Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The World Through Nica's Eyes

Nica Galvez, barely five years old, sits in a class of thirteen students. It is another day at preschool. On her desk is a piece of paper. On the chalkboard the teacher writes a title and, like everybody else, Nica copies down the title on her paper.

Draw anything that you learned from the story I showed you yesterday, her teacher tells the class. Draw what you learned, draw what you remember.

Nica clearly remembers the story. It is one of the first stories anyone has heard of in their childhood: the story of creation. Her teacher tells them the story, bit by bit, every day – a tale of light and darkness, of flowers and butterflies and the mountains and the sea, of Adam and Eve. On days when the projector is available, they get to watch video clips about the story. They listened well to their teacher before, so they know exactly what’s going to happen: there will be light. Flowers will bloom, trees will grow. Adam is about to appear.

As the twenty-minute video played, Nica gushes softly with her classmates. Nica Galvez is often quiet in class. She’s shy, but with friends she speaks more. She’s not very different from other girls. She does, however, have a higher blinking rate than her fellow preschoolers in the room. But besides this, there’s nothing about Nica Galvez that betrays any hint of the catastrophe that could have permanently changed her life, and how she literally saw the world, two years ago.

This catastrophe involved the faint glint of a pair of scissors, a searing pain in her right eye, a cloudy vision, and the doctor’s advice that Nica needed eye surgery. All because of a squabble between Nica and her brother, one day in October 2011.

Four months later, Nica braved the operation. Soon, she finally, anxiously took the white bandage off her right eye. Once again, the world was clear and unspoiled, in her eyes, just as it had always been.

There are still moments when she gets cross-eyed. Close your eyes, her teacher would tell her, and when she opens them again, everything returns to normal.

Her right eye doesn’t hurt anymore, she says. Both her eyes are fine, her vision flawless. She blinks more than her friends do, that is all. And yet there’s nothing else about this young girl that betrays any hint of that two-year-old catastrophe. It seems it would have to take more than a silly little incident like a sibling fight and a pair of scissors to change how Nica literally saw the world.

But the memory of her eye injury, or of the operation, is the least of her thoughts right now. At the moment, Nica Galvez clearly remembers the story her teacher had showed them yesterday. She remembers light and darkness, the mountains and the sea. She thinks of butterflies, and of Adam and Eve.

Little Nica picks up her crayon, and she starts to draw.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pinoy Games

It was a morning full of games, colorful costumes, and happy abandon for the entire school last August 7.

The school's celebration of the Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Month) opened with a mass and found every one, student and teacher alike, dressed in traditional Filipino garb -- from a simple camisa de chino to the barong, baro't saya and malong to terno and Maria Clara gowns. Even teacher Sir Joevani stood out among the crowd with his bright yellow bandanna and elaborate pants.

The day's highlight, however, was the series of traditional games, hosted by P.E. teacher Mr. Jomar Eguid at the covered court. 

With the upperclassmen as facilitators, these games included ones we're all familiar with -- popping balloons, the longest line, the sack race, and relays that involved spinning, eating bell pepper, or catching chicken eggs.

Teams with more neckerchiefs or paƱuelos get an advantage during the Longest Line game.

Shoot the pencil into the bottle: one of the more "difficult" games involving a lot of concentration.

The players quickly carry their teammate in a combined version of A Trip to Jerusalem and newspaper dance.

Players getting ready to catch some wildly flying eggs.

At the end, even teachers don't miss out on the fun!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Clay Therapy Club

All work and no play makes one a dull child, they say. 

That's why institutions like the St. Francis of Assisi School of Silay City encourage students to engage in extracurricular activities.

At SFAS, students from grades 4 to 10 get a chance to choose from a total of 18 school clubs, including the Arts and Crafts Club, the Book Lovers Club, the Chess Club, the Football Club, and the Volleyball Club. By joining a club, students learn to act as a team and take on leadership roles. They get to expand their friendships and meet others who share their interests and ideas.

One of the newest clubs at SFAS is called the Clay Therapy Club, headed by Ms. April Suating and joined already by seventeen members.

The SFAS Clay Therapy Club members with their first master piece
Self-expression may come naturally to some students. Others, however, sometimes struggle to express their feelings, especially with words. 

"Clay has the capacity to quickly absorb and express what we are feeling, especially when we are not clear about our thoughts," Ms. April shares. 

Dubbed as the "Cinderella of art therapies", clay therapy can be a powerful -- and creative -- medium for conveying emotions and issues like fear, anger, and grief or loss.
                                                   Outputs of the Clay Therapy Club members

By nature, clay makes for both catharsis and creative escapism. Molding, shaping clay stirs up layers of emotions that makes it easier for the student to express themselves through their clay sculptures.
Club members engrossed with their clay work

Every meeting starts with Ms. April announcing a theme for their clay work, and it ends with a group sharing session, where Ms. April also gives the students advice and helps them become more open with their feelings.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Grades 1 and 2 Students Practice Giving and Sharing

The Grades 1 and 2 students of St. Francis of Assisi School had its outreach program at Adela Elementary School in Silay City last July 17, 2013. The Franciscans were welcomed by the Adela Elementary School students, teachers and their principal, Ms. Inocencia Deris. This yearly project has been successful in helping the students realize the importance of giving and sharing.
Participants of the outreach program: Grades 1 and 2 students of St. Francis of Assisi School 
and Adela Elementary School
SFAS and AES students enjoyed eating snacks together.
SFAS Grades 1 and 2 students brought "little surprises" 
to the students of Adela Elementary School.