Institutional and Community History

Through the active and selfless parish priest of Dalaguete, the late Fr. Ruperto Sarmiento, St. Mary’s Academy came to birth in 1925. It started as a school for girls where Doctrina Christiana was taught. Fr. Sarmiento believed that the inculcation of Catholicism in the young minds of his parishioners who were the potential leaders of the church in the community was very important. Many youngsters came including boys who were taught catechism and the 3R’s.

After several years of success, a strong need was felt in the parish to expand the teaching of the school by opening primary and intermediate classes. After consultation with some prominent families in the locality, Fr. Sarmiento invited the Hermanas de Caridad, the Missionary Sisters who run the Colegio de la Inmaculada Conception in Cebu City. The Sisters arrived and took over the administration of the school on April 26, 1933. The pioneer Sisters were Sor. Francisca del Toro, Superior; Sor Teodora Ruivivar and Sor Eliza Rubi. Spanish, Religion, piano and vocational education were taught by the Sisters and lay teachers. The school was named then the Annunciation Institute. When war broke out, the school was temporarily closed.

During the Japanese Occupation, the school buildings were used as seminary for the major seminarians under the Rector, Rev. Fr. Alfonso Saldaña, CM, but this was short-lived when the rector was fatally shot by the guerillas from the mountains.

Liberation came. Efforts were made to revive the school. With an enrolment of 200 students, the doors of the school were opened in June 1946 to the public school students since the public school building was burned. Mr. Simeon Bajarias was then the Principal. Doctrina Christiana was still a part of the curriculum.

In his earnest desire, Fr. Sarmiento solicited the help of the Archbishop of Cebu to have the school run by any congregation. Consequently in July 8, 1946, Rev. Mo. Emilia Romero, RVM with Mo. Natividad Gabor and Mo. Emilia San Pedro arrived at Dalaguete. Rev. Mo. Romero then the General Procurator of the Congregation was commissioned to inspect and observe the condition of the newly proposed RVM School. The Sisters were temporarily given a room in the convent where they stayed for three days until July 11, while the school was being prepared for occupancy.

With the arrival of M. Maria Paulina Gallardo on July 21, 1946, the RVM Congregation took over the management of the school, which started a complete high school course. M. Maria Paulina was the Superior/Directress from 1946 to 1952. It was during her administration that the school expanded and the Junior Normal Course started. On the second semester of 1947-1948, the First Year BSE Course opened. Primary and intermediate grades were opened in June 1948 and the Liberal Arts Course in 1949.

M. Maria Trinidad succeeded M. Maria Paulina as Superior/Directress from 1952 to 1955. The college courses were closed in 1956. On the same year, M. Maria Consuelo Calle was appointed Superior with S. Maria Luz Mercado as Principal. M. Maria Crispina Asuncion followed for the next three years as Superior. Enrolment went down to 80 in 1957-1958 that the General Council thought of closing the school. In 1959, Mo. Consorcia Artes was assigned Superior of the school. Notable improvements were made. Enrolment gradually increased. The last project of Mo. Artes was the Annex Building which was inaugurated on March 27, 1965.

In 1970, after a series of typhoons, the building was heavily slashed the Sisters was given the task of rebuilding the heavily damaged school. The construction of the building was made possible through the generous help of the benefactors and friends. The old building and the Sisters’ residence were the ones replaced. The celebration of its Golden Anniversary was held in 1975,

In 1977-1978, the enrolment of the school was down to 265. The income of the school could hardly pay the monthly salary of the teachers. Julio Cardinal Rosales, who was able to look for funding for the school, subsidized St. Mary’s Academy yearly but , for a period of time only.

Enrolment increased in 1979-1982 but in 1989-1990, the RVM Congregation started subsidizing the school again. In 1992-1993, the Parish Priest, the Parish Pastoral Council, the PTA Officers and the Alumni Association Officers joined hands in supporting the school financially and helped in campaigning for increase in enrolment.

In 1992-1996, an increasing trend in the enrolment was observed. There were many improvements during her term and one of those, is the construction of two-classrooms which housed some elementary classes. With the extra money of the school, a three door comfort room, Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, a flagpole, a school lavatory and a school stage were built. In 1996-1997, Computer Education started. Towards the end of the school year, a new guardhouse and computer room were constructed.

In 1997-1998, On September 13, 1997, a general PTA Meeting was called to discuss the proposed new RVM School Building. The agenda also included the following: unified school name-from Annunciation Academy to St. Mary’s Academy of Dalaguete, Cebu (formerly Annunciation Academy); unified school uniforms for teachers and students and a unified school hymn.

Kindergarten classes started. The vacant room on the second floor left wing of the school building was renovated and converted into the T.H.E. room. On Easter Sunday that same year a Grand Alumni homecoming took place. One of the objectives was to raise funds for the school.

In 1999-2000 three hundred fifty new chairs were acquired through the initiative of the Alumni Association. New comfort rooms were also constructed at the back of the school building with the support of the Parent Teacher Association.

During the school year, 2000-2001, SMA Dalaguete topped the RVM Regional Achievement Test, besting the other RVM school from the Visayas. Nationwide, the school ranked 9th among all RVM schools. Capping its glorious fame was the renaming rites, which took place on October 15, 2001. From Annunciation Academy, the school was renamed to St. Mary’s Academy of Dalaguete, Cebu, Inc. The increasing nursery and kindergarten students increased in numbers.

SMA Dalaguete celebrated successfully her Diamond Jubilee Celebration last December 10, 2000. Significant developments during this year, were the acquisition of ten new computer units , packed with secondary storage memories; the kindergarten room had its own comfort room was swapped with the Science Laboratory; and the school not just acquired a new name-it also acquired a new look. The basketball court had its roof covered with thick plastic.

The year 2001-2002 remained to witness the unfolding of the new SMA High School Building. Because the old school building was in dismal and dilapidated condition, worked for the renovation of the old school. Acting on more than just prudence they had seen the worst consequences of the second floor which might collapse on hapless students on the ground floor. With the staggering amount spent on renovations, there was also a staggering increase in the number of enrollees. That same year, the Superior General, visited the school and informed everyone that on August 2001 the construction of the new school building would commence.

In 2002-2003, the Elementary Department was re-opened. Grades 1 to 1V were offered. The Kindergarten classes were separated into two to facilitate learning. The high school department saw additional first year section and so with additional teachers and non-teaching personnel. On July 13, 2002, blessing the new high school building was held. The high school department occupied the new building and the elementary department took over the old SMA Building.

The school year 2003-2004, Grade V was opened and a new gatekeeper for the Elementary Department was hired; in the High School Department, additional computer units were purchased and library acquisitions were doubled; a collapsible stage was donated by PMSC; the school canteen got its well-deserved formica-topped tables; a guard keeper and an all-around handyman cum utility man were hired.

With the bridging program of the DepEd, during the SY 2004-2005, St. Mary’s Academy boasts with an all time enrolment reaching 700. Two additional teachers were hired: one for Grade School Department because of the Grade VI offering and one High School teacher because of the increase of students. The High School Department has 11 sections.

In 2005-2006 selected students and personnel joined in the division and regional level competitions organized by the DepEd. Fortunately, contestants won and garnered some titles.

Inspired by the Key Directions of the RVM Education Ministry, during the School Year 2006-2007, the Visayas Schools Superintendent motivated the administration, faculty and staff to start a PAASCU Self-Survey with the aim to venture to a greater challenge. The school continued its preparation for PAASCU Self-Survey during the School Year 2007-2008.

School year 2008-2009, continuous support of the Alumni Association was seen. They donated new airconditioning units and mono blocks to the school.

For the consecutive school years 2009-2010 to 2010-2011, , The school continued its educational apostolate with intensive improvement in all aspects of educational endeavor. The PAASCU Self-Survey preparations was pursued.

A significant school year came in the history of the school. On February 20-21, 2012, team of PAASCU Accreditors came for the PAASCU Preliminary visit. After the visit, a confirmation letter from PAASCU was received that the school passed the preliminary visit.

School Year 2012-2013 The school pursued some changes in the physical plant, converting some rooms into offices.

School Year 2013-2014 this school year preparations for the Formal PAASCU visit was done, but due to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which affected the school, the formal visit was moved to August 4-5, 2014

As St. Mary’s Academy of Dalaguete, Cebu Inc. continues to uphold its mission of love and zeal to serve the church, it endeavors to give quality Christian Education that is relevant and responsive to the signs of the times. For School Year 2014-2015 , the school ventured into PAASCU Formal visit. During this school year, SMA ceased the acceptance of Kindergarten pupils

The new elementary building was completed and blessing was done for the students to occupy the buildings. SMA of Dalaguete is grateful for the continuous support of the congregation for its financial support in order to put the project to completion.

The High School Department had the Formal PAASCU Visit in January 2015 and was successfully granted LEVEL I Accredited Status by The Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP). This is valid until May 2018.

For school year 2015-2016, the academic community started working on the PAASCU recommendations and improvements were done. During the School Year 2016-2017 the blessing of the PTA and Alumni sponsored stage was held.

During the SY 2017-2018, SMA Dalaguete, Cebu Inc. was piloted as one of the Clustered schools. It is the first time the school belonged to a Cluster together with St. Mary’s Academy San Nicolas and St. Mary’s Academy Capiz. During this school year the school hosted the first Ignacian Marian Cluster Meet held in November 15-17, 20017.

The Alumni Association continuously supports the school through a scholarship program and technological advancement. All classrooms had TV sets installed in the High School Department provided by the Alumni Association.

The decision to close the Senior High School was done during the Board of Trustees meeting of SY 2017-2018. Enrollees for Grade 11 will no longer be accepted, only Grade 12 will be left for the next school year.

The school continuously leads all the members of its community towards Tranformative Ignacian Marian Education and make a positive impact as a Catholic school in Dalaguete, Cebu. With PAASCU as a standard used to improve the quality of education being offered by SMAD, all the members of the academic community looks forward to the PAASCU Resurvey visit for the next school year.

School Year 2018 - 2019 ushered to a fresh start for the new Administrators. Lead by the RVM Sisters and the Administrative Council the whole academic community with the parents and alumni welcomed the school year with vigor and enthusiasm.

The much awaited PAASCU Re-accreditation took place on January 24 – 25, 2019. With all the members of the academic community working hand in hand. On March 4, 2019, the Baptismal Anniversary of Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, the result which states that SMA Dalaguete has satisfactorily met the standards and fulfilled the requirements of PAASCU was received . The school was granted LEVEL II RE-ACCREDITED STATUS valid until February 2024.

During the Board of Trustees meeting the decision to close Grade 1 Level was reiterated for the forthcoming school year.

The school opened for School Year 2019 -2020 with a twin school , St. Mary’s Academy (Oslob, Cebu) Inc. The two schools are under Cluster B of the Visayas Region RVM schools. With this set-up, there were activities were students and teachers planned and worked together. The first ever exposure program was held. Two students and a teacher from SMA Oslob spent one week at SMA Dalaguete and vice-versa. This program resulted to a positive feedback and appreciation of both students and teachers.

Internal validation was twice held during this school year resulting to an improved and enhanced service to the clienteles.

Unexpected by all, was the COVID 19 pandemic, which resulted to a historic no Commencement Exercises for Grade 6 and no Completion Ceremony for Grade 10.This school year ,will be forever etched in the memory of all Marians as everything stopped last March 16, 2020.

St. Mary’s Academy of Dalaguete, Cebu Inc. stood the test of time. Amidst man made and natural calamities , the school rises as the only Catholic school , the only private high school and the lone PAASCU Accredited school in town of Dalageute.