Prioritising Catholic education

Ervin TanFeature

Prioritising Catholic education

Xavier Woon, 13, excelled academically throughout his time at Montfort Junior School. Although he had many secondary school choices available to him after completing his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), he decided to study at Montfort Secondary School for the Catholic ethos it offers.

Xavier’s Parents, David (left) and Lynn (right) Woon, pose proudly with their son, and with the Principal of Montfort Junior School, Mr Wilbur Wong, on Graduation Day.
Photo: Xavier Woon.

Xavier has many happy memories of his time at Montfort Junior School (MJS), but the undeniable highlight was Primary 6 Graduation Day 2017 when he was called up to the stage a total of four times to receive various awards: 1st in Position, Best in Science, Montfortian Scholar P6, and the Edusave Character Awards.

Spoilt for choice

Xavier had truly outdone himself by scoring an A* for Mathematics, and As for the remaining subjects in the school exams. He scored equally well for PSLE. Xavier said, “I really need to thank God for my grades. He played a big part and gave me so many schools to choose from. However, I decided that I wanted to continue with Montfort.”

Montfort Junior School

Xavier became a student of MJS as his parents wanted him to attend a Catholic school. Living in Sengkang, David and Lynn Woon, parishioners of St Anne’s Church, could have sent Xavier to a host of primary schools in their neighbourhood.

Xavier explained, “They wanted me to grow up in a Catholic environment and did not like the idea of my exposure to the faith being limited to just a few hours on the weekends. It was very important to them that I grew up learning values of a good Catholic, and Montfort was the nearest Catholic School.”

Having spent his formative years in MJS meant that Xavier’s development was not focused solely on academic excellence, but rather, on a more holistic approach designed to build character. “My six years in MJS were great. We had truly good, kind and caring teachers who really took time to explain everything, down to the smallest details. They made sure we understood what was taught,” Xavier related.

“The principal, Mr Wong, is great too! He tries to speak to students during school assembly and finds joy in telling stories that teach values. The school also puts special emphasis on the CHRISTE Values – Compassion, Humility, Respect, Integrity, Service, Team Spirit, and Excellence,” he continued.

While it is obvious that Xavier’s development in academic excellence is commendable, this was only one aspect of his growth.

Recluse no more

Initially, Xavier was unlike most of his classmates. He was timid, and preferred to keep to himself at all times. Xavier confessed, “Now, it is tough to explain exactly why I was so unsociable. I did not really speak up and was quiet all the time. I did not have any friends and found it very difficult to open up.”

Through the nurturing and supportive environment at MJS, Xavier gradually became more open, forthcoming, better-mannered, and overall, a friendlier person. “I developed the confidence to speak up and have my opinions heard,” he said.

This transformation began when he was made the monitor of the class. Naturally, he had various responsibilities entrusted to him, the most difficult of which was ensuring that the class kept quiet when it was required to.

His teachers were encouraging and reassuring. Xavier remembers them telling him not to be disheartened and that the only expectation was that he tried his best.

“They told me that I should never give up, and that if I thought I had already tried my best, no one should expect anything more of me,” he recalled.

The Montfort Family

The positivity and care that have shaped Xavier, have prompted him to continue his secondary school education at Montfort Secondary School (MSS). Xavier’s choice was also influenced by his parents, who wanted a school that would help him nurture his personal and moral values too, not just focused on academic results. Character building, such as personal resilience, respect for the dignity of every human person and social responsibility, are also essential considerations for his parents.

Lynn Woon, Xavier’s mother, said, “We were pleased he made this choice because MSS satisfied our requirement, that he chose a Catholic school. We were glad to find out that many of his new friends were headed to MSS too.”

Dr David Woon, Xavier’s father, added, “Initially, I was sceptical about sending Xavier to an all-boys school, but after witnessing his development, both academically and spiritually, I am fully convinced that my son should continue his Montfortian education.”

Xavier did consider other Catholic schools like St Joseph’s Institution and St Patrick’s School. “I have heard good things about these schools too, but they were geographically too far away from home,” he recounted.

“I hope that after 10 years in Montfort, I can look back and say with confidence that I have made the right choice, and that I have not only grown as a student but also as a socially responsible young adult, trying my best to lead the Gospel life,” he concluded.

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