THE move to close UP Cebu high school touches me with a sense of loss and nostalgia.

I was one of the 18 who enrolled in its third year class then, while 17 had enrolled in its senior year class. I am quite blank about the rationale in opening first the junior and senior years of the school rather than the first and second years. UP High opened in 1947, or a couple of years from the end of World War II.

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That’s more than 60 years ago. And the high school had served well, I like to think, the select group of young people who hungered for more and better education but cannot afford to pay the cost of private schools.

For that was really the mission, so I understood then, of UP High. And that, I believe, should be the overweening goal of public schools: to educate with quality the deserving but less fortunate Filipino youth.

We were considered then as pioneers of the school. Many of us were products of accelerated elementary school pre-war pupils.

I was in Grade Five when the war broke out. When school resumed in June 1945, we were old for the grade and so were accelerated to Grade Six after three months, then graduated to First Year early in 1946. When the school year opened in June, I was in Second Year. Thus, in June 1947, I was a high school junior.

The recent move of UP’ Board of Regent to close the UP Cebu high school is definitely wrong, if the direction is to strengthen our educational base. We should have quality education available to our deserving talented young which, I believe was the original goal of the UP. Now the higher authorities of the present UP says it should concentrate on tertiary education.

I have no quarrel there. But it should not neglect to do what it can for our talented but poor youth.

During my secondary school days, I probably would not have learned to speak and write in English if it were not for the grounding in grammar that I received from Miss Leonor Antigua and my physics, where I was a calamity, from Miss Clara Tenchavez. I got my rudimentary knowledge of science from Mrs. Paulina Pages.

When I graduated, I could not have passed the exam for public elementary school teacher in 1949 and made to fill up vacancies for intermediate teachers. I taught Grade five and Grade Six pupils in Asturias Central Elementary School as a UP High graduate in 1949 to earn enough to enroll at the UP in Diliman. One of my pupils then had become a bishop.

Close the Cebu UP High in Lahug? Please don’t.