GALLERY OF EVENTS - Prize Giving 2002

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 process.

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.


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. 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. E. Kodituwakku.

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 of them.

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 human beings.

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 today.

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 ask for.

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. 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

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