Window into school’s rich tradition

Penang OXA committee members, Khoo (standing fourth from left), Brother Blaikie (standing fifth from left) and Tan (in blue) with the RM120,000 donation for the heritage centre. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

COME April 12 next year, former St Xavier’s Institution (SXI) students can learn more about the history of their school with the opening of the SXI Heritage Centre in Penang.

Its board of governors chairman Victor Tan said the opening date of the centre would coincide with the arrival of the three De La Salle Brothers in Penang, who sailed from Singapore on a boat named La Julie in 1852.

“The centre, which has come to fruition after many years of planning, was set up at a cost of RM500,000.

“The sum came from fundraising efforts and donations from old boys.

“The latest donation of RM120,000 came from Penang Old Xaverians’ Association (OXA).

“Its president Datuk Khoo Khay Seang presented a cheque to brother director Brother Jason Blaikie,” Tan said after a simple handover ceremony at the school in Farquhar Street.

Tan has received numerous donation pledges for the centre but the school is always looking for more donations for its upkeep.

Those who want to help can call him at 019-480 6556.

Brother Blaikie later presented a medallion bearing the number 24 — which represents the year 1924 when OXA was founded — to Khoo.

Also present at the ceremony were SXI Heritage Centre board chairman Ooi Gim Ewe, school principal Goh Hong Peng and OXA committee members.

Ooi has big plans for the centre, which will have restored artefacts from the school such as chalices, desks, tables, statues, piano, organ and many others dating back to 1852.

“Also to be displayed are daily annals of the Brothers from 1852 to 1887, which recorded the school’s events.

“Visitors will be able to find out about events that took place at the school all those years ago.

“A marble plaque recovered at the bombed SXI building after World War II, bearing the names of donors in hand-beaten lead lettering during the Victorian era, will also be placed at the centre.

“Another highlight is the list of 35,000 names of Xaverians, which we have compiled from school leaving certificates since 1887. This will be updated every five years,” he said.

Ooi said the plan was to open the heritage centre to visitors on weekends.

However, during the yearly George Town Festival (GTF), it will be opened daily with tours to be conducted by students.

“Admission will be free as we want the public to know more about the historic school, which is also the oldest Lasallian school in South-East Asia.

“We will also have a hall of fame for 300 distinguished Xaverians from throughout the years.

“They include royalty, prominent businessmen, politicians and even a Nobel Prize nominee,” he said.

To this day, SXI maintains its association as part of the network of Lasallian schools throughout Asia.

Lasallian schools in South-East Asia include St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur, St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh, St Francis’ Institution Melaka, St George’s Institution in Taiping and St Joseph’s Institution in Singapore.

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