Home > News > Community
Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 2:35:00 PM
Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 4:08:55 PM
by yu ji
Massive: The sporting ground of Chung Hua Middle School No. 1 was turned into a large, open-air dining area. The organisers took a chance with the weather and as a result, managed to save from spending RM300,000 to set up tents.
WHEN the principals called for attention, more than 10,000 rose to sing the school anthem. At that very moment, organisers of the Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools Grand Reunion Dinner probably knew their ambitions had turned into one grand achievement.
It was a gathering that spanned the generations. Former students and teachers of Chung Hua Middle Schools No 1, 3 and 4 sang the anthem with pride.
It was truly an emotional moment — the principals were in tears.
Organised by the alumni, ticket sales indicated attendance breached the target of 10,000 guests. An astonishing RM5.8mil had been raised. For close to a year, organisers had been meeting with increasing frequency as the mammoth “817” (referring to the Aug 17 date) event loomed closer.
Students worked with graduates to produce short documentaries for the reunion. Some were posted online to generate more interests. Those overseas supportive further by posting photos of themselves with “817” posters.
The local Chinese dailies and radio stations gave weekly updates.
Old students tracked down former teachers. Songs were written, costumes made, drums painted, stickers printed, memorabilia designed (all limited to 817 items), dances rehearsed and speeches drawn up. By late June, the ceremonial venue began to take shape.
All was made from scratch. The football field and running track of Chung Hua Middle School No. 1 was boarded up to accommodate 1,000 tables. The area was so large that the cost to set up tents was estimated at RM300,000.
The organisers had decided to take a big risk of having an open-air event to reduce cost.
Within a week before the reunion gala, the weather forecast predicted isolated rains in Kuching for that night, with thunderstorms expected in the morning.
Anticipation ran high. Some prayed for clear weather. The schools board of management chairman, Richard Wee, refrained from eating meat in the hope of getting divine intervention.
Meanwhile, the two designated parking areas were set up. Just like the annual Rainforest World Music Festival, participants would park their vehicles quite a distance away and board shuttle buses to the venue.
By 5pm, thousands were already aboard the buses — many were carrying umbrellas.
Then just before sunset, it drizzled for a gut-wrenching 20 minutes before it stopped.
For the rest of the evening, everyone stared in wonder at the clear skies above.
The big risk in having an open-air event had paid off.
Two stages were set up at the venue — a main one, which was affixed with five giant LED screens, to hold the musical performances and film presentations. Another was designed as a long runway, allowing performers to move among the crowd.
At 7pm, the grand dinner kicked off with a choral presentation, followed by a Chinese orchestra and drums.
Apart from the five on the main stage, six other LED screens lined around the venue grounds. High up from above sweeping and swooping everywhere was a remote controlled drone, delivering a live video feed to the screens.
At the far end was the basketball and badminton courts that had been transformed into a food preparation area.
The organisers gave high attention to detail throughout. All the dishes for the 1,000 tables delivered within minutes after each course, were served hot.
And on every table were pieces of paper printed with big, bold numbers. These were contact numbers of emergency services.
Most of the guests whom I knew there talked about the emergency telephone numbers with amazement. They were very impressed that the organisers had taken so much trouble to do just that.
It showed that many good things could be achieved when everybody moved as one. The Chinese middle schools may collectively be an independent establishment in Malaysia — without government funds and their Unified Examinations Certifi-cate remains unrecognised — but their survival has always depended on the community’s contribution.
At a time when everything seems to be politicised along racial lines, the dinner with its guests of 10,000 teachers, students and graduates, is a demonstration of people getting their priorities right.
If there is one attribute that the Chinese do not mind being associated with, it is the belief that the best form of long-term investment is in education.
Tags / Keywords:
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)