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Veteran Stellarians honoured at school’s golden jubilee

Datuk Edward Yong hits the gong to open the golden jubilee dinner celebration of SM Stella Maris, Hakka Hall Likas, 28 Apr 2018.

LIKAS  – Four veteran Stellarians were honoured at the golden jubilee dinner of SM Stella Maris Tanjung Aru at the Hakka Hall here on 28 Apr 2018.

Fifty years ago, in 1968, 31 young girls aged around 12 made up the one and only class of Form One in the newly established SM Stella Maris in Tanjung Aru.

Of the 31, four went on stage to be honoured as the “seniors” at the Glorious Golden Years Dinner Event to mark the 50th anniversary of SM Stella Maris.

Joining them on stage were another 41 “seniors” from the various batches of the 70’s. A very emotional and proud moment for them and for their alma mater, to be sure!

Mary Kinti (1st batch) recalled with gratitude how she was guided, and had a love for reading cultivated in her by her first principal, Sister Stella Chin FSIC, which led her to volunteer and help in the school library and eventually to the career path of a librarian in the Sabah State Library.

Lina Cheung of Class 77-79 attributed their becoming such amazing and unique individuals to their teachers who were their “shining stars.”  These educators worked with dedication to mould them towards becoming who they are today.  To them, she added, they (students) owed a debt of gratitude.

The school has come a long way.  “To have made it this far proves that the school is one of the most prestigious schools in the state, and the country as a whole,” underlined Datuk Edward Yong, the guest of honour for the dinner event.

He commended SM Stella Maris (SMSM) for their achievements, both in the academic and co-curriculum, and have produced numerous role models who are now serving the community and the country.

He also complimented the PTA, the school Alumni and the organising committee for the successful organisation of the anniversary festivities, which culminated in the grand dinner, to commemorate the school’s golden jubilee.

In conjunction with the jubilee, the organisers have also seized the opportunity to raise funds for the school to realise a new block for the implementation of a single session facility.

In her speech, Alumni president Irene George acknowledged that the aged school is in dire conditions and that there is a serious need of a new structure to offer safe and conducive amenities for the students.

She recalled in 2015, the then principal, Gertrude Jock turned to former students and challenged them to come back to help their alma mater in dire need.

Motivated young Stellarians, herself among them, rose to the challenge and the SM Stella Maris Alumni Association was born and registered.  Today the Alumni boasts a membership of 40.

Under the leadership of PTA president Zahara Ismail, PTA has received a contribution of RM7 million from Liberal Eden Sarawak Sdn Bhd for the construction works, and RM200,000 from Terminal Aman Sarawak Sdn Bhd for the airconditioning system.

The donations were handed over to Zahara at the dinner event, which was witnessed by Datuk Yong, who commented that the school has been able to sustain many years of good performance due largely to the cooperation of the stakeholders which include the PTA, the Alumni, the principal, and the students.

Adding humour to the solemn ceremony, Datuk Yong commended the principal, Goh Kui Liang, who holds the enviable position of being the first male principal for the all-girls school. Though a daunting task, nevertheless, he quoted “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman”; and to think Goh has almost 800 “strong women” behind him, to the laughter of the crowd!

Among the diners were ex-students coming from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Kuala Lumpur,  and Penang.

SM Stella Maris celebrates 50 years of existence

Past and present principals and teachers pose with Msgr Primus Jouil (seated 4th from R) and Br Peter Foo (in white) after the Mass, 13 Apr 2018, Stella Maris Church Tg Aru.

TANJUNG ARU – SM Stella Maris here kicked off its golden jubilee commemoration with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Stella Maris Church on 13 Apr 2018.

The Mass was presided by Msgr Primus Jouil and attended by past and present principals, teachers, students, representatives from neighbouring SM La Salle, the religious sisters, and La Salle Brother Peter Foo.

Other commemorative activities include an 8 am – 4 pm Open Day Exhibition on the school premises Apr 14 featuring photographs and memorabilia charting five decades of education;  Jubilee souvenirs and DVDs on sale, a carnival bazaar; and a mini musical concert.

A jubilee dinner will be held on Apr 28 at the Hakka Hall Likas while a Charity Run will be organised on May 5.

Located in Tanjung Aru with an area of 1.78 acres, the secondary school was opened by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) in January 1968 with three classrooms, a teacher room, an office and a toilet block.

The school for girls opened with 31 students up to Form 3 only due to lack of instructors and other physical facilities.  Those who passed Form 3 (Lower Certificate Examination) had to move to St Francis Convent to continue their studies.  However, in 1987 it was able to open classes for Forms 4 and 5.

Down the years the school developed by leaps and bounds.

A second two-storey block was built in 1986 to accommodate the increasing student population and in 1994 it went into a two-session school system: Forms 1 and 2 in the afternoon and Forms 3-5 in the morning.

In 1989 the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) was formed.  In the same year, the school magazine “The Guiding Star” was published under the supervision of PC Poh.

In 1991 the school parliament was formed under senior assistant Lee Wah Ban. It replaced the School Watchdog, a regulatory body formed in the 1970s under Margaret Chin.

The school website was launched in 1999 while the open hall was constructed in 2000.

Today the school has an enrolment of 790 students with 14 classrooms.  It is looking forward to the construction of a new school block with 24 classrooms so that the school will have a single session system.  The building committee is in the initial stage of preparing the development plan to be submitted to the local authorities.

“We hope to target the construction to begin in 2019 and completing in 2020 using the Industrized Building System (IBS),” said PTA President Zahara Ismail at the launching of the jubilee celebration on 13 Jan 2018.

Themed “Glorious Golden Years,” the launch was organised jointly by the Stella Maris Alumni and PTA.

Alumni president Irene George Mojinggol urged all ex-students to do their part and to pledge to the building of the new school block.

“Let us work towards a school that is completely and fully equipped with high technology and quality amenities, to maintain the school’s remarkable achievements since  its establishment, and to  strengthen its competitiveness to become successful leaders in the country,” said Mojinggol.

Among those who served as principals were Franciscan Sister Stella Chin (1968-1971, 1979-1981), Sister Aquinas Voon (1971-1978), Sister Alphonsus Low (1981-1988), Pauline Wong Mee Kiong (1989-1994),  Grace Gan Lee Ping (1994 – 2005), Clare Sikodol (2006-2009), Girly Tan (2010-2014), and Gertrude Jock (2014-2016).

The current principal is Goh Kui Liang (2017), the first male principal in the girls’ school.

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