IT CUT a forlorn figure on a farm, a one-classroom school with one teaching staff back in 2002. It only catered to Grade 1 pupils.
Fast forward to 2019. After 17 long years, it finally produced its first elementary graduates. Through the years it gradually managed to complete its offering – all elementary grade levels from Grade 1 to Grade 6.
Located in Barangay Sambag, Zarraga, Iloilo, the Sambag Primary School (SPS) is named after the host barangay. But in gratefulness to the Doronila family that provided the lot through a usufruct agreement, there is a plan to rename it to Antonio Doronila Memorial Elementary School.
Just this April 1, the school held its first ever commencement exercises. Sixteen 16 Grade 6 pupils graduated – the school’s pioneer graduates.
According to Principal Antonia Plana, it was a historic occasion.
“This graduation is significant not only to the school but also to the graduates and their parents, and the community. They are part of the school’s journey to finally produce its first graduates,” Plana told Panay News.
The school’s improvement did not come overnight. From only Grade 1, the school opened the next level, Grade 2, and got stuck there for years due to the scarcity of teachers. To accommodate the Grade 2 class, a divider was placed on the center of the one-classroom school.
In late 2016 Plana came in as school principal. There was already a makeshift classroom for kindergarten pupils.
Plana said she endeavored to have the school offer complete elementary grade level classes so that pupils need not transfer to other schools.
Aside from children in Barangay Sambag, those from neighboring barangays suh as Tuburan, Gines and Talibong also enrolled at the school.
The school’s number of classrooms also leveled up to three, with two divided into two more.
The teaching staff also increased to six, including Plana who also teaches the Grade 5 class. The other teachers are Cecilia Coronado-Perez, Julie Ann Pinuela, Diana Biona, Erna Salvarino, and Analyn Alim.
Plana observed an increase in enrollment.
“Our Grade 3 pupils are now more than 20 while the Grade 4 already has 19. Grade 5 has 17,” said Plana.
The additional classrooms for Grade 5 and Grade 6 and the provision of a comfort room materialized through the help of the town’s Local School Board and School Education Fund. The water supply was realized through the town’s water district cooperative.
Last year, the school bagged the Harvest of Excellence award from the Department of Education – Division of Iloilo.
It has also been adjudged Most Outstanding Non-Central School (eighth place) and its principal Most Outstanding School Administrator (eighth place).
These achievements were made possible by teachers, parents, barangay officials “and the whole community,” said Plana.
Plana especially acknowledged the help and support of District Supervisor Mary P. Gustilo and the local government unit of Zarraga under Mayor John H.Tarrosa in making SPS what it is today as well as the previous teaching staff namely Rex Brazas who was the lone teacher then, Dr. Benjie Sumbilla, Elsa Alvarez, Victoria Sobrevega and Haydee Pedregosa, former school principal.
But the main goal remains this: building additional classrooms or school building and concomitant facilities.
“Gina-work out namon kon san-o kami pwede kag makaluoyan nga madugangan ang school building namon,” said Plana./PN