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SM Stella Maris celebrates 50 years of existence

Past and present principals and teachers pose with Msgr Primus Jouil (seated 4th from R) and Br Peter Foo (in white) after the Mass, 13 Apr 2018, Stella Maris Church Tg Aru.

TANJUNG ARU – SM Stella Maris here kicked off its golden jubilee commemoration with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Stella Maris Church on 13 Apr 2018.

The Mass was presided by Msgr Primus Jouil and attended by past and present principals, teachers, students, representatives from neighbouring SM La Salle, the religious sisters, and La Salle Brother Peter Foo.

Other commemorative activities include an 8 am – 4 pm Open Day Exhibition on the school premises Apr 14 featuring photographs and memorabilia charting five decades of education;  Jubilee souvenirs and DVDs on sale, a carnival bazaar; and a mini musical concert.

A jubilee dinner will be held on Apr 28 at the Hakka Hall Likas while a Charity Run will be organised on May 5.

Located in Tanjung Aru with an area of 1.78 acres, the secondary school was opened by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) in January 1968 with three classrooms, a teacher room, an office and a toilet block.

The school for girls opened with 31 students up to Form 3 only due to lack of instructors and other physical facilities.  Those who passed Form 3 (Lower Certificate Examination) had to move to St Francis Convent to continue their studies.  However, in 1987 it was able to open classes for Forms 4 and 5.

Down the years the school developed by leaps and bounds.

A second two-storey block was built in 1986 to accommodate the increasing student population and in 1994 it went into a two-session school system: Forms 1 and 2 in the afternoon and Forms 3-5 in the morning.

In 1989 the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) was formed.  In the same year, the school magazine “The Guiding Star” was published under the supervision of PC Poh.

In 1991 the school parliament was formed under senior assistant Lee Wah Ban. It replaced the School Watchdog, a regulatory body formed in the 1970s under Margaret Chin.

The school website was launched in 1999 while the open hall was constructed in 2000.

Today the school has an enrolment of 790 students with 14 classrooms.  It is looking forward to the construction of a new school block with 24 classrooms so that the school will have a single session system.  The building committee is in the initial stage of preparing the development plan to be submitted to the local authorities.

“We hope to target the construction to begin in 2019 and completing in 2020 using the Industrized Building System (IBS),” said PTA President Zahara Ismail at the launching of the jubilee celebration on 13 Jan 2018.

Themed “Glorious Golden Years,” the launch was organised jointly by the Stella Maris Alumni and PTA.

Alumni president Irene George Mojinggol urged all ex-students to do their part and to pledge to the building of the new school block.

“Let us work towards a school that is completely and fully equipped with high technology and quality amenities, to maintain the school’s remarkable achievements since  its establishment, and to  strengthen its competitiveness to become successful leaders in the country,” said Mojinggol.

Among those who served as principals were Franciscan Sister Stella Chin (1968-1971, 1979-1981), Sister Aquinas Voon (1971-1978), Sister Alphonsus Low (1981-1988), Pauline Wong Mee Kiong (1989-1994),  Grace Gan Lee Ping (1994 – 2005), Clare Sikodol (2006-2009), Girly Tan (2010-2014), and Gertrude Jock (2014-2016).

The current principal is Goh Kui Liang (2017), the first male principal in the girls’ school.

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