Article written by: Jose (Nicky) Cochingyan, 12I

On February 24, 2021, the Xavier Senior High School (SHS) cluster hosted the first-ever academic summit entitled “The Power of Place” through Zoom and Facebook Live. Attended by over 700 participants, the summit featured speakers including Grade 12 students, Xavier alumni, and members of the Philippine academe. The event allowed students to share their ideas and receive advice from reputable speakers. 

The summit started with a short prayer led by Campus Minister Fr. Arnulfo O. Bugtas, SJ. Fr. Bugtas gave a prayer of hope, thanking God for the continued learning and friendships made despite these difficult circumstances. School President, Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ then gave his welcoming remarks. Fr. Ari emphasized the importance of the event, thanked the student body for their perseverance, and mentioned that the academic summit is the culmination of the students’ hard work. He also expressed his appreciation as Xavier traditions have been preserved despite such different circumstances. “All these experiences this year, today’s academic summit included, will have an impact on others and on yourselves in the future,” said Fr. Ari. This was followed by introductory messages from High School Principal Mrs. Ma. Theresa Ladrido, then an overview of the academic summit’s mechanics by Senior High School Coordinator Ms. Maricel Ngo. 

The summit’s first talk was given by Dr. Sterling M. Plata of De La Salle University with the title “Fuel Your Inner Ferrari.” She chose this motto because similar to automobiles, humans cannot exploit their full potential without the fuel to drive them, our fuel being our own mental health. Dr. Plata opened up about her own experiences losing that fuel, how after achieving her dreams she was suddenly burnt out and overwhelmed. After seeing people struggle with burnout during the pandemic, she was inspired to share her story and promote mental health. She also discussed the common symptoms of burnout and shared helpful tips on alleviating burnout such as micro-steps, mindfulness meditation, and prayer.

After Dr. Plata’s talk, participants were assigned to various breakout rooms, with a different academic course discussed in each. Selected Grade 12 students discussed their projects in their respective academic subjects. This part of the summit provided a platform for distinguished students to reap the rewards of their hard work, sharing their ideas with the wider Xavier community. In one breakout session, for example, three students discussed their Filipino E-Portfolio, a project in which said students created their own website and blog.

Breakout rooms were followed by lightning talks led by three accomplished Xavier alumni: Mr. David Ongchoco (XS ’14), a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania; Mr. Chino Rodriguez (XS ’16), a soon-to-be graduate of the University of British Columbia; and Mr. Ryan De los Reyes (XS ’17), Xavier’s former Student Council President and a current student of the University of the Philippines. All three alumni discussed life in college and what they have learned from their journeys. 

Mr. Ongchoco gave seven lessons of success he’s learned both in university and as a consultant. Mr. Rodriguez shared how COVID-19 impacted his university learning and gave sensible tips such as to get a good night’s sleep, to pace yourself, and to keep your close circle small. Mr. De los Reyes shared the takeaways he has learned throughout his life. He provided useful advice including: how things rarely go according to plan; that as important as the journey or destination is, to always remember the people that brought you to where you are; and that days can feel like years but years can pass in a blink of an eye. 

After attending insightful and introspective talks about life after Xavier, participants were given the opportunity to experience what a lecture in college would be like. Six college professors were invited to simulate their college classes: Dr. Agustin Arcenas (UPD), Dr. Emmanuel Garcia (DLSU), Dr. Louie Jon Sanchez (ADMU), Dr. Nelson Joseph Fabre (CGEA), Asst. Prof. Erlyn Geronimo (UST), and Mr. Gregory Anderson (BSM). 

Nearing the end of the talk, Grade 12 student Jose Danao synthesized everything participants had learned throughout the summit. The closing statement was then delivered by Mrs. Rovelita Bermejo, SHS Assistant Principal for Academics. She talked about perseverance and how the SHS students have managed to excel despite the unfamiliar circumstances. As the G12 batch nears graduation, Mrs. Bermejo delivered a touching send-off. She said, “We are almost at the finish line, gentlemen, and it is only a matter of time before you leave our halls to become men that make our school proud.”

With energetic hosts Ms. Arianne De Asis and Mr. Marc Sua, and insightful speakers to boot, the academic summit is an event to be remembered. All talks can be viewed on Facebook Live on the “SHS Academic Summit 2021” Facebook page. Let us all continue to let our light shine in the coming school year, whatever educational setting we might find ourselves in. Luceat Lux!