Displaying True School Colours
The Holy Family Convent (HFC) in Bambalapitiya is not just another leading school noted for producing top sports champions, major corporate and public sector professionals and a girls’ school that everyone wants their children to attend, but today, an unspoken achievement is the fact that they have charitable hearts.
The school has a programme called ‘Familian Outreach’ which aims at reaching out to different sections of the community and fulfill needs identified within those groups. Ever since the programme started in 2002, Familians everywhere have joined hands and united their hearts to drive a cause that is truly worth paying tribute to.
According to the school’s Principal, Chandani Jayasuriya, “Generally a school or a village is identified on request by a nun of HFC who works at the school or in the area, and the Outreach Programme provides the identified needs of the school — sometimes stationery or other educational items. We also conduct grade five and O/L workshops and we aid in teaching English.”
In 2010, HFC worked with children in the Dharmapuram IDP camps housing those displaced by the last stages of the conflict. Due to an urgent demand from parents, the Convent staff conducted workshops for grade five scholarship candidates. “In such cases staff from the school and children who are members of Familian Outreach travel to these schools,” the Principal said.
In December last year, the school received a request from a school in Nachikudah in Kilinochchi for assistance. In response they donated complete book sets for 415 students, all of who resettled after the war, and a generator and computer.
“This year the school is assisting the Maduruketiya Kanishta (Senior) School in Moneragala. This project will assist the school to hold a sports meet as it has never held one before. A full set of musical band equipment, costumes and all other equipment required for a sports meet will be donated while students and teachers of HFC will work to train the school staff and pupils to make the event successful. “Musical equipment was also donated to a blind school in Thanamalwila on a special request.”
The Outreach Programme is funded by the students and school, of which about 180 students between the ages of 11 and 18 are members. “We are happy to help in the little way we can as it’s not all about achievements and successful careers but also about contributing to society,” said a member of the Programme.
Funds/resources for the Outreach projects are raised within the school; members contribute an annual fee which is relatively small and also hold food fiestas and other activities to raise funds. Nagaratnam Wijekanthan, one of the teachers handling the programme said, “There is very good response to calls for donations, and student involvement is very high.” Members of the Outreach Programme hope to stage a public show (for parents) this year to raise funds for their future activities.
Tennis star Amritha Muttiah led the Familian success story last year. Today, she is Sri Lanka’s number one women’s tennis ace.
The 18-year-old was named Sportswoman of the Year 2010. The A/L student had an impressive record over the past year – winning the Triple Crown at the Sri Lankan Tennis Nationals 2010 – Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles titles, a feat she achieved for the second consecutive year. The school introduced Amritha to the game – starting her off with Mini-Tennis as a seven year old. “School has done a lot for me. Past and present principals and staff have been very supportive and encouraging,” she said. Becoming Sri Lanka’s top woman player was not going to keep this talented youngster happy for long and she expanded her horizons with the International Tennis Federation Under-18 title. The teenager who has been playing tennis for 12 years was the only Sri Lankan girl to represent the country at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
With that kind of role model it is not surprising that HFC’s Under-15 and Under-19 teams became first and second runners-up respectively at the All Island Inter-school tennis tournament. While sports has been the source of medals, shields and other accolades – HFC chalked up impressive achievements in academics and arts as well.
One such highlight last year was a Familian’s success against a formidable line up of young people in South Asia’s largest hunt for outstanding students who have a correct balance of character and competence. A-Level student Rosheni Ratnayake was chosen for one of the 12 coveted Wiz Kids titles from a field of over 2,000 contestants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The Wiz Kids contest provides school children between 12 and 18 the opportunity to discover and showcase their talents in various fields while competing in a healthy and energetic environment. Each competitor had to complete a project on the theme ‘Fulfilling the needs and wants of those less fortunate than you.’ Rosheni’s entry based on creating awareness about poverty stricken people in Moneragala in Sri Lanka’s Uva Province was chosen as the Best Project.
Recounting her experience, the Familian said “The contest was really hard but the experience is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You are forced to remove the limits you set yourself and push yourself beyond.”
Meanwhile, Head Prefect Dushanthi Weerasekera was placed first in the Colombo District and second in the All Island English Speech Competition in the Lowa Dinana Singiththo 2010 competition organised by the Education Ministry.