What is the Formation Night?

In 2001, two classes needed attention. One class was suffering from division; the other from lethargy. The former had a bunch of close-knit friends; the latter had a culture that encouraged underachievement. What would you do?

I was on my first year as a young priest when I was assigned as a Campus Minister in Xavier University High School. Unfortunately, I was not able to do anything about their classes’ unique challenges. Every high school level received the same retreat and recollection modules. Needless to say, these uniform programs did have an effect on many students.

However, I felt that it would be better if another program responded to the unique needs of a class. I thought that there should be a program that was specifically customized according to the class profile, in view of the terminal competencies expected of the school’s graduates. For the class who needed unity, I could have given a community-building module while the lethargic class could have profited from a motivational workshop.

When I explored the possibility of having a community building and a motivational workshop for those two classes, I was told that the ideas were easier said than done. Since the modules were not included in the school’s budget (it was in mid-year), I had to get funds elsewhere and I had to train volunteer crewmembers to run the whole show. Ergo, it did not happen.

Formation Night's dinner: Eat with your hands - Boodle Fight. July 2015
Formation Night’s dinner: Eat with your hands – Boodle Fight. July 2015

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Ten years later, I was involved in the placement process of students promoted to second year. The team had to put the students in their best learning environment. We had to revise their class sections according to recommendations from their subject teachers, moderators, guidance counselors, and the Prefects of Discipline.

The placement process was long and tedious. In fact, it was a collaborative effort and my part was only at the end of the line. The students were asked to recommend who among their classmates influenced them to study better. After a year of observation, the class moderators and subject teachers classified them according to their learning styles. The guidance counselors checked whether the class combinations were balanced. The Prefects also went through the new class list to see who among the students needed to be separated from one another. In addition, we had to consider more criteria before we assigned a student to a class. At the end of the process, we had to match a class moderator who would nurture, enhance and challenge his or her students in order to create the best learning environment for them.

But the placement process was not fool proof. We needed a unique program to glue them together. This program is what we call today as the Formation Night. Since its pre-testing on December 7, 2011 to classes 2I and 4L (photos below), the feedback from these two classes made us decide to offer it to all students who experienced the placement process, and to those who needed the program in the upper years.

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This year, SY 2015-16, the Formation Night is undergoing a few modifications. It is still a customized program for a class, but our clientele now is one year younger, a change brought about by the K-12 transition period. Since the present Grade 9 has just been re-sectioned, the Formation Night is therefore appropriate for the whole batch.

Fearless Forecast: There will be two Formation Nights next school year SY 2016-17. One will be in Grade 8 and another will be given to Grade 11 because of the incoming 300 students that include girls.

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Will the program of the Formation Night change in SY 2016-17? The answer is of course a resounding “YES!” because of the change in the profile of the batch. Next school year, we will have to consider the inclusion of girls, the specific track they chose, and the developmental needs that have to be responded to. But that would be for next year’s blog post.

Here is a Sample of the Formation Night Module for Grade 9, this SY 2015-16.

Rationale. The Ateneo de Manila High School envisions each student to become a man of the 5C’s: Christ-centered young man of competence, compassion, conscience and commitment. The Formation Night supplements this vision by providing activities that focus on self-awareness, team-building, and goal-setting for the class.

Objectives. The Formation Night aims to

  • strengthen the team in the class (camaraderie, brotherhood, teamwork);
  • recognize the talents and uniqueness of each classmate making him feel an important member of the class (self-confidence);
  • and set goals for themselves and the class until Grade 10 (hardwork, perseverance).

Formation Team Composition:

  1. Campus Minister: Acts as the main facilitator
  2. Class Moderator: 1) Assists the Campus Minister in maintaining class discipline; 2) Facilitates a session: Commitment chain of prayers
  1. Guidance Counselor: Facilitates a session: Who am I? Backpack Activity
  1. Year level Prefect of Discipline: Assists the Class Moderator and Campus Minister in maintaining class discipline
  1. Associate Principal for Formation: Leads the Eucharistic Celebration

Venues:

  • Grade 10 wing classrooms (Sleeping Quarters and Session Hall)
  • Stanislaus Kostka Chapel (Mass)
  • Campus Ministry Office, Favre Hall (Facilitators’ Sleeping Quarters)
  • Ateneo de Manila High School Covered Courts

Reminders to be disseminated to students:

  • Bring enough clothes
  • Bring slippers, towels and toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Maintenance medicines (if any)
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Strictly bring Go Bags
  • School Rules Apply

And here is a sample of the Formation Night Schedule.

Time Activity Venue Lead
5:30-6:15 PM Mass St. Stanislaus Kostka Chapel Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ
6:15-6:45 PM Introduction and Briefing Chapel Campus Minister
6:45-7:30 PM Dinner (Boodle Fight) APFor-Campus Ministry Corridor Mr. Cyrus Lim
730-7:45 PM Opening Prayer Classrooms Campus Minister
745-840 PM Backpack Activity Classroom Guidance Counselor
845-1030 PM Monster High School, Processing, Commitment Chain Covered Courts & Classrooms Campus Minister
1030-1130 PM Showers/Midnight Snacks Campus Ministry Office corridor Mr. Cyrus Lim
Saturday: 715-7:30 AM Morning Praise: Body Prayer Cafeteria Serendra Campus Minister
730 AM Class Breakfast with Parents APFor Corridor and Grounds Mr. Cyrus Lim
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