The Dividends Of A Southridge Education

by Iboy Pinga

All our boys finished high school in Southridge in ‘03, ‘07, and ‘15. My wife, Rosette, and I have seen how these three have grown up into fine Christian gentlemen, ready to face an exciting future ahead.

Our parenting philosophy is summarized in these buzzwords: Independence/Interdependence, Desire to Achieve, Discipline, and Piety. We committed to raise children with a strong character evolving around these buzzwords.

In 1991, we were in a quandary on which school was best for the kids. Southridge??? We didn’t know much about it except that the tuition fee was the highest in the metropolis and required a bond for each child. We talked to a Southridge alumnus-parent and he was all praises for the PAREF system. We wanted to be assured that our buzzwords would be reinforced in the school we were about to choose.

In our first campus visit, we encountered a pupil, probably Grade 3, who, seeing that we were strangers, approached us and politely asked: “Sir, how may I help you?”Hmm, that young “adult” made an indelible impression and that was a plus in our decision for the school we were looking for.

An interview with a trustee introduced us to the strengths of the PAREF system: home-school collaboration, character formation for both son and parents, and the mentoring system, among others. Not to mention a strong sports program in football.

Reminiscing our family’s journey with Southridge (and Woodrose) since then, we could say without hesitation that Southridge was the best investment we ever made for our children.

We valued character formation above everything else, even over academics. Children with strong character could be cast in the most abject situation and would still thrive, achieve, and excel. A strong academic institution wouldn’t guarantee character. We were fortunate that Southridge offered both character formation and academic excellence, with emphasis on the former.

Nothing would ever beat a formidable home-school collaboration program when it came to character formation. This was the single most important takeaway for our kids as they pursued higher education and careers post-Southridge. The effects of their personal and character formation would extend all the way until they raise families of their own. It was a parent-teacher partnership where the latter knew and reinforced the same values and character buzzwords that our kids witnessed at home.

Reminiscing our family’s journey with Southridge (and Woodrose) since then, we could say without hesitation that Southridge was the best investment we ever made for our children.

The achievements of Southridge (and Woodrose) were remarkable, whether in the Search for Most Outstanding Student(s) of the city (MOST), the scholarships in prestigious universities in the USA (Yale, MIT, and Harvard included), or even the football players in the various universities and the UFL football league.

How could such a small school achieve much more than the others? Simple. Strength in CHARACTER, CHARACTER, and CHARACTER.

On another aspect, the intellectual stimuli in the Southridge (and Woodrose) classrooms could be clearly seen during our dinner table discussions, particularly on controversial moral issues. The points raised by our PAREF kids during these exchanges gave us not only a lot of joy, but also an assurance that the school provided the proper environment for our children to have the right virtues, concern for the common good of society, and a focus on the afterlife.

During times of disasters, we have seen our children actively volunteer in relief operations even without our prodding. The school has imbibed in their minds that they should remain engaged in our society’s challenges.

The emphasis on the family is a Southridge trademark. Nowhere in the country could we find a school with numerous activities that were geared towards strengthening the family. A country with strong families builds a strong society. From its mandatory parenting training programs, the personal/ spiritual formation activities, the mentoring chats, the Parent Quarterly Fora (PQF), the Father and Son activities, and so forth and so on, our family has actively participated in all these activities. We were introduced to a system which has strengthened our family.

How could such a small school achieve much more than the others? Simple. Strength in CHARACTER, CHARACTER, and CHARACTER.

SPORTS was a MUST in our philosophy. The school was a powerhouse source for baseball and football scholars in the universities. All my children became captains of the school football teams. The coaches not only developed the skills required for the sport; they contributed to their virtues and character formation. I have been watching my children’s games for 25 years now. The adjective “Southridge Gentleman” was truly visible in the playing field. The refinement of the school’s players was exemplary.

The school has been the best partner we ever had in molding our children’s spirituality. We are most thankful that the PAREF school we chose 25 years ago (and later to include Woodrose) has solidly formed our children in Catholic tenets, both in word and action. The teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva were ingrained in my children’s set of beliefs and that definitely forearmed them for the future.

An additional bonus was that the spiritual formation the school offered was not only meant for the students. It was also made available to the parents, the family members, and even to outsiders who had no affiliation with the school. Even my father, brothers, cousins, and a number of my high school and college buddies have participated in some of the spiritual formation activities of the school. Well, even our officemates and employees. It was for free anyway.

As we eagerly participated and experienced all these PAREF activities throughout these three decades, little did we realize that not only were our children being formed. We, the parents, were likewise being formed and trained to fulfill our roles better. We could actually write more and more about how my children, rather, my family, has benefitted from being part of the Southridge family. The Southridge experience was like a stone being thrown in the midst of calm waters. It created a ripple that started with our families, and definitely extended to the other members of society. Unlike other ripples, this one could be endless if we took utmost advantage of it.

My wife and I would be forever grateful to the teachers, the staff, and the coaches whom our children have crossed paths with. This would not have been possible without the care, affection, and patience of each and every person in the Southridge community.

We are now reaping the dividends of again the best investment we ever made with our four children in the PAREF system. With the active participation of the other parents in their children’s education, we are confident that they would also be enjoying the dividends which we have been, we presently are, and in the future would be enjoying with our Southridge children….for the rest of our lives!