Painted in platinum and white, streamlined, and grid-based, the design of the brand-new Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science (ValMaSci) building in Barangay Malinta, which opened its doors, Monday, September 1, brings to mind a slick office appliance.
The interior evokes that of a mall, with the four levels built around an atrium. Including the roof deck, the combined building floor area is at 7,200 square meters.
The science laboratories on the first floor – chemistry, biology and general science, and physics and robotics – have the look of their counterparts in a university.
The interactive Smart Board in each laboratory - six in all, including the mathematics, speech and computer - is used with a stylus instead of a marker, and can access the Internet.
Moving in on September 2 are the 769 students of the former Valenzuela City Science High School (ValSci).
“With something as grand as this, we want to stir an interest in mathematics and science among the youth in Valenzuela City,”City Mayor REX Gatchalian said during the tour of the premises.
The campus, which costs Php 199 million to construct and outfit, is a project under the city government’s Education 360-Degree Investment Program, a large-scale spending to shore up the local educational system.
The plan allots Php300 million for the building of 201 classrooms, reading improvement programs, teacher and parent trainings, and feeding programs. Construction of the ValMaSci lasted for six months.
The 20-classroom building is a far cry from the former’s sole building, which has 13 classrooms and a single science laboratory.
ValMaSci principal Dr. Jameson Tan described the lone science laboratory as a “typical high school science laboratory; just five microscopes and a fume hood.”
It was in that science laboratory, though, where students worked on the research −about mussel shells as an additive in cement and hollow blocks −that won a Southeast Asian Ministers of Education (SEAMEO) Search for Young Scientists award last March.
With six laboratories stocked with complete line of laboratory tools and equipment, the school is aiming its shot higher.
“We’ll prepare for the Intel Science Fair,”said Tan, who is also the Research Head of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV).
Tan said, to be admitted in ValMaSci, the applicant must be a resident of the city; must not have a grade in any subject lower than 85; and must pass the admission exam. The top two students of each graduating elementary batch are exempted from taking the exam.
The ValMaSci curriculum is composed largely of advanced science and mathematics subjects. Of the 13 subjects in every year level, four are science and mathematics subjects.
To remain in ValMaSci, a student must maintain a grade of 85 per cent in any subject, Tan added.
The new campus is the third site occupied by the school since its inception in 1996. The original forty students of the “science-oriented experiment class” went to Valenzuela National High School (VNHS) in Barangay Marulas.
In 2005, the city council passed an ordinance that would turn the class into a full-pledged science high school funded by the local school board. The VNHS then moved to its own campus in Dalandanan two years after.
The city council this year passed an ordinance creating a Board of Academic Excellence, the school’s policy making body.
In a brief inauguration ceremony, ValMaSci’s school marker was unveiled by the city government officials together with some stakeholders and guests from the Department of Education. The event was graced by DepEd Secretary Armin A. Luistro, ADMU Consultant for Social Development Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ. and Synergeia Foundation President and CEO Dr. Milwida M. Guevarra.