Rallying to help beloved alma mater

OFTEN, upon completion of their studies, most students are unlikely to return to their schools.

However, some schools remain close to the hearts of their former students, who continue supporting their alma mater for decades.

For Chong Fee Haa, 78, her former school in Kuala Lumpur, then known as Pudu English Secondary School, will always be dear to her.

“I never actually ‘left’ school as I am still in touch with two of my teachers who are still around as well as my friends and other old girls of the school,” said the retired psychologist.

Chong, who was the school’s head girl in 1961, said the school’s strength was its teachers who gave their best to the students and imparted values.

“The school influenced our worldview as well as the decisions we made later in our lives,” said the mother-of-four.

She said it was the values that she learnt in school which saw her take up a counselling job with the Malaysian Association for the Blind upon her return after completing her education at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Just like Chong, senior civil servant Datuk Nor’azura Mohamed Zohdi, 52, said the school’s teachers were its main asset during her time as well.

“They moulded us and shaped the way we thought.

“In my case, one of the teachers, Mrs Irene Teoh, encouraged me to read law,” said Nor’azura who is currently with the Prime Minister’s Department.

She was previously with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Finance Ministry and has also served as the Kedah state legal adviser.

Nor’azura said that as a school prefect, she was close to Teoh, who was then the school’s senior assistant and in charge of the prefectorial board.

The school was renamed SMK (P) Pudu, in the early 1980s after it was elevated to a Grade A school.

Nor’azura, who left school in 1987, recalled how Teoh gave seven of the prefects, including her, RM50 each and told them to enjoy themselves before preparing for the SPM.

“We of course splurged on fast food and I will never forget Mrs Teoh’s kind gesture,” she added.

Chong and Nor’azura are among the school’s many old girls who are hoping SMK (P) Pudu will be able to raise sufficient funds to complete a four-storey building so that the school can go single stream.

Pudu English Secondary School Old Girls Association (Pesoga) adviser Suzan Kuah said the new building would provide more space to organise extra classes, training and curricular activities for the students in the afternoons after school hours.

She said the renovations could not be completed due to lack of funds and hoped corporate donors would help.

“We have about 20% more work to complete,” said Kuah, adding that a fundraising dinner would be held in September.

The school was initiated as an Anglican mission school in 1914 by Elinor Gage-Brown and Josephine Foss to teach children from Pudu district how to read and write.

Currently the school has slightly over 600 students, mostly from B40 and M40 families.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah also briefly studied at the school.

For details on the fundraising, contact Pesoga president Nancie Chan at 010-231 3170 or Kuah at 012-295 9109.

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