Celebrating JB Convent's 90th year

Almost 1,000 students and alumni of SMK IJ Convent Johor Baru recently gathered in Johor Baru for the grand celebration of the school’s 90th anniversary.

Mrs Antoinette Olivero [Left] presenting
the contribution to principal, Ng Lee Wan
Earlier this year, the anniversary celebrations kicked off with a school-level celebration while this recent event was held with past and present pupils who came from near and far for a reunion over a grand dinner banquet.

At the event, the President of the Convent Association of Past Pupils, Mrs Antoinette Olivero presented a mock cheque for RM25,000 to SMK IJ Convent JB principal, Ng Lee Wan, as the association’s contribution for the construction of a covered walkway for the students.

Established in 1925 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 has produced countless successful professionals who are contributing positively to society.

“The school’s most recent achievement was an Overall Average Grade of 1.16 as the top school in Johor and the top day school nationwide for SPM 2014,” said Ng.

An artist's impression of the early JB Convent that
was housed in two rented shophouses at Jalan Ibrahim
In Johor the promotion of English education under the administration of the British General Advisors was supported by Catholic missionaries who were particularly active in establishing schools for girls.

English education for girls became available for girls in JB when three Infant Jesus sisters and two teachers – Ethel Filders and Winifred Allen – founded the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus as a co-educational school with pre-school and primary classes in 1925.

The sculpture of Virgin Mary, presented by the late Sultan
Ibrahim, still holds a place of pride in the school's facade
The early Convent JB was housed in two rented shophouses at Jalan Ibrahim and when news about the impressive quality of education caught the attention of then Johor Sultan, the late Sultan Ibrahim and his consort, Sultanah Rogayah, they presented the sisters with a piece of land at Jalan Yahya Awal to build a school.

In 1927 when the Convent JB was opened at its current site as the first all-girls school in JB, the boys continued their education in Bukit Zaharah School.

Some notable Johor personalities in the school’s co-ed alumni were the Kuok brothers, Philip and Robert, as well as Tun Hussein Onn.

Singing the birthday song to commemorate
the school's 90th anniversary
Sultan Ibrahim also presented a gift of the sculpture of Virgin Mary to the school and it still holds a place of pride in the school’s façade today.

The 90th anniversary celebration was graced by Bishop Sebastian Francis and Sister Luke Morales as representatives of the pioneer missionaries who established the school as well as former teachers and principals.

"In the past nine decades, Convent JB has educated, moulded and mentored young girls into successful and confident women of substance,” said Bishop Sebastian who congratulated the alumni on keeping their tradition of sending their daughters and grand-daughters to be educated in the JB Convent.

A section of the guests - students past and present - singing the school song at the 90th anniversary celebration in JB

"The first principle of the Rukun Negara or National Principles is, “Belief in God” and we wish to thank God for blessing us with 90 years of IJ Convent JB,” said Sister Luke who encouraged the alumni and present pupils to trust in God and continue to live out the school motto – Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty.

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

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