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.