Strengthening One’s Roots Leads to One’s Greatest Honors

by Ms. Kreeshia Share, GS English teacher
Photos by Ms. Joanne Teng, GS English teacher

In celebration of Xavier School’s tradition of student excellence in academics, the annual Reading of Honors was held for the students from Grades 4-6 last July 21, 2014.

Most students may see the event merely as a venue to reward and to showcase their peers who have achieved academic success in the previous academic year. However, Mrs. Jane Cacacho, the Grade School Principal, opened the event by telling the students that the Reading of Honors does not serve to separate the academic awardees from their classmates. In fact, it actually serves to use the awardees as both an inspiration and a challenge to their peers. According to Mrs. Cacacho, the awardees can serve as an example to their peers because they show that anything can be achieved with hard work and determination. Moreover, she stressed that she does not want students to study hard solely motivated by the idea of receiving an award and marching on the stage. Instead, she asked students to study, motivated by the love for learning.

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After Mrs. Cacacho gave her welcome remarks, Mr. Brian Maraña, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) coordinator from the High School, was introduced as the guest speaker of the event. Mr. Maraña graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States. He received a citation for exceptional teaching from the prestigious Stanford University in 2009. Moreover, he was also recently awarded Xavier School’s Pineau-Clifford Educator’s Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty. With numerous recognitions under his belt, Mr. Maraña was a more than fitting choice to inspire and motivate the students to excel and achieve.

In his speech entitled, “Roots of Honor,” Mr. Maraña used his personal story to give tips to students for them to excel in whatever they do. Trees were likened to a person, where one starts small and weak compared to others. The roots of a tree, according to Mr. Maraña, firmly plant a tree to the ground, leaving it stuck. However, it is through these roots that a small seedling can turn into a formidable structure that can withstand countless elements and allow it to reach for the sky. Likewise, people have roots that encourage them to grow – family, cultural, and religious roots. These roots were carefully strengthened throughout Mr. Maraña’s life, molding him into the man he is today. Applying study habits and discipline from his parents, reconciling the Filipino and American cultures from his environment, and learning to pray and look for God in all things allowed for his own family, cultural, and religious roots to develop over time. It is these roots that Mr. Maraña hopes for the students to grow and develop for these roots will bring them their greatest honors in the future.

(A full transcript of Mr. Brian Maraña’s speech can be found here.)

After Mr. Maraña’s speech, the awardees from Grade 4, 5, and 6, respectively, were called to the stage to receive their awards from Mrs. Cacacho.

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Following the awarding of medals for the awardees, Fr. Xavier Olin, S.J., Fr. Munching de Guzman, S.J., Fr. Art Borja, S.J., and Bro. Arman Samonte, S.J. were welcomed to the stage to introduce the activities in store for the students for the celebration of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus and the upcoming feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society. Activities for the Jesuit Heritage Days had the students interested and excited to know more about the Jesuits and the history of the Society. With this, the excitement to learn more about God and the Jesuits served as a gentle reminder to students to further strengthen one of the most important roots in achieving honors and success, one’s religious roots.

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