OF EVENTS - Prize Giving 2002
Our Chaplain of the school, Our Chief Guest, Prof. Mohan
de Silva, a distinguished old boy of our school, Dr. Mrs.
De Silva, Prof. Dayasiri Fernando, Dean of the faculty of
the medical sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenapura
( member of the Board of the Governors), Mr. Upali Panditharathna,
the Manager of our school, Members of the Board of Governors,
Distinguished guests, The members of the Old Boys, Union,
Parents, Members of the Staff, Dear students,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable, to
rise and cordially welcome all of you to our midst.
On behalf of the school, I thank Prof. Mohan
de Silva & Dr. Mrs. De Silva for acknowledging our invitation
and gracing this occasion. We are well aware, how busy a
Consultant Surgeon is, in his day-to-day work. I came in
contact with some of your medical students as well as patients
in your wad, and I witnessed how busy you were n rendering
your services and enlightened by seeing your commitment
and dedication towards those who work under you, and those
who seek your medical care. These are remarkable virtues
of a great person. Here let me quote the words of H.W. Longfellow.
“Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our
lives sublime”. We see that you have obtained a first
class honours in M.B.B.S. degree, best research presentation,
College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka in 1994 Gold medalist in
Sir Nicholas Attygalle oration, Fellow of the Royal College
of Edinburgh (FRCS) in 1984. Apart from you professional
qualifications, Prof. has captained the Medical College
cricket team in 1977, President of the Sports Advisory Board
at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura, a great Architect
and a versatile Singer. I was informed that your velvet
voice was one of the major attractions for Dr. Mrs. De Silva.
It is a fine combination of lifetime partners.
We just witnesses a Dance performed by our
students. I wish to state that St. Thomas’ Gurutalawa
won two first places at the all Island dancing competition
held in 2002. As a kind gesture I request the audience to
give them applause honouring the Guru, Mr.Wijesiri.
The second item was the Drama “ The
Doll” by our primary children, trained by Mr.Sugathapala
& Mr. Wijesiri. Every child desires to play. It is heir
right and they should not be deprived of this joy, whereas,
most parents and Teachers think that the emphasis should
be given to studies. As Rabindranath Tagore said, “
We sit inert like dead specimens of some museum, whilst
lessons are petted at us from on high, like hail stones
in flowers.” We should make learning a pleasurable
The third item was a presentation by the College
choir conducted by our Chaplain and assisted by Mrs. B.M.Anandappa
& Mr. D.P. Sugathapala.
Residential schools such as S.Thomas’
Gurutalawa have to play a major role in imparting education
on its students, working in accordance with the curriculum
of the Ministry of Education. The school has to look into
the needs and the demands of the country to reshape and
groom the personality accordingly. In todays’ context
I believe the vital role is the character formation of the
child, helping him to develop the leadership qualities and
also learning to take initiative in life. I am convinces
that this has to be a part and parcel of the educational
programme in the school. If you glance at a cross section
of the society, we see that human beings are finding it
difficult to cope up with race, religion and languages,
etc. It is the need of the day that we teach our children
to learn to live together
At S.Thomas’, there is no dispute among
the children which is highly commendable but, where the
society has failed many a time.
Another important aspect is learning to know.
The child has to be guided how to gather information. It
does not merely know the trees, but has to know the forest
too. The next perception that the school has to cultivate
is learning to do, because by doing so, the child understands.
In short, education is for life.
Today the school has taken many steps to improve the standard
of English. We introduced Elocution classes from yea 1-
9, which has created a lot of enthusiasm among the children.
We commenced English speech classes or year 10 & 11.
The school provided English books to the Library to help
and inculcate the reading habit among the students. We also
have planned to introduce audiovisual programmes which will
certainly interest the students to learn English. The third
programme to improve English is to help the children to
get information on their own.
The school has arranged extra classes for
grade 6 to 11 in Mathematics and Science. We also have commenced
afternoon classes for year 5 scholarship examination. Scholarship
classes are worked out on a voluntary basis.
THE OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION
Every country faces the good times and the
bad times. Even a school goes through a crisis period. Presently,
Gurutalawa is going through a financial deficit and the
Old Boys Association has come forward to rescue the school
from this pathetic situation. Hence, the Old Boys Association
has laid their hands in many areas of development.
The first project they undertook in the year
2002 was, to complete the school dining hall project, which
was a testimony of the loyal old boys showing their gratitude
to the College. Specially, Mr. P.H.P.de Silva, Mr. Hanthi
and Mr. Weerawardena practically visited the school every
week until the project was over. This clearly indicated
their commitment and loyalty towards Alma Mater.
Mr. Jayathilaka and Mr. Jaleel too, took the initiative
to repair and colour-wash the junior dormitories. This was
completed during the December vacation 2001 and the parents
were delighted to see with their own eyes the good work
done by the Old boys. We are also thankful to Mr. Jayathilaka
for gifting 30 chairs and desks for year 11 class. On my
request, the Executive Committee promptly agreed to supply,
the balance chairs.
The third project was refurbishing the Senior
dormitories. It was a dream, which became a reality. I believe
this has been the largest donation, which a single old boy
has donated to the school in the recent past. The school
owes its sincere gratitude to Mr. B.A. Mahipala for the
fine bit of work he did for the students of Gurutalawa.
Recently, the Old Boys arranged a musical
night for the young students. They also organized a medical
camp for all the students of the school.
A team of Old Boys helped the school to get
a new engine for the school van on the request of the school.
Within three weeks the work was completed and our sincere
thanks to Mr.Hanthi, Mr.P.H.D. Silva, Mr. P.D.Silva, Mr.Panditharathna,
Mr.Ranasinghe, Mr.Rajapakse, Mr.B.Kodituwakku & Mr.
SPEECH OF CHIEF GUEST - Prof.Mohan de Silva
Rev. father, Members Of the Board of Governors,
Head Master of the College, Distinguished invitees, Teachers,
old boys, on academic staff of the College, parents and
my dear students.
Today is a very special and a memorable day in my life.
It is not common in one’s life to be called to your
own school to perform an honoured duty on an important day
such as this, which recognizes and appreciates the talent
of young students. I consider it as the greatest singular
achievement of my career. Therefore at the outset, may I
sincerely thank the head master and the staff for inviting
me to grace this important occasion. Your head master said
nice things about me. I do not know whether I am worthy
Today brings back a lot of beautiful memories
I had subconsciously pushed a side with my busy schedule
of teaching, operating and taking care of the sick and injured.
I still remember with what enthusiasm, aspirations and hopes
I left my house on the Southern seacoast to study in one
of the most sought out prestigious boarding schools in the
island. I can vividly remember the loneliness I felt on
that cool January morning, looking at the car going past
the school chapel towards the main entrance taking my parents
home and leaving me behind in the strange world of which
I has dreamt and wanted but was nervous to face alone. Since
then, like many others who have gone through Gurutalawa,
I am proud to say I was able to achieve all what your principal
said because of the strong basic foundation that was laid
here. This school taught us not only subject matter and
discipline but to be conscientious, caring and responsible
Prize distribution is a day of great joy and
sense of achievement for all students, staff and of course
to the proud parents who will be overwhelmed to see their
sons reaching the stage to be appreciated for their achievements.
All parents and the teachers have lots of expectations on
children; just like my parents and my teachers, like your
head master who was regarded as one of the best teachers
we had during our time. Almost forty years later, looking
back at the journey I have made since I left Guru, I like
to share some thoughts with you, and tell you how much this
great institution contributed to nurture me to what I am
As we all know our country has gone through
a period in her history, which she would like to forget,
Human lives, human values, which were considered sacred,
are not considered as such any more. Though an uneasy peace
is prevailing at present, the future is still unpredictable.
Therefore the society that you are about to enter is very
different to the society that we entered, when we left here.
Gurutalawa was considered as one of the best
boarding schools in the country at the time. Those of us
who were here of course would say that it was the best.
Students of all ethnic groups were brought up like a one
big family at this school. The strict discipline, sense
of equality and the Thomian traditions were engraved in
all who came here. These qualities, which were imparted
on us, were the pillars on which we built our futures, irrespective
of the fields we entered. Had there been many schools like
Guru this island may not have bled so much.
The world today is very competitive, progressive,
ruthless, unkind and sometimes petty. Science, which I selected
as my field of choice has advanced to that extent that man
has reached other planets. Is capable of changing his own
genes which has not only helped him to understand some illnesses
but to develop the capability to produce life outside the
mother’s womb. We have all heard the story about the
Dolly the sheep. Discoveries of certain vaccines have eliminated
deadly diseases such as small pox from this planet, which
use to kill millions of people. But unfortunately new and
modern diseases such as AIDS have emerged to tip the balance.
You may have heard that human beings and all
living cells are made of building blocks called DNA. Each
cell has about 3 billion of them. They are arranged in a
sequence. The copy of the DNA you have in you is what you
inherited from your parents.
As we are all seated in this hall, some of
our cells continue to die and new cells are being formed
all the time with the same copy of your DNA print so that
you preserve your parental inheritance. But did you know
that the entire DNA sequence in the human body has been
mapped out today, like a map of the world? This is called
the human genome. A time may come when your potential employers
to see your suitability for employment might analyze the
information from your own genome. In a lighter tone there
is always the possibility that the genome may be used instead
of your horoscope to find matching partners for you in the
future. Such fascinating details in the biology of the human
cell have today given a glimpse to the concept of ageing.
Therefore there is now a theoretical possibility that man
may find a cure for ageing.
Entering this complicated world itself is
something which all of you will have to do soon. Therefore
what can your school, its environment and your devoted teachers
give you, the students, and what must you try and extract
form a school such as Guru with a proud history, traditions
and quality? Owen Feltham once said, I quote “ The
greatest results in life are usually attained by simple
means and the exercise of ordinary qualities. These may
for the most part be summed up in these two words- Commonsense
and perseverance” end quote. When one adds persistence
and enthusiasm and applies these qualities to whatever act,
field or profession which one may choose and enter one would
make what initially looks impossible possible, the possible
likely and the likely, definite. But do not forget one thing.
You may one day be successful in what ever you do. But as
you rise you must never allow yourself to forget your parents,
your teachers who helped to open your eyes and taught you
what is right and what is wrong, your friends and relatives
and the society at large who are underprivileged, disabled
and sick. As you rise in your ladder you must be more conscious
of your responsibilities to fellow humans and to your country.
These noble qualities will preserve your heart and secure
comfort to yourself.
Finally I would like to remind you of what,
one of the great American presidents Abraham Lincoln once
said. “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad
I feel bad. And that is my religion.
You, students, you are in a great school.
You are very privileged to study in this school. Your head
master as I know is a very capable leader with a vision.
I have no doubt that hw will steer the affairs of this school
to achieve excellence.
I also know that he has the backing of a very
enthusiastic old boys. What better combination one should
Finally Mr.Head master, May I once again thank
you for inviting me as the chief guest.
The College held its prize giving on July 22, 2002 and the
Chief Guest was a distinguished Old Boy in the field of Medicine,
Prof. Mohan de Silva, Consultant Surgeon, Sri Jayawardenapura
Hospital. It was well attended and after the prize giving.
Dr.de Silva wrote to the Headmaster as follows:
“ I am writing to congratulate you for organizing the
prize giving to near perfection. The events….. confirmed
what we felt when we heard of your appointment as Head Master,
that under your guidance and leadership, Gurutalawa will achieve
its old glory.”
At the prize day speech, he said:….. “like many
others who have gone through Gurutalawa, I am proud to say,
I was able to achieve all that your Headmaster said, because
of the strong basic foundation that was laid here. This school
taught us not only subject matter and discipline but to be
conscientious, caring and responsible human beings. ……..
Your Headmaster as I know is a capable leader with a vision.
I have no doubt that he will steer the affairs of this school
to achieve excellence. I know he has the backing of very enthusiastic
Old Boys. What better combination should one ask for?”.
The Headmaster touched on many areas in his speech: The Dance
Troupe which won two first places at an all Island competition,
the revival of drama classes, the reintroduction of Cubbing
& Scouting, and the emphasis on English in many areas
of the curriculum and elsewhere.
He also thanked many Old Boys who had helped the College,
the repairing and colour washing of junior dormitories, the
completion of the dining hall, supply of desks & chairs
for year 11 classes, the supply of a new engine for the school
van and most of all was the refurbishment of the Senior dormitories
by a single old boy’ and which was the largest donation
to the College in the recent past. He also mentioned that
a Musical Night organized by the Old Boys along with a Medical
Camp were special features for the college students.
We as the OBA will pledge our continued support in any area
that the Headmaster and the College will find a need.
OBA News Letter 3