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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 2: St Joseph School will always have a special place in the heart of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as it was not only a place where many memories were made but more importantly, the mission-built school has shaped him into the leader that he is today.
“I was a student here in 1970 when the late Brother Columba was the principal. I am sure some of you who were under his stewardship before, would know and feel the love and dedication given by him and his predecessors into educating every child who comes to this school.
“Indded, it is a privilege and honour to be part of this legacy,” he said in his text-of-speech which was read by Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian at the launching of the newly restored historic Mill Hill Block at St Joseph Secondary School today.
Abang Johari expressed appreciation to all the Mill Hill Fathers who came not only to fulfill their missionary works but bring education to Sarawakians before the La Salle Brothers took the school to new heights.
Ingrained in the spirit of providing for “The last, the lost and the least”, the missionaries continued to make the school a haven where students of all races come together to learn and grow holistically regardless of faith, race and creed.
“Through it, students did not only sit for their Cambridge Junior Examination but everyone who qualified had a chance to pursue further and thereafter to return and serve in different departments of development in Sarawak.
“I believe it is the balanced education provided in St Joseph that built strong and outstanding characters,” he added.
In 1952, St Joseph became the first school in Sarawak to enrol science students for the School Certificate Examination and subsequently in 1953, the first Form 6 class was started to house students from different parts of Sarawak.
“I am also very proud that St Joseph has continued to fly high under the leadership of equally capable local school heads such as Gerald Lee to name a few.
“Many students have achieved great things and have gained memorable experiences reminding them to stay valiant and true to the ethos impacted,” he added.
Apart from Abang Johari, other famous sons who graduated from St Joseph include Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, the late Datuk Polycarp Sim and many others.
Also in the alumni are Dr Sim, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Datuk Patinggi Dr George Chan who were present at the event.
Abang Johari hoped to see this magnificently restored building continue to serve many more generations of Sarawakians and to produce even more great leaders who will bring Sarawak to new levels of glory locally and globally.
“I wish to emphasise yet again the importance of education in nation building and strongly believe it is only through knowledge and wisdom that everyone can be empowered to take control of their lives and to advance their livelihoods,” he said.
Archbishop Simon Poh, St Joseph’s Secondary School Board of Management chairman Reverend Father Felix Au and principal Henry Chai were among those present. — DayakDaily