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Maria Samantha Bernadette Pastor (SSIS AlumKnight Batch 2015)

Dear Stonyhurst,

I'm not the class valedictorian. Nor am I the salutatorian. But why am I posting this? Oh. Because I love Stony so much.

I was 4 when I first went to Stony. Looking back, memories of my very first day are quite clear. I was greeted by Kuya Rolly at the gate, taught by Teacher Jean and Teacher Joanne to do the hand signals and my best friend Andrea whispered to me saying, "Let's sit at the pink chairs!" What better way to start school! Just in that first morning, I had a second dad, second mom and second siblings. Ever since day 1 at Stony, it has always felt and been like home.

Right now, I'm sitting here 16 days after graduation thinking of what I can do after all the 13 years of love SSIS has given to me. Can you believe it?! THIRTEEN YEARS. Thirteen years of being greeted at the gate, thirteen years of SSIS Morning Prayer, thirteen years of PTCs, thirteen years of Closing Programs... All those 13 years in school has not only been a part of my life. It has literally been my life and it makes me sad to think that when June comes, it will never be the same.

What do I love about SSIS? Hmm. Well, there's this: when I leave my house, it's just like I'm going to my other house. Like I said, since the beginning of my stay, since my first summer bonding, Stony has always had this comforting feeling. It has been more than just a learning center. More than just Math’s and Social Studies. It's been a community where the students are developed in character and value as well all thanks to the teachers and students.

My teachers... You have always been the best motivators. The best of the best and I don't think we can ever find professors as cool as you. To our adviser for 3 years Mama Ems, do you remember how terrible my penmanship was? Do you remember how in the middle of your busy time juggling both faculty work and guidance/discipline duties you allotted a part of your time to give me worksheets just so I could improve my handwriting. Who knew that years after that almost everyone in class would be asking me to take down notes for them or do fancy lettering for their activities? Haha. My point is... Miss Emily thank you for never giving up on us no matter how hard things may seem. You've helped us prove to everyone that we're more than just the very expressive class =)) Thank you for being our mom for 3 years and for the advice you've given us. Ms. Lulubelles, oh Ms. Lulu. From dance club to dance varsity. I'm not exactly the most fit you have but you never lost your faith in me. You continued to share your passion to us both in dancing and teaching. Plus, you are the reason I want to take a course related to history. Thank you for being so, so patient with us. Tr. Maris, Mommy Lineand SirJerome Reyes Arellano, thank you for pushing me to write more. I remember in Grade 6, I didn't go to the screening for In Touch because I didn't feel like it. Didn't want to write. But you encouraged me to get up and try. And because of that, I graduated with the special awards of Best Writer in English and Journalist of the Year next to Trixia. I became the Editor in Chief of the school paper and I couldn't be more thankful. Because of you guys, I was more encouraged to continue my passion. You helped me see what I was really made to do and that is to write. Sir AC, our number 1 cheerleader. There is no principal as awesome as you who would stop in the hallway (even with visitors sometimes) just to tell me to smile. I remember during the SGEN Academic Olympiad at Southville when it was my turn during the Spelling Bee. I was so, so nervous! But you looked at me and mouthed the words, "Believe in yourself" with the most sincere look in your eyes. Thank you so much for believing in my abilities. To all the rest of the teachers, sorry I cannot mention you all but thank you being so patient. Thank you for all the lessons you've taught us and for teaching us not only the ones in the work plan but also the true values in life. We owe you bigtime.

My classmates... We've had our own ups and downs just like any family has. But thank you guys because we never let our problems get the best of us. Despite our differences, we stayed as one big family. One big ohana. We worked things out always. I hope that in the future, distance won't pull us apart. Reading some of your good bye messages during graduation made me tear up because you've mostly been the same people every day since Casa 1 and I don't know what I would do or how I would survive college with you all. Know that I'm proud of each of you and that I love you so much. I'll miss all that we did and all that we had. You guys know that na.. Haha. You've made my high school year THE BEST. You'll always be my number one team.

SSIS, I'll miss you so so much. I've not been the best SSIS model. I've made my own mistakes, received class tickets, been sent to the D.O., been reprimanded by a few teachers and even the principal but you guys never looked at me in just that way. You let the girl who did all that carry the school's name in some external activities because you believed she was more than that. I know some other few kids like the quiet book worm who turned out to be in the school band or the shy basketball player who was the first Mr. SGEN from SSIS or the girl who lost her elections in grade school as president but did THE BEST in high school... You always believed in us, SSIS. In college, we will carry the moral of a true valiant knight. We will bring with us the 5Cs and the 12 virtues and tell everyone of our great adventures in the kingdom of Stonyhurst Southville International School.

I'll miss the broken aircons, the malfunctioning clocks, the swinging projectors, the not-so-virus-free computers, the half doorknobs, the siomai in the canteen, the backstage faculty room, Narnia, the football field that we compare to... HAHAHAHA, the blind spots of the cctv, watching the cctv to see our classmates do stupid things, the BIG HISTORY BOOK (everyone writes on mine and finally I shaded all levels from US 2-4), the smelly markers, Sir Jerome's powerpoints, Sir Gregg timetables, Ms. Lulu's brochures, Kuya Tony and his bouncy hair, Kuya Dennis and Kuya Rolly, Ms. Ella's sweet tone when she talks, the clinic and the headaches, Sir AC and Thinking Out Loud... SSIS. I'll miss you so much.

What can I give Stony? It's not much. But just like the story of the first book I read in SSIS, you'll always have a special place in my heart and in the end, I will always come home to you like the little boy did in the giving tree.

As much as I can, S.

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