Ateneo de Manila Tops-Off Senior High School Formation and Learning Center

October 18, 2021
UMCO; Photos by Andrea Bautista of UMCO

“When the end is in sight, when the completion of a project is imminent, there is cause for ceremony and gratitude because it is a moment that gives us hope. And hope is the one thing we need and seek during times such as ours.”

                                             –Noel P. Miranda, Principal of Ateneo de Manila Senior High School

The "socially-distanced" topping-off ceremony

On October 8, 2021, at 10:30 a.m., the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School community held a simple, socially-distanced Topping-Off Ceremony for its rising Formation and Learning Center (FLC). "Topping off" is a traditional ceremony that signals that a building under construction is entering its final stages of completion. University officials, led by its president, Fr. Roberto Yap SJ, gathered on the Center’s 3rd floor to celebrate the milestone.

Located behind the Ateneo Senior High School (ASHS) building, the FLC aims to foster an environment that will nurture and enhance the students’ mental, physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Designed by Jonathan O. Gan Associates, the three-story building will offer a mix of learning facilities, multi-purpose halls, offices and open spaces. It will have multi-sport courts, a chapel, a robotics room, science labs, music and art rooms, a dining hall, an alfresco dining area, a gym, a clinic, a sports laboratory, an open assembly hall, and more.   

ASHS Principal Noel P. Miranda

In his opening remarks, ASHS Principal Noel Miranda said that the topping-off ceremony was “cause for ceremony and gratitude” and “a moment of hope” during the darkness of the Covid-19 pandemic. He went on to describe the FLC as “a magnificent and awe-inspiring structure… a space that opens new and exciting possibilities in forming and educating our students.”    

In his brief message, Fr. Yap began by saying that it was fitting that this physical expansion was taking place in the Senior High School, considering that ASHS is the “growth area” of Ateneo de Manila University in terms of enrollment.  University President Fr. Bobby Yap, SJ
He concluded by looking ahead to the resumption of face-to-face classes. “With God’s grace, the Philippines will be through the worst of the pandemic by the time this Center is finished, and we can physically gather again to celebrate as one community, renew our bonds with each other, and together, deepen our commitment to form our students into the kind of citizens and leaders that our country needs and the world needs,” he said. “We look forward to that day and to the joy of teaching and learning that is sure to echo throughout the Formation and Learning Center’s halls.”  

VP for Basic Education Fr. Jonjee Sumpaico, SJ    
Vice President for Basic Education Fr. Jonjee Sumpaico SJ observed that the FLC was a gift and a blessing which came with the responsibilities of mission and stewardship. Because the FLC would promote the sharpening of minds, the deepening of heartfelt experiences and the strengthening of bodies, he said that ASHS formators were challenged to “not only give more but be more so that we may be able to be bearers of these blessings to others.”

Speaking via Zoom on behalf of the students, ASHS Sanggunian President Ayshea Jian Delos Santos expressed her hope that the FLC would aid the ASHS in the formation of “responsible citizens of the Philippines that spark change for the common and greater good.”

ASHS Sanggunian President Ayshea Jian Delos Santos
“I am beyond proud to be a student of the ASHS,” she said, “for it is an institution that empowers its students to never be satisfied with the status quo. It teaches us to always strive for excellence, which requires us to do more for the sake of others. This new Center is the actualized proof of that.”             
University officials and representatives from sectors and groups involved in the project then took their turns in the ceremonial topping-off.    

University officials and project partners during the topping-off

University officials and project partners pose for a photo
In his closing prayer, Chaplain and Head of the ASHS Campus Ministry Office Fr. Bong Dahunan SJ thanked the Lord for making the event a success. “We entrust to You, loving Father, the accomplishment of all our undertakings after this event. We pray that we continue to be united in our common purpose and the next steps we need to take,” he offered.
Because of IATF restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only a maximum number of 40 guests was allowed onsite to witness the ceremony. In addition, those below 18 years old were not allowed onsite, which is why Ayshea Jian Delos Santos delivered her message virtually.

Formerly known as the ASHS Multipurpose Building, the Formation and Learning Center broke ground on October 22, 2019.  

Conceptual illustration of the FLC