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HISTORY OF NOTRE DAME - SIENA SCHOOL OF MARBEL

      History, it is often said, directs the destiny of men and nations.  But there are singularly crucial times abounding with challenges when some heroic characters direct the course of history.  “In the world you have tribulation:  but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).  History has a meaning, for God is the Lord of history.
The year 1939 was blessed with three significant events in the history of the Church.  In Rome, His Holiness Pope Pius XII was crowned the 160th successor of St. Peter. In Cotabato, Koronadal Valley was born and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) headed by Fr. Gerard Mongeau, OMI, arrived in the Philippines.

On June 23, 1946, Marbel received its first resident priest, Fr. Francis McSorley, OMI, the bishop of Sulu.  He saw the need for and the value of a Catholic School in the midst of the growing community.  Thus, on July 6, 1946, with the assistance from the RVM Sisters, he laid the foundation of Notre Dame of Marbel and was therefore, given due credit as its founder and first director.  Notre Dame of Marbel was coeducational at that time.
The first group of Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena headed by the Prioress General, the late Mother Josefina Burgos, O.P. arrived on April 12, 1952.

The School Year 1952-1953 marked the first operation of Notre Dame of Marbel Girls’ Department under the administration of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.  The school expanded with the opening of the Grade School in 1955.  It was in 1976 that the application was approved for a change of name from Notre Dame of Marbel Girls’ Department to its official name, Notre Dame of Marbel for Girls.  In 1979-1980 Notre Dame of Marbel for Girls became an exclusive school for girls from Kindergarten to Fourth Year High School.  In School Year 1995-1996, the school started accepting boys in the Grade School and likewise opened its doors to the First and Second Year Boys in School Year 1997-1998, thus changing the school’s name Notre Dame of Marbel for Girls to Notre Dame of Marbel on August 22, 1997.

GATES WIDE OPEN FOR CHANGE
The school has implemented the Dominican St. Catherine of Siena Schools System Development (OPSS-SD) Program, which is an attempt at a radical living of the Gospel and a participation in the building of basic ecclesial communities in the diocese.  As a Dominican School, it adheres to its motto: “CONTEMPLATA ALIIS TRADERE”—to contemplate and share with others the fruits of one’s contemplation.  It also has the mission to carry on the OP Charism to “PREACH THE DOCTRINE” through a relentless love and quest for TRUTH (Veritas) and sharing it with others in loving service.

The OPSS-SD Program helped much in the development of the school especially in the preparation for the Philippine Association of Accredited Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) accreditation.  The PAASCU Team visited the High School for Preliminary Survey on February 11-13, 1991.  After its first formal visit on September 14-15, 1992, Notre Dame of Marbel High School was granted a certificate of accreditation for three years. It underwent its second formal visit last November 20-21, 1995 and was again granted an accreditation status for five (5) years.  The Second Re-Accreditation Visit was scheduled on January 29-30, 2001 granting the school again an accreditation status for another five (5) years. 

On the other hand, the Elementary Department also worked hard for its improvement. It was adjudged as an excellent Grade School in the whole Division of South Cotabato on June, 1993. Inspired by this achievement, the department aspired to be in equal rank with the High School as PAASCU accredited. It passed the Preliminary Survey on November 14-15, 1994 and was granted a three-year accredited status by PAASCU during the First Formal Visit on February 13-14, 1997.

The Grade School Department passed the First Re-Accreditation Visit on February 17-18, 2000 and also the High School Department passed the Second Re-Accreditation Visit.  Both departments were granted a Five-year accredited status (Level II) by PAASCU.

On November 21-22, 2003, the OP-Siena Golden Presence in Mindanao (Mindanao OP-Siena 50th Anniversary) was celebrated in Notre Dame of Marbel with the participation of other OP Siena Schools:  Notre Dame of General Santos City, Notre Dame of Polomolok, Notre Dame of Lagao, Notre Dame of Tacurong for Girls, Notre Dame of Tulunan, Notre Dame of Jolo and Notre Dame of Cotabato.  Life size statue of Mother Francisca Del Espiritu Santo and of St. Catherine of Siena were erected to mark the celebration.  A portrait and canvas of the Foundress of the OP Siena Sisters was also unveiled.

A growing need for the distinctive identification of the institution from another Notre Dame school in the locality inspired another change in its title. In May 2004, and in accordance with the move of all other Dominican Notre Dame schools in Mindanao, the school’s name was officially changed to Notre Dame-Siena School of Marbel (ND-SSM).
The school applied for PAASCU accreditation for Basic Education and visited by the PAASCU Team on September 19-20, 2005.  It was granted another Five-year accredited status (Level II) by the PAASCU.
School Year 2004-2005 lived up to its theme "Lighting new fires with new voices." It brought many significant changes to this institution in many different aspects. Some of these changes are substantially visible in the physical features of the school while others are in forms that are integral to its general operation of the institution.

The school took on a new official name approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Article Registry No. 88313. Effective March 5, 2004, then Notre Dame of Marbel (NDM) had officially become Notre Dame-Siena School of Marbel (ND-SSM). ND-SSM, took a step to a distinct identity away from the shadows of the neighboring schools.
To highlight the change in the name of the school, ND-SSM personnel and students with the help of local talents and artists in the province featured the life of St. Catherine of Siena on a stage play last August 8, 2004 with the purpose of educating people of our patroness saint. It was a successful and well-appreciated production attended to by no less than Mo. Teresa Examen, OP, Prioress General and other distinguished guests.

THE WICK GETS LIGHTED
The ND-SSM Personnel have their own big share of graces. The Board of Trustees granted ten percent (10%) increase in tuition and miscellaneous in SY 2007-2008. By this, the school faculty and staff enjoyed an increase in salary.

The pre-school year workshop and in-service training were conducted every year by the management for teachers and staff to fresh set of ideas and to enhance not only their classroom instruction but basically their mere presence among students. They also took lessons on the art of questioning, effective teacher and creative teaching strategies as part of the pre in-service training. Many other seminars were attended to this school year and the previous years.  Some of the teachers were also FAPE Trainers, FAPE-ESC Certificators and PAASCU Evaluators.

The entire faculty and staff have attended a Personnel Annual Retreat.
The school has initiated an International Tour Program for Notre Dame-Siena School of Marbel personnel. On October 24-27, 2006 a group of personnel went for Three City Tour – Hongkong, Macau, Zhuhai with them were two of our parents.  Another group of personnel set out on a four-day educational tour (Lakbay Aral) in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China. This was the second series tour overseas by another batch of delegates—the first group of personnel went to Thailand on October 27-31, 2003. The tour was an experience of a whole new environment and culture to which the personnel were exposed so they may open their minds to the reality of the world outside their immediate environment and somehow shared these experiences to their students.

By the end of the school year 2004-2005, the personnel went for a domestic tour in Cebu and Bohol. 
On April 3-7, 2008, the school personnel went to Tagbilaran, Bohol for a local tour.

THE MOTHS ARE DRAWN IN
ND-SSM enrolment is a matter of great importance for this administration as an institution that strives to survive in the midst of competition with other private schools in the locality and, very importantly, the economic regression affecting the families who send their children in the institution. In the past 10 years, the school has managed to somehow defeat the odds that brought a slump to student population since SY 1995-1996. From then on, statistics went up and lifted the spirit of the school. The sharpest rise in population yet since 2001 was in school year 2001-2002 with 0.78% increase. The trend continued this school year by another 1.32%. Finding no reason for sheer contentment, measures were plotted to maintain the slope on the positive as early as the third quarter.

Many of the enrollees enjoyed scholarships and financial assistance from the school's scholarship program, NGOs, benevolent individuals, foundations, publishing houses and ESC (government subsidy). School year 2007-2008 alone, the ESC granted ND-SSM a total of 165 scholarship slots, which is 33 more than that of 2003, for incoming first year students. Good facilities and the general conducive features of the school contribute to the favorable response to the invitations for enrolment by the would-be-client families. The educational system tops the overall package that the school offers. These features merit response from the alumni, parents, the friends, and benefactors of the school such that they also enjoy their participation in school activities and even in the outreach program of the Mother Francisca Community Assistance Center (MFCAC).

The ND-SSM is really exercising the Social Corporate Responsibility; one very important example of the cooperation of students, personnel, parents, and benefactors was the Free Clinic given to indigent beneficiaries of the MFCAC every Foundress Day celebration every year. During the said activity, at least 396 destitute individuals—young and old—are recipients receive of free medical and dental services including free medicines and vitamins (donated  by St. Martin Foundation and the Family Council) from a team of volunteer doctors, dentists and nurses headed by South Cotabato Medical and Dental Association with the school personnel, students led by the Red Cross Club officers and members; and members of the Family Council led by Engr. Nestor Villanueva, and some members of the Alumni, LMAMFES and COMFES. It was such a great success for a day's worth of charity that it is fairly considered as one of the highlights of ND-SSM every school year.

Other highlights are the very active support and involvement of the Family Council in the launching of the Pagpasidungog kay Mother Francisca Year, Family Rosary Crusade, the Family Day celebration and the "Halad" Christmas presentation of ND-SSM at the ProTech Center and in the City sponsored Christmas Festival every December and in the preparation and implementation of the ND-SSM's Five-year Strategic Plan.

BUTTERFLIES EMERGE IN COLORFUL ARRAY
Excellence in education is best manifested by the achievements of students in many different aspects. Participation in inter-school competitions is one good chance for the school to parade its fruits and seize a step at the ladder of excellence above other schools. In this regard, ND-SSM students are among the best achievers not only in local but also in much higher levels of competitions.
As early as June 30, 2004, junior student Kristine Marie Hilajos took on other international Taekwondo enthusiasts in Korea during the 6th Korea Open and World Taekwondo Festival. She is a 1st degree Black belt who had 16 tournaments behind her latest experience in Cheun Chong, South Korea.

Glen Josef Jumilla, a second year Math wizard, was accompanied by his coach/trainer and the school's Academic Coordinator, to his second trip to China, in Macau, for the 5th Invitational World Youth Mathematics Inter-City Competition last July 31 to August 7, 2004. Glen Josef was a member of a team of other students from the Philippines who represented the country to this prestigious competition. He contested in individual and team events.  Michael John Deanon, a grade six pupil went to China last August 8-13, 2006 to attend the International I Love Math Summer Training Camp and won third place in Calculating Skills and Problem Solving.

Another ND-SSM student who made it to an international contest is senior student and swimmer Teresa Ann Simora who brought home three bronze medals from three swimming events during the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Friendship Games last September 24-26, 2004 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Teresa Ann is an excellent swimmer who had been competing in Regional contests and the Palarong Pambasa along with other athletes from the school.

Every year, the school is participating in campus journalism.  In school year 2007-2008 14 of ND-SSM's high school journalists and 13 grade school writers, all members of the official student publication—The Veritas—competed in the Regional Schools Press Conference (RSPC) in M’lang, Cotabato Province last December 5 to 7, 2007. All 27 students and pupils contested in individual writing events alongside at least 150 other competitors from school all over Region XII. It was a stiff competition among the best student writers and only two out of the top ten awardees made it to the National Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) 2008 in Koronadal City.  6th grader, Sweetzel Marmonejo got 3rd place and Joyce Dyan Fulgencion a 4th year student got 1st place in their individual event and managed a bid in the National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) on February 2008.  Another important pride to the school is the ND-SSM Drum and Lyre Corps. The group proved its best on top of all others for five consecutive years. The latest was the championship trophy they grabbed away from six other schools during the T'nalak Festival on July 14, 2004. They also actively participated during the 2004 Grand Alumni Homecoming and other city and provincial celebrations. The drum and lyre corps got the Championship award on July 18, 2007 during the T’nalak Festival of our Province, South Cotabato. Lots of this year’s activities participated by ND-SSM got trophies and medals as shown in record of curricular and co-curricular activities.

The ND-SSM personnel and student choir under the supervision of Mr. Richy Dauz as trainer and moderator of the Choir Club had been doing very well in service every Sunday Church masses and other religious celebrations.

The Mother Francisca Outreach Center  also include in its highlights the putting up of the Day Care Center at the urban poor relocation area in San Isidro.   The MFCAC staffs have been very successful in helping the handicapped members of the beneficiary community with the help of students, personnel, alumni and parents.  The school has availed ESC slots from DepEd for the Kindergarten pupils for the Day Care Center.
ND-SSM Participated and won the DepEd Search for Region XII Private Education Achievers and Quality Award 2008 Category B for Accredited Schools.

School Year: 2008-2009 marked the opening of the Night High School and school year 2009-2010 the opening of the Sunday High School. These programs are handled by the CCDC as one of the Education Programs offered by the Mother Francisca Outreach Center.  The enrollees of the newly opened courses enjoy educational scholarship sponsored by alumni and benefactors.
On July 10, 2009, during the T’nalak Opening Salvo the Drum and Lyre Corps of ND-SSM participated in the contest and garnered as champion among the seven schools in the South Cotabato who joined the contest.

CHALLENGE  TO ND-SSM is goes on…………
School year 2008-2009 Theme, ND-SSM Committed to Integral Formation and Social Responsibility.  In school year 2009-2010 the Theme of ND-SSM: Journeying Towards Moral and Academic Excellence.
While it seemed that there have been too many of those that are considered highlights aforementioned, so much other achievements trail in the school's records. On the other hand, rooms for improvement are equally given attention. Co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements are stacked on display or hung on ND-SSM walls. These achievements are not only enjoyed by individual or group of students who brought them home but, very importantly, they make up the stepping stones upon which, the banner of ND-SSM is raised up high.   ND-SSM will continue in its pursuit to be a home for academic and moral excellence, discipline, community service and faith- life witnessing. All these are in honor of Notre Dame—Our Mother, our manifestations of our commitment to Christ: the Prophet and Missionary towards social transformation and for the glorification of the Almighty God.

(C) 2014 Notre Dame-Siena School of Marbel

Koronadal City, South Cotabato