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Old 27-01-18, 09:51 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default STC celebrates 100 years at Mount Lavinia

STC celebrates 100 years at Mount Lavinia
Saturday, January 27, 2018 - 01:00

Zahrah Imtiaz

Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey joins Warden Rev'd Marc Billimoria and former Wardens Dr. David Ponniah and Prof. Indra de Zoysa in cutting the 100 year anniversary cake. Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage
The school by the sea; S. Thomas' College yesterday celebrated 100 years since it started life in Mount Lavinia, having moved there from Mutwal on January 26, 1918.

The school celebrated this important milestone with a special mass held at the College chapel, the rededication of the two original buildings, a blessing of the newest building for the Lower School and a ceremonial general assembly with the participation of all the students in the school for the first time in its history.

The special mass was celebrated by Bishop of Colombo Rt. Revd. Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey.

Keeping the Covenant

Speaking at the Mass held at the College Chapel, former Colombo Bishop Rt. Rev. Duleep De Chickera, who was S. Thomas' chaplain and sub warden, highlighted the importance of a Thomian ‘Covenant’- so as to pass on the values of the school to generations to come.

"If there is no covenant written, we have to discern it, live it and pass it on," said the Reverend.

"Over the last 100 years, everything had changed at the school but the one unchanging feature of the Thomian institution was its commitment to integrated education," he said.

This, he said, was the schools’‘covenant to education’- not written but adhered to nevertheless.

“The covenant of course includes religion specifically that of Christianity but it also goes beyond that. The reason being that our family is an interfaith one. We are an equal interfaith family,” he said.

A boy of any religion can become head prefect of this school, “He can also be an agnostic in future and we have to accept that,” said Rev. De Chickera.

Overall, however, this one interfaith family is governed by Christian values. So the warden and majority of the board of governors have to be Christian, “This paradox has given birth to the Thomian Education Covenant,” he added.

The former Bishop also spoke of three important factors that need to be included in the Thomian education system.

One, he said, was that the child; full of integrity and creativity, should remain the centre of the institution.

He also stressed that it was important to not treat children as passive recipients, “This will kill his/her initiative and destroy our quality of life."

Secondly he asked that the Thomian Covenant open a window into the outside world, “There is a bigger world out there, we must never lose sight of this.”

Warden Lyn Illangakoon, he said, started the culture of taking groups of boys across the railway to tend to the wounds of fishermen and thereafter across Galle road to teach children in low income families, “These boys since then have been crossing boundaries.”

The real world should be introduced to the classroom and this the challenge to our education system, said Rev. De Chickera.

Lastly, he spoke of the model of education S. Thomas' had chosen to follow,

“We have government schools which are rigid, not independent, frightened of change and politicised. On the other hand, we have international schools which are profit-oriented and run to make someone money. But we in S. Thomas' have chosen the middle path or the third option,” he said.

He explained that this thinking has also spilled into the university sector with educationists saying that they needed a third option between government and private universities. Thus, the government took on this proposal to introduce a fee levying, but government owned medical university which would be established in SLIIT, replacing SAITM.

“This model allows our schools to be independent to a certain extent, and though private not profit-oriented,” said Rev. De Chickera whilst he encouraged dialogue between government and international schools to incorporate the best of both worlds,

“To compete would be trivial and to be aloof, snobbish,” said the bishop.

Keeping the Thomian Covenant within the school will make it a great school, said the Reverend, but the difficult part was ensuring that the Thomians who leave the school gates, live by it and go out and make a better world.

It is through this that the illustrious men will pass on the rich quality of life to the next generation, he said.

After mass, the gathering moved on to the main hall where the special general assembly was held under the auspices of S. Thomas’ Warden, Rev. Marc Billimoria.

Weathering the storm

Tracing the history of the school, he noted that its founder Bishop Chapman first had his eye on the Governor’s House in Mt. Lavinia (now Mt. Lavinia Hotel) but later switched to Mutwal, a highly fashionable residential address at the time as he could not afford to purchase the Governor’s House.

For 67 years, it grew and prospered there, he said. Despite the early years of success, the school underwent a number of years of turmoil after Bishop Chapman.

“When Warden Miller took over in 1878, he found the school at the lowest steps of adversity in terms of both human and financial resources. And wardens after him, including myself had to launch many fund raising appeals to ensure that the school continued to function. With patience and courage, Warden Miller secured the future of the school. By the time he retired in 1891, the school was once more on a firm footing,” he said.

During the Miller years, the school also embarked on several significant steps; in 1880 the first Royal-Thomian cricket encounter was held. In 1884, the college colours of blue, black and blue were introduced and in 1886, the Old Boys' Association, one of the oldest school alumni associations in the world, was established, to name a few.

But one problem Warden Miller could not address was the increasing student population and lack of space.

The establishment of coal sheds within a short distance from the school also meant that much of the coal dust enveloped the school as the Colombo Harbour expanded, explained the Warden.

By 1915, the school in Mutwal was sealed and the new property in Mt. Lavinia was purchased, ironically within walking distance from the first place considered by its founder.

During the December holidays of 1917, the school was moved to Mt. Lavinia.

It has flourished since then under 11 wardens and prospered through academic and sports achievements. It was also a time when the chapel and the Board of Governors were established.

The school has weathered many storms and a school which has survived and prospered for over a century is bound to have been a witness to history itself - especially that of our education struggles.

The incumbent Warden traced this history as;

“During the 26 years in which Warden de Seram held sway witnessed the disruption of World War II, the founding of the three branch schools, the achievement of the private fee levying status and the achievement of excellence in every sphere.

The 1960s had Warden Davidson and Selvaratnam as the school faced challenges of nationalism with fortitude and courage.

In the 1970s, under Wardens Anandanayagam and Illangakoon when the education system in Sri Lanka was in the throes of chaos, STC stood firm in the midst of the changing scenes.

In the 1980s, Warden Alwis not only built buildings but also brought about excellence in academic, sports and other fields.

In the first decades of the 20th century when Warden Ponniah and Puddefoot ran the school, radical changes took place in the field of education.

And during our contemporary times, Warden Indra brought international experience into the classroom.

"S. Thomas’ College has thrived and grown in Mt. Lavinia,”he said.

"Through it all, we attempted to be faithful to Bishop Chapman’s vision from every quarter to build men of character to take on the changing systems of the world and contribute to the nation and the world," he said.

From four Prime Ministers in independent Sri Lanka to numerous public servants, members of the judiciary, clergy, defence personnel, diplomatic service and numerous other fields, S. Thomas' has produced outstanding leaders and decent men who have added flavour to the social fabric of this and many other nations, added the Warden.

The event also had the school’s alumni address the assembly and this included; Air Chief Marshall Deshamanya P.H. Mendis (the first Thomian Air Force Commander), W.T. Ellawala (Head Prefect 1957-1958), J.D. Bandaranayake (Head Prefect 1966-1967), V.P.W. Wijegunawardena (Head Prefect 1989-1990), Defence Secretary K.M. Waidyaratne (Head Prefect 1978), Dr. N.G.R. Perera (Head Prefect 1992), D.S. Rajasingham (Head Prefect 2009-2010) and S.D.S. Sansoni (Head Prefect 2017-2018).

The event also had the unveiling of the portrait of Bishop E.A. Copleston by the Emeritus Archdaecon of Galle, Ven. V.L.P. Fernando and the unveiling of the bust of Warden W.A. Stone by Esmond Satarasinghe.

A special song written by Priya Peiris was sung by the Canto Perpetua Choir.

Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey joins Warden Rev'd Marc Billimoria and former Wardens Dr. David Ponniah and Prof. Indra de Zoysa in cutting the 100 year anniversary cake. Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage
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File Type: jpg z_p02-STC-2.jpg (350.2 KB, 2 views)
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Old 04-02-18, 06:10 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default S. Thomas’ college celebrate 100 years at mount lavinia

28 January, 2018

The Thomian family jubilantly celebrated a special service of thanksgiving at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, on 26 January with the participation of His Eminence the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese Rt. Rev. Diloraj Canagasabey and Warden STC Rev. Marc Billimoria. It was a reflection of a splendid journey of 100 years in Mount Lavinia.

The college was originally established in Mutwal (adjacent to the Colombo Harbour) on 3 February 1851 by the dynamic priest Rt. Rev. James Chapman. Subsequently the school was relocated to her present location in 1918.

“Having completed a 100 years at Mt. Lavinia, we look back with a sense of pride and achievement, because during those 100 years, we have achieved quite a lot; not only in academic life, sports, and other extracurricular activities, but also in the number of students who have turned out who have gone into the world of men and had an impact on Sri Lanka. Over the years, the college has achieved much and contributed largely to this country, and it is those achievements and contributions that we want to celebrate, so that modern generations of Thomians would realize their heritage,” stated Rev. Marc Billimoria, Warden of STC.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration was envisaged during the time of Warden Stone and completed in 1927. In the 1960s the beauty of the sacred sanctuary was enriched with the splendid artwork of David Paynter and his expression of the divine transfiguration.

The college has organized an extensive line up of events to celebrate this magnificent milestone.

- Dishan Joseph

















(Pix: Herbert Perera and Saman Sri Wedage)
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Last edited by sriyanj; 16-06-18 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 11-05-18, 12:26 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default text of sermon-100 yrs at mt.

From: Dr. Narme Wickremesinghe <nwosh1@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, May 2, 2018 at 11:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: text of sermon-100 yrs at mt.

Dear Narme
As promised -with apologies for the delay.
With Peace and Blessings
+ Duleep

Sermon preached at the Centenary Anniversary of the College at Mt. Lavinia

“Their Descendants stand by the covenants, and thanks to them so do their children’s, children”. (Sirach 44. 12)

One hundred years at Mt.Lavinia is certainly a high point in the history of the College, and I thank the Warden for having invited me to be part of this service that commemorates this historic event. Since we belong to a tradition that refuses to congratulate ourselves on our achievements, the purpose of our gathering is to give thanks to God, the source of all that has been possible.

The text
Some of you may have observed that our first lesson is not from the Bible. It is from a book named after its writer, Sirach. This book also known as Ecclesiasticusis part of a collection of fourteen books known as the Apocrypha, most of which were written between Old Testament and New Testament times.Due to questions regarding its’ authenticity some Christian traditions have little to do with the Apocrypha. Others, including the Anglican tradition, recognise its value for liturgical and devotional purposes.The water is good for bathing but may not be drunk.
The particular text we have before us is a reflection on the illustrious men of Israel, known and unknown; the ‘Old Boys’ of Israel if you like. There were illustrious old girls as well but the then prevailing male hegemony refused to place their names on record.
The text records that these illustrious men were able to pass on a rich quality of life to the next generation because they kept the covenant by living it. The covenant in Hebrew thought was based on God’s constant and unfailing faithfulness. When the people of Israel reciprocated with faithfulness to the one God they had come to experience and know;wholesomenessand abundance spilled over to all creation.

The evolution of theThomian Educational Covenant (TEC)
The gist of this text has a message for our centenary celebrations. It calls us to look back on and recognisewhat I would like to identify as the TEC that has evolved over the past one hundred and more years. The evolution of the TEC may be summarised as follows.
1. Through all the changes that have taken place, such as the increase in numbers of students and staff, buildings, co-curricular activities and so on, our commitment to integrated education; the formation of the whole child for all life, has remained constant and unchanged.
2. This commitment has quietly and steadilydefined the TEC. Though not written on wood or stone, (these illustrious wardens have nevertheless had much to do with its evolution) the TEC has instead been formed and written on hearts and foreheads and passed on from generation to generation, this way.
3. Those engaged in the shaping and ‘passing on’ of the TEC have been an equal and inclusive community of boys and staff; tutorial, administrative and service, of all faiths.
4. Such a multi-faith contribution to the TEC has been possible due to a fine balance between fair-play and identity. This means for instance that religious affiliation plays no part in determining the salary scales of our staff and a boy of any faith can hold the highest student office of head prefect. It also means that while our management and core values remain Christian; our Warden is a Christian, we have a Chaplain and a Chapel, and a Board that is mostly Christian and so on, this Christian identity has learnt to blend with the identity of our sister faiths in such a way that, at a basic level it prevents the erosion of community life and at strength it draws from our rich and diverse spirituality to build an integrated Thomian family.
5. In this balance we call to mind what we have learnt and relearnt elsewhere; the richest and most time tested values of our sister faiths are indeed compatible with those of the Gospel.

The attributes of the TEC
The TEC we are consequently called to renew at these anniversary celebrationsis made up of three attributes. Since we are an ecumenical family these are best described in a language that excludes none and makes sense to the entire Thomian family.

These attributes are;
1. The centrality of the child in the life of the school. This certainly means that the child’s cognitive growth and pastoral needs are to be provided for as a priority, but it means more. The child in the centre recognises that the child has an active contribution to make towards the life of the school and wider education and is not to be seen as a mere passive recipient. Jesus affirmed this quality of the child when He required adults, obsessed with the adult pastime of greatness,to look at and learnfrom the child.
Some years ago children on a Church committee questioned and changed a decision to have two tables at an anniversary celebration. ‘Why two?’ they asked ‘when we are one and equal’? The decision was immediately reversed.
There are hundreds of stories like this that we all know which point to the spirituality of the child. To facilitate the creativity and curiosity of the child at the centre of the life of the school is therefore to the advantage of all. The child inevitably reminds us of the values we have lost or conveniently set aside.
Refusal to cultivate the child at the centre on the other hand is to kill the initiative of the child and force him to conform. This in turn creates a dull duplication of ourselves, deprives us of the freshness, inclusion and sense of fair-play that the child spontaneously brings and is damaging tothe process of community life and education.
How we do this is a challenge our educationists will have to wrestle with. That we have such persons around who are capable of doing so brings hope and encouragement.
2. An awareness of the wider world. Once when Bishop Cyril wanted me to see him, and I kept offering school activities as excuses, he firmly reminded me that there was a bigger world out there beyond S. Thomas’.
Warden Lyn Illangakoon, the reluctant warden, who did not want to leave Gurutalawa for Mt. Lavinia, nevertheless brought a similar perspective to the office of Warden. Having served in education in the agrarian world, he had developed a love and deep appreciation for the beauty and history of the Island. This often made him urge the staff to take the boys beyond the walls of Mt Lavinia. ‘Take them’ he would say repeatedly, ‘to the historic sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Mihintale; ‘take them’ he would go on, ‘to Elephant Pass, World’s End, Adam’s Peak, and the hot springs, and take them into the line rooms of the tea-plucker and a paddy field, and get them to touch the rich red soil of the Peninsular’.
And take them, the staff did. It was around this time that teachers like Fr. Shirley Gunatilleke, Mr Leo de Silva, Mr Daniel Edirisinghe, Mr Victor and several others travelled to far off places with groups of boys;and it was also around this time that small groups of boys crossed the Gale Road to teach children in a governmentschool at Mt Laviniaand crossed the railway line to touch and treat the wounds of the fisher community at Ratmalana.
The point is clear. The former educational objective of preparing children for theworld that followed school life was not good enough. The realities of the wider world were to be included in the learning process, now. The class room was where the world hadto be incorporated and re-interpreted, regardless of the subject being taught.
To keep the world away from the life of the school is consequently a dis-service. It devalues both, the child and education, and makes the latter abstract.
3. The third educational optionthat we offer the country. This is the independent, non-profit making educational model that schools like S. Thomas’ have developed over the years. It is the pearl of great price that is to be sustained and offered as a viable third option to the current free education vs. profit making debate.
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Old 11-05-18, 12:27 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default cont. text of sermon-100 yrs at mt.

I was at a seminar recently at which the future of education in the current SAITM impasse was being discussed. When voiced, the seminar showed keen interest in the independent, fee levying, non- profit making, service oriented model, that schools like S. Thomas’offer.
While the free education given by the State is never to be taken for granted, the rigidity of curriculum that accompanies this provision has become an obstacle to educational experiment and exploration, so essential in this realm. And while international schools offer a much more imaginative curriculum in contrast, the movement of profits generated to those who run these enterprises, raises a different set of questions in a context where poverty and hardship still prevails and education determines a consequent quality of life.
The point here is that we are to continue to protect and nourish this valuable stance by using our independence to explore more creative methods of education and maintain the highest standards and values possible.Parallel with this we are to ensure that we never give in to mammon. Ours must always be a hand to mouth existence if we are to honour the TEC. Greed for and the accumulation of profits will inevitably undermine our credibility and disqualify us from a hard and well-earned place in this sacred task of the formation of children for an integrated life in God’s world. If we either use our independence to covet mammon or fail to use our independence in the task of continuing research and exploration we end up a hybrid of the lesser good and lose the right to continue.
In all this we are never to forget that the third option is to be offered with humility and generosity. Continuing self-scrutiny, the best antidote to arrogance, will equip us best to share our experiences and discoveries freely with all others engaged in the task of education. It is then that the dialogue we have always called for occurs. A light on a hill cannot be hidden. But it must be ready to recognise other lights on other hills.

1. Our reading from Philippians (4.4-8) reflects a Christian version of that great Buddhist teaching on mindfulness. When we think on these highest kingdom values such as honour, justice, purity and so on, through bare attention, we spread goodwilland the dawning of peacenot just for ourselves, but for all in God’s world.
Similarly the fruit of the TEC is not just for us or to make S. Thomas’ a great school, though this could well be an outcome. The fruit of the TEC is rather to produce great, integrated Thomians who will move on to transform society in all corners, drawing from all they have learnt and received in this great institution.
2. Finally, how exactly are we to renew the covenant? In the climax to the parable of the exemplary Samaritan where Jesus spells out the nature of the greatest covenant based on the tripod of love, He tells us to ‘go and do likewise’. The Biblical answer on how we keep a covenant is the least complicated. We are to live it. There must and will be setbacks; but we are to get on with it. This is precisely where Thomianintegrity for the next one hundred years will be tested.

D de C

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