THE LEGENDARY MR. DENNIS DOSS
I believe most of you who attended the school's birthday celebration this year would remember Mr. Denis Doss as the guest of honour. If you are able to recall Mr. Doss's speech on that day, he gave a very detailed explanation on the verses of the School Rally as well as his experience in St. John's Institution as a student. This was just the tip of the iceberg about him.
Mr. Denis Doss was born on September 9th, 1941 in Kuala Lumpur, prior to the Japanese invasion of Malaya that was to take place later that year. 1948 was the first time he set foot in St. John's as a student, before leaving to St. Xavier's Institution, Penang, upon completion of Form Three. He completed his secondary education at St. Xavier's in 1958.
Mr. Denis Doss then proceeded in joining the La Salle Brothers Teaching College, known as St. Joseph's Novitiate in Pulau Tikus, Penang, in the quest to become a La Sallian educator. He did his teaching practical at St. Xavier's Institution and graduated from the Novitiate in 1962. For the next 30 years, he will spend his teaching career at various La Sallian institutions across Malaysia.
His first posting, in 1963, was at St. Francis's Institution, Malacca. Two years later, in 1965, he was transferred north to St. George's Institution, Taiping. In 1969, he was back south, this time in La Salle Brickfields, where he will remain until 1970.
In 1971, upon the request of Rev. Bro. Joseph Yeoh, Director of St. John's Institution, Mr. Denis Doss officially became a member of the teaching staff at his beloved alma mater. It was a joyous and meaningful occasion for him, as St. John's was a special place very close at heart. In 1975, Mr. Denis Doss was entrusted to take charge of our famous school band, and was styled "Leftenan Muda".
1984 saw St. John's celebrating it's 80th anniversary, under the helm of Rev. Bro. Cassian Pappu. This was the year that St. John's hosted the 'Karnival Ria' and had the then Education Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi (now Tun) as the guest of honour. It was in this same year a magnificent masterpiece was written. It is known to us all as "The Pledge", and its composer was none other than Mr. Denis Doss. This school song was penned down upon request by the then Senior Assistant, Mr. Phua Seng Tiong.
St. John's enjoyed the service of its musically gifted teacher for 17 years before change swept in. The year was 1987, and Mr. Denis Doss received another transfer letter, this time from the Education Department. His new destination is a Chinese school in Salak South. The Cadet Band bade farewell to its Band Master of 12 years, and St. John's is deprived of a thoroughbred member of its staff.
His stay at the new school was momentary. With the assistance of Rev. Bro. Ambrose Loke, Mr. Denis Doss found himself back in a La Sallian institution. La Salle Sentul was to be his new destination, where he remained until retirement in 1992. Post-retirement, Mr. Denis Doss prefers spending time playing golf and tennis, as well as keeping his musical spirit alive by taking part in a church choir.
This year, Mr. Denis Doss was given the honour to become the special guest of our school birthday. He is still very grateful for the honour bestowed upon him by his alma mater in terms of the march past and the opportunity to speak to the present Johannians on that occasion.
My dear Johannians, this is an example of a true Johannian and La Sallian. Mr. Denis Doss spent a large portion of his life as an educator in various La Sallian institutions. He was a son of St. John's, and returned to his alma mater to serve the younger sons of St. John's. This is how the Johannian tradition is upheld among the younger generation. The cycle of students being teachers and returning to the school to teach must be sustained to ensure that the values and culture of St. John's does not fade away in the passage of time.
Let us observe this poem, written by Mr. Denis Doss in conjunction of his transfer in 1987. Let us understand it and learn from it. The poem goes:
My heart is aching,
for I must go;
To a foreign land
I don't know.
I'll tell myself
I'll be brave, I'll be strong
And spread the spirit of St. John's.
Farewell my dear friends, farewell to all,
But I must heed the call,
I'll miss you all in that foreign land,
But most of all, I'll miss my Cadet Band.
I started schooling in St. John's in 1947,
Then I joined the Brotherhood,
I taught in Melaka, Taiping,
Brickfields, then back in dear St. John's
17 years on these grounds I've stood.
And so, I go,(Taken from the 1987 Garudamas)
I don't know what's in store,
But although I'm gone,
I'll never forget St. John's
Fide et Labore!
BY NIZHAN FARAZ
JOHANNIAN OF THE YEAR 2009
PHOTOS OF SJI 109TH BIRTHDAY @