86th Anniversary Dinner-2012
There is always a buzz about Seremban even as early as the beginning of August each year. While the nation gears up with flags and banners to welcome yet another Independence day, Paulians around the world are excitedly making plans to return to their spiritual home in Seremban. Like the Independence event, where the nation reflects on the past to give thanks for the achievements of the present, Paulians reflect on the time they spent at St. Paul’s Institution and how the institution and its denizens helped shape their character, and career. To many Paulians this Homecoming is a spiritual journey, a journey many undertake each year without fail for the renewal of friendships, revival of pleasant memories, reenactment of past experiences and the rejuvenation of the soul.It is a special event indeed. It must be for how else can anyone explain the ever growing number of Paulians returning “home” for this annual reunion gathering.
The year 2012 marks the 86th time the Old Paulian’s Association Annual Reunion is held in the 113 year history of the mighty St. Paul’s Institution. This year only 1230 Paulians managed to secure all available places in the largest hotel venue in Seremban, at the Royale Bintang Hotel. Hundreds of others were left ruing the missed opportunity due to their complacency in not making their reservations early enough.
As usual the annual Paulian reunion festival started weeks ahead with the Old Paulians’ Games carnival where the old boys and the young school boys pitted their skills in football, badminton, table tennis volleyball and hockey. The aim of the games apart from providing friendly competition is also to build bonds between senior and junior Paulians.
On the morning of the Reunion Dinner on 1st September 2012, the OPA Golf tournament was held. The event saw a record number of 64 participants teeing off. Due to late registration another 8 were turned away. Amidst the rivalry, the revelry of the reunion began early in the serene Staffield Golf Club in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan.
That evening Paulians began gathering at the Royale Bintang Hotel from as early as 5.45 pm. As planned the taps began to flow from 6.00 pm. The barrels of Tiger beer seemed to vanish in no time and the boys began to move into the ballroom where huge supplies of the golden liquid awaited them. The CEGGO of the Class of 1980 embarked on a mission to raise funds for the Bro. James Macken, FSC welfare fund by opening up a Wine station. All proceeds from the sale were duly donated to the fund. Wine was on sale throughout the evening.
The glamour of the evening was adorned by the presence of many distinguished Paulians and Lasallians including Rev. Bro Anthony Rogers, Rev. Bro. Felix Donohue, Rev. Bro. Andrew Loke, Tan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak, Tan Sri Augustine Ong, Dato’ Lee Tian Hock, Mr. Chia Kwoon Meng, Mr. Barney Lee Pak Lin, guests from other Lasallian and Mission school alumni, current and former teachers of SPI, and current and former head teachers of SPI.
The events of the dinner started as planned at 8.00 pm with the welcome speech by the OPA President, Mr. David Wee Toh Kiong. The most poignant moment of the evening was the minute of complete silence observed by all present at the President’s call to remember the Paulians who had passed away in the last year. These included Mr. M. Joseph a great Paulian Sportsman and his dear wife Agnes who herself was a teacher at St. Pauls for many years; Mr. Peter van Huizen, the 1956 world’s best hockey goalkeeper; Ms. Catherine Chong who served as teacher in SPI primary and secondary and our beloved Rev. Bro. James Macken who received his eternal reward in January in Ireland.
Soon after, dinner was served to the delight of the hungry guests and Paulians, and toasts were offered by the President, David Wee to HRH Yang Di Pertuan Besar, Negeri Sembilan, Mr. Ng Yee Tim to the Alma Mater and by Dr. Ganakumaran Subramaniam to all guests present that evening. This marked the beginning of an irrepressible cacophony of celebratory cheers,Yam Sengs and the trademark hum of Paulian chatter. In the midst of all this, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Capt. Adrian Abraham managed to get the Paulians to sing Paulian Victory March.
The evening also witnessed the presentation of the several awards.
With the awards concluded, the MC invited to stage the Class of 1987 who were celebrating their 25 year anniversary. Together with this class, everyone present sang the school rally with gusto. It is also notable here the other year groups who had come in large numbers and made the 86th OPA dinner their class reunions. Among them were the Classes of 1959, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1992, 1999, and 2002.
The OPA Dinner also witnessed the launch of the SPI – Lasallian School of Excellence Agenda. This project aims at re-engineering the SPI schools to reflect the great schools they once were. The graphic below presents how the Agenda seeks to establish a single-minded mission through the cooperation between the SPI schools, the Board of Governors, the Old Paulians’ Association, the Parent-Teacher Associations and the Paulian year groups.