10.30.2008

st. mary's primary school, sandakan, sabah, malaysia



St. Mary's Sandakan, has the unique distinction of being the oldest school in Sabah. It began with the acquisition of 5 acres of land in Sandakan by Monsignor T. Jackson, the prefect Apostolic of the Mill Hill Order of Missionary Priest in May 1883. In July 24, 1883. Rev. Father. Prenger and Fr. Pundleider began the first school in Borneo, St. Mary's School.

The first pupils, 5 in all, were housed in a kajang hut. In February 1884, Fr. Pundleider left Sandakan to open up Bundu Mission. However, in November 1885, Fr. Prenger was ordered by Msgr. Jackson to leave because " Sandakan unhealthy, many Chinese sick, no good water and Fr. Prenger often ill."

The closure of the school was temporary. Rev. Fr. J. Byron, on his visit to Sandakan in July 1886, found 26 Catholics there. However, it was only a year later that Fr. Byron was able to re-establish the Mission and School in Sandakan. On August 15, 1887 Fr. Byron re-opened St. Mary's School, but only 1 boy turned up for registration. Untaunted, Fr. Byron continued his efforts. Slowly, the enrolment rose to 12. By 1888, a new building was built in order to cope with the rising student population.

The War years did not seem to have affected St. Mary's unduly and a major mile stone in the history of the school was reached with the appointment of Rev. Fr. A Stotter to the Rector of Sandakan in 1920. In 1923, he invited two De La Salle Brothers from Hong Hong to take over the running of St. Mary's School. Shortly after Fr. Stotter returned to Europe to attend the Chapter of his Congregation. On his return in1926, Fr. Stotter saw the need for a bigger school and a site was prepared. A new 3 storyed wooden building was completed in 1929. The ground floor comprised of classrooms; the first floor made up of class rooms and rooms for the priests. The third floor was mostly dormitory.

In 1927, Rev. Fr. B.J Davis came to Sandakan and and was put in charge of St. Mary's the following year. In 1931, he entered some candidates for the Hong Kong Local Exams, with great success. The following year he switched to the Cambridge Locals, also with success. St. Mary's became officially recognised as the centre for Cambridge Local Examinations.

However, war broke out in 1939 and North Borneo was under Japanese occupation from 1942 - 1945. It was in 1943 that the Japanese razed St. Mary's to the ground. There was neither Church or School standing. The period after the war belongs, rightly to, Rev. Fr. Anthony Moulders. He was visionary, architect, planner, contractor, all rolled in one, in the difficult process of reconstruction after the devastation of the war, and credit for putting St. Mary's back on its feet should be given to Fr. Moulders. On his arrival in Sandakan in 1952, he wasted no time in getting down to business. Through his tireless efforts, not only 1 school, but 2 schools were opened. In 1953, he built a 2 storyed 11 classroom school besides the church. But it was soon found to be too small and inadequate for the numerous students whose education had been disrupted by the war and who had a lot of studies to make up for.

In 1954, Rev. Fr.J.Van Haaren obtained a large piece of land at Mile 2 1/2, Labuk Road and he constructed a school to house the secondary school students while the previous school was turned over exclusively to the Primary school, being know as St. Mary's Primary School bandar (photo).

In 1991, Mr. Francis Tan took over as Headmaster. A catholic, he has done a lot in the beautification of the school and gave the school a facelift. Likewise in the field of academy, the school also excels in their annual UPSR examinations.

source - http://www.rc.net/malaysia/kotakinabalu/stmary/schools.htm

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update photos on my former primary school. but sad to see it kinda neglected...i was there during the 80's from kinder garden (st. mary convent) till primary 6....wish more efforts to preserved it (FYI:i still can sing the school motto!)- mark (themasterofthering@yahoo.co.uk)

kadazan man said...

i know what you mean. wouldn't be surprise if they decide to tear down the building.

Anonymous said...

I was there from 1966 to 1977 (both primary and secondary). I still remember clearly all the good times I had. Great school except for the chemistry teacher. I now live in Boston, Ma. I am planing a trip to Sandakan this summer perhaps I will visit the both schools and take a few photos. Thank you for the history of St Mary's school as it was very educational.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely a shame if it gets torn down.
I was there at during 1962-1967, and then went over to the secondary school in labuk road.
Leaves me with happy memories of years gone by when I look at the photos...sigh

Anonymous said...

Ya, i'm proud to be 1 of the student from 1984-1989 it's kind of enjoy studying there.Hopefully the preservation will keep up the memoirs for all the former student....

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was a student there from 1961 to 1966. Used to climb up the hill beside the school. One time was caught by Fr. Mulders and the punishment was standing at the assemble area with both hands holding on the ears. I must said I have a great time there.

Anonymous said...

IT IS SAD TO SEE THE SCHOOL IN THIS CONDITION.

Tony said...

The photos bring back memories....I was there in 75-76 as a student. Miss my friends! sad to see how my Alma Mater looks today.

Chief US Navy

Anonymous said...

Some teachers were extremely cruel. I can still remember those teachers who abused the students. Miss Voon (primary 4
in 1968) used to hit us with the sharp edge of the ruler. Master Pang(PE teacher primary
4, 1968) used to hit the whole class with a broom stick on our head). The Malay teacher in primary 1 was also a cruel bastard too. The principal's wife, Mrs. Lim (chinese teacher primary 3 1967) beat up this little boy(Lam Wing Wai) so badly like beating a dog.THAT MADE ME SAD FOR A LONG TIME. I could go on and on. Don't get me wrong there were some good teacher too.
Miss Yau, Master Lee(short guy from Jamaica), Miss Chong were very good. More bad memories than good .

Pelipus Abd Rasyid said...

lot of memory with this school ...