The 22 August 2015 saw a congregation of former students of the Convent of The Holy Infant Jesus(CHIJ), Johor Bahru celebrating the 90th Anniversary of their alma mater. Mass was held in the morning at the school premises itself, celebrated by Bishop Sebastian Francis. Dinner was held at the Grand Straits Garden Restaurant in Danga Bay.
It was a night of excitement for the ex-students as they met and greeted friends and teachers, many of whom they had not seen since leaving school. Before dinner was served, the school song was sung with gusto, sounding like thousands in a stadium instead of a thousand in a ballroom.
In attendance to entertain the crowd that night was the school choir who performed a delightful and varied repertoire. Current and past teachers and staff were also acknowledged and presented with certificates and bouquets of flowers for their dedicated services.
CHIJ was started in 1925 in a shophouse along Jalan Ibrahim with three nuns and two other teachers. In the early days they took in both boys and girls, determinedly educating all interested in obtaining a formal education. The school and the performance of the students soon caught the eye of the Ruler, who was himself educated in Europe and who appreciated the value of a good education. Sultan Ibrahim ibni Al Marhum Sultan Abu Bakar Al-khahil and Sultanah Ruqaiyah then gifted a piece of land along Jalan Yahya Awal to establish a proper school and living quarters for the nuns. The school which then became an all girls school, still stands to date on the same site atop a hill.
There have been many fine principals over the years who nurtured the school in its commendable achievements. However of those not too long ago, many remembered the last principal who was a nun – the late Sister Xavier who served the school for 18 years before returning to Ireland. Remembered fondly too was Mrs Ramakrishnan, a very strict disciplinarian, who is now 91 years old and lives in Singapore.
In recent years the achievements of the school under the current Principal Ng Lee Wan, herself a former student of the school, have been no less spectacular. In the 2014 SPM examination, the school ranked no. 1 in the non-residential school category and attained the highest scores in the country.
The Choir had in 2013, performed in Vienna with the world renowned VIenna Boys’ Choir. In 2014 they grabbed the Silver A award at the Asia Cantate competition in Hong Kong. This year, they won the Silver Diploma Level 9 at the 4th International Choral Festival held in Vietnam.
Over the years, the school has not only maintained high academic standards but has remained true to the simple principle of the pioneering nuns which is to churn out all rounded ladies who would strife to make the world they lived in, a better place. Hence, the school motto ” Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty”.
For many, the night ended on a high note of promised future meetings, exchange of phone numbers and immense gratitude to Mrs Antonette Towle-Oliveior and her organising team for a great job done in organising the 90th Anniversary celebrations.