Tuesday, July 5, 2016

You Can Make A Difference (MAD)!

How is 2016 is different for SMK Convent Sentul? The beginning of the year saw the breaking of the wall between church and the school. That empowered SMK Convent Sentul  to walk through the corridors  not walked upon for many years. 

This year we are also officially one of the 300 pilot schools selected for the DLP – Dual Language Program. This is a program where Mathematics and Science subjects in Form 1 are taught and tested in English. The year 2016 is also the year where the Mathematics department was asked to conduct extra classes for Form 1 and Form 2 students every Tuesday to build up their weak foundations in  Mathematics concepts.

Many of our students had learned Mathematics and Science in Bahasa Malaysia in their primary schools for several years. Suddenly in  Form One,they have to make the drastic  transition to learn it in English. During the first 2 weeks of the school term in January, I observed many Mathematics and Science teachers in action to gauge their proficiency in teaching the subjects in English. We soon realized we had to work very hard  to  improve the students' proficiency in English , Science and Mathematics. 

We had another major issue. One of our Mathematics teachers was transferred in March and another excellent Science teacher received approval for a 2 year long no pay leave from teaching. At the time of writing, the school is still short of teachers. The situation was very challenging!

During our first board of Governors’ meeting, I mentioned our critical lack of teachers in the 3 key subjects. It was an SOS call for help! Soon after, Ms Tai Yoke Lin, Alumni - member of the Board of Governors called for a meeting with our English teachers to assess the situation and to see how she could help us. Madam Manmeet from the English department drafted out an advertisement for volunteers and others to help us with the situation.

Ms Tai Yoke Lin - member of the Board of Governors.

We are very grateful the Alumni responded very quickly and sent out the advertisement to their circle of contacts. Over the next 4 days they received many calls.  I interviewed several who were willing to volunteer teaching without payment. One highly qualified volunteer -Ms Susan Phillips with a Masters in Special Education soon began English lessons with our weak Form 1 girls. Madam Awatif  the Head of Department and Ms Ainil  organized the Form 1 students so they could be  taught in the morning before their official lessons began in the afternoon session.

Ms Susan Philips, our highly qualified volunteer

Ms Tai Yoke Lin also encouraged us to garner the help of our stronger students in Form 2 to volunteer and peer coach the weaker Form 1 girls in Mathematics. Ms Nur Anis who had been holding the fort teaching the extra Mathematics classes was immensely grateful and encouraged when more than 10 Form 2 students volunteered to help her coach the weaker Form 1 classes. Madam  Fitri the head of the Mathematics department and Madam Sarimah the Guru Kanan,  of the Mathematics and Science and several Mathematics teachers also pitched in to help to build the girls' foundation in Mathematics. The alumni and the PIBG (PTA) jointly provided some funds to  employ a young doctor awaiting posting to help us coach the girls.

I am so happy to see the impact these extra classes have made. The girls particularly those in the weaker classes have improved by leaps and bounds when we compared their results from the first monthly test to the recent mid-year examination both for English and Mathematics. It is a strong testimony that hard work brings in results. Bravo! Ms Tai Yoke Lin, Ms Susan Philips, Madam Awatif , Ms Ainil and Madam Manmeet. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you for making an impact in the students competency.  Bravo,  Ms Anis and the Maths department  for soldiering on even though the Mathemathics department  was short of teachers.
Cik Nur Anis worked quietly but with great dedication together
with the Mathematics department teachers to coach  the Form 1 and 2 girls
during extra classes  every Tuesday,

The drastic improvement in results in English.
Yellow highlight denotes improvement in marks
while orange denote improvement in marks and grade.

The Form 1 students improved drastically from their first monthly test
 to the more difficult mid year examination.
Yellow shows improvement in marks and grade
while green show improvement in marks.
Our Form 2 volunteers showed excellent improvement.

Another person who have made a great impact to encourage me, the teachers and students is Mr. Sugumaran. He contributes regularly to help 5 needy  girls and makes it a point to  talk  to them . He has also visited these girls and their families at their homes. I know the sacrifice of his funds, time and energy  will encourage the girls to make a difference  both now and in the future.

Mr Sugumaran also gave to the teachers yummy chocolates and pens for Teachers Day. His gifts are always beautifully and thoughtfully packaged. The sight and fragrance of the flowers  is a source of joy for the teachers and encourages them to go about their challenging tasks.

Mr Sugumaran presented the school with a
beautiful bouquet of roses and chocolates for every teacher.

Mr Sugumaran and his wife Madam Jayashree
thoughtfully  put the pens for the teachers
in a very pretty sunflower theme bag.

Presenting the sunflowerbag with the pens for the teachers
to Madam Fitriyanti, the Staff Club President for 2016
 on behalf of Mr Sugumaran on  Teachers' Day

Altough the school had been running MAD (Make a Difference programs )  for 6 years, we do it only for the Form 5 and Form 3 students since they faced the public examinations then. Mr. Sugumaran told us he wanted it to be done for every form. The very last Monday before the Raya break, Mr Sugumaran presented the angpows to 12 girls from each form ( 12 x 5 = 60 girls )  who made a difference in their academic results under our MAD Program. He also addressed the girls at the morning assembly and challenged them to work hard and to give sacrificially. It was a very good ending to the week before the Hari Raya Break

Mr Sugumaran  smiles together with the beaming faces of girls
who had made a difference (MAD ). The angpows are his personal contribution.

Even though the rest of the school had officially begun their Hari Raya break from 1st July, Ms Munimal took our  girls for the state level Bahasa Tamil competitions on  Saturday,  2nd July 2016. We were very happy when 2 of our girls emerged champions in the state level writing competition.  They will be training for the national level competition in July. This win was also a be-early birthday present for Ms Muniamal who celebrated her birthday on July 3rd. I am very thankful I have teachers like Ms Munimal and many others who are willing to work even during the  holiday season.

Ms Munimal and the Bahasa Tamil  girls posing
with the trophies won  at state level.

Thank you to all who have made that impact and help us to be mad about making a difference. You can make a difference and be MAD. Help from within and help from outside. Hmmm... That breaking down of the walls between the school and the church have led to closer ties between our school and those who loved us from outside. May the school become closer and closer to the community that loves her.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all our Muslim students, parents,teachers, staff  and well wishers. Happy holidays. Happy holidays to all of us.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Beyond the open doors.

On the right side of the CS meeting room is an antique cowboy saloon swing door that leads to the church section. For years the area after this door has been a mystery to us. This year we are so awed by the fact that, His Grace, the Catholic Archbishop Julian Leow and Father George Packiasamy of St Joseph's Catholic church has graciously agreed to rent us the two rooms for a mere sum of RM 100/- per month including utilities. We thank the the PIBG  for paying the rental!

The area beyond this door will no longer be a mystery 

Wow! A search of the BOG minutes made me understand the school had  repeatedly asked the church for the use of these 2 rooms. Even during  Pn Vimala Mathews' tenure as HM in the 1990's the request was made and now finally  the long repeated request has finally found favour.

The tenancy agreement  for the new classrooms is indicative of the good collaboration between the church and the school. The classrooms will be used during the day before 5 pm by the school on weekdays. The church will use the same classrooms at night for the church community tuition classes on weekdays and weekends. This way, the classrooms' usage is maximized to benefit  both the school and the church. This unique collaboration is very in line with the KPM emphasis on PIBKS ( PIBKomunit  dan Swasta). We hope to extend this unique collaboration to other aspects.

Beyond the open door, we found several more cowboy saloon swing doors! That surprised and delighted us as we thought our saloon door was unique and the only one in the school, 

To prepare the mystery area to become two operational classrooms, much work has to be done!   Mr. Lee Geok Ai, the Chairman of our Board motivated his team of skilled tradesmen and workers to prepare the rooms. They worked through rain and shine to beat the deadline for the school new academic term on 4 January 2016. Mr. Lee came often to the school especially on weekends to ensure the work progressed properly despite his hectic work schedule outside.

Rewiring of electrical points were done. Extra fans were fixed and the lighting system improved with double filament lamps. We had to close up the air vents to prevent the bats from flying through the areas. The inside and outside of the proposed classrooms will be repainted to flow with the color coordination in the rest of the school. Mr Lee quickly ordered new furniture for the new classrooms. The doors will be repainted to flow with the colour of the doors of the heritage room situated right below these two classrooms.

Outside the two classrooms, scaffolding were erected to construct new gutters. New drains were constructed to better control the drainage especially during heavy rainstorms.

The staircase exit from the two new classrooms had to be strengthened. The moldy staircase will be given a brand new look! The partition from the teachers staff room leading to the new classrooms will be knocked down and a grill door installed. This walkway has not been opened for at least 25 years and its opening will unravel another mystery. It was very refreshing to catch a view of the school we had never seen - the view from the top in the church section.

The view that had never been ours.
 from the top in the open walkway.

Apart from preparing the two classrooms, the school is a busy hive of activity even on weekends. Drains elsewhere are enlarged. New white lines have been re-drawn on the games court. The Cooperative Room is being refurbished and re-tiled courtesy Angkasa. Teachers' toilets were hacked and is the process of being revamped and upgraded.  New teachers tables will be ordered so that every teacher have a proper work table. in  The ponding in the field will be addressed. Having the school upgraded will be our best Christmas present!

People often have the misconception that school is quiet during the year end holidays but in CS, this is the time where many people worked feverishly behind the scenes. CS offers up  grateful thanks to His Grace, Archbishop Julian Leow, the Catholic church, Father George Packiasamy, Mr. Lee Geok Ai and the BOG,  PIBG, Mr Ping, and all kind donors and dedicated workmen. May you be richly blessed particularly this Christmas and in the coming 2016.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Heartfelt Thanks from all of us at Convent Sentul

This 75th year since SMK Convent Sentul started in 1940  has been so very eventful and very heartwarming! The year's activities has given the whole school the opportunity to interact with many members of the Alumni as well as friends of the Board and the PIBG and other schools. We have had more visitors to the school in this year compared to many other years.

Sunrise reflection on our windowpane  enhances
 our new summerhouse gazebo and school facade

Students  from other schools together with Mr Lee,Geok Ai
Pn Rose Saadiah and some of our donors

What brought great joy was the re-connections of different batches of students with students and students with teachers and with past principals.

Many material contributions also came in at various points through this year, reaching a peak at the Charity Fund Raising Gala Renaissance hotel On May 8 2015. The happy nostalgic moments of the dinner and dance made the love for CS more heartwarming and it was expressed through the generous giving.

The jubilant happiness of the batch of 1970.

Happy dancers of all races and age in the hall.

On behalf of the school, I would like to say a big thank you to all who gave generously, both from the Alumni and also from other stakeholders. Some of you have given regularly even  before this auspicious year.  I have compiled some of your names here but I apologize for being unable to put in every donor's name. Please receive our heartfelt thanks and know for a certainty we are greatly encouraged by your generous giving.

Some batches have come back and given again to the school even after the dinner. I like to record special thanks to the batch of 1977.  Fatimah, the headgirl of  the 1977 batch is seen presenting a cheque for 8 girls to receive the food aid. Some of the funds came from the round table collection at their dinner. Some came from individual sponsors who are Low Gay Ai, Low Bee Eng, Choo Yow Heng and Saziah. I always remembered the  batch of 1977 as the batch that donated the  LCD in our school hall. That LCD is  very highly used and we can' t imagine the hall without it now. Thank you

Fatimah presenting the cheque to Datin Cheam witnessed by Rachael Joseph

Let the flow for CS flow free and strong. May your love for CS be rekindled and spark off many joyous re-connections.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Getting to know the Alumni and the people who loved CS.

SMK Convent Sentul 75th year Diamond Jubilee celebrations provided the golden opportunity for me and CS to get to know the Alumni. New friendships were forged as we worked and  prayed together for the many events lined up for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Datin Baljit, the President of the Alumni first introduced me to Neela in 2014. Neela volunteered to work on the Heritage Room. Initially we connected only through what apps and google drive media. She came several times to collect old pictures and to look at the set up.   She introduced me to Agnes who worked tirelessly with her on the Heritage Room. I saw the humility and deep love of CS  in Neela 's heart. She worked with  great dedication quietly on many things - the concepts and the story line of the wall displays.When Agnes flew in from overseas, she encouraged Neela greatly as they went doing many things and  any thing and everything that was needed for the room - from photo stating to printing to etc etc. The very last night before the launch, they stayed back and worked till late into the night. These two lovely ladies from the batch of 1972 gave their heart and soul and hands to prepare the Heritage Room.

From left:
Datin Baljit, Ms Navam, Neela, Andre Duarte, Tan Tee Hwa and Agnes

I really enjoyed how Neela, Agnes and Ms Navam  interacted with my Heritage student emcees Kamalashini, Adriana and Lai Ying Ying. They listened to our students practicing their presentation. They corrected, They cajoled. They encouraged and they praised and made my girls bloom in confidence and competency.Ms Navam is the undisputed  historian of the school since she is both an ex-student and an ex-teacher. Ms Navam is proud to share the same age as CS. Agnes is the media relations queen. I saw her superb organizational skills on handling the finances and the media. Kudos ..ladies!


                                                  The walls speaks. 
Our illustrious ex-students with many authors, sportswomen and success stories
                     inspire our present girls to rise as their Big Sisters
                              have risen above  challenging backgrounds and circumstances.

Young and old together rejoicing in the Beloved Heritage Room
Seated from left:
Ms Navam, Sister Daniel Ee, Sister Teresia, Sister Benedict, Sister Luke

The new and the old badges speak of
 how we in the present can connect with those from the past
 to build a beautiful picture for CS in the future.

We had many visitors  on the much awaited morning of 8th May 2015. Apart from the Heritage Room, the visitors also interacted with our students and teachers on the Interactive Academic Carnival as well as on the Heritage Trail

Tai Yoke Lin and her daughter watching and listening
 to Farhana 5A demo on Redox experiments.

I took Tai Yoke Lin and her daughter to the science lab.Our students demonstrated fun magical experiments with confidence. Tai Yoke Lin is an ex-headgirl of CS in 1970. She was an Asean scholar. She also graduated with a BA from Harvard University and a M. Phil from Cambridge. She is a true inspiration to us to walk the pathways of success with humility.

Many visitors - young and old thronged the school grounds. Ex-students, ex-teachers, ex principals, students and teachers from CS and newspapers media came with great anticipation. They were not disappointed. Three other schools and teachers from other schools thoroughly enjoyed our Interactive Carnival. A TV media crew was there to catch our teachers and girls in action. Some of the nuns had not been back for many years. It was sheer joy to see them re-connecting withe the students and the teachers and long lost friends.

 Sister Mary Agnes.
She remains the last teaching sister in Malaysia
and she retired from SMK Convent Sentul in 2004


Video shows Mr Paul Lim, one of our generous donors from Inta Bina enjoying the interactive science experiment. Observe the smile playing on his face when he succeeds. He says he enjoys our school. His joy at watching the students truly learn engage actively in meaningful real learning is infectious! Our CS girls are also very skilled in sharing the active learning  with young and old visitors . This could be one reason why CS receives generous contributions  from donors. They enjoy seeing the "Hands On Heads On and Hearts On" learning in CS.

Hotel placard display

The day did not end then. We continued with the Gala Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel. This time the heroines were Andre Duarte, Premala, Guna, Jane, Agnes and countless others. They worked very hard to give us a lovely yummylicious fun dinner! Andre set the happy mood moving with her grand unique introduction. We were blessed by the presence of His Grace, the Archbishop Julian Leow as our guest of honor.

Group photo before the dinner commenced.
Sister Benedict, Sister Mary, Madam Tan Tee Hwa, His Grace, the Archbishop Rev Julian Leow,
Mr Lee Geok Ai, Pn Rose, Mrs Lee Geok Ai,
Sister Luke, Sister Teresia and Datin Cheam.

Festive ambience

Andre Duarte the Chairman of the Gala Dinner Committee

The dinner saw many special guests. The ex-students were thrilled to meet Sister Rita - the ex principal of SMK Convent Sentul. Thank you Andre for arranging to bring Sister Rita safely here and home as she is frail and precious. For Sister Rita, it was one rare and much treasured opportunity to  to meet her ex students and friends.

(From left) Sister Teresia Mowe, Sister Rita Rodrigues and Sister Mary Agnes sharing a light moment at the gala dinner.
Sister said. “I feel so happy to see all the former students, regardless of their religion, coming together and having fun. It is just like they were back in school.
“Convent Sentul is like home. These women have all come home now and are rekindling their past memories with old friends. Everybody is so happy and I can see a lot of bonding,” she said.
The above is quoted from the Star Paper write up 1st June 2015 on the Gala Dinner 
Pn Salmah and the golden girls cutting the 75th anniversary cake amidst confetti.

Happy girls up stage

The happy party went on and one till way past midnight. The girls had a grand time dancing with one another and with the nuns. I shall not post the  pics of the girls dancing through the night.

Andre and Datin Baljit presenting the cheque from sponsors

One of the cheques received for the school.
And the dinner raised RM100K for the school. Thank you Andre and your committee for organizing a very enjoyable dinner. Thank you for bringing in much of  the generous donations . Thank you Datin Baljit and the friends and ex-students.

Mr and Mrs Lee Geok Ai presenting souvenirs to
Mr and Mrs Selvaraja, our big time donor since 2011.

Thank you Pn Rose and all in the PIBG for your great support. Thank you Mr Lee Geok Ai for all the generous donors you have brought to support CS. Thank you to all of you from all of us here in CS.. Your hard and heart work is truly appreciated.

The story does not end here. The story continues with the girls and teachers and stakeholders and you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

2015 is a great new year!

SMK Convent Sentul is just 17 days into the new year 2015. Already, so many exciting things have  happened for us at the school! The exciting lovely events signals a wonderful beginning to our 75th year Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Our school began as an English-medium school with primary and secondary school sessions. It began with 348 pupils - mostly girls and about 10 little boys, 75 years ago, on the 5th January 1940.

We held our Form 1 Orientation on the 2nd January 2015. Parents and students who came were delighted by our pretty school in a garden concept. Visitors young and old whipped out their phones and took photos of the cheerful yellow sunflowers contrasted against the purple petunias. 

From this perspective with the Gothic style
architecture of the school,
some could be misled to  think
they were in Europe
 and certainly not in a school in Malaysia.

Bees visit our sunflower

The feathery look of the trees leaves adds
a very soft feminine dimension to the school.

Then on the 3rd of January, St Joseph's Catholic church organized the Thanksgiving Mass in gratitude to the Lord Almighty for sustaining the school through 75 years of existence and providing quality education to all races and religions. Thank you Father George Packiasamy for organizing this event. His Grace, the Archbishop Julian Leow very kindly conducted the thanksgiving service in St Joseph church. His Grace,  very graciously walked over from the church and walked through our school after the service. Surely, the anointing of his footsteps rests upon our walkways. This special day also happened to be His Grace's 51st birthday!

His Grace, the Archbishop is delighted to see
the new classrooms standing in the
location of the old caretaker's house.

We  celebrate Archbishop's birthday with great joy!
A very handsome and
youthful looking Archbishop strides
purposefully down
the stairs of SMK Convent Sentul.

The thanksgiving mass was a wonderful time of reunion for the nuns who had served faithfully in our school with many of their ex-students.There were many happy faces and  the sweet memories warmed everybody's hearts.

Standing :Datin Cheam, Geraldine, Sis Lawrece, Sister Elizabeth,
Brother Ken Wong, Pn Tan, Mrs Rozario, Ms Anne.
Seated: Sister Teresia Mowie, Sister Luke, Sister Anne Tan, Pn Vimala Mathews

Awed to meet Sister Anne Tan - the ex headmistress
 of SMK CS from 1965 to 1969.

The joy of meeting Sister Teresia Mowie,
the ex principal of CS in the eighties.

Mrs Vimala Methews, ex principal of CS in 1989
 is simply very happy to walk through
the school grounds once again.

I apologize for the shaky photo but
the joy of the ex-school principal
 meeting and recognizing her ex-student
and vice versa is unmistakable.

Sister Teresia, Madam Maria Tan and Sister Elizabeth
holding their bouquets like beautiful young brides.

The young and the old -
Dimple bridges the generation gap
by serving the retired nuns.

The young and the old
Vika and Sister Anne Tan

Through the corridors of time.

Was the canteen like this back then?

The lanes divide.

The heartwarming comments of students on
meeting Mrs Rozario, their excellent ex-accounts FB

Then on 5th Jan 2015 itself, we celebrated the school's 75th birthday with two birthday cakes. What an auspicious date! The numbers were were so balanced and symmetric 5/1/15.

Blessed 75th Birthday SMK Convent Sentul!

A quiet moment of birthday joy.

Shirlyn, Tang Chee and the table tennis coach Winson Teoh also dropped by the school on this auspicious date. They wanted to survey our table tennis equipment to see how they could help to improve table tennis standards in our school. Shirlyn made a generous offer to donate 300 ping pong balls and the balls catching net and also the partitions needed for the tournament.

Shirlyn and Tang Chee posing by our happy sunflowers

Tang Chee and Winson sweats it out and fix the net
 to catch the ping pong balls on the 10th Jan 2015.
This will help the girls improve their service.

On the 15th Jan 2015, another beautiful and  balanced date 15/1/15, Dr Cheah Yin Mee accompanied by her sister, visits our school. Dr Cheah and her friends under the Big Sisters group has provided funds amounting to RM 18,949.50 in 2014 alone, to provide meals for our needy students.  Dr Cheah,  her family and friends has been doing this faithfully and quietly since 2012. May God's blessings of health and favour come upon you and on all those who render kindness to the needy in CS. Dr Cheah is delighted by the beautiful flowers and upgraded facilities in CS.

Dr Cheah Yin Mee and her friends -The Big Sisters
provide funds for food for the needy in CS since 2012.

She enjoys the view of the pretty petunias

The fixtures in the VIP toilets are in. Thank you Mr Cha.

She checked out our beautifully balanced
colonial looking summer gazebo on her own

The gazebo has 4 benches where we can sit and relax.
The golden thryallis vine creeper is growing fast
and its tendrils keep climbing higher.
The gazebo looks equally captivating by night.

Our beautiful school by dusk.

Our garlic vine creepers in full bloom at this season

This coming Monday, the 19th of Jan 2015, Mr Lee Geok Ai, the chairman of our board of Governors will bring his beloved daughter Helen to address the school assembly. Helen will present generous ang pows, on behalf of her benevolent father to the outstanding students of the PT3 2014. Such an exciting year!

Now if ever you want to visit our school and join our  Diamond Jubilee celebrations and are quite not sure of our whereabouts, do google our location. You will find SMK Convent Sentul, securely ensconced between the church and the market along busy Jalan Sentul, just after Jalan Perhentian.