JB Convent celebrates 90 years

Facade of the JB Convent with the iconic statue of Virgin
Mary, a gift from Sultan Ibrahim (1895 - 1959)
In the 90 years since it was founded the Johor Baru Convent has many reasons to be proud.  Established with a tradition for excellence, the school has earned a prestigious reputation as a High-Performance School for achievements in education and co-curricular activities and produced countless successful professionals whose skills and talents are contributing positively to society.  The school’s most recent achievement was an Overall Average Grade of 1.16 to emerge the top school in Johor and the top day school nationwide for SPM 2014.

Founded in 1925 by three nuns and two teachers – Ethel Filders and Winifred Allen – the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus started in two rented shophouses along Jalan Ibrahim for both boys and girls in pre-school and primary classes.  News about the impressive quality of education in the early JB Convent caught the attention of then Johor Sultan, the late Sultan Ibrahim and his consort, Sultanah Rogayah, and they presented the nuns with a piece of land at Jalan Yahya Awal to build a school.  Construction of the school was completed in 1925 and the Sultan’s grandchildren were among the students who enrolled in the JB Convent when it was opened as the first all-girls school in 1927.

A cake-cutting ceremony to commemorate the school's
90th anniversary; The school choir is in the background
To commemorate the school’s 90th anniversary, a school celebration in the form of a musical show was recently held in the theme, “90 Years A Growing.”  Besides members of the public, parents, teachers and students, past and present, it was also attended by representatives from the school’s Parents Teachers Association, School Board of Directors, Alumni Association and Sister Luke Morales, who represented the founding nuns of the JB Convent.

The presentation showcased the students’ many talents in singing and dancing not only in a range of cultural dances and playing traditional musical instruments but also in modern dances like K-pop and hip hop complete with explosive moves.  In the second segment of the show their award-winning choir, which has taken part in international events in Vienna and Hong Kong, presented a medley of songs.  In the 3-hour show, produced by students and teachers under the guidance of teacher Geetha Parmesuren Nair, students proved that they not only excelled academically but also knew how to enjoy and express themselves in performing arts.

A poem, Down Memory Lane, written and performed by
fifth-formers, [Left to Right] Leia Lee Carmen, Mitchel
Ann Jayarajan and Sharena Natasha Nor Hisham
The centerpiece of the show was a meaningful and moving poem entitled, Down Memory Lane, written and performed by fifth-formers, Leia Lee Carmen, Mitchel Ann Jayarajan and Sharena Natasha Nor Hisham.  A great deal of research and effort went into the preparation and presentation of the poem in an expressive, choral-speaking manner as they recounted JB Convent’s proud history and legacy that moved many to tears.  “You can take a girl out of the Convent but you can’t take the Convent out of the girl,” was a sentiment they expressed to describe students who have left the school but do not leave its spirit.

“Students from JB Convent are living, loving, giving and serving in wider society,” said Sister Luke Morales as she commended students, past and present, for living out the school motto – Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty – which is being upheld in 113 countries where Convent schools are established.  “The Convent has a tradition in the total development of a person because the heart of education is the education of the heart,” she added.

A signboard in front of the JB Convent at Jalan Yahya Awal
In the past nine decades, the JB Convent has educated, moulded and mentored young girls into fine young ladies who have become successful and confident women today.  Over the years many students have also established a tradition of sending their children and grandchildren for a JB Convent education.  In some families, up to five generations were educated in the JB Convent.  

This proud tradition was illustrated in the lyrics of a song entitled, “Pass It On,” as Sister Luke Morales lit a candle and passed the light on to the school principal who passed it on to the representatives from the School Board of Directors, Alumni Association and Parents Teachers Association.

More events are lined up for the school’s anniversary celebration including the Convent IJ Johor Baru 90th Anniversary Dinner where the alumni will have a grand reunion with 90 tables booked at the Grand Straits Garden Restaurant on Aug 22.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 26 April 2015

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