My Journey in St Joseph’s Private School – Reflections by some graduating students of 2020

These are good reflections by some of our graduating students which are beneficial to read because they manifest the best education the school can provide for our young here in Kuching.

Thank you to these students who are willing to share their thoughts with us. No names are mentioned to safeguard the identity of the authors.

Education as agent of change

   Education is something that is valued by everyone, everywhere. As Nelson Mandela said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. However, sadly, it is not something easily accessible to everyone. Being a Form Five student, that marks the end of our journey in Secondary School. Just as all things must come to an end, so does our educational journey.

   When I first started schooling in SJPS in 2016, I thought it was just like any other school that did everything by the books but I was wrong. SJPS taught us to study hard but it also gave emphasis on other aspects such as performing arts and being active in our extracurricular activities, which in my opinion, is very important as the students need to know that not everything about school is related to studying and studying only.

   Being a Jesuit school, I think SJPS has managed to fulfill the Jesuit principles of forming and educating agents of change as well as creating women and men for and with others.

   I feel very grateful to have received education as I understand that it is not something everyone is granted. I also feel appreciative to be taught values in the classroom that can be applied to our everyday lives. I feel that the Ignatian value, “magis” has been achieved since we learn and benefit from the “more.” I am glad that SJPS has played a big part in my life and managed to shape who I am today.    With the education and values I have received, I hope to be able to do good in the future as well as put whatever it is that I have learnt to good use and hopefully help those who are less fortunate than myself. •

Out of my Comfort Zone

   As a student of SJPS, I have had a one of a kind educational journey throughout the past four years in this school. Through my many different experiences here, I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge that have helped me become the person I am today.

   However, the knowledge that I have gained which I value the most is not so much to do with academics, but more so the values and life lessons that the the school has taught me.

   The one lesson that I will always have ingrained inside my mind is to “get out of your comfort zone.” I personally find this phrase to be very important and relevant in all aspects of my life despite it having been repeated in almost all of our school camps. Whenever we are put in uncomfortable situations during school camps, I find that I learn more about myself and the things around me than if I were to stay in the comfort my own personal space. It is only here that I realize truly great leaders and pioneers are born in adversity, and that they never shy away from putting themselves in uncomfortable situations to achieve a deeper understanding and appreciation for the things around them.

   Through school events like performances and charity sales, I have also realised that you can learn so much more and meet so many more great people when you step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.

   Besides that, the school has also taught me the importance of gratitude and interpersonal relationships. Especially during our Form 5 Camp, I have learned that one should always be grateful for the people around you and work to maintain that relationship. I have realized that gratitude allows us to not take things for granted, and consequently it has made me cherish my classmates and family more as they have made this year a meaningful one despite the unfortunate situation that we have been put in.    Last but not least, another lesson which I will never forget is the importance of helping our community. Through the social outreach program that we had early this year, I was given the privilege of taking part in volunteer work to help the needy. Though it was only a one-off thing, it was enough to make me realise how bad the lives are for certain communities here in Kuching. Hence, I hold this experience close to my heart as it has made me more aware of my responsibility as a fortunate member of society to play a part and help improve the lives of other people. •

Holistic Education

   As a whole, I think what I take away the most from my educational journey here in SJPS is the importance of caring for a person as a whole; mentally, spiritually and academically, as well as instilling values that make you become a better person. This is one of the few aspects which I think the school excels in as they not only focus on our academics but also the development of students into useful members of society. I find that this balance is extremely important as it turns us into more holistic people. The programs such as our camps, school performances and social outreach programs are usually where I learn the most from, sometimes even more than normal classes. These are the types of programs which I wish to be able to involve myself in when I venture into college and university and eventually work-life because they help me grow as a person. •

Thankful

   My educational journey in SJPS for the past four years has definitely been a fruitful and interesting one. The amount of knowledge that I have gained is something that I thank the school a lot for and will bring with me as I make my way to the next chapter of my life. I will also try my best to live out these values and share the valuable lessons that I have learned with the people that I meet in the future.    Lastly, the balance between academic growth and spiritual growth is also something that I will work hard to maintain even after I graduate from this school. •

Many first times

   My secondary school life started back in 2016 when I was 13 years old. I have come a long way throughout these five years, experiencing sweet and sour moments that would take me to my adulthood.

   I met many inspiring people in this school, taking new people into my life and letting go those whom I treasure have become a routine I have been adapting. Nevertheless, my life in St Joseph’s Private School has been fulfilling, in every corner in the school, there is a memory, good or bad, all of which are now part of my growing process.

   I experienced a lot of first-times in school. It was my first time being in an English-teaching environment after 6 years studying in Chung Hua. I was afraid of making mistakes speaking in English as I was not confident enough. It was my first time getting out of my comfort zone, making friends from different backgrounds, religions and beliefs, instead of grounding in the same social circle for years.

   In the beginning, I was not technically prepared and academically ready for secondary school life. In fact, I had a hard time picking up subjects that are not the major focus in my primary school. Being involved in the school productions, “Rhythm and Colours” as well as “The White Rajah of Sarawak” were the most overwhelming experiences.

   The school gave me so much that I would not imagine getting. I came into the school compound with no idea how the school would have such a big impact on my spiritual growth. It took me some time to adapt to this strange environment but the outcome was fruitful. I learnt lessons from different people, be conscious with my words, open-hearted, appreciative, forgiving and understanding. Although I am leaving soon, my footprints remain in this school. This school taught me not to lose faith when I fall but continue to follow my heart and mind. No words can truly express how thankful I am for the facilities, resources, staff and the people the school has gifted me.    As the SPM examination is approaching, I should make more delightful memories that will last forever. In addition, taking granted how the school has raised me up is not an option as the school has provided me with opportunities, adventures and demanding challenges. There is simply nothing better than being reminded of this remarkable collection of memories. •

Year by Year Meaningful Journey

   I would like to say the journey in SJPS is the most interesting and meaningful time in my life.

   When I was in Form 1, I learnt how to be brave and courageous. When I was in Form 2, I learnt about being self-disciplined. When I was in Form 3, I learnt how to reflect on myself and write reflections. In Form 4, I learnt how to be grateful and this year in Form 5, I learnt how to meditate.

   I was a really shy boy back then. I did not even dare to introduce myself in a new environment and in front of all unfamiliar faces. My legs would shiver and my voice shake. Words just would not come out from my mouth! I believed that I was not the only one with this problem. However, I am really grateful that our school really emphasises on public speaking by giving us a lot of presentations in Form 1 which is extremely important for us in the future. Slowly, I got used to the feelings and overcame the fear. It was a huge breakthrough for me.

   In Form 2, I was streamed into B class. I could already feel the tenseness in the air during the first day of school. It was so different from my previous class. Everyone looked so serious and the class was super quiet. From that day onwards, I decided to change my attitude and learnt how to be disciplined. I resisted all the temptations when I was at home and studied really hard, not wanting to be left behind in class.  

   The other unique thing about our school is that we are required to do tonnes of reflections, almost everything must end with a reflection session. Nonetheless, that was how the school taught me how to listen to my conscience and differentiate right from wrong. We are also taught to be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted, especially when our school is full of rich people.

   Finally this year, we learnt how to meditate and connect ourselves to the ground despite the pandemic. It helps us to calm ourselves down and to be aware of our surroundings. Isn’t it wonderful?

   I think our school practices a lot of good values and prepares us for the many challenges in life. I am very grateful and thankful for being part of this school. I appreciate the care and hardwork of the teachers which really touched me. I am really going to miss this school and the memories with my friends.    I might send my children to this school as well, as I have seen the values that they have implanted in me. •

Ora et Labora

   As a student of St Joseph’s Private School (SJPS), the first thing we all learned is ‘Ora et Labora’ which means prayer and labour. Having been a student for almost 5 years, I have truly experienced that SJPS aims to provide holistic education to the students here which involves strict discipline and religion. What makes our school different from other schools is the aspect of religion.

   The experience I had in this school is rather unique, as a freethinker this is the first time I learned about religion. It was so new, yet interesting to listen to stories from the books of Exodus and Luke. This experience trained me to understand the practices and importance of religion like having Mass.

   This was also my first experience of camp, where I learned independence and growth. I am glad that our school is strict as I’ve heard many terrible things like drug dealing, smoking, inappropriate behaviour, etc from other schools and I’m glad that our teachers truly care about us.

   As a reflection, I would always remember the lessons I’ve learned in camp. I would say that who I am in character truly grew in this period. These camps taught me the importance of reflections and faith in God. Most importantly, it taught me how to be a trailblazer and be compassionate.

   Consequently, I appreciate all the events and people that I’ve crossed paths with during my life in SJPS. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.    For my conclusion, I would take action towards my efforts in obtaining good results in SPM. Moreover, even after I leave this school, I would carry all the values I’ve learned along with me. I will use my knowledge to benefit society and do good. For example, I would volunteer to help others and donate often. I shall not perform hate crimes or evil to others for my own benefit. •

My Educational Journey as a SJPS Student

          In primary school, I was studying in SJK Chung Hua No.6. My experience there was not very great as I was verbally bullied for an entire year. After my UPSR exam, my parents wanted to send me to the nearest secondary school to my primary school, which is SMK Sungai Maong. I told my parents I did not want to go there because all the bullies would be there too. I asked if they could send me to a private school, where I can actually have nicer friends and a reset to my school life. After long arguments and discussions, they finally agreed to send me here, St. Joseph’s Private School. I would like to state in a nutshell, secondary life is great, compared to primary school, it is very much a cakewalk.

          The first thing that made my first impression on the school was that the teachers and my seniors were very nice people compared to my primary school schoolmates. In this school, I felt the warmth as I continued to make more friends here. It is this amazing school that made me feel like I was in my second home instead of an actual school. After the ice breaking, I became really attached to school as school has never been so fun.

          Education wise, I feel this school really provides an education beyond the ordinary. Because of my self-esteem which was completely destroyed from primary school, I never had the guts to speak in front of the whole class. When I realised how frequent we had to do presentations, I was really scared. But after many times of being forced to speak, I became more confident in myself and much more daring to speak out now.

          Last but not least, the events that hit me the most are the annual retreat camps held by the school. This is when I get to spend all my time with my friends and discover more about myself. Every year was very meaningful and gave me the opportunity to open up my feeling to others. It was a bummer that Form 5 Camp had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, but the one the teachers held in school was indeed very meaningful too.

          Of course, I could not write an entire timeline of my secondary school life in the paragraph above, but those were truly the core of secondary school for me.

          Despite so much that has happened, what do I think of myself now? I feel like a lot has changed since primary school life and I have changed drastically too. The people around me made the most difference in my life as I grew to become stronger. I feel like I owe everyone here in SJPS and I could never pay back what this school has treated me with. The only way for me to repay back this debt is by giving back what I have received in the past 5 years. But now when I think about it, have I really done that much to make a positive difference in this school? I wish that my 5 years here in this school have left impactful footprints here as I carry beautiful and precious memories with me which I will cherish for life.          

As for my reciprocation towards SJPS, I will most definitely come back to this school as part of the alumni. I wish to help out as much as I can here as I get to revisit my secondary school life portrayed by the juniors. I guess this is the most I can do for my secondary school, by physical contribution and helping my juniors develop their roots into this school as SJPS will never let them down and will always have their backs covered.  I hope that SJPS continues to spread faith in the name of God and be more like the students’ family instead of being just a plain school. •

Life is about making memories

   I have been in SJPS for 5 years, and soon it will be my time to leave. With this in mind, I think it is important to look back to where I started from and assess my progress throughout my time here in SJPS. This reflection will be about my growth and learning throughout my 5 years of high school. Although this is the case, I’m sure there are others out there who may relate to the things I say in this reflection.

   Many people may not know, but I was an introverted person when I first came to this school. I really tried to put on a brave face everyday, but I was constantly filled with fear and anxiety when I came to school.  But throughout the years, I’ve become more extroverted and braver than before. Now, I can speak up with no trouble.

   Other than that, I’ve also grown spiritually due to the school’s emphasis on our spiritual education. One of the most prominent things that has changed for me is my take on experiences. Before coming to this school, and also during my years in Lower Secondary, I used to wonder what the point of life was. All of us are going to die anyways, right? Now, I understand that time passes, but we will be filled with wonderful memories of the things we’ve done. That to me is one of the most important things in life. Therefore, I will cherish the time I have with my friends, the people around me, and all the things I’ve experienced throughout my life, no matter if it’s good or bad.

   Lastly, I’ve become more knowledgeable in my way of thinking. I used to be quite selfish and stupid in a sense where I just did things that were good for me and never questioned the reasons behind the things I was asked to do. After learning more, I started to look into things more, and tried not to make myself the centre of the entire world. I’ve also become more attentive to other people’s feelings.

   I think that my anxiety and shyness stemmed from the fear of being judged by others. I was always aware of other people’s words and lacked confidence as well. By having more interactions with others, I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t matter what others think of you, as long as you know yourself. The education here often asks us to get out of our comfort zones and make new friends. I think that has helped me a lot to become the person I am today.

   Other than that, the more spiritual part of our education (eg. RE and BK classes and school camps) has taught me how to cherish memories. The memories I’ve had with friends, teachers, staff, or even just with myself are my most prized possessions. I am also more willing to experience different things now that I know how important every experience is. Whether it is good or bad, our experiences will always teach us something, and I think that it is worth taking risks for.

   Lastly, I’ve opened my mind and my heart more. As I grew older, many different perspectives emerged and I began to understand that hey, maybe the world shouldn’t revolve around me so much. So I give myself the chance to be more open about other people’s opinions. Honestly, I think that this has made me smarter, and not just do things blindly without reason.    As the year comes to an end, I will continue to enjoy my last few months here in SJPS. Although it hasn’t been a great year, I know this experience will never repeat itself. Therefore, I will try to do my best and make the most out of my remaining time here. •

Camps and the Performing Arts are part of SJPS

   In my opinion, learning is not only from the books, memorising facts and getting good results academically. SJPS’ motto, Ora Et Labora, inspires me to always keep my life balanced. It conveys the importance of working hard and praying unceasingly by putting our trust in God. Although a school is generally a place where one builds bonds, nurtures academic excellence and gets involved in various school activities, I find SJPS to be special because it pushes one to step out of one’s comfort zone, enjoy school’s life and learn leadership skills, among others.

   I have fond memories about this school that I will always cherish. One of the most memorable events is attending all the five school camps that were held annually in each form. The camps were organised in such a way that they gradually transformed the students, with camps starting from “Media Literacy”, “Ignite”, “Flame”, “Trail Blazers”, and lastly “Light of the World”. It portrays that each camp has a specific objective to focus on and contains a vital element in developing students’ character. In my personal experience, the camps allow me to grow holistically as an individual and become a person that will one day contribute to society. Such activities reinforce independence, empowerment and self-discovery of one’s potentials.

    SJPS pushes students to go beyond their comfort zone while at the same time having fun along the way. SJPS provides chance for students to take part in school plays such as the first White Rajah of Sarawak Musical and its sequel. My participation in the plays gave me the opportunity to go beyond my capabilities by allowing me to act and dance in front of a huge crowd. Simultaneously, SJPS inspires students to make full use of their creativity, talent and innovation in a fun way. The success of SJPS’ original productions such as Rhythm & Colour concert and The White Rajah of Sarawak Musical have made them the word of mouth among the public. These productions, despite the challenges faced in organising the events, would not have succeeded without the self-sacrifice and teamwork among the students, teachers, school management and parents. At the end of the day, it is about students enjoying themselves while cherishing the moments with their friends and teachers.

   Another value that my school never fails to emphasise on is the importance of reaching out to the community. The outreach programs organised by SJPS encourage students to be agents of change by contributing their time and effort to bring benefits both to themselves and to society. There are numerous people out there who desperately need help and I, as part of this younger generation, must have the leadership and willingness to offer help to make them feel cared for.    As I reminisce the good times that I have spent in school, I am blessed to be a part of SJPS. I am honestly thankful that my parents gave me the opportunity to be in this amazing school. I am heartiestly indebted to my teachers, the school management and fellow students for making my journey as a student in this school memorable. •