This school year, Zamboanga del Norte National High School opened its Senior High School Program (ZNNHS-SHS) in two of its three campuses- the Main Campus at Estaka, Dipolog City and the Turno Campus, about 1.5 km from the main campus.
What’s unique about ZNNHS-SHS is that it’s the only SHS in the city that accepts students from Special Education (SPED) schools. Three graduates from Dipolog City Nationa High School (DCNHS) SPED Program showed interest to pursue SHS at ZNNHS but before the end of the first quarter, one of the students dropped out from class out of frustration because no one among his teachers knew the basics of sign language. While the two remaining SPED students who are both with Intellectual Disability (IDs) stayed and have been good friends already.
Edmar and Krisa are classified as IDs or students with Intellectual Disability. They finished their Junior High School at DCNHS. Edmar is 23 years old. He can count and add numbers from 1 to 10, and can read better compared to Krisa, who is 26 years old.
Their disability did not deter them from pursuing their dream of getting basic education together. They also look after each other. Whoever arrives at school first, will wait for the other. They are taking up Cookery per advice of the Education Program Supervisor, Mr. Ronillo S. Yarag, who is, at the same time, the SPED Coordinator, and the School Governance and Operations Division Education Program Supervisor, Mr.Pergentino S. Yabres.
In the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) lab where they hone their skills in Cookery under the tutelage of Mrs. Jill Quiniňeza, it is always a source of amazement to watch Edmar and Krisa skillfully doing their tasks like boiling potato, slicing apples, etc.
“As they are being complimented by their classmates for their skills, their eyes beam with pride,” says Teacher Jill.
“They always have each other’s back. In fact, they know when teasing is no longer a joke and they report it to our Guidance Office. Unfortunately, we still hear labels like ‘abnormal’ instead of ‘special’ in the campus. The students are still adjusting to their “special” classmates who are special in their own way,” revealed Teacher Jill when asked about bullying in class.
ZNNHS has a total enrollment of 4,206. Of this number, 503 come from its SHS students from its two campuses. SHS enrollment in Turno Campus has the following figures: Academic Track-79 students; Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) track- 37 students; and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) track- 58 students. Meanwhile, at the main campus, there are 83 students who enrolled in the General Academic Strand (GAS) while a greater number of 246 students preferred the TVL track. This is where the special students, Krisa and Edmar, learn to be self-sufficient in the hopes of a better life through the SHS Program of DepEd.