Valedictory Address By the Principal Sr Marie Anne
O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Dear Parents, Teachers, Students, alumni and well wishers of the Presentation Convent family.
It was a year ago that I stood here and welcomed all of you to the inauguration of the centenary year of Church Park. Twelve months have rushed by chock-a-bloc full of special events and celebrations. Today is the beginning of another hundred years of service, of kindling the light of knowledge and learning in young minds.
At times our own light dims and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted and revived the flame within us. Today I feel a deep sense of thankfulness to God almighty for having carried this wonderful school safe and sound through these eventful hundred years into a new realm. How fitting it is that we are celebrating this centenary at a time when the Presentation Congregation is rejoicing all over the world for the 225th jubilee year of our beloved Foundress Nano Nagle
The words of Nano ring in my mind 'With the help of god we can do a great deal . Yes every step of the way He has lovingly guided us to do what is right. I am indebted to all those Presentation Sisters who have walked before us for we have only walked behind following their pioneering footsteps. Today, I have in my custody the lovely treasure that they bestowed on me for safe keeping --this school-- I have not belied (changed or altered in anyway) that trust. I have only taken it forward into the new millennium.
I am filled with awe at how things have taken shape over this past one year. The Almighty has been with us all, every step of the way as we planned and executed the different aspects of the centenary celebrations My heart swells with pride when I think that so many people have been instrumental in making this year long celebration a never to be forgotten and cherished one. Thank you dear Presentation sisters , PTA, Alumni, Parents, benefactors, teachers and students
We started the year long celebration with a Prayer service on the 9th September wherein we thanked the sacred heart of Jesus for the gift of Nano Nagle, the Congregation and the school. In 1909 the foundation of this wonderful edifice, Church Park Convent had been laid – just a tiny acorn that has now grown into a magnificent and beautiful banyan tree.
All of us are always on a quest to unravel the true meaning of education. Education is seen as the wings for the progress of the human race. Education helps the individual to attain intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional progress.
Presentation sisters are today looking at many other global issues like poverty, hunger, Fair trade, women's empowerment, global warming, oppression of the have nots and many more issues. We have now established ties with UNO projects in Justice and other concerns that will impact all people, all over the world.
The School's Centenary celebration was launched on September 30, 2008 with the motto "To serve with Love ---one pace beyond". The former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam unveiled the foundation stone for the centenary building and also released a special postal cover brought out for the occasion.
There were many other illustrious personalities who lent the right element of grace, elegance and sophistication to this solemn function. During that evening's program, we honoured many dignitaries, former Superiors and Principals and retired teachers. The other dignitaries were The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Dr. A.M. Chinnappa, SDB, The Union Minister of State for HRD Ms. D. Purandeswari, Ms. Rachel Chatterji, Principal Secretary to the A.P. Government, Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, Congress Spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member, Mr. N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of 'The Hindu', The Prince of Arcot and Ms. Mallika Sreenivasan, CEO Tafe were present.
Our regional superior Sr. Leela, Superior of Church Park community, Sister Rosemary, Sr. Sophie ,Sr Jose Mary, Sr.Cecilia, Sr. Prabha, Sr. Margret, Sr. Lisetta were also honoured on that day.
The entertainment that followed was tastefully done and well designed. A play 'The Sacred Journey' brought into focus the timeless vision of Nano Nagle and her relevance today. There was a touching documentary on the School, the Principal's messages and thoughts shared by the sisters. Irish and Scottish Dances by the students of the school, a torch drill by the young ones and the Centenary Song sung by the School Choir completed the evening. At this juncture I would like to especially thank my strong force of the PTA who have helped guided and supported me throughout my tenure as the Principal here.
A special Mass was conducted by Father Joe Mannath in October. The sanctity of the proceedings, the offerings, the dedications, the shadow play depicting the life of Nano, the devout hymns brought out the aspect of spirituality of being in communion with God, the whole of creation and thankfulness for the fruits of the spirit.
One of the highlights of the Centenary celebrations was the dance ensemble –Shangri la—choreographed by John Britto. It was a theme based dance performance on an utopian ideal of a perfect society and performed by 400 students from Standard I to XI. The three consecutive shows were held on 23rd 24th and 25th January at Kamaraj Arangam.
The dances were unique, dazzling and interspersed with Mime, highlighting various issues like global warming and the environment, child labour, terrorism, women's empowerment and other social issues. It had enthralling sequences, gorgeous costumes and special effects—with the help of a screen that enlarged the dances. Eminent dignitaries and cine stars who were special invitees, added colour and glamour to this function I would like to make a special mention of the walk-through exhibition that displayed over 200 photographs of the growth of the school over these 100 years
The school ground reverberated with the soul stirring numbers accompanied by the singer, Padmashree Dr. S.P. Balasubramanian on the 21st of February. This show was the talk of the city not only for the presence of the legendary and melodious singer, but also for presence of luminaries from the film industry.
The alumni have shown tremendous support and played a steadfast and encouraging role. The release of a stunning Coffee table book on the 10th of January at the Alumni meet by the ambassador of Ireland is the result of the dedicated and committed efforts of the alumni under the initiative of Ms Uma Narayanan. Many writers and alumni have worked relentlessly and persistently in delving and sifting through old records and manuscripts. A special congratulations to all the researchers and contributors of this book.
The show Kalasamarpanam staged had our beautiful and celebrated alumni performers Anita Ratnam, Sreelatha Vinod, coming together to pay a tribute to their alma mater through the dance form Ms. Enthralled the audience with her stunning renderings on the violin. Ms Vyjayanthimala presented another aspect of her talent by singing old numbers from yesteryear movies.
The country's first formula one racer, Narain Karthikeyan and actor Mr. Arjun flagged off the Alumni car rally on February 6th. The rally drew many professional and amateur enthusiasts. It was indeed a memorable event as I myself took part in it along with sister Josemary.
The Sports day, held was spectacular. The opening ceremony highlighted the 225th jubilee year of our beloved foundress Nano Nagle . We were transported into traditional Ireland with the Maypole dance, the festivities, songs and culture that was showcased by the students. It was a reminder of our roots and then the sprouting of wings that allowed us to fly to distant lands to fan into flames of the gift of God. The sports day ended with a breathtaking closing ceremony - An awe-inspiring photo montage display of about 300 girls based on the theme of "Empowering the Girl Child" was the backdrop. While the rhythmic dancers performed both contemporary and classical dances on the stage, the photo montage kept changing to the tunes, ultimately finishing off with the display of a gigantic school flag unfurled in the gallery and the girls dancing to their school song below it. This was indeed an imaginative and stupendous performance.
We had Interschool cultural programmes 'SWIRL' both at the Junior and Senior level. Many schools took part in the competitions. They rose gamely to new challenges and achieved a great deal through team work planning and execution. We also hosted inter- Presentation schools competitions. Our Nursery sports day and Annual day was a treat for the eyes with the young children enjoying the proceedings reflected in their happy and glowing faces. The investiture ceremonies this year had the Captains and the house mistress playing a decisive role in the proceedings. The mottos of the houses was highlighted and enacted to make it more meaningful.
It was not all fun and frolic. During the course of the year many serious issues were taken up as well.
Our academics did not suffer in spite of the hectic program of the centenary year. Our XII Std and X Std received centum results. The highest marks obtained were in the school was 1181/1200 in the XII and 489/500 in the Xth standard public exams.
We have done so much ….yet there is still more to go.
We cannot rest on our laurels for we have to go on… Every day, as changes both tumultuous and beneficial are taking place, I am filled with apprehension.
The questions that arise are:
All I can say is that everyday we are trying to meet the challenges of this century. The tremendous energy of the youth can never be questioned. All we need to do is to walk with them, talk with them and channelise this tremendous energy into positive and socially productive enterprises.
The youth have a vital role to play in addressing social issues, including eliminating evil social customs, contributing to India's economic development, participating in its political life, protecting the environment, preserving India's good age old traditions and living up to the high standards of India's ideals and values
Our almighty Father, the beginning and end of all things, we only stand here today because You called us to enter this path, rough and ready, smooth and landscaped, ugly and beautiful. You have guided us on our way. Thank you for the blessings and the opportunities. All the glory is offered back to you in Your name!
The year 1748......... the place Cove Lane, Cork, Ireland.......... The school........ a small mud cabin with some benches and stools......... the 'students....... poor children of Cork ranging from 7-15....... the teacher ¬ Nano Nagle, the Founder of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nano saw a vision beyond the poverty as she reached out in hope and love to the children "A beginning. God bless this beginning." A sacred trust was undertaken in response to a divine call."Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto Me."
From this tiny acorn, spread the great oak of the Presentation Foundations throughout Ireland and then the world, bringing education, hope and love to millions.
The missionary zeal that animated Nano and her first group of sisters and sustained them through frustrations, continued to be the blue-print for living, for the sisters, from her own time, to the present day. Her dying message is emblematic of her timeless legacy and they remain a guiding principle and a compelling vision of service for the sisters "Love one another as you have hither to done. Spend your lives for the poor."
The year 2008........ the place Chennai, India......... the School imposing buildings and vast grounds........... in Church Park, the students - from varying strategy of society.... their mentors - Sisters of the Presentation of th_ Blessed Virgin Mary [PBVM] and teachers, committed to their mission in Sacred Heart. The Sacred journey continues as Sacred Heart Mat. Hr. Sec. School proudly enters its centennial year 100 and going strong, under the banner of 'Green and Gold.'
The School's Centenary celebrations were launched on September 30, 2008 with the former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam unveiling the foundation stone for the centenary building. He also released a special po_tal cover brought out for the occasion.
The Principal, Sr. Marie Anne, addressed the distinguished gathering which included some of the School's prominent alumni, retired teachers and sisters of the Congregation. She spoke about the history of the Convent and the School. In 1842, four Sisters from Ireland accepted the invitation of Rev. Dr. Fennelly', of the Madras Mission, to come to India, to serve the orphans of the Irish soldiers who had been killed in service. When the Sisters arrived in Georgetown, they quickly settled to the enormous task at hand, braving cholera, the severity of the climate, clothing unsuitable for a tropical country and conquered the language to take care of both a school and an orphanage. In 1904 the Sisters from the Georgetown Community purchased a fine property in the heart of Chennai, with extensive grounds and large shady trees called Church Park. On 8th September 1909, the foundation stone for a new convent and school building was laid_ Initially, the school aimed at educating privileged girls and boys to be part of a genteel society. However, the birth of a new social consciousness led to the acceptance of children from varied economic backgrounds. The Sacred Heart Tamil Medium School started in 1980 as a section of the Matriculation School, now has 600 students. According to Sr. Marie Anne, "A hundred years has gone and we find ourselves in a new millennium - an age of Nano technology. At Sacred Heart, our very own Nano Nagle remains in close communion with us, guiding our steps in the path of truth. We want our students to be brave and fight the ills in our society as Nano Nagle did in the eighteenth centenary, in Ireland.l
The alumni which include Ministers, Members of Parliament, Princes, actors, activists, dancers, doctors, writers - are all in some way fulfilling Nano Nagle's vision - fighting for justice against all odds.
The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Dr. A.M. Chinnappa, SDB made an impassioned appeal to the people 9f India, to stand up and speak out against the atrocities on Christians in Orissa and elsewhere.
Well-known alumni including several politicians joined the Archbishop in condemning the violence and pointing to the school itself as a bastion of Christian education and secular values. "For me, the first foundation of secularism was laid in this convent school and reminisced Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, Congress Spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member. Ms. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi added her memories of the Principal reading from the Bible, the Upanishads and the Quaran during the school assemblies. The Union Minister of State for HRD Ms. D. Purandeswari stressed the need to do away with caste, community and stand for secularism as she was taught in this school. Ms. Rachel Chatterji, Principal Secretary to the A.P. Government said the school had taught her to identify with the powerless. According to Mrs. N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of 'The Hindu', secularism is the oxygen without which India and India's civilization cannot possibly survive in the way we want it to. The Prince of Arcot urged the political leaders on the dais to speak up in Parliament and the Assembly and condemn all atrocities committed in the name of religion.
The evening programme included honouring the dignitaries, former Superiors and Principals and retired teachers. A play 'The Sacred Journey' brought into focus the timeless vision of Nano Nagle and her relevance today. There was a touching documentary on the School, the Principals, messages and thoughts shared by the sisters. Dances by the students of the school, a torch drill and the Centenary Song sung by the School Choir completed the evening. All those who had gathered there left with fond memories of the past, a re-dedication to the role one has to play in the present, a faith in the bright and glorious future of the school, in the field of education and service......... and a deep sense of gratitude to God, the Almighty for His continued blessings.
In the words of the Centenary Song ¬"Underneath the banner of green and gold the School we hold so dear Sacred Heart you taught us how to serve With love these hundred years.
So now we pray God keep you safe and strong We'll sing with thanks and love To Sacred Heart, our song."
To serve with love................. one pace beyond
CHENNAI: Have you imagined how the world will be after 50 years? Traffic jams in space, robots for teaching Mathematics, smart card replacing house keys... let your imagination take wings as hundreds of students, alumni, teachers and the non-teaching staff of Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Church Park here did over the last few weeks.
As a finale to its centenary year celebrations, the school has designed a time capsule. On Friday, with much fanfare, all the letters, photographs and drawings collected from different people associated with the institution were sealed in the capsule which was placed in an enclosure, in the new centenary block of the school. This would be opened after 50 years.
The letters are imaginative and futuristic. Students, for example, have envisaged a futuristic school. "We have written that teachers should be replaced with robots, excursions should be to the Moon and other planets, and aircraft should come and pick students from school," says Delshad Shroff, student of class XII.
The role technology would play in the future was mentioned in detail by many. Some even wrote on the superstars of the 20th century, the hit songs of today and students of one class have left their fingerprints. Each of these jottings has the name and other particulars of the writer. Sister Marie Anne, Principal, Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School, said "We made it a point that every one got an opportunity, including the non-teaching staff, some of whom have also dropped photographs in the capsule."
Anu Alagappan, general secretary of the PTA, says there are two kinds of time capsules, and this is an intentional one done with a purpose where it should not degrade. "We also want to register it with the International Time Capsule Society," she says.