Friday, January 18, 2013

11 Decades of Existence - St. John's In The Coming Days

University Of Toronto Canada

Exactly 109 years ago on this very day, St. John's Institution opened its doors to a mere 18 students. In less than three years, the enrollment was over 100 students, leading to the building of the magnificent red Romanseque Main Block which stands to this very day. I can never thank the founding fathers of St. John's, who took the trouble to secure that little piece of land on top of a hill surrounded by jungle, to put up an institution that will possess a colourful history in the great many years that were to come. Without the tireless efforts of Father Renard, the La Salle Brothers, and the generosity of the Archbishop and church, we would have never existed.

The hurdles of St. John's were just beginning. After the establishment of the school, management and expansion due to the growing numbers posed a new problem to the Brothers. Money was no easy come for a Catholic mission school (and the situation is no different even today), so the only way to fund expansion projects was to raise our own money. It is the various fundraisers over the years that allowed St. John's to flourish from a wooden three-storey building eleven decades ago, into a complex of six blocks and a fairly large field. Without the generous donations from our benefactors and the remarkable amount of passion and love for the school among Johannians, St. John's would have been impossible to sustain, and expansion plans would have been futile.

With the rapid development in technology, a gap between students and schools began to form, and over the years, this distance is growing. St. John's is equally faced with this same issue, where more St. John's students do not feel privileged to be in this lovely school. One does not become a Johannian simply by being a student of St. John's, he or she needs to care about the school, and to care is to be close, and to be close is to pay attention to the plight and needs of the school and trying to assist according to one's capacity. Using the sacred term 'Johannian' for interests that don't benefit the school is a threat, and the instances where the school's reputation is tarnished is undoubtedly a syndrome that must be eliminated.

I understand that many of us are not capable to sustain St. John's financially, or run the school under our own capacity. But I believe in collective effort, and whenever people get together to join a good cause and make it work, the cause will be successful. This is what we, as Johannians, should seek to do. For a non-Government aided school like St. John's, no form of assistance is too little, and we are always in need of funds to keep the school running in pristine condition. Any pledge, be it a donation, or a technical skill; as an individual, or as a group, if continued over the many years to come, as a tradition in St. John's, I am certain beyond doubt that the school can finally divert its attention back to the core business of educating the younger generation.

Every day, I envision St. John's being the school everyone wants to be part of, as a student, teacher, administrator, or alumni. We were there once upon a time, and I believe that we can be that again. Many people say that I am dreaming the impossible, but I hope, that somewhere out there, there are other Johannians who share the same dream as me, and together we shall prove to everyone that St. John's will walk the colourful path of glorious success!

Let us reflect on the verses in our School Rally:
Cheer, cheer, and courage display 
All ye Johannians join in the lay 
Send a volley of cheers on hig 
Shake down the thunder from the sky 
What though the odds be great or small 
Dear old St. John's will win overall 
While her loyal sons are marching 
Onward to victory
Do we actually understand what we sing? If we do, what are we doing to live the essence of the rally? If we are living the essence, are we doing enough?

Happy 109th anniversary, St. John's! May God bless you and all who care about you, now and always.

Fide et Labore!

* This article is a personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the view of anyone else

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