Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happenings At St Michael's Ipoh..

School reopens on 13 June 2016. As we embark on the second half of the school year, we remember many eventful happenings that took place at the alma mater, one which happened on March 22, 2016 when Brother Vincent Corkery passed on, a news that shocked the Lasallian and Michaelian fraternity.
Hundreds of students and teachers observed a minute's silence to remember and express gratitude to Vincent. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Hundreds of students and teachers observed a minute's silence to remember and express gratitude to Vincent. ― Picture by Farhan Najib (Malay Mail)
Malay Mail reports:

IPOH, March 24 — Teachers and students of St Michael’s Institution paid a special tribute yesterday to Brother Datuk Vincent Corkery who passed away at the age of 87 on Tuesday.
The remembrance ceremony was held at the school’s assembly ground where hundreds of students and their teachers observed a minute’s silence for Vincent who spent a large part of his life at the school.
Vincent, who was born in Cork County, Ireland, on November 4, 1928, was posted to St Michael’s Institution in 1958 where he remained until his death from pneumonia on Tuesday.
In paying tribute to Vincent, St Michael’s principal Chan Nyook Ying, 59, said he was “an inspirational icon to countless lives and careers”.
She said Vincent recognised the individual uniqueness of every student and encouraged weaker pupils and those coming from poor families to strive for excellence.
“He pushed competition and one-upmanship to the sidelines and truly understood the psyche of the adolescent who was entrusted to him ... his was the approach that is today known as ‘the last, the lost and the least’,” she said.
“Countless boys and girls were shaped by his loving kindness, deep wisdom and broad learning.”
As a religious person, she said Vincent, who retired as the school principal in 1988, lived a life of poverty, celibacy and obedience.
“As a teacher, his lessons were most interesting and reflected the great philosophical and ethical values which had been ingrained into his character from young.
“As a friend to many Brother Vincent was always soft-spoken, considerate and captivating.”
Chan said as a master of the English language, Vincent had great affinity for Shakespeare and poetry besides his deep knowledge on many other subjects such as politics, the Bible and languages such as French and Latin.
She said apart from his intellectual achievements, Vincent was an effective counsellor and guide and continued to be active even after his retirement.
He was particularly active in the La Salle Centre and in programmes for young people and was also involved in the Regional La Salle Education Council which was a movement and think-tank to consolidate and revitalise the La Salle schools, she added.
“It is going to be difficult to imagine him not being around and I am not sure how we will cope especially during the important school functions.
“He was a person who had inspired, motivated and taught us to strive to become the best of ourselves in all ways,” said Chan.
“Brother Vincent has carved his name on our hearts and not tombstones. We are truly blessed by his presence and how he touched our lives.”
The school’s head prefect, Derek Leong Wei Jian, 19, said he was introduced to Vincent about four years ago during a regional La Salle Camp.
“In him, I witnessed great humility and friendliness. He gave sound advice and always extended help to those in need of it,” he said.
“I will forever remember his advice to me: ‘No matter what struggles or obstacles you face, always get up, stand firm on your feet and move forward in life’. Those words have never fail to motivate me.”

Malay Mail BY JOHN BUNYAN

Rest In Peace Brother.
La Salle Brothers who turned up at the funeral at St Michael Church.
SMI’s Charity Premier ‘Frozen’ A Hit With The Audience. By James Gough


This years’ drama is from the Disney animated movie ‘Frozen’ and comes with all the essential ingredients for a successful play such as a fearless princess who inadvertently traps her own kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter.

The characters of the ‘evil’ Princess Elsa and romantic and dainty Princess Anna, charming and handsome Prince Hans and the peasant Kristoff with his sidekicks reindeer Sven and snowman Olaf with cute makeup and dressed in bold and sharp costumes with music to match made for an entertaining evening and could possibly be the school’s best production in recent years.

The audience from the children’s homes were particularly taken up with the show and readily sang along especially when the hit song ’Let It Go’ was played.

The charity premier is held every year where residents from charity homes are invited and the full play is performed for their entertainment.
The people behind the live music.
During the interval the guests had a meal where the children and seniors were seen relaxing in the company of the school staff.

Each year besides the main actors the production is supported by a huge team consisting of cast, musicians, technical crews and artists totaling eighty four in all.

The drama production each year helps to raise funds for the school’s development. The school has targeted RM100,000 this year.
James Gough with the cast of FROZEN. Thanks James for supporting St Michael's with your news coverage all these years.
The play this year is dedicated in honour of Datuk Brother Vincent Corkery the school’s last Brother Director who recently passed away.
Frozen will be held at the school hall from April 15 to 17 at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced at RM20 and RM50, while sponsorships are RM500 and above. For details, call 05-254 0418 during office hours.
PTA chairman Mr Joseph Michael Lee giving encouragement to the AVA team.

Tan Wei Shern authors the book, "For The Trumpet Is Sounding...The Legacy Lives On".  
http://www.ipohworld.org/2015/07/22/for-the-trumpet-is-sounding-the-legacy-lives-on/

Master Tan Wei Shern wrote a book about the St. Michael’s Institution school band or popularly known as the Michaelian Military Band (MMB) which includes history of the band and more. The book also includes an array of photos from various years, you might just find a picture of yourself in it. 

Those who wish to order a copy of the book kindly e-mail: mmbhistorybook2014@gmail.com

Teacher organises a forum in the class discussing topics of interest. Form Three students who are sitting for their PT3 are encouraged to also take part in debates, public speaking and poem recital to hone their thinking skills, express themselves more effectively and allow them to construct better arguments.   
A garden in the school, a school in the garden ...



Practising this at St Michael's Ipoh? Why not?

The Michaelian Choral Speakers practising hard for the district level competition.
The choral speakers with their adviser Puan Zeti Akhtar. pix by Peter Khiew
Principal Puan Chan giving some inspiring words to Michaelian debaters before leaving for the district level competition. Syabas! SMI is the district champions, state champions and 1st runners-up at the National-level debate competition in Johor. Kudos to their coach Mr Waran.
Brother Director Thomas Lavin and Mr Stuart Glascott of St Joseph's Institution International (Damansara campus) briefing SPM school leavers about an opportunity to study International Baccalaureate at SJI.


It gladdens our hearts to see SMI former teacher Master Koo Kim Kuang (with hat), who represented the country in cricket in the 60s, comes back weekly to coach our young players. 
Mr Koo Kim Kuang was SMI’s Sports Secretary from 1974 to 1992. He produced some of SMI’s best cricketers and led SMi to the pinnacle of cricket glory in the MSSM competitions. Under Mr Koo,cricket was more than a co-curricular activity.It became a passion of a lifetime for his acolytes --credit to Mr Louis Rozario Doss for the information
The Cheahs who visited the alma mater on 4 April 2016. It was a visit which brought back many happy memories for the entire family members. Killian Cheah (standing back row, in white) was instrumental in establishing contact with the school which eventually made it happened. 


Leading the group was of course, the patriarch Dr Cheah Hoong Hee, who was SMI head prefect in 1954-1955. Dr Cheah is the sixth son of twelve children. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday. He attended SMI from 1944 to 1956. He was head prefect 1954-1955.
Dr Cheah's son, Killian Cheah, who initiated the visit for his father, was equally thrilled and excited to touch base at SMI with his wife and children and a few of his siblings and relatives who are currently residing outside the country.
Killian studied in St Michael's Ipoh from 1972 to 1977. His brothers who studied here are his older brother Cheah Mun Kit Geoffrey (1971-1977)  and younger brother Cheah Choun Kit Patrick (1975-1977).
Their grandfather Cheah Ah Tong was a benefactor of SMI (a marble plaque with his name engraved is located near the school parlour).
Dr Cheah and his five older brothers, Cheah Hoong Ching (passed away)
Cheah Hoong Yean (passed), Cheah Hoong Tuck (passed), Cheah Hoong Onn (in Singapore and unable to travel, also is listed on a marble plaque somewhere at SMI) and Cheah Hoong Fatt (in Singapore and not travelling), all completed their secondary schooling at SMI under the watchful eye of the Lasallian brothers.
Family members who were SMI teachers - Cheah Hoong Onn, Mrs Cheah Hoong Onn (nee Tan Soo Eng Catherine) and Mrs Yan Poh Loke (nee Cheah Quai Ying).
We were honoured once again to welcome the Cheah family.

Politeknik Ungku Omar marine engineering students are being briefed on the history, tradition and ethos of St Michael's Institution Ipoh. Occasionally, we are visited by researchers, writers, undergraduates and students who want to know more about our school.    
An uprooted tree at the teachers carpark - no car was damaged as it happened at night. The cause could be termites.


The branches caused damage to the roof of the primary school walkway. Repair has since been carried out - pix by Peter Khiew
Students of St Michael's Ipoh today...Mid-year exam was carried out before the two-week holidays.We will continue to educate the younger generation, 


We Treasure Our Legacy. We Cherish Our Lasallian Tradition. We Uphold Our Virtues Of Discipline and Respect While Maintaining A High Academic Standard.

Till the next update.

Signing off,
Peter Khiew

Friday, June 10, 2016

SMI Welcomes Gill - Ipoh Echo by Peter Khiew


After a span of 37 years, Dr S.S. Gill returned to his alma mater, St Michael’s Institution Ipoh, as its guest-of-honour during the school’s 89th Sports Day on April 30. It was truly a walk down memory lane for the ophthalmologist as he reminisced about his fondest memories as a former student of the school.

“I am reminded of the many hours of playing soccer, hockey, training for the relay races and long jump. As a scout, we used to camp on school grounds and we had many hours of learning and playing. It was indeed very good times,” Dr Gill remarked, adding that he used to cycle to school from his home in Canning Garden.

He highlighted that school life is not just about studies and performing well in exams, it is also about finding your niche in extracurricular activities.

“I would like to encourage all parents and teachers to take an interest in your children’s extracurricular activities whether in sports, arts, music or drama. These activities will develop the student’s emotional quotient as they learn how to work as a team, manage their time wisely, handle failure and work under pressure,” he said to the audience of over 1500 consisting of teachers, parents, old boys and pupils.

Dr Gill, who holds the school very close to his heart, advised the students to bear the mark of a valiant Michaelian and stand up for what is right.

He also paid tribute to the late Dato’ Brother Vincent Corkery for his vast wisdom, love for education, kindness and encouragement.

“He was my principal and teacher in English Literature when I was in school. Brother Vincent is an icon of loving kindness and encouragement”, shared Dr Gill, adding that it was his honour to be able to treat the late Dato’ as a patient because it allowed him to find valued fellowship during the precious time together.

He was welcomed by school principal, Chan Nyook Ying and Chairman of SMI Parent-Teacher Association, Joseph Michael Lee.

Peter Khiew


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Remembering Brother Vincent Corkery

When Ms Rita Lai from the SMI Alumni Klang Valley e-mailed me in March 2014 regarding writing a tribute for a book dedicated to Brother Vincent Corkery, I quickly responded. For me it was an honour to write something about a person who had indeed contributed so much for education, character building, human development and for fellow Michaelians.
Below is the tribute I put forth for the book, "Life Ever Dawning".

To pen a few words to pay tribute to a good man is indeed an honour especially when the thoughts are to be crystallised into a beautiful book dedicated to this good man.
For a man who has dedicated his entire life for education - imparting values and good deeds, choosing to walk among school children and fellow teachers, with a ready smile and an enthusiastic spirit- this man is truly an extraordinaire and a rarity. I can think of no other person who has touched more lives in ways during his tenure as a Lasallian teacher and later on as the Brother Director of St Michael’s Institution, Ipoh.  
Brother Vincent Corkery, for me, is a friend and a brother. It is the dedication, his honesty and modesty that make him a true gentleman. When I read about the life and beautiful traits of St John Baptist de La Salle, I must admit that Brother Vincent possesses similar traits too.
He walks the life of our Founder and that makes of him a living icon relevant to the young and old. To make a decision to leave behind comfort, live a life in a foreign land in order to give the less fortunate a chance through education chiselled the Brother Vincent we see today.
He chose the difficult road so that the journey of millions of others might be a little easier, and for that fact alone, need not look far – Brother Vincent makes himself available to us.
Brother, as Michaelians tread and work toward being persons of solid moral character with finely developed moral conscience and being prudent and discerning men, we take a long bow thanking you for your encouragement, patience and wise words.

QUIS UT DEUS
    
Peter Khiew

Many old boys, had and still have, strong admiration and respect for this man. To commemorate the passing of Brother Vincent, the Alumni folks are organising a Memorial Mass, " Come Celebrate The Life of Brother Vincent" on 22 June 2016.  Do come for fellowship and at the same time, talk about the man who had impacted our lives.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A QUIETER SCHOOL: AN ENRICHED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT



It is common knowledge to anyone administering a school that lunchrooms, gymnasia, and schoolyards are noisy and, in some cases, actions have been taken to lower the decibel levels in these facilities. However, are administrators aware of the noises to which children are exposed within their classrooms - from the hallways, nearby classes, heating and ventilation systems, adjacent highways, overhead jets, holes cut in walls for electrical wiring or sprinklers, appliances, or over crowdedness? Even if aware, have they done enough to quiet these classrooms?
The aim of this article is to alert school administrators to the effects of noise on children's cognition, reading skills, and learning ability and to suggest ways they can participate in the growing worldwide effort to lessen the din - not only in the school but in children's homes and wherever else children our exposed to noises. Noises are not only hazardous to our children's mental abilities but to their overall well-being as well.

Noise and Hearing

That loud sounds may be harmful to hearing has been accepted for many years but do we realize the number of people suffering actual hearing loss from noise is huge (Bronzaft, 2002)? Of the over 28 million people suffering from hearing loss in the United States, it has been estimated that approximately ten million of these people suffered damage to their hearing because of exposure to noises, primarily in the occupational setting. However, with the introduction of headsets, video arcades, stereo systems and outdoor recreational vehicles, loud noises are not simply confined to the occupational environment. Many people, including children and adults, are now being exposed to very loud sounds in their homes and recreational settings, making them more vulnerable to potential hearing loss. Children attend movies that are too loud, play their video games with loud audio attachments, often walk around with headsets set at high levels, and in too many schools eat in lunchrooms and play in gymnasia that are far too loud. Even at very young ages, children are playing with toys that have been measured at levels exceeding 120 decibels.

Noises Don't Have to Be Loud

Noise has been frequently associated with loud sounds but sounds need not be loud to be disturbing, intrusive, and bothersome. Rather noise should be defined as unwanted, uncontrollable or unpredictable sounds that intrude upon our activities. Noisy neighbors can make it difficult for a child to read, do homework or fall asleep. Several children whispering in the classroom can make it especially difficult for the teacher to transmit information to those children who are listening. A passing elevated train or an overhead jet can bring classroom teaching to a halt.

Impact of Noises on Children's Mental Development

Thirty years ago, Cohen, Glass and Singer (1973) found that children who lived on the lower floors of an apartment complex, which exposed them to nearby traffic noise, had poorer reading scores than children living in the same complex but on higher floors. In their study conducted over twenty years ago, Wachs and Gruen (1982) found that noise in the home impaired a child's cognitive and language development. Noise in schools can also impede the learning process. Bronzaft and McCarthy (1975) examined the reading scores of children attending classes facing a noisy elevated train structure and compared their scores with children attending classes on the quiet side of the building. They found that by the 6th grade, children on the noisy side of the building were nearly a year behind the students on the quiet side. Children exposed to the noisy trains complained that the noise made it difficult for them to think and their teachers complained that they came home more exhausted after teaching in these noisy classrooms. Several years later, after noise-absorbing materials were installed by the Board of Education in the ceilings of the classes facing the tracks and the Transit Authority installed resilient-rubber pads on the adjacent tracks, lowering the noise levels in the classrooms significantly, the reading scores of the students on both sides of the building were examined and now both sets of children were now reading at the same level (Bronzaft, 1981). When something is done to lessen the noise in classrooms, students do better! Bronzaft (2002) provides a more extensive review of the studies that have found that noise interferes with learning.

By contrast, in interviews of older high academic achievers, all members of Phi Beta Kappa, Bronzaft (1996) found that they tended to be reared in homes that respected quiet. These academic achievers remembered that their parents provided them with quiet places to study, read, and think; that television and radios were not blasting in the background, as so often is the case today, when the family sat down for dinner; and that their parents did not generally discipline them by shouting or screaming but used soft, firm voices and disapproving looks. In homes where parents and children share quieter times, there are also more opportunities for parents and children to talk, e.g. at dinner time, children can discuss their work at school or ask for parental advice on numerous matters. One could conclude that the quiet in the households of these high academic achievers contributed to their academic success, as well as to the professional and personal success most of them attained in later life.

Quiet learning environments are a benefit to all students, but most important to students with a hearing disability. These students need a signal to noise ratio on the order of 20 decibels (the teacher must be 20 decibels louder than the background noise). Students in general need at least a 10 decibel signal to noise ration. By contrast, a survey of actual classroom conditions in schools indicated a Speech to Noise ratio range from +5 decibels to -7 decibels.

Despite Knowledge of Noise Impacts, Remedies Lag Behind

Despite the information provided by the many studies that have confirmed the adverse impact of noise on classroom learning (Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise, 2000), too many of our nation's children are still attending schools situated near noisy highways and elevated trains and within the paths of roaring overhead jets. Although there are funding programs to abate intrusive aircraft noises at schools, those parents and school administrators who are aware of such funds have to put up a good fight before these funds are received, if at all.

Additionally the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided that qualifying schools must lie within a determined noise contour. This stringent standard has disqualified schools from receiving funding even though they are still exposed to unseemly aircraft intrusions. In their recent study of aircraft noise impacts at several schools near International Newark Airport in New Jersey lying outside the FAA accepted noise contour, Chen and Charuk (2001) found: "Noise during aircraft fly-overs can impact school instructional areas even if the school in not within the DNL 65dBA contour line." Aircraft noise is very likely interfering with learning in these schools.

Many of the most disruptive noise sources are not external to the school, such as jets overhead, but internal. Heat pumps, air-conditioners, and air-handling systems are major classroom noise sources, sometimes located only feet from students. A host of classroom appliances may distract students and make hearing the teacher difficult, including computers, printers, and projectors. Finally, poor acoustical design unnecessarily creates poor learning environments. Open school plans, poor choices for walls, ceiling, and floor materials and inappropriate location of noisy equipment all lead to impoverished learning environments. Good acoustical design seeks to minimize noise while enhancing the sound transmission between the teacher and students.

Promoting a Quieter School Environment

Designing a Quieter School

Educators should be more actively involved in the design of school buildings and familiarize themselves with design features that emphasize quiet. Several resources are available: Classroom Acoustics I and II and "Classroom Design for Good Hearing" by Ewart A. Wetherill provide an excellent overview of good acoustical design and its importance. It is critical to realize that classrooms are either quiet or noisy by design. New standards just adopted by the American National Standards Institute provide important guidance for school administrators considering school construction or renovation.

Abating Noises from Outside the School

With so many schools located near noisy highways, railroads, and airports, principals need to become advocates for lessening the noises from these outside sources. For example, they should inquire as to whether their schools are entitled to city, state or federal funds for noise abatement if these schools are situated too close to a highway or airport. They should be aware of projects to widen highways or expand airports and inform the authorities of the potential impacts on their schools. Twenty years ago, when the principal of P. S. 98 in New York City learned that the Transit Authority was installing noise abatement materials in subway stations, he attended public hearings to urge the transit agency to consider installing abatement materials on the tracks adjacent to his school. He also garnered the support of parents and public officials in his undertaking. As a result, P.S. 98 was the test site for the installation of a new rail fastener to lessen noise on elevated train tracks.

Fostering Quiet in School

Not only should schools design for quiet, they should teach the value of quiet. The League for the Hard of Hearing's Stop the Noise program and their viewer-friendly website (www.lhh.org/noise) with educational materials that can be printed for distribution should be very helpful to teach children the positive effects of quiet in their lives and the hazards of noise. The children's book, Listen to the Raindrops, that I have written with illustrator Steven Parton to teach young children about the beauty of good sounds and the dangers of noise is highlighted on the League site. This book can serve as a teaching aid in the classroom and the school library.

So many of the noises that intrude upon us stem from a lack of respect for the rights of others to quiet. By teaching our children to respect others, they will come to understand that they cannot turn up their home stereos loudly or run through a school hallway shouting or speak loudly in a classroom. Should students lower their voices, then teachers may have less need to shout or use loud whistles and bullhorns to control their students. This does not mean that students can never raise their voices at school games as they root for the home team; there are indeed times when being somewhat louder is tolerable.

Principals and teachers should also examine ways that they can lessen the noise in the school. Teachers have often complained about the piercing sounds of fire drills and principals could investigate whether these sounds could be softened and still serve their primary goal to alert students to danger. Principals can indeed set the tone that a quieter classroom benefits both the teacher and the student.

A Final Word Parents, educators, and caring citizens must join together in abating the noises that are engulfing our children. Then all of us will reap the benefits of a quieter, saner and healthier environment.

By: ARLINE L. BRONZAFT, PH.D.