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Gloria Gelmi: From within the boarding school

Friends like sisters, going to the cinema, and parties on Saturdays are some of the milliard memories of this former student who was a boarder during almost her entire school years.  Today she tells us anecdotes about these important school days that – as she said – were her best years.

Gloria could be a full day talking about her days in the Santiago College Boarding School. For her, these were her wonder years, a period of her life that she remembers as if it were yesterday, with much joy and at the same time nostalgic of those times that were so much fun and will never return.

Coming from Talca, Gloria Gelmi arrived as a boarder in sixth grade to a very state-of-the-art school in those days and quite liberal for her traditional family from Talca. Even though she spent almost all her school life away from her parents, she never had time to miss them, as she was always surrounded by friends and much accompanied.  “Sharing our lives was absolutely spontaneous; we loved each other so much, because we were all in the same sack.  We supported each other, we shared, we kept our secrets and all the silly things we made; it was like being always with friends”, she stated.

She finished school in 1963 and studied Pedagogy at Universidad de Chile. Soon after graduating from university she returned to Santiago College, but as a teacher, and, without realizing, she has been teaching first-graders for more than 30 years.

Gloria’s memories of her boarding-school times are infinite, but, no doubt, one of the best recollections is their table-turning evenings, when they sat at the round tables in their rooms, trying to call some errant soul, who would have pity for them and tell them the answers to the tests.  Or when they opened all the shower taps at the same time, so that the steam would cover the smoke of their cigarettes. Another very good anecdote that she remembers is when the boyfriend of her friend Mariana came in his motorbike to the School and stopped in Los Leones street – to which all the rooms of the boarding school looked at –.  There he sang songs for all of them.  “Mariana took out a very old buzzing walkie-talkie, asked him for songs, and he sang them.  We were thrilled to bits! One day they caught us and punished us during three week-ends,” she laughed.

Gloria said that she is very grateful for having had the chance to study in Santiago College. Being able to speak English is one of the things she appreciates most, as it has enabled her to interact with foreigners and make the most of each trip she has made. But surely, most important for her has been the autonomy she gained when she was a boarding student.  “Independence in making decisions is really important and is practiced every day in your life,” she stated.

 

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135 years of Santiago College: A school that encourages and leads changes

After more than thirteen decades engaged in forming individuals and having gone through three centuries in history, Santiago College is a reference in the national education. A school with a view to the future, that moves forward and is capable of leading progress in education both in Chile and the world.

Thousands of anecdotes, memories and experiences can be told after 135 years of life.  135 years that have formed hundreds of generations and thousands of people, who have kept the school spirit alive until today, without ever losing the principles under which it was founded in 1880: the delivery of state-of-the-art education and academic excellence.

This centenary institution reaches today an age that very few Chilean schools have reached. This is thanks to the fact that it has progressed together with Chilean society and education in the country. For this purpose, a number of transformations have occurred. Moving the school to Los Leones was the first great change, as the building and equipment in Agustinas had ceased to meet the needs of an education within US standards, as required by the school mission.  At present, Campus Los Trapenses is the continuation of its foundational mission, which requires a permanent update of its task. “These new buildings shelter our Alma Mater and permit it to endure, guiding new generations, all this identified in the Evergreen Chain of our graduation ceremony,” explained the President of the School Senior Council, Mrs. Colette Saieg.  “The new building is a great achievement suitable to create a healthy and encouraging environment for students, but does not mean a change in the school mission. The same motivation that in those days led to build Campus Los Leones drove the move of the school to Los Trapenses: demographic changes, growth of the city and the search for facilities suitable for the intellectual, personal and physical education of students,” stated the President of the Board of Trustees, David Valenzuela.  

During its long history, Santiago College has stood out for his bilingual and high-level education. Especially, during the last years it has being able “to consolidate as a reference in the Chilean education and strengthen its position as a great ambassador of the International Bacchelaureate programme, proving that it can successfully comply with strict national and international academic requirements,” emphasized the School Principal, Lorna Prado Scott.  In this context, the fact of being accredited by important international entities, such as NEASC, CIS and IB, imply that the school educational project must be under permanent evaluation and improvement.

At human level, David Valenzuela stated that “the main purpose of SC is the formation of people in all their dimensions, not only in their academic capacity, but also as members of a local and national community, worried for values and solidarity.”This can be reflected in the words of the Senior President, Martina Cañas, who said that “the school provides us with tools to develop ourselves anywhere or in any area of life, as integral people, and I believe that SC is centered in forming the best students".

Indelible Mark

During the time the teacher of IB Economics, Gastón Jara, taught at Universidad de Chile, he observed the great reflective and critical capacity of students graduated from Santiago College.  “They were characterized by being students with their own thoughts; independent; capable of demanding high quality standards and very willing to give them also. These attributes are perceived until today,” stated the teacher.

They are persevering people with much confidence in themselves and have a great capacity to overcome the obstacles that life poses to them. They are students with an open mind who know how to take advantage of the cultural and social diversity.

From the beginning, Santiago College has emphasized its role of training people that could positively contribute to the country, with their culture of social aid and working for the other; worried for common welfare and great matters, such as the protection of the environment and the creation of a more just and equitable society.

All these attributes have existed through the years despite the physical changes of the school, and have given Santiago College its very characteristic seal. As stated by Emilio Véliz, one of the oldest cleaning staff of SC, “schools are formed by people and you become fond of people more than anything else, because buildings remain.”  This is how “Santiago College has had and will have different physical locations, such as the facilities in Agustinas, Lota and now Camino Los Trapenses.  The school values have prevailed in each of them and have transcended through the generations that have had the privilege of studying in this establishment,” emphasized Colette Saieg.

A 21st-Century School

Today, the school intention it to strengthen its educational project through the new Campus Los Trapenses. These facilities have permitted to join the academic area with sports fields in the same place, offering an inspiring environment and an infrastructure consistent with the academic, sports and environmental requirements, favoring a harmonic development of students.

In the Principal’s opinion, “Campus Los Trapenses shows that this is a school with deep roots that progresses with time and does not stay behind.  It is built in a way that will enable us in the future to include any educational modification that may be necessary,” she said.

The excellent illumination, the ample spaces, the extended green areas, the perspectives, the cutting-edge installations are aspects suitable to the development of a state-of-the-art educational project with vision of future, where innovation and technology may be present throughout the educational cycle.”  The new campus also represents creativity and concern for the environment.  Just as in 1932 Campus Los Leones represented a great step forward in educational environment for those days, the new building has created a suitable space for the education of new generations of students. A place where it is possible to encourage inquisitive minds and critical thinking, capable of recognizing the need for exploring new paradigms,” added the member of the Board of Trustees,David Valenzuela.

In this context, as professor Gastón Jara said, you should not pre-establish what is going to occur, but you must be capable of having a flexible curriculum according to the situations occurring in the country and in the world.  “Let’s not forget that students from this school will one day lead this nation, so, it is crucial to always have a front-line relationship with society, be a school that encourages changes from a more analytical perspective. I think that Los Trapenses reflects this and I believe that the school may be another 100 years in this place,” he ended.

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