A BRIEF HISTORY OF STELLA MARIS ACADEMY OF DAVAO
The need to develop the Chinese Catholic Apostolate in Davao City was keenly felt by the late Archbishop Clovis Thibault, P.M.E., D.D. Davao City was a fast growing metropolis in the south, and needless to say, the apostolate must run abreast with its rapid growth.
Encouraged by the Archbishop Fr. Gaudiose Gagnon and other benefactors, the core group of the Davao Chinese Catholic Association made contacts, home visits and meetings with the local Chinese community. Seeing favorable response from the said community, the Davao Chinese Kindergarten was organized in 1953. The school, which was then located near the Sta. Ana Parish Church, was entrusted to two Chinese Sisters: SR. Chao and Sr. Yang. The school remained in the same parish until 1957 under the management of the two sisters.
In June 1957, the two sisters were called to other mission work. The task of running the school was offered to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (M.I.C.). The old school site was abandoned and found a new accommodation in Our Lady of Good Counsel Hall at F. Torres St., Davao City. The fledgling school welcomed eighty five (85) tots that school year under the new name Chinese Catholic Kindergarten with Sr. Marie Paul as the Directress.
In April 1958, the Prelature purchased a considerably more spacious lot in Bo. Obrero, Davao City, and in the following year in September 1959 preparation for the construction of the new school edifice was made. The new school site was blessed by the late Archbishop Thibault in September 1960, and construction started immediately the following month October 1960.
Msgr. Juan B. Velasco, Bishop of Chinese Communities, blessed the newly constructed school in June 1963, and the school changed its name to Stella Maris Academy of Davao (SMAD). The construction was completed in August of the same year, and Sr. Theresa Martin, M.IC. was the Directress.
Stella Maris Academy of Davao had its fist high school graduation in 1968, a banner year basking in the glory of its fruitful labors. The years 1969-1977 were the years of expansions. The Parents-Teachers Association contributed greatly to the growth and development of the school.
The school was on her 25th year of service when the Hijas de Jesus took over its administration. The arrival of the Hijas de Jesus Sisters in 1977 marked another milestone in the development of the school, a period of even more rapid expansions. Their commencement of administration after the M.I.C. Sisters pave the way for the completion of the high school building, construction of the additional wing for the elementary department, and the construction of the frontal administration building.
The Sister Superior, Sr. Teresa Yuen, F.I. and the Directress/Principal, Sr. Lilia Divinagracia, F.I. and adjoined with the generosity of the benefactors, Stella Maris Academy of Davao moved forward in its educative mission. In the year 1987, Sr. Teresa Yuen, F.I. and Sr. Lilia Divinagracia, F.I. left for another educative mission in Cagayan de Oro City. The school was left in the able hands of Sr. Rebeca Loreto, F.I. and Sr. Consolacion Ruy, F.I. as Superior and Directress/ Principal, respectively, with more plans for the Stella Maris Academy of Davao.
The school year 2007-2008 marked another chapter of the school. Sr. Catherine Cheong, F.I. was assigned as the Superior of the F.I. Community and the Directress of Stella Maris Academy of Davao. With the thrust of lay empowerment, two lay persons were designated as principals, Dr. Rodilla L. Tumanda for the Grade School and Mrs. Paulina J. Deiparine for the High School.
Called for another mission, Sr. Catherine Cheong, F.I. left SMAD in May 2009. For the school year 2009-2010, Sr. Lourdes M. Marzoña, F.I. was assigned as the new Superior of the F.I. Community and Directress of SMAD.
True to its mission to provide Christian Education through “academic excellence and human spiritual formation”, the whole educative community of Stella Maris Academy of Davao evaluated its programs. The self-evaluation process which served as a great incentive for the school to improve, preceded the preliminary visit of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), and granted the school a Level One status in 1989 and enjoyed a de-regulated status from DECS.
Desirous of pursuing its Level Two accreditation status, the school community went further through the process of evaluation and reevaluation of all the pertinent academic areas, implementation of various recommendations given by the accreditors, and was paid another investigative visit by the PAASCU accrediting team from Manila. In 1992 the High School Department was granted the Level Two accreditation status for 3 years, while the Grade School Department was granted the Level Two accreditation status in 1993 also for 3 years.
In 1996, PAASCU granted the High School Department a Level Two accreditation status for five (5) years; that was until December 2001. After which, two consecutive five (5) years of accredited status were granted by PAASCU to the High School Department. These were granted in December 2002, and in May 2008. The High School Department also received a Level Three Accreditation status valid until 2013 by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP).
Likewise, the Grade School Department was granted a Level Two accreditation status for five (5) in 1997 until 2002. Because of its effort for continuous improvement, the Grade School Department was also granted two consecutive five (5) years of accredited status by PAASCU. These were given in April 2002, and in May 2008 valid until 2013.
Our students have come and gone and we see with us now children of our former students, the same children who wish to have the same Christian education that their parents received.
The Stella Maris Academy of Davao still moves forward to make concrete the vision of its founders which is the educative mission for the glory of the Father.