SMK Main Convent, Ipoh
|SMK Convent Ipoh|
|Type||Government non-boarding all-girls secondary school|
|Motto||Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty|
|Established||7 January 1907|
|Founder||Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus|
|Principal||Madam Foo Mei Mei|
|Grades||Form 1 - Form 5 (Form 6 students transfer to St.Michael's Institution automatically)|
SMK Convent Ipoh (Malay: Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent Ipoh) is an all-girls secondary school located on Jalan Sultan Idris Shah (formerly Brewster Road), Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. Established in 1907, it is one of the oldest schools in Ipoh and is widely known as Main Convent Ipoh. It is one of the 30 Convent secondary schools in Malaysia.
The early days
Founded on 7 January 1907 by Mother St Victoire, the school started off with a wooden building which housed the chapel, the school office and the Sisters’ quarters. The school was officially opened by Mother St Anatoli Assistant General of the Institution of the Infant Jesus Sisters in Paris. It was known as Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Ipoh and was the main English-language girls' school in Ipoh.
The school began as a co-educational school with 20 students. It had two teachers, Sister St Anne and Sister St Stanislaus, headed by headmistress Sister St Prudence. The number of students increased to 98 students by the end of 1907. In 1912, the boys were moved to St Michael's Institution and the convent became an all-girl establishment.
In December 1909, four students passed the Standard Seven Examination. In March 1910, two students prepared for the Preliminary Cambridge Local Examination, under the guidance of Sister St Egbert. In 1915, the school entered a candidate for the Junior Cambridge Examination and two for the Senior Cambridge Examination.
In the 1920s, conversational and written English, arithmetic, singing, writing, drawing, dictation, geography, drills and physical exercise were taught in the school. Emphasis was given to the development of talents and social skills like playing the piano, being involved in welfare work and excelling in handicraft and needlework.
In 1927 and 1929 two extensions to the school were made to cater for the increasing numbers of pupils and in the 1930s the curriculum started to concentrate more on academic achievement - a sign of the changing status of women in the community. 1947 marked two milestones in the school's history – a science subject was included in the curriculum for the first time; and setting up of the laboratories was managed by Sister St Oliver. On 21 May that year, the first Old Girls' reunion took place and their Association COGA (Convent Old Girls' Association) was formed.
During the Japanese occupation the school was closed for three years and eight months. The school reopened on 27 September 1945, just 25 days after the Japanese surrendered.
The school enrolment increased steadily, by the 1950s, branch (sister) schools were then launched to meet demand from parents seeking education for their daughters. Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Ipoh then became known as Main Convent to differentiate it from its sister schools. In July 1950 the students were divided into houses to encourage participation in competitive sports. On 3 February 1955 the first school magazine "Via" was published. The first Board of Governors was set up in 1959.
In 1965 Tarcisian Convent Ipoh, housed and eventually took over some of the classes as the Main Convent could not handle the increasing numbers of students. Despite this, afternoon school had to be brought in at the beginning of 1968 due to lack of space. In 1976 Malay replaced English as the medium of instruction and in 1978 the first batch of form three students sat for the SRP (Sijil Rendah Pelajaran) examination.
The school building
Built in 1907, the school building has undergone several transformations. In 1927, the wooden building was replaced with a two-storey building of brick masonry, Gothic arches and high ceilings and sections linked by a maze of corridors and staircases, which now serves as the administrative block for the school. Another block of similar architecture was built at the same time. Additional classrooms were built in 1935 and 1957.
The last major construction took place in 1975 when the present Science and library block replaced the old bicycle shed. With the approval of the Infant Jesus Sisters, a number of former living quarters of the nuns were made available to the school for its use. The Chapel is now a Music Room, the Dormitory is the Examination Hall and the Refectory is the Art Room. The blocks are linked together by a maze of corridors and covered galleries framing quadrangles for sports and games.
The finest buildings in the Convent complex is the front block which presents a dramatic facade with Neo-Gothic arches and trefoil shaped window openings with timber shutters. A third of this block was occupied by a magnificent chapel with high ceilings and colonnades, illuminated with five panels of exquisite stained glass, which has since been removed. It was a sanctuary for prayer and meditation, which celebrated its last Catholic Mass in 1991 to mark the retirement of Sister Chew, the last missionary Principal of the school. However the chapel complex remains and is used for music and other activities including Friday night prayers by a Christian group.
The existence of the school itself has also been threatened. The primary school was evacuated to the compound of SK Raja Perempuan in January 1994 when piling works for construction of the Ipoh Parade next door caused cracks to appear in the school building. The secondary school, however, stayed put and braved the storm.
The original school building is now a designated heritage site. The school celebrated its 100 years of existence on 7 January 2007. On 6 January 2017, the school had an advance celebration for the 110th anniversary of the school.
The school administration passed from the Sisters to lay principals in 1992. In December 1991 a major change took place when Sister Maureen Chew took retirement from the post of Principal, which she had administered since 1973. Her retirement in 1991 marked the end of an era of religious Heads. Her services to the community had been recognised a full ten years earlier when, on 18 September 1981, the Sultan of Perak awarded her the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian (PJK). In January 1992, the appointment of Miss Khoo Gim Keat marked the start of school administration by lay principals. The administration by missionary sisters had ended after 84 years.
- Sister St. Prudence (1907)
- Mother St. Marcellin (1922)
- Sister St. Helen (1939)
- Reverend Mother St. Pauline Legrix (1945 - Mar 1951)
- Reverend Mother St. Paul (1951–1957)
- Reverend Mother St. Pauline Legrix (1957–1966)
- Sister Fidelma Hogan (1966–1972)
- Sister Maureen Chew, PJK (1973–1991)
- Miss Khoo Gim Keat (1992–1994)
- Mrs Valerie Ho (1994–1999)
- Mrs Shireen Ho (1999–2003)
- Mdm Ong Yok Kheng (2003–2004)
- Mdm Foo Ai Kia (2005–2006)
- Mdm Loh Wei Seng (2006-2010)
- Mdm Lim Swee Kew (2010-2011)
- Datin Mungit Kaur (2011–2012)
- Mdm Nalini Achuthan Nair (2012–2015)
- Mdm Toh Suat Goh (2015 - 2019)
- Madam Foo Mei Mei (2019 - Present)
- Michelle Yeoh
- Amy Mastura
- Francissca Peter
- HRH Raja Permaisuri of Perak, Tuanku Zara Salim
- Preeta Samarasan
- Puteh Naziadin
- Lovy Beh Yen Shan
- Wong Ai Ling
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