History of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School

The Ateneo Grade School had its beginnings on December 10, 1859 when the first Jesuit Grade School in the Phillippines, the Escuela  Municipal, was inaugurated in Intramuros, in response to the wide clamor of Manila residents for an elementary school.

Its first rector was Fr. Jose Fernandez Cuevas, then Superior of the Society of Jesus in the Philippine Province.

The school was renamed "Ateneo Municipal de Manila" in 1865. The word "Ateneo" was derived from the Greek word "Athena," meaning "goddess of wisdom." In 19U I, the term "1funicipal" was dropped from the school's name after the city government stopped supporting Ateneo . Since then, Ateneo Municipal de Manila was called "Ateneo de Manila."

In 1921, the American Jesuits continued the work began by their Spanish counterparts. By then, the Ateneo de Manila had established a reputation as an excellent institution of learning.

On the night of August 13, 1932, a big fire completely destroyed the Ateneo in Intramuros so that it had to be transferred to the San Jose Seminary in Padre Faura. To give room to the Ateneo students, the seminarians moved to the Mission Superior's residence. The Grade School remained in Padre Faura until June 1940 when a newly constructed building became available in the Intramuros grounds of the old Ateneo.

In 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the Grade School building in Intramuros. Like the Ateneo buildings in Padre Faura, it was completely destroyed during the battle for the liberation of Manila in February 1945.

Classes disrupted by the war resumed in 1945, first at the Nazareth Retreat House inPlaza Guipit, and then in the Padre Faura campus where guonset huts were erected, and where small, roofed sections of the ruins served as classroom.

Finally, in 1952, the Ateneo moved to a magnit1cent new site a l00-hectare campus overlooking the Marikina Valley. However, the Grade School transferred to this site, only in January 1955, when the buildings and facilities were completed.

By the 1970's, the Ateneo de Manila Grade School included bilingual communication and social consciousness in its curriculum and encouraged responsible freedom in its studentry. The Ateneo Grade School has started and continued to move out of its shell. It now extended its social curriculum to the community which it must serve. Students, teachers, parents and administrators participated in exposure and outreach programs. They joined rallies and demonstrations for social and judicial reforms. They engaged in relief and rehabilitation programs geared towards helping needy people stand on their own feet. They saw themselves through these forms of social involvement in the national elections, in the Constitutional Convention, out in the streets during rallies and demonstrations, and in the plains of Central Luzon that went under flood waters.

This emerging image of the Ateneo Grade School- a school dedicated to the formation of young men in personal academic excellence yet with feet firm on Filipino soil, young men committed to the service of God and country - mirrored the ''man-for-others'' product of Jesuit education which became the thrust of the 1980's. Father General Pedro Arrupe's call to "serve the faith and promote justice" challenged Ateneans - the simplicity of lifestyle imposed by this Jesuit priority.

With the series of different events affecting the country and its people, the beginning of the 1990's made the grade school re-examine its program. The curriculum, therefore, underwent revision to make it more relevant to the times. The Bible and the computer, values and modem technology, environmental issues and progress, local concerns and global education, media as a friend and media as an enemy- all these went hand in hand as the Ateneans proceeded still through a humanizing program that develops the man-for-others.

The onset of the 21 st Century marked a significant change in the Ateneo Grade School. To address in a more focused manner the developmental needs of the students, whose population has grown so big in the course of years, the school was divided into the Primary and Middle Schools. This was initiated by Headmaster Fr. Carmelo Caluag II S.J. under the leadership of Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.1., President of Ateneo de Manila University and implemented in SY 2000-01.

The Primary School (Prep to Grade 3), resurrecting on the self-contained classroom and calling it Class Teacher Scheme (CTS), focuses on the development of basic skills in literacy and numeracy emphasizing only the essentials - Reading, Language (English and Filipino) and Mathematics. Middle School (Grades 4 to 7), with its team-teaching scheme, implements a revised curriculum and offers a roster of extra-curricular activities meant to address the students' intellectual growth and provide guidance through the critical period of their social and emotional development. There is an emphasis on character and motivation; here Christian Life Education plays an important role.

Through the passing of the years, the Ateneo Grade School has been working towards the goal of Jesuit education: the development of its students into whole persons who will be men-for-others, men who will not live for themselves but for God and other people. The Ateneo has sheltered and trained many distinguished Filipinos. It has formed men into persons who have offered their lives to the service of God, their country and their fellowmen.