By Ivan Loh
DOING away with streaming according to academic ability and mixing together brilliant and weak students is probably the best thing Datuk Brother Vincent Corkery has done for SMK St Michael Ipoh.
“In the last 40 years, I think our students have performed admirably well, unlike at schools with a rigid streaming system,” the 83-year-old former Brother Director said.
Speaking to The Star as the school celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, Brother Vincent said it is not the best idea to separate the good students from the weaker ones.
“We integrate them so that they can help each other. Through this, we also promote greater loyalty among them. Those who are good at their studies can assist those that are weaker while those who excel in games can teach their fellow friends a
trick or two,” he said.
Hard at work: Brother Vincent working in his office at the La Salle Centre, Ipoh.
He added that it was also the school’s policy to provide its students with a holistic education, a system that remains a practice to this day.
The school, on the other hand, has changed much since the first day he started teaching there in 1958, Brother Vincent recalled.
“We had about 500 pupils at both the primary and secondary levels.
“We now have about 5,000 students combined,” he said, adding that he used to teach English, Literature and History to Form Six students.
The school’s ground, added Brother Vincent, had changed tremendously since its humble beginnings of a small Malay-style bungalow to the current several blocks of buildings.
“As the population grew, we had to find ways to accommodate our students and to make them feel comfortable,” he said, attributing the school’s infrastructure development to the Old Michaelians’ Association.
“They really contributed in a huge way, managing to find funds without government assistance to build the four-storey primary school block back in 2006. They also refurbished the roof and the chapel in the main building last year,” he said.
Brother Vincent, however, noted some less positive changes at the school.
“The grass on the school field is very green. It shows that it is under-utilised.
“When school is over, the students go back home to their computers and television programmes unlike back in the days when students stayed back till late evening to play games or do their revision,” he said.
With the school’s centennial celebrations kicking into full gear this year, Brother Vincent said he was proud to be a part of the school.
“It has been an amazing journey for the school to be a 100 years old.
I hope we can continue to excel in our academics and co-curricular activities and for our students to continue carrying with them the Michaelian Spirit to great heights.
“Let’s not forget our late Brother Ultan Paul Rosario who is a true icon and symbol of the school.
“He was my good friend, mentor and companion,” Brother Vincent said of the late Brother Director, whom with other La Salle Brothers had left strong, lasting impressions on the students and teachers.