When the Communists took over China in 1949, the Jesuits were among the missionaries expelled from the mainland. They eventually made their way to the Philippines where they found a new home and purpose. They dreamed of continuing their work of evangelization by ministering to the local Chinese-Filipino community, which requested that a school be opened for them. Fr. Jean Desautels, S.J., a French Canadian Jesuit missionary, was then directed by his superiors to establish a school.
Through sheer determination, perseverance and faith, the Kuang Chi High School was eventually established and started operating on June 6, 1956 with an initial batch of over 170 students. Classes were held in a converted warehouse on a 1.5-hectare lot in Echague, Manila. The staff consisted of 12 Jesuits and 6 lay teachers with Fr. Desautels, S.J., as the first Director and Fr. Cornelius Pineau, S.J. as the first Principal. Unlike other Chinese schools in the Philippines, Kuang Chi was established as a Filipino school with an English curriculum that integrated Chinese studies and, following Jesuit tradition, is exclusively an all-boys school.
The school was initially named after Paul Hsu Kuang Chi (Xu Guangqi), a 16th-century Chinese nobleman and government official who converted to Christianity and supported its evangelization. The Jesuit hallmark of scholastic excellence quickly established the school’s reputation and surges in enrolment forced the move to a bigger campus. In 1960, the school transferred to a 7.5-hectare property in Greenhills, San Juan, then only a sparsely inhabited area of rice fields and grasslands. The institution was renamed Xavier School, after St. Francis Xavier, who initiated the dream of missionary work in China that was pursued but unwillingly left unfinished by the school’s Jesuit founders.
Within a decade of the transfer, the outlying areas of the school would become home to many Xavier families, evolving into one of Manila’s most dynamic Chinese-Filipino communities today. The present campus is a complex of modern buildings where over 4,000 students from Nursery to High School aspire to live out the school motto, “Luceat Lux” or “Let your light shine,” which embodies the school’s vision of developing “men fully alive, endowed with a passion for justice and the skills for development.”
Xavier High School was originally accredited by PAASCU in 1967, getting the honor as one of the first exclusive schools for boys to receive accreditation. Since then, the school has always taken a very progressive approach to institutional development. In 1970, Mrs. Jenny Huang Go, then principal of the Grade School, laid the groundwork for an innovative approach to learning and teaching, the Individualized Instruction (II). In 1973, the same year that the Grade School was initially accredited by PAASCU, the then Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) approved the adoption by Xavier School of the II on an experimental basis.
The Grade School Department had received PAASCU accreditations from 1976 to 1998. In 1984, the school undertook the Curriculum Improvement Process (CIP) and the already instituted II was renamed Personalizing Education (PE). Just before re-accreditation in 1998, the Grade Level Team approach was strengthened and the Personalized Eclectic Traditional (PET) approach was adopted as a teaching methodology while the Hanyu-Pinyin approach to teaching Chinese Mandarin was introduced in 1999.
Under the Directorship of Fr. Johnny Go, S.J., the first Xavier alumnus to be appointed School Director, the Grade School was re-accredited anew by PAASCU in 2003. The Understanding by Design (UbD) framework was instituted the following year as a methodical effort to improve the leveling of Xavier School with international standards. The Grade 7 Flexible Curriculum or Synthesis Quarter was also launched together with the school’s first overseas enrichment program, the Xavier China Experience (XCE) in Xiamen, China.
A number of notable programs were initiated under the auspices of Fr. Go: the Curriculum Reform Program highlighted by the Academic Summit of 2004 and succeeding Curriculum Audits; the Ignatian Institute for Teaching Excellence (IGNITE), a systematic professional development and Ignatian formation program for the faculty and staff; the Chinese Studies Curriculum Reform; and, the integration of two international benchmarking exams; Singapore’s International Primary School Leaving Exam (iPSLE) and Beijing’s Language Proficiency Exam (HSK).
The Xavier Grade School and High School were again accredited by the PAASCU for fresh 5-year terms in 2008. It was also during this year that the Singaporean Curriculum in Math and Science were adopted on an experimental basis. In 2010, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program was introduced, aimed at widening the breadth and depth of the school’s learning experience.
In 2012, Xavier School Nuvali in Canlubang, Laguna, opened her doors to the first batch of students.
In 2013, Xavier School welcomed Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ, PhD, as the second Xavier School alumnus to be School President.
The Xavier School curriculum is continuously being refined to suit the requirements of its students, who are evolving into modern citizens of a globalized community. The faculty and staff are constantly being given the incentive to equip themselves with the tools to address the educational needs of the students, from integrating the latest teaching technologies to opportunities for further studies. For the past 50 years, Xavier School has been providing a Jesuit education and Catholic formation. Guided by the 6 C’s that define a Xaverian (competence, culture, compassion, conscience, character and community), it is unwavering in its mission to prepare students for a responsible life committed to excellence, social justice and the service of their fellowmen.
The school’s work, history, identity and may be found on the following books — Our Pride and Glory: Xavier School at 50, Luceat Lux: The Story of Xavier School, and The Xavier School Institutional Identity Book. More recent updates may be found in the Xavier School Annual Reports, which include XSETF’s Annual Reports. All these books are available from the Archives Office and the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO).