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College Annual Prize-Giving 2017

The Chairman Ven. Samuel J. Ponniah, Archdeacon of Jaffna & Manager of the College, Chief Guests Dr.Karunyan Arulanantham & Mrs. Inpamani Arulanantham, Mrs.Thanja Peiris, the new Chairperson of the CMS Governing Body, the Principal, the Rev. N.J.Gnanaponrajah, Vice Principals, Mr. V.S.B.Thuseetharan and Mr.A.H.Gnanarajan, Mr. S. Gobinath, Director of the Jaffna Academy & School of Technology and Welfare Officer of the College, and Hon. E.Arnold arrived at the gate ten minutes before the start of the function.

After the staff was introduced to the Chief Guests, the College Band together with the Scouts and Cadets honoured and saluted the dignitaries as they made their way towards the venue, the Peto Memorial Hall where the clergy, heads of institutions and schools, distinguished guests, old boys, parents, students and well-wishers were gathered.

At the doorway to the Peto Hall, the visitors were welcomed with a Dance presented by the students of the school.

After the College Hymn was a Prayer by the Assistant Chaplain of the College, the Rev. V. D. Jeyaruban.

Next, Dr.Karunyan Arulanantham was garlanded and & Mrs. Inpamani Arulanantham was presented with a bouquet by the Cub Scouts as a mark of respect.

The next event was the Welcome Song, an eastern classical, by the students. It was a remarkable performance.

The English Oratory by P.Zeruba who obtained the First Place in the Prepared Speech Competition for Gold Medal at School Level followed. The oratory was an extract of the Speech delivered by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President of India, on "Youth Dynamics and the Nation."

The speech ended with the following lines, ‘Be remembered for creating that one page in the history of the nation – whether that page is the page of invention, the page of innovation or the page of discovery or the page of creating societal change or a page of removing the poverty or the page of fighting injustice.’ The speech by Abdul Kalam was truly inspirational.

Next was the Principal’s Prize Day Report covering the period, 25th June 2016 – 23rd June 2017. The Principal, in his speech:

  • Introduced the Chief Guests (Short profiles of Dr.Karunyan Arulanantham and Mrs. Inpamani Arulanantham are given towards the end of this report.)
  • Said that the Chief Guest was indeed a worthy example to follow, a person who can be emulated by others, especially the youngsters who are gathered today.
  • Said that it was very rare to see a husband and wife reaching the summit together. Usually, one stays at the bottom and helps the other up. The Karunyans have shown the world that two can succeed together by helping one another.
  • Extended a wholehearted welcome to the new Chairperson of the Governing Body, Mrs.Thanja Peiris and the new Archdeacon and Manager of St. John’s College, the Ven. Samuel J. Ponniah
  • Gave an extensive report about all the activities, past, present and future, covering the activities of the staff and students of all nine sections of the school.
  • Said that love and reverence of the Lord is missing.
  • Cautioned that smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, rowdyism at homes, in relationships and in the community, directly or indirectly are rampant at present times because people do not grow in fear and wisdom of the Lord.
  • Thanked everyone for the support extended.

    he Principal in his speech said that St. John’s was moving from ‘No More Failures’ towards ‘100% Distinction Passes.’ Saying that Mr. T. Richikesan and Mrs. K. Umakanthan produced 100% Distinction pass in A/L English Medium Business Studies and in A/L Carnatic Music respectively, he invited them on stage and presented them with a memento of appreciation. ‘I believe that this is the first time in history that we have produced 100% Distinction in these subjects,’ he said.

‘I thank the Almighty God, who has been guiding us for the past 194 years, and pray that He continues to lay His hands upon this institution to bless, protect and lead us into the future,’ he concluded and stepped down from the lectern.

The English Recitation by D.R.David Livingstone followed. It too was a great performance.

Next was the Distribution of Prizes by Dr. (Mrs.) Inpamani Arulanantham. Four Hundred and Fifty One Prizes were given away.

The Tamil Oratory which followed was very lively, meaningful and emotive. The orator was once again, P.Zeruba.

The Chief Guest’s address followed. Dr. Karunyan, in his address, he:

  • Thanked everyone for the invitation, hospitality and entertainment.
  • Said that coming to St. John’s was like coming back home.
  • Said that his family has had connections with St. John’s for over 130 years - since his grandfather joined St. John’s as a student around 1870.
  • Talked about his days as a student which according to him was a rare privilege.
  • Declared that he could never give back to St. John’s more than what he has received.
  • Said that a student’s challenge was not only to excel in sports but also in studies.
  • Said that he found the current accomplishments of the school truly remarkable given that only two decades ago he visited St. John’s in a very different and a much more challenging situation.
  • Reminisced the time he came to Jaffna in in April 1995 when he met Principal, Mr. S Thanapalan who despite the difficulties of the time, envisioned a better school for the children.
  • Said that St. John’s was a point of light in those dark times.
  • Described in length the challenges the school faced during the war.
  • Said that what touched him most were the pictures of students studying while displaced under trees, in Kilinochchi.
  • Said that the Principal, staff and parents with the generosity of the old boys and well-wishers, gave hope and a future to 783 displaced, orphaned, and impoverished children some as young as 6 years of age.
  • Described the act of sheltering Displaced Students as an ‘unprecedented humanitarian act of faith.’
  • Read out the verses in the Gospel of St. Matthew 25:40 where Jesus says “Truly I say unto you, in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.”
  • Talked in depth about the two ever changing and evolving functions of the school: imparting knowledge and skills and nurturing and developing a child.
  • Said that when faced with adversity, the wise choose the only wealth that cannot be stolen or destroyed - education.
  • Advised the students to make the most of their time at St. John’s.
  • Talked about creating a stress free environment for children to study and about disciplining children without corporal punishment.

‘I have a sense of optimism; of greater accomplishment to come by at St. John’s ,’ he said before stepping down. His speech drew a lot of applause from the audience.

The Ven. Samuel Jeyakumar Ponniah, Manager of the College, took the lectern and thanked the Principal for the detailed but summarised form of the report he presented and showed his appreciation for the meaningful speech delivered by the Chief Guest.

The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Hon. E.Arnold, representing the old boys and seconded by Mr.M.Chandrakumar, on behalf of the staff.

As was the custom of the College, the Head Prefect handed over a letter of request to the Chief Guest asking him to get the Principal’s consent to declare Tuesday, the first working day after the Prize Giving, as a special school holiday. The Principal gave his acquiescence to the joy of the students.

The College Song brought the events of the day to a grand finish.

The students went home happily after many weeks’ of hard work, with words from the famous verses of 13th century Persian Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi still ringing in their ears…

"You were born with potential. 
You were born with goodness and trust. 
You were born with ideas and dreams. 
You were born with greatness. 
You were born with wings. 
You are not meant for crawling, 
so don’t, you have wings. 
Learn to use them to fly."

The students of St. John’s have learnt the art of flying. And now, the sky is the limit…

Short Biographies of the Chief Guests

Dr Karunyan Arulanantham
Dr Karunyan Arulanantham, son of the first national Principal of St. John’s, the Rev. J.T.Arulanantham, is a well-rounded personality. He is an old boy of our school and captained the St John's cricket team. He also played for Jaffna Combined Schools Team, and All Ceylon School Boy Cricket Team in 1960. Our Chief Guest won the General Excellence Award in 1959, entered Medical School and graduated with a class in the MBBS examination in 1966. In the University he was the President of the University SCM and was elected to the Executive Body of World Student Christian Fellowship in 1964.

After his internship, he worked as Registrar, Pediatrics at the University Unit at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital before migrating to the United States. He served the country before migration and he continues to do so even now. There is no doubt that he has given back more than what he has received – as far as St. John’s College is concerned, the Principal of the College will vouch for this statement.

Dr Karunyan is so selfless that his family’s contributions are made in the names of others. Discerning the significance of Old Boys and their support to their Alma Mater, he wished to recognize them by helping fund the construction of the pavilion – Johnian Stand.

Of the countless assistance he has rendered to the College, the financial support he extended towards the Ground Expansion Project, construction of the pavilions, IT Lab and Western Music Room with instruments stand out. The College is also extremely appreciative of his support towards Staff Development, and Scholarships and Gold Medal Trust Funds to remember his teachers and fellow Johnians.

In the States, he completed his training in pediatrics, did fellowship in Endocrinology at Yale University, taught in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Connecticut and has published many papers. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist and American Academy of Pediatrics and is currently the Medical Director of the Antelope Valley Community Clinic.

He is also a Human Rights advocate, advocating for human rights of all people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. He is the Health Advisor to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, working with OfERR, a refugee self-help group in Tamil Nadu. He is also the President of the Tamil American Peace Initiative, a human rights group that advocates for Sri Lankan Tamils in the US.

Dr. (Mrs.) Inpam Arulanantham
Dr. (Mrs.) Inpam Arulanantham was a Prefect and Captain of Choate House in Methodist College Colombo. She has a lovely voice and has won in numerous singing competitions. She has also been a soloist at Radio Ceylon.

Singing doesn’t earn someone a seat in the Medical College. She too was a diligent student for she entered the Medical College in Colombo and graduated with an MBBS in 1968, two years after Dr. Karunyan.

She was a member of the University Student Christian Movement and not at all surprisingly, a member of the Choir. She worked at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital in Colombo for two years prior to migrating to the US with her husband. In the US, Dr.(Mrs.) Inpam Arulanantham specialized in Pathology and is an Anatomic and Clinical Pathologist.

She is a Fellow of the American College of Pathologists and is currently the Medical Director of the Laboratory and Pathological Services at the Palmdale Regional Medical Center in Palmdale, California.

She and her husband are two of the founders of the Children Center of the Antelope Valley. She is a very active member of the Antelope Valley Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center Foundation.

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