PETALING JAYA — It was an evening of enthusiastic chatter, occasional squeals and robust laughter as more than 300 Assuntarian alumni, former and current teachers, and spouses gathered to celebrate the school’s 58th anniversary.
Held at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Puchong, the evening’s guest-of-honour was the school’s founding principal Datin Paduka Enda Ryan.
Among those present were students from the classes of 1964 to 2010, with the class of 1988 boasting the biggest turnout of about 40 people.
Former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz was spotted catching up with 20 friends from her class of 1964.
“Assunta gave me a great education and Enda was awesome,” said Zeti, who now spends time with her grandchildren.
LP Lim (Lim Sew Kwe), 68, served as principal from 1999 to 2003. Asked if it was challenging to following in the bubbly nun’s footsteps, she said “it was a tall order”.
“But since I had been a Geography and English Language teacher under Sister, I picked up many points including to always appreciate my staff and to err on the kind side.”
Upper secondary History and Bahasa Malaysia teacher Aishah Rani, 71, said it was her first alumni dinner and she was looking forward to catching up with former colleagues, students and Ryan.
Jacqueline Klassen from the class of 1978 said she attended school reunions regularly and kept in touch with former schoolmate via social media.
“It’s nice to reminisce about the good old days,” she said.
The hall burst into cheers when Ryan made her entrance before singing the Negaraku.
From the class of 1992, Rachael Philip and Christina Alphonsa said it was their first alumni gathering and they were thrilled.
“Singing Negaraku made me feel like we were back in school,” said Philip.
During her opening speech, Irish-born Ryan read out names of teachers and parents of students who had recently passed on before observing a moment of silence.
The singing nun, as she was fondly called, went on to perform a song she composed for the 50th alumni dinner with an updated list of teachers’ names.
One of the evening’s highlights was an appeal to raise RM75,000 needed to purchase 30 sets of overhead LCD projectors for all the classrooms. This is to provide a more interactive style of teaching especially for students who learn differently.
Pat Lu and her class of 1978 starting the ball rolling by collecting RM2,500 (the price of one LCD set) and by the end of the evening, RM10,642 was raised.
To contribute RM10 (or more), sign-in with your Facebook account or visit www.100percentproject.org/en/smkassuntalcdprojectors.
Organising committee head Deborah Nonis, in her welcome speech, thanked her committee and the guests for attending.
“It is great we have an alumni connecting generations of Assuntarians. Any time someone needs help or advice, a phone call or now days, a post on our social media sites brings a flood of information, connections and links.
“As Assunta gets older and more generations are produced, I hope the alumni will remain relevant to younger Assuntarians who come out to serve as loyal citizens of Malaysia and the world.”
Singapore-based Nonis said, even as moody teenagers, past students had deep-rooted loyalty to Ryan and her merry band of teachers. She hoped a similar allegiance would foster among new principals, teachers and students to keep the Assunta spirit alive.
Former teacher Veronica Narayanan retired in 2005 after serving the school for 27 years.
Having taught English Literature, English Language and General Paper, she is currently writing English Literature guides for secondary school.
“While Enda is a magnetic pull to be here tonight, I also have my ties. I keep in touch with students and teachers via Facebook and it’s great to catch up.”
Chew Mei Ling, class of 1987, drove all the way from Singapore to attend the gathering.
“I had a health scare from over working and my best friend was diagnosed with a critical illness earlier this year. This made me realise the importance of making time to relax and meeting with loved ones,” she said.
Former assistant principal Annie George, 85, said she always attended the gatherings “to see old teachers and students”.
After three rounds of raffle draws, each class took group pictures with Ryan, before she sang the school song to end the evening.