Friday, May 13, 2011

A (school) year in review photo/video journal of the Abba’s Orchard’s high school program.

Darn, I couldn’t find the pics and videos that I took for the Elementary Open House in the Abba’s Orchard.  In a previous post regarding my son's Casa (preschool) open house, I promised to give you a glimpse at my daughters' Elementary presentations...but nooo, I couldn't find the videos & photos.

So, I’m going to have to skip that and go straight to the Erdkinder (High school) program, in which I am a faculty member.

Last March ends another school year and in a month’s time a new school year begins.

I would like to give you all a bird-eye view of my experiences in the last school year.  Part of this is to also showcase how different the Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder is from any other high school, and hopefully you will decide to enroll your child there one day.

Shamless plug: The Abba’s Orchard will have a parent orientation TOMORROW, May 14, 2011 at its Alwana campus, in Alwana Business Park (you may know Marco Hotel, also in the biz park).

Anyway, on to the photo/video journal (note, some of these are from previous years, as I don’t have a lot of pics/vids from this year):

Occupations Projects
Every year, the students are grouped together for the school’s farm business projects (one of the things that clearly separate AOS from other schools) and they have to purchase, raise, and slaughter farm animals for profit.  These animals are raised organically, so they also have to grow crops for their food (and they also have projects with the crops they grow).
This is not so that they can become farmers (although that's not a bad thing), but so that they realize the value of hard, toiling work under the sun and to be immersed in the socio-economic world of the adults that they would one day become (such as production and consumption).

Some testimonies include:
•    realizing how hard their parents work to put them through school
•    how important it is to manage resources
•    dynamic problem solving (ran out of feeds, loss of income from a death of an animal, soil not fertile, etc.)
•    the importance of teamwork
•    the willingness to do some really dirty work for the sake of the team.

Another goal is the real-life applications of their academics, such as business letters for English, feed-conversion ratio (among others) for math, and loads and loads of stuff for science.

Humorously, some students from other schools label Abba’s students as “sosyal” or privileged and spoiled.  Well, if only they know what our students have to go through on a daily basis…unless they think making pig food bare-handed or scooping their manure onto the corn fields is sosyal.

Well after forming their multi-year level farm businesses (a team led by a senior student) and giving them names (some of my all time favorites being Pinoy Big Baboy, Goats R’ Us, Chicken Ala Cluck, and Quack Chow), they had to do a business plan presentation in front of their parents.

This is fantastic training for the students, as they had to dress up in business attire and convince their parents to invest in their business.  They had to show them profit and loss statements, how they’re going to organically raise their animals from babies to slaughter, and how they will promote the meat when it’s ready (product, price, promotion, place).

So the students, above all their academic demands, had to be hands-on in raising and caring for these animals on a daily basis, and at the end of the year, slaughter them for profit.  This is always a big deal for the students, who, after so many months, finally get to reap the benefits of their hard work.

They all earned a little profit, but the lessons learned vastly outweighed any monetary gains the teams would get.

Goodbye, seniors of AY 2010-2011
We had to let go of another group of fine young men and women last month.  These 13 students, for the most part, served as excellent leaders of the AOS Erdkinder community.

They were also a very winning batch, and this was a very winning year.  50% of their batch passed the UP exams, and about the same percentage passed the ADMU exams…which is a hair better than last year’s batch (47%, I think).  I’m glad we were able to deliver academic excellence…but if that’s all we do, then we fail as a school.

The word “senior” isn’t only a title here in the school.  They lead by serving, as leaders of the businesses, leaders of the daily chores, leaders/disciplers in the MSD (see Revenge Is Sweet entry)…basically they lead their underclassmen in just about every non-academic area there is.  And EVERY senior leads, not just the natural leaders.  It’s a big responsibility to be a senior in AOS…and a lot of leadership skills and life skills are learned in the process.

One of the most poignant moments of any academic year is the graduation ceremonies, and this year’s occasion is easily the most emotional of all.  In the Abba’s Orchard, since they’re so few (13 students graduated this year), every student gives a graduation speech.  This year, very nearly all the students cried while delivering their speeches, and we all cried with them.  We teachers handle them from 1st year all the way up to the time we let them go, so we see them grow up and know them very well, become a great part of their lives as mentors (and not just in the academic sense).  Every speech was great and I wish I could feature them here.

Senior Apprenticeship Program
One of the things I GM’ed this year was the apprenticeship program of the seniors.  For a few weeks in the 2nd trimester, senior students do not report to the school.  Instead, they report to actual workplaces.

Where they go depends on what they’d like to take up in college.  If they’d like to take up medicine, they apprentice under a doctor; if they want to take up HRM, then they work in a hotel; and so on.

The main reason why this is done is to inspire them.  Many of today’s college students are lost and unfocused.  But with the apprenticeship program, and we have had testimonies of this, they become inspired to really pursue their chosen college courses with gusto.  We also have instances where, after apprenticing in a certain field, they realize that it’s not for them and choose another course…which is also great.  At least they’re not lost.

Athletic excellence as well…GOALLLLL!!
This was also a very winning year for soccer, the unofficial sport of AOS. They boys pretty much won every single tournament they entered (although there was an irritating controversy brought about by a nearby rival school earlier in the year, which they promptly repaid with a 5-0 thrashing in their next encounter); while the girls were also tournament champions.

It’s amazing that a school with only a few students, and therefore a very small pool to choose from, can perform so amazingly well.

In the try-outs for the Junior Azkals held recently, out of the handful of players chosen from Mindanao, a whopping 4 of them are incoming freshmen this upcoming school year, so I expect the winning to continue.

In Luke 2:52, it says that Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually), and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually), and man (socially).  You’d like your children to grow this way as well, and if you ask me, The Abba’s Orchard is one of the best schools to give your child this kind of growth.

Here's a video collection of what you can expect once your high schooler is enrolled here.  If you have any questions, you can comment here or email me at


  1. Thanks for sharing. My husband and I are excited to visit AOS La Granja in 2 weeks' time. AOS must be a miracle from above. God bless you richly!

  2. Wow, looking forward to seeing you, Normi! You plan to enroll your child here?


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