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Monday August 10, 2009

School reunion celebrated with a big bang

HUGS, smiles, tears, joyous exclamations, information exchanges and clicking cameras were aplenty at the biggest Bukit Bintang Girls’ School (BBGS) reunion that also marked the launch of the Elena Cooke Education Fund.

The event, organised by the BBGS Old Girls’ Association, was held at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, where the premier school once stood.

The Elena Cooke Education Fund, established under the auspices of the BBGS Old Girls’ Association, is named in honour of Elena Maud Cooke, who was BBGS headmistress from 1958 to 1977.

The fund was set up with the aim of meeting the educational needs of poor children, with priority to children and kin of ex-students of BBGS and SMK Seri Bintang Utara, with no preference for race or religion.

More than just a headmistress: Cooke (second from left) being warmly greeted by former students and teachers at the reunion. With her are Moey (left) and Phang (right).

BBGS was founded over a hundred years ago for the education of women in the country, and especially those who could not afford it.

The fund was initiated based on the same ethos of providing education for those who cannot afford to do so.

It is named after Cooke as a tribute to the last of the pioneering headmistresses, who embodies all the values and spirit of BBGS and all the headmistresses before.

She made a lasting impression as a teacher, headmistress, mentor, adviser and role model to the teachers and all BBGS girls during her tenure and even after she retired.

Good times: (From left) Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and CEO Datin Linda Ngiam catching up with her former classmates Rosemarie Peng, Cheah Yoke Kit, Teh Siew Yong and Joo Teh from the Class of ’72.

The reunion was attended by the guest- of-honour Cooke, along with former students, teachers and school staff members.

Those present at the launch were treated to a choir performance of their school song, a choral-speaking presentation in tribute of the school’s achievements in that field, and a showcase entitled Timeless Traditions that featured the early pioneers of BBGS.

Former headmistress Moey Yoke Lai gave a touching speech about what BBGS had implanted in their hearts.

“BBGS taught us to hold high all that is noble, pure, good and kind – the cardinals of love and truth.

“The BBGS motto states Nisi Dominus Frustra – Without God, All is in Vain. I believe that with God, all is possible and I’m sure the launch of the fund will see great success.”

She spoke of what Cooke had imparted to every one, and her belief that every one is equal and has something intrinsic to offer to society.

“Through the fund, I hope that we can give something back to society, and see more children receive access to education,” Moey said.

She revealed that the elders of the Jalan Imbi Chapel, the church that was responsible for building BBGS, would be contributing RM10,000 to the fund.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur also donated RM10,000, while Shelter Home became the first beneficiary of the fund when it received RM10,000.

The event also marked the first time that the alumni were gathering at the location where their alma mater used to stand, following the closure of the school in 2001 and its subsequent relocation to Cheras as SMK Seri Bintang Utara.

Event emcee Norina Yahya, who graduated from BBGS in 1980, had the crowd walking down memory lane as she regaled them with anecdotes of activities during their school days and values they had learnt.

“There was a certain team spirit and friendly competition among the girls as we worked to contribute points to our respective houses that were named after five headmistresses – Cooke, Prouse, Shirtliff, Green and Maclay.

“The school’s spirit, values and traditions still live on in all of us. It was what we learnt and was instilled in us that made us rounded individuals,” said the law graduate who has dabbled in the arts and media industries.

Among the notable BBGS graduates are celebrity Datuk Yasmin Yusuff, ntv7 CEO Suridah Jalaluddin, Cilla Model Agency founder Cilla Foong, Pulitzer prize winner Fong Foong Mei, ntv7 newscaster Ras Adiba Radzi, TV3 newscaster Praevitriana Yuliaratnam, singer/songwriter Juwita Suwito, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia English professor Prof Dr Lee Su Kim, RAPR Mileage Communication managing director Datuk Nancy Yeoh, and Helping Angels founder Poesy Liang.

Proceeds from limited edition souvenirs that were sold at the event went to the fund.

The BBGS alumni will also be organising various events and activities to raise RM500,000 for the fund within the next two or three years.

For more information on the BBGS Old Girls’ Association, visit back2bbgs.blogspot.com or call 017-871 9357.

Related Stories:
A walk down memory lane

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