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Remembering Ateneo’s First Lay High School Principal

Remembering Ateneo’s First Lay High School Principal

In 1971, Mr Benito Jose Heras Deles became a significant part of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s history when the Jesuits entrusted to him the management and care of the High School Department as its first lay principal. His stable and competent leadership steered the High School Department through the turmoil of the Martial Law period. It was during his eleven-year tenure as principal that the Ateneo High School began the process of achieving educational excellence through the PAASCU accreditation. He was also instrumental in the acquisition of the COCOFED building which is now known as the Bellarmine-Campion Hall.

Better known by his contemporaries as BJ Deles, he was educated and trained by the Oblate Fathers at the Notre Dame of Midsayap, where he eventually became a part of its faculty, and served as coach of the basketball, track and field and softball teams. A man of many talents, he played the saxophone and clarinet for the school band, as well as the piano and violin when the Deles family performed for the guests of the Municipality of Midsayap.

He married V Avelina Fermin on October 21, 1961, and had two children with her: Ramiciano Noel and Maria Adeliza. In 1965, he relocated his family to Zamboanga City, and taught English and Biology in the high school and college of the Ateneo de Zamboanga.

After his stint as high school principal, he continued teaching in the College unit before going into semi-retirement. In 1988, he returned to active teaching in the college, handling Debate, English and Literature classes. He finally retired in 2000 for health reasons.

Mr Deles peacefully joined our Creator on 18 September 2015. He is survived by his children, Ady and Noel; daughter-in-law, Alice; and, grandchildren, Aileen Kay and Jonathan.