“Is it worth organising an event of this nature, having to get everybody back, no matter where they are, when times are not so favourable?” I asked Organising Chairman Casey Leong who gave a pretty good answer.
He began by saying that someone once said that you are not at liberty to choose your brothers or sisters and you have to live with them.
“The same can be said of school classmates! Thus, like it or not, you have spent the most formative years of your life growing up together.
Hence, inexplicably, a special sort of bond exists when you meet again in later life.
“Perhaps their presence reminds you of your young carefree days. Or maybe, as it is only with them you can yak about ‘those were the days’, you are drawn together,” he reasoned.
Whatever the reasons, Leong, who was the 1966 Head Boy, said it just feels good to be together again as a group and to be able to recall incidences, hi-jinks and experiences commonly shared.
According to him, the one common emotion at all their reunions seems to be laughter which almost inevitably rings out loud and clear around tables heaped with food.
Inevitably, he said, as the years go by, the good old days seem more and more golden, nostalgia sets in and the spirit yearns to be together again to experience yesterday once more.
“As such, I guess that is why we take the effort to organise such reunions and the mother of them all has to be the 50th Golden Anniversary.
One just can’t put a value on the significance of being able to celebrate the bonds of friendship forged half a century ago.
Thus, I guess it is worthwhile organising it!” Leong contended.
Incredibly (save for the late Ng Lap Meng), all 13 alumni made it to the reunion gathering.
As former State Education Director, Datuk Kamal Quadra, also a former Colombo Plan scholar, put it, “The camaraderie was and is still there. We are enjoying it.”
He and Leong shared the same feelings that as they walked through the same corridors of education as they did 50 years ago and reflected 50 years later on the influences it had on their character, their philosophy and their lives, they couldn’t help but feel indebted to their alma mater.
“And as we walked the same corridors again 50 years hence, we wish we had come across the very teachers who influenced and shaped our lives and gave us the momentum to lead and live the lives we did, to be where and what we are today,” said the duo, charged with emotion.
“We wish we could tell them how much we appreciate their dedication to their noble profession of educating us.”
As the Head Girl, Li Yo Wei had faced many challenges, some of them easy to handle while others were difficult.
“For example, what I perceived as fairness or right or wrong was interpreted differently by the students at large.
There were instances when they challenged my authority.
As their leader, I needed to motivate, persuade and set a good example,” she recalled.
Dealing with different students from various backgrounds, religions and races was an interesting experience “because each group had its own unique habits, behaviour and activities”.
After trial and error, Li, now a retired principal, realised that the best way to lead was to lead herself first and then lead others by example.
“Indeed, leadership is not by telling others what to do but leading by example.
When they respected you, they would obey your rules.
There was no need to ask for respect…the recipe was to work and earn my respect.
Once I realised this, the rest of my year went off smoothly.”
Of course, there were exceptions. The naughty boys, she remembered, were mischievous and up to tricks of all sorts.
An interesting episode was that they dropped their pencils deliberately in order to peep at what the teachers wore.
So, what action did Li take? “I coached and mentored them, and also explained how their negative behaviour could affect themselves as well as others.
Then I sent them off to the Discipline Teacher,” she said, adding that fortunately, most parents did not interfere with the school management.
“As such, we were given free rein to discipline and mould the boys and girls into positive citizens of today.”
The feeling of comradeship among us is still there, remarked Mathew@Dadar Singh, then Head Prefect of the Boarding House.
“It’s good to know that somebody cares for you and you care for them. It’s mutual, like a family.
As you get older, you probably have fewer friends, so you just can’t miss your classmates,” said the former State Scholarship holder.
“Thanks to the Internet, we can keep in touch through Facebook and email, among other digital means of communication.”
Good leadership training and discipline is what Singh had gained from his education at All Saints’.
Making this possible was the late Canon Rusted, former Principal of the school.
Singh spoke fondly of him, saying the one-time disciplinarian was strict and authoritative.
“We respect Canon Rusted more than we feared him. He was a great man.
I learned a lot from him. I was practically under him. I owe it to him for having taught me good values which I embraced throughout my working life.”
Now 72, he started the family-run Keharsons Sdn Bhd, an established electrical supply store in Labuan.