Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Quick Walk Around St Michael's

It is always a joy taking a walk around the school. There are always so much to see and appreciate. Schools would normally go quiet during the holidays but it is not the case for St Michael's. Scouts are getting ready for their induction, constructing mangrove structures to impress the Form One boys next year. 
This they have done year after year for the past 40 years. 
The Michaelian Chinese Orchestra boys, of course, are not relaxing and let the scouts work. They themselves have something up their sleeve, also in preparation for next year. Coupled with those who turn up almost daily with their parents to purchase books and necessities, SMI runs almost like any other days, busy as ever.
One has to look around the school and its details to really know about the alma mater. Each item has a story and stories do enrich our lives. Let us start with our school.
That was how we began. We humbly started educating our boys at this place. 
On 4 December 1912, at a humble wooden bungalow in Kampung Pisang, we received our first batch of 37 pupils. The location of our school was not far away though, just in-front of the current main building. The foundation stone of the current building was only laid on June 17, 1922 by Major CWC Parr, who was then the British Resident of Perak. Father JB Coppin blessed the finished building on 15 May 1923, in conjunction with the Feast Day of St. John Baptist De La Salle. Electricity was installed the following month. The school was completed in stages over a period of some 30 years.

St Michael's remarkable facade and outstanding architectural design
The Grilles.. there is a story behind the grilles you see on the first and second floor.
I referred to Brother Vincent about the amazing story behind the grilles and below is his account. For your information, Brother Vincent was the Brother Director of SMI for two terms - 1972 to 1975 and 1986 to 1988.

"The Sixth Form Block [Bangunan Br U Paul] was built in 1968. Mr Koon Yew Yin, who gave his services free, was our construction engineer and as the ground was formerly the bed of the Kinta River, he decided that piling was unnecessary.
The new building was attached to the old SMI building to facilitate movement from the new to the old. On completion, the building took some time to stabilise which appeared to put a strain on the old building.
Serious cracks appeared on the ceiling in all three floors affected the arches in front and the back of the building. This was at the point where the 1938 extension was joined to the original building. The architect suggested we brick up the affected arches as the masonry was in danger of falling.  As this would affect the façade, we opted instead for strong metal grills.  For design we suggested a motif traditionally linked to St Michael found along the SMI façade. On completion I was shocked as the design was turned to one side, but since it seemed to add strength to the design, it was accepted.
On the ground floor in front the grill was a major obstruction to the movement of classes, so it was decided later to remove the design and maintain the strong metal outline.
After more than 40 years the grilles are still effective and do not interfere with the SMI façade." 
This board is located infront of the Michaelian Heritage Gallery. It details the vision and mission of SMI.
Old audio cassettes at the Michaelian Heritage Gallery
The humble cassette tape, beloved of 80s' music lovers, may now be defunct—but it's hardly surprising given that the once-revolutionary medium turns 50 today. The natural descendant of the 8-track—which used similar magnetic tape but housed it in a much bigger, bulkier frame—the audio cassette was the brainchild of engineers at Philips. Its precise birthday is open to some debate, but Philips is insistent that the format was officially launched at its Amsterdam HQ on September 13th, 1963. Containing a length of audio tape 3.15 millimeters wide that ran at 1-7/8 inches per second, it was originally designed to replace reel-to-reel tape for dictation—but became far more popular than that.
While the tape is now an object that would confuse teenagers worldwide—superseded initially by CDs and all manner of new technologies since—for many of us it's both an iconic object and a source of misty-eyed nostalgia.
The Audio Cassette Is 50 Years Old Today
Remember how your cassette player used to chew tapes up with seemingly no warning? How they slowly deteriorated in quality when you listened to them over and over? The way you had to time songs in order to make them fit on your mix tape? Or that horrible noise they used to make on rewinding? Ah, those were the days. Long live the cassette tape.

At the badminton court ...numerous activities are carried out here. Notice something unusual?
A Form Three boy seems to be enjoying the sun light under the watchful eye of his friend. At St Michael's, everything is beautiful.
It was said that this could be the entrance to the underground tunnel, linking St Michael's to either the St Michael Church or the Main Convent. Not easy to break in though as it is the world famous Chubb door.
Those years ... we remember our teachers took us to the library or to a room for a radio listening session. All of us would stay very quiet and waited for the teacher to tune in to the right frequency. The session was a much anticipated one as we could learn something out of the classroom. Yes, those were the days. 
At the La Salle Centre, the National Lasallian Youth Convention was held for students from La Salle schools throughout Malaysia. A total of some 80 attended the convention which started from 3 to 8 December 2013.
There is still plenty too explore and appreciate at St Michael's. I have been here for more than a decade and things are getting more exciting and vibrant each day.

Oh yes, do write to me if you have anything to share about your formative years at St Michael's. Best wishes from us at SMI. My e-mail: or Twitter @peterkhiew

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