Sunday Star, Star Education, August 3, 2001
New Building, New Era
Story by Gavin Gomez
THE Assunta spirit is very much alive!'' declared SM Assunta's founder-principal Sister Enda Ryan as she led students, both past and present, and invited guests in singing the school anthem last Saturday. An immediate roar of applause ensued.
Such is the school spirit that when called upon students, alumni and generous contributors from the public were quick to come forth with donations of funds and services towards the building of the Bangunan Puan Sri Datin Sri Kai Yong Yeoh.
The new building houses four living skills workshops, three audio-visual rooms, four computer laboratories, a library and resource centre. There is also a brand new cafeteria and the impressive Assunta Square, which will serve as a centre for events and school activities.
At the building's opening ceremony, Sister Enda (as she is fondly known) said she was blessed to have been part of the school's history.
''This event is one that marks another milestone in the school's development,'' she said.
As mission schools such as SM Assunta are government-aided schools (as opposed to fully funded government schools), it was left to raise its own funds.
Undaunted by the challenge, the board of governors (chaired by Sister Enda), the parent-teacher association, alumni, and the school had combined their efforts to raise funds for the construction of the new block. Events, such as the Jogathon PIBG 2000 and Assunta Carnival, were a huge success
Principal Lim Sew Kwe said the targeted sum of RM1.6mil was reached within two years, mainly from public contributions.
''The school is deeply indebted to Yeoh Tiong Lay and Sons Sdn Bhd and IMC Pan Asia Alliance Pte Ltd for their generous contributions of RM700,000 and RM205,000, respectively,'' she said.
PTA chairperson Datin Kathleen Yeoh, who was instrumental in the construction of the building, said she hoped the new building, cafeteria and courtyard would give the students lots of memories to cherish.
The former Assuntarian said: ''In December 1999, I walked down the corridors of Assunta again after more than 20 years. I was delighted to find that so much of the school I had spent many happy years in still remains.''
To her dismay, however, the netball court on which she shared many enjoyable hours with her friends was replaced with a living skills workshop, dubbed 'the cowshed'.
''Three-and-a-half years on, 'the cowshed' has been transformed into a spacious and modern canteen – café is perhaps a more appropriate name for it,'' she added.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin, whose late wife Datin Asmah Ali Hussain was a close friend of the Yeoh family, opened the Bangunan Puan Sri Datin Sri Kai Yong Yeoh.
''The school has a lot to be proud of, as renowned Malaysians such as (Mercy Malaysia president) Dr Jemilah (Mahmood) are among its former students,'' he said.
Dr Jemilah is well-known for her selfless service to the Iraqi people. During the recent attack by American forces, she returned to Malaysia with a bullet in her hip.
When touring the new facilities, Abdul Aziz observed that the school has a rich culture and heritage that is well-preserved.
Among the displays at the new resource centre was a special one, themed Sister Enda Through the Years, which features the life and times of the Irish nun at the school.
Pix: MILESTONE: Aziz opening Assunta's Bangunan Puan Sri Datin Seri Kai Yong Yeoh. Looking on are (from left) Datin Seri Kai Yong Yeoh, YTL Corporation Bhd chairman Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, Sister Enda and Lim. – Picture by KAMAL SELLEHUDDIN