LOOKING dapper in white shirts complete with school ties just like how it was during their school days 50 years back, old boys from St Xavier’s Institution’s (SXI) Class of 1965/66/67 had a ball during their homecoming and reunion event.
The group of 35 wasted no time in catching up with each other.
Among them were former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and De La Salle Brothers (Malaysia) director and Lasallian East Asian District (Malaysia) sector head Rev Bro Anthony Rogers.
Nor Mohamed, who is now Khazanah Nasional deputy chairman, started his education in Assumption School, a feeder school for SXI located near his home in Bagan Dalam, Butterworth, before going to SXI from Standard Three until Upper Six in 1967.
“This event is very nostalgic. By any definition, 50 years (from 1965 to 2015) is a very long time.
“And when you meet friends from so long ago, it becomes very nostalgic,” he said.
“As we go down memory lane, we remember the big things and small things.
“There were halcyon days which bring much pleasure and there were also naughty days,” he quipped.
Nor Mohamed said his fondest memory of his schooling days in SXI was being able to read all the books in the school library, a privilege which was not available to him at Assumption School, which he described was a ‘rural’ and ‘attap’ school.
His close friend and former classmate who sat next to him in Form Six, former group chief editor of The Star, Datuk Wong Sulong, expressed gratitude for his teachers and the Lasallian Brothers, who dedicated their lives towards teaching and nurturing the students.
Also present at the event was Open University Malaysia lecturer Khoo Boo Eng, 67, who authored two books about Taoism. Their titles are A Simple Approach To Taoism — Of Gods and Deities and A Simple Approach To Taoism — Festivals, Worship And Rituals.
Khoo, whose books were selected to be exhibited at the London Books Exhibition and International Book Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2013, said he treasured the close-knit relationships he shared with his former classmates.
Another alumni, Fintan Ooi, 67, who studied in SXI from Standard Two up until Upper Six, said he had always kept in touch with his peers throughout the years, adding that he sometimes visited those who were in other parts of the world.
Ooi, a retired teacher with 31 years of experience, was also an SXI teacher.
He is now a committee member of the La Salle Learning Centre, where he started as a volunteer.
Rev Bro Anthony, who studied in SXI throughout his primary and secondary school years, said the teachings that the Brothers and teachers imparted had a made a big difference in his life.
“All my form teachers were Brothers and they inspired me to be one as well.
“We do many things together from playing football and basketball. These Brothers made me most happy.
“I then left halfway through Form Six and joined the St Joseph’s Novitiate for three years,” he said.
Organising chairman and former president of Malaysian Federation of La Sallian Associations John Loh, who was an SXI student from Standard One to Upper Six, said: “I really love the Brothers. I wanted to be a Lasallian Brother but because my parents practise the Taoist faith, I was not allowed.”
“The Brothers put in a lot of effort and dedication in ensuring that students were taught properly.
“Among them was Irish Brother Conleth, who taught me English when I was in Form Four and Form Five. He would give us extra classes after school hours to im-prove our command of English,” said Loh.
“Those days, there were very few tuition classes unlike how it is now. In addition, we could not afford tuition classes, so we relied a lot on the Brothers to teach us.
“Their dedication motivated us. They were also role models for the teachers in the school,” he added.
Earlier, Loh moderated a panel discussion between Wong, Nor Mohamed and ex-student, Prof Lee Hoong Phun from Monash University, Australia, on the topic of ‘SXI Preparing Students for the World’.
The event also saw a mock cheque presentation of RM60,000 which was collected by the alumni for three projects.
The projects include refurbishing the Venere - Learning Enhancement Environment, equipping overhead LCD projectors for 16 Form One and Form Two classes and upgrading the school archives.
The alumni, former and current teachers as well as students were also treated to a buffet lunch.
The SXI band performed during buffet lunch held at the Heah Joo Siang hall during the gathering on Tuesday.
SXI, which was founded in 1852, is the first Lasallian School established in Asia.