with such fury everybody in town thought it had been bombed.

In 1923 changes took place which gave the mission school system the form it would have for the next generation. The old Staunton house was razed to make way for the public highway and the mission office and lumber storage were moved into the New Lyceum. The sisters moved into the Girls School and took charge of grades 1-4.  Miss Masse and Florence Clarkson moved into the other building and took charge of grades 5-8. Grade 8 was actually the first high school, and had four students with Miss Masse as principal. In September, Mrs. Anne Hargreaves of  Besao died, and the girls of  St. James were moved into the Girls School, so the boys were transferred up to the Boys School. The following year the interior of that building was completed, and missionary apartments were located on the second floor.

In 1925, the school was put under the charge of Father Wilson Macdonald, with one high school student to whom he taught one subject. The next year he recruited one of his former students in the Boys Choir School in New York as principal - Mr. John A. Roblin. Tragically, in Cervantes on his way up to Sagada, Mr. Roblin met his former mentor being carried down to die in Manila. It was under Roblin that the full four years of high school were opened, and it was under him that the school tradition of academic excellence was established.

In 1929, seventh grade graduates were screened for entrance to high school: the principal said he didn't want to launch any "half-baked" graduates. On 8 April 1930 the school was incorporated for the first time and after a frustrating paper work, registered with the colonial government as "Sagada School, Inc."

The high school became a subject of heated debate during the Church Convocation of 1930 in Manila: what was its purpose? Mission Education had become a long way since Father Staunton's original dream: "To maintain at Sagada a school for boys and another for girls, of sufficient size to produce a permanent impress on native life through the products which we return back into the pueblos.

Twenty-five years later, priest-in-charge Lee L Rose believed the purpose of the school was "to train workers among the Igorots themselves to minister to their own people." Now the question was whether the school was to serve the Episcopal Church or a larger community. Bishop Mosher gave the unambiguous answer: " I ask the other stations not to send to Sagada, and I ask Sagada not to receive from them, any pupils other than those whom they think, or at least hope, can be trained useful service in the Church - as teacher, or nurse, or clerks, or catechists, or eventually clergymen or graduate doctors." Four days later, Convocation recommended, Eduardo Longid and Mark Suluen for admission as postulants for Holy Orders.

Under Father Rose, all third and fourth year students acted as interpreters during out-station visitations, and one of them - Eduardo Longid - was already preaching in Igorot during sung mass on Sundays. In 1931 the older boys were moved into a dormitory of their own, with Mr. Eduardo Masferre in-charge, in a house just vacated by the family of Mr. Tomas Yamashita, a stone mason. This was located just below the machine shop which is now Dr. Scott's residence. Here the theology students under instruction by Father Clifford E. B. Nobes were housed when they started to arrived from other parts of the Philippines in 1933, so the building was later called  a "seminary". It was technically St. Andrews Training School, the forerunner of the postwar St. Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City.

The first highs school graduates received their diplomas from the hands of Father Rose in the Lyceum on 1 July 1932 - Eduardo Longid, Alfredo Pacyaya, Didaco Olat and Benito Longdayan. The program was introduced by Mr. Ezra Diman, principal since the departure of Mr. Roblin four months before a drama "Don Quixote" was presented by the class of 1936 and each of the graduates delivered a speech. Following graduation, Mr. Longid went to assist Fathers Barter and Wilner in Baguio; Mr. Pacyaya went to teach in Bagnen; Mr. Olat went to act as catechist for Father Gowen in Besao; and Mr. Longdayan remained in Sagada for theological study (but did not continue). He last ended his talk with the words:

"Brothers and Sisters, I bring you this message. First, let us forget the fighting among our ancestors. Second, let us try to work together. If we lack unity, outsiders may come and occupy this beautiful country that God has given us. Lastly, stay where you are, cultivate the ground that God has given you, improve your own country and be instrumental in transforming the Mountain Province to standard of progress, modern civilization which we and our descendants will be justly proud of."

Eight more classes were graduated before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1941, at which time Mr. Harry Shaffer was principal. (It was while Shaffer was superintendent of grounds that the pine trees were planted along the road between the church and school).

Japanese invasion forces reached Bontoc in February 1942. All Americans were interned in May, and General Nagasaki took possession of the Sagada mission property in June. Meanwhile the school's largest graduating class, numbering 15,  received temporary diplomas, and classes were suspended for the duration of the war. By this time, there were a total of 88 graduates, 65 of whom became priests, teachers or nurses, or the wives of priests or teachers.

Strange to say, there was no "St. Mary's School" during all this time. Like everything else in Father Staunton's mission, all the schools were referred to as SMV or simply "the mission Schools," and they included St. James in Besao, and Bangnen after 1928 when the government asked the mission to take over the public school there. Diplomas were issued in the name of Sagada High School but the printed programs read Mission of  Saint Mary the Virgin High School.  So, too, high school athletes wore SHS on their uniforms but elementary pupils wore SMV. When Mr. Hall A. Siddall succeeded Mr. Diman as principal in 1936, the schools were registered as Sagada Mission High School, Incorporated. Not until after the Philippines became an independent republic was there a St. Mary's School.

When American missionaries returned to the Philippines after the Japanese surrender in 1945, Bishop Robert F. Wilner reopened 5th, 6th and 7th grade classes in the Lyceum, where he was succeeded as principal by Mr. Nicomedes Alipit the following year. When Mr. Diman returned in 1948, he was Father Diman having been ordained to the priesthood during the war, and he served as both principal and as priest-in-charge of the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin.( He had been principal of Easter School when he left to enroll in General Theological Seminary in 1941).There the class of 1950 became the first graduates to receive diplomas bearing the name of St. Mary' School.

The next school opening, classes began in a newly constructed school building - a two-story U-shaped structure with one wing of three floors, containing nine classrooms, a library, office, laboratory and home economics department with kitchen and dining room. The boys dormitory  was located on the third floor, and the CSM sisters returned to take charge of the girls dormitory. This was St. Mary's School until it was razed by arsonists on the night of 8 May 1975.

But the school not only has a new name and plan: it also had a new purpose and role in the Philippine educational scene. No longer limited to the goal of producing native leadership for the Episcopal Church, it now sought to produce a good Christian citizens for the Republic of the Philippines, operating under the directives of the Bureau of Private Schools. This meant it no longer set its own curriculum, or the salaries and academic qualifications of its faculty. Bureau inspectors arrived unannounced to check science and athletic equipment, measure classroom, observe teachers' classroom performance and examine their lessons plans. And since the department of Education has not reinstated the 7th grade after the independence, this grade was quietly ignored until it was finally dropped in 1973.

Mr. J. Randall Norton, an experienced educator who had been headmaster of St. John's University Middle School in Shanghai for many years before the war, became the principal in 1952. He filled the school and several municipal buildings with furniture and equipment made in industrial arts classes, leveled and fenced school playgrounds, and cooperated with public schools through the Sagada Teachers Association. His famous project was the construction of a dam in Latang and a small rowboat which, when the first rains took the dam out, was left high and dry and inspired a popular Igorot song written in the boys dormitory, "Nan Ark Norton". But his most lasting contribution to the school and community was the founding of the SAGADA POSTBOY, a mimeograph student organ which was published weekly without interruption until the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

When Mr. Norton retired in 1954, he returned the school over to Mr. Alfredo Pacyaya as acting principal until he himself left for graduate studies abroad in February 1955, whereupon Father Diman resumed the principalship. In 1957, Father Diman was relieved by Mr. William R, Hughes, who had just come from the Church's Cuttington College in Liberia. Mr. Hughes was a highly professional educator with teaching experience at every level of school from kindergarten to university. He was actively concerned about faculty development, and it was the school's lose that he only stayed for two years.

Mr. William Henry Scott was appointed principal in 1959, after five years on the faculty and in charge of the boys dormitory. ( As it happened, Mr. Scott's first  teaching experience has been under Mr. Norton in Shanghai, where he was discharged from the US Navy in 1946). He introduced journalism, surveying and library science into the industrial arts curriculum, designed the Igorots coat-of-arms with an Igorot motto: "Adi tako Bokodan do gawis," and phased out grade 5 and 6 because of the quality of elementary graduates from Sagada Central School. In 1961, he resigned to be staff missionary, devoting half his time to research, writing and lecturing his fellow missionaries. He left the school in 1963 to become a director of Aglipay Institute in Laoag, "on loan" to the Philippines Independent Church.

The Rev. Archie C. Stapleton arrived in 1959, became school chaplain after his ordination to the priesthood, and succeeded Mr. Scott as principal in 1961, an office he held longer than any of his predecessors. He brought with him a reputation as youth worker and guidance counselor, and during his administration, St. Mary's School achieved its highest academic standards and started fielding winning basketball teams.

The boys dormitory was moved into the Lyceum. The American sisters withdrew and turned the girls dormitory over to the Filipina sisters of St. Mary the Virgin, and new science building with separate laboratories for biology and physics classes was constructed with traditional stonework in memory of the principal's father. A training program for the blind children was operated in coordination with the public school, weaving was stored in the curriculum with the addition of backstrap looms and Igorot patterns, and weavers, carpenters and stone masons in the community were employed as instructors in industrial arts.

In 1962, the school placed ninth in national examinations administered to 1,500 public and private schools, an achievement the principal attributed to to four factors: the excellence of the faculty, the entrance requirement of the 7th grade, the presence of the large open-stack library, and the quality of the 6th grade graduates entering from the Sagada public schools.

Stapleton Hall has actually been intended as a part of a junior college, and the first year of that institution first opened in 1965. Mr. Scott returned to join the faculty in 1967 with doctorate in Philippine History. The first four graduates were awarded certificates as Associates in Arts in 1969. That year Mrs. Dorothy A. Kiley became principal of St. Mary's School and theJunior College. Dorothy Kiley is an SMS graduate with six years experience as a faculty member. She has now served as head of the school twice as long as her American predecessor. The junior college proved unable to compete with colleges in Baguio and Manila, however, and was closed in 1971 for lack of students. Stapleton Hall is now the boys dormitory.

During the summer vacation of 1975, the school burned to the ground with the complete loss of all property except for office records and part of the library's Filipiniana collection. Classes were resumed in the girls dormitory and Stapleton Hall. In these emergency conditions, St. Mary's largest class graduated with 117 members in 1977. Grants from the Diocese of Northern Philippines and the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women (USA) finally permitted the construction of four hollow block classrooms, but not until 1983 when the Don Enrique Yuchengco Memorial Hall was completed and dedicated as the new St. Mary's School. The school was donated by Manila businessman Alfonso Yuchengco in memory of his father. It is a splendid two-and three-story building constructed entirely on non-flammable materials around three sides of the open court. In addition to ten classrooms, a library, a laboratory, office, toilets, and space for home economics and carpentry, the new plant provides luxuries the school never enjoyed before - an auditorium, teachers lounge, typing room museum and canteen.

At the present time (1987), St. Mary's School has a staff of 14 and a student body of 360. One hundred eighty one (181) students pay tuition fees which cover 15% of the schools operating budget; the rest is provided by the Episcopal Church and four foreign aid programs originating in Canada, Holland, Japan, and the United States. More than one-quarter of these students are seniors and when they graduate, they will bring the total number of  SMS graduates to 1,984. This is no insignificant body of Filipino Citizens, and they already had their impact on the life of their church and nation. If motivated by a sense of affection and concern for their alma matter, and stewardship of the talents developed while they were students, they could also have an impact on the life of St. Mary's School.

-  End -


 

BRIEF  HISTORY OF  ST. MARY'S SCHOOL
1904-2000

By Dr. William Henry Scott

St. Mary's School, Sagada, was founded by American missionary Rev. Fr. John Staunton in 1904, which was then referred to as a mission school. By 1907, there were 17 pupils. The first school building of the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin in Sagada was completed in 1912. It was a two-and-a-half story building 36 x 90 ft with siding and roof of pine shingles.

Along side with the school was the girls dormitory where the girls spent four hours a day learning crocheting, lace-making and weaving, then called Girls School. The boys continued to live in the old Staunton house, but attended academic classes together with the girls. They were joined by day pupils coming from town.

When father Staunton began teaching typing, shorthand and mind training to Tomas Galgala in 1921, he started calling it the high school building. Two students actually completed the first year there - Galgala and Adela Maliaman. But after male students were moved in from the Girl's School, it came to be known as the Boys School. This is the building which was set afire by tracer bullets in an American strafing run during the Second World War.

It was under Fr. Robin that the four full years of high school were opened. The school's tradition of academic excellence was established. In 1929, seventh grade graduates were screened for entrance to high school. The principal said he didn't want to launch any "half-baked" graduates.

On 8 April 1930, the school was incorporated for the first time and, after a frustrating year of paper work, registered with the colonial government as Sagada School, Inc..

The high school became a subject of heated debate during the Church Convocation of 1930 in Manila: what was its purpose? Mission education had come a long way since Father Staunton's original dream: "to maintain at Sagada a school for boys and another for girls to produce a permanent impress on native life through the products which we turn back in the pueblos." 

Four days later, Convocation recommended Eduardo Longid and Mark Suluen for admission as postulants for Holy Orders. Twenty five years later, priest in charge Lee L Rose, believed the purpose of the school was "to train workers among the Igorots themselves to minister to their own people".

The first high school graduates received their diplomas from the hands of Father Rose in the Lyceum on 1 July 1932 - Eduardo Longid, Alfredo Pacyaya, Didaco Olat, and Benito Longdayan. Following graduation, Mr. Longid went to assist Fathers Barter and Wilner in Baguio, Mr. Pacyaya went to teach in Bagnen, Mr. Olat went to act as cathechist for Father Gowen and Mr. Benito Longdayan remained in Sagada for theological study (but did not continue).

Eight more classes were graduated before the outbreak of Second World War in 1941, at which time Mr. Shaffer was principal. When Japanese invasion forces reached Bontoc in February 1942, the school's largest graduating class - 15 - received temporary diplomas, and classes were suspended for the duration of the War. By this time, there were a total of 88 graduates, 65 of which became priests, teachers or nurses or the wives of priests or teachers.

Strange to say, there was not St. Mary's School, during all this time. Like everything else in Father Staunton's mission, all the schools were referred to as SMV or simply the mission schools. Diplomas were issued in the name of Sagada High School. But the printed programs read Mission of St. Mary the Virgin High School. So, too high school athletes wore SHS on their uniforms but elementary pupils wore SMV. 

When Mr. Hall A Siddal succeeded Mr. Diman as principal in 1936, the schools were registered as Sagada Mission High School Incorporated and Sagada Mission School, Incorporated. Not until after the Philippines became an independent republic was there a St. Mary's School.

When American missionaries returned to the Philippines after the Japanese surrender in 1945, Bishop Robert F. Wilner reopened 5th, 6th and 7th grade classes in the Lyceum, where he was succeeded as principal by Mr. Nicomedes Alipit the following year. Mr. Diman returned in 1948. He was Father Diman, having been ordained to the priesthood during the war, and he served both as principal and as priest in charge of the Mission St. Mary the Virgin. There, the classes of 1950 became the first graduates to receive diplomas bearing the name of St. Mary's School.

The next school opening, classes began in a newly constructed school building - a two story U shaped structure with one wing of three floors. Containing nine classrooms, a library office, laboratory, and home economics department with kitchen and dining room. This was St. Mary's School until it was razed by arsonists on the night of 8 May 1975.

The school opening then continued under directives of the Bureau of Private Schools. This meant it no longer set its own curriculum or the salaries and academic qualifications of its faculty. Bureau inspectors arrived unannounced to check science and athletic equipment, measure classrooms, observe teachers' classroom performance and examine their lessons plans. And since the Department of Education had not reinstated the 7th grade after independence, this grade was quietly ignored until it was finally dropped in 1973.

Mr. J. Randall Norton, an experienced educator who had been headmaster of St. John's University Middle School in Shanghai for many years became principal in 1952. He filled the school and several municipal buildings with furniture and equipment made in industrial arts classes, leveled and fenced schools, school playgrounds, and cooperated with the public schools through the Sagada Teachers Association. 

Mr. Norton's most famous project was the construction of a dam in Latang and a small rowboat which, when the first rains took the dam out, was left high dry. This inspired a popular Igorot song written in the Boys Dormitory - "Nan Ark Norton". But his most lasting contribution to the school and the community was the founding of the Sagada Postboy, a mimeographed student organ which was published weekly without interruption until the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

When Mr. Norton retired in 1954, he turned the school over to Mr. Alfredo Pacyaya as acting principal until he himself left for graduate studies abroad in February 1955, whereupon  Father Diman resumed the principalship. 

In 1957, Father Diman was relieved by Mr. William R Hughes who had just come from the Church's Cuttington College in Liberia. Mr. Hughes was a highly professional educator with teaching experience at every level of school from kindergarten to university. He was actively concerned about faculty development, and it was the school's loss that he only stayed for two years.

Mr. William Henry Scott was appointed principal in 1959, after five years on the faculty and in charge of the Boys Dormitory. (As it happened, Mr. Scott's first teaching experience had been under Mr. Norton in Shanghai where he was discharged from the US Navy in 1946.) He introduced  journalism, surveying and library science into the industrial arts curruculum, designed the school coat-of-arms with an Igorot motto "Adi tako bokodan di gawis", and phased out grades 5 and 6 because of the quality of elementary graduates from the Sagada Central School. In 1951, he resigned to become staff missionary, devoting half of his time to research, writing and lecturing his fellow missionaries.

The Rev. Archie Stapleton arrived in 1959, became school chaplain after his ordination to the priesthood and succeeded Mr. Scott as principal in 1961, an office he held longer than any of his predecessors. He brought with him a reputation as youth worker and guidance counselor and during his administration, St. Mary's achieved its highest academic standard.

In 1962, the school placed ninth in national examinations administered to 1,500 public and private schools, an achievement the principal attributed to four factors: the excellence of the faculty, the entrance requirement of the 7th grade, the presence of large open stack-library, and the quality of 6th grade graduates entering from the Sagada public schools.

Stapleton Hall had actually been intended as part of a junior college and the first year of that institution was opened in 1965. Mr. Scott returned to join the faculty in 1967 with a doctorate in Philippine History. The first four graduates were awarded certificates as Associates in Arts in 1969. That year, Mrs. Dorothy Kiley became principal of St. Mary's School. The Junior College proved unable to compete with colleges in Baguio and manila, and was closed in 1971 for lack of students.

During the summer vacation of 1975, the school burned to the ground with the complete loss of all property except for office records and part of the library's Filipiniana collection. Classes were resumed in the Girls Dormitory and Stapleton Hall. In these emergency conditions, St. Mary's largest class graduated 117 members in 1977. Grants from the Diocese of Northern Philippines and the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women finally permitted the construction of four hollow block classrooms.

By 1983, the Don Enrique Yuchengco Memorial Hall was completed and dedicated as the new St. Mary's School. The school was donated by Manila businessman Alfonso Yuchengco in memory of his father. It is a splendid three-story building constructed entirely on non-inflammable materials around three sides of an open court. In addition to ten classrooms, a library, laboratory, office, toilets, and space for home economics and carpentry, the new plant provides luxuries the school never enjoyed before - an auditorium, teachers lounge, typing room, museum and canteen.

Since the Episcopal Church became administratively and financially autonomous in 1990, the school faced extremely difficult financial constraints. As part of its financial upkeep from student's tuition fees, the school gets subsidy from the government plus a sizeable amount from the ICCO, a Netherlands-based support agency; and pledges from the alumni. The opening of Bomabanga National High School in 1995, located in the same vicinity made the financial status worsen. From an average of at least 300 students a year, enrollment decreased to some 200 students.

By March 2000, St. Mary's school graduated some 35 students. If motivated by a sense of affection and concern for their alma mater and stewardship of the talents developed while they were students, they could also have an impact on the life of St. Mary's School.

- End -


For a detailed accounting about the passion, the obsession of Fr. Staunton for St. Mary the Virgin  Mission in Sagada, read  the  Staunton Story.

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