KOTA KINABALU: After 20 years of planning and executing, SM St Francis’ Convent finally has a new home.
The all-girl secondary school moved from its former building at Harrington Road to the brand-new site at Bukit Padang, just behind the SRK St Francis’ Convent primary school.
The long-awaited move marked a new chapter in the historic school’s book, said its principal, Theresa Chong, especially since it was something that had been in the works for so long.
“I’m glad that we have moved to a new location replete with a brand-new building, a beautiful building that is proof of the unwavering support by many throughout the years. Moving into this new building is an exciting experience for all the staff and students. Our new home today is equipped with great facilities, such as four science labs and a library, that, hopefully, will create a positive learning environment.
“The new spacious environment, together with modern facilities, would no doubt provide a more conducive and comfortable space for all of us. We have enough classrooms to accommodate our 22 classes, and we are looking forward to be a single session school,” she said, at the official opening of the new St Francis’ Convent school building on Saturday.
After the ground breaking ceremony in 2002, construction commenced in December 2015 and was completed in November 2018. Students started the academic year 2019 in the new building, beginning January.
Although there were much excitement surrounding the move, Theresa said the school still needed several amenities, the most pertinent of which were a school hall and field. Expenses for both come up to about RM3,300,000 and said that the school would continue with its best efforts to provide students with those facilities.
“This open hall area is where school assemblies are held, exposed to rain and heat. Other necessities are being planned, including a school field and a fully equipped computer lab.
“Regardless of the shortcomings, we are proud to continue to uphold the legacy of St Francis’ Convent, which is to provide quality education. This new building marks another milestone in the development of St Francis’ Convent to further live up to our motto, ‘To Love and To Serve.’ It is my hope that our school would continue to nurture capable and well-rounded students to excel in various fields,” she added.
Earlier, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal assured that the State government was committed in its focus on the education sector as its main agenda towards producing educated people.
“It is fitting that in this millennium, such a magnificent building would steer students to greater progress and development,” he said in his opening address.
“In the past, St Francis’ Convent had given many girls the opportunity for a sound education and many have become leaders in the local community. I am confident that with this new school building, this opportunity would continue as it has been said that investment in knowledge yields great returns,” he said.
His speech was read by Assistant Minister of Education and Innovation, Jenifer Lasimbang, who represented him at the opening.
Shafie went on to say that Sabah is a young and developing State which needs skilled and educated population to meet the challenges in the future. He expressed confidence that the school principal and teachers would continue with their efforts to educate the younger generation who had taken the pathway to progress through education.
“I am happy to note that the federal and Sabah governments, teachers, parents, students and former students of St Francis’ Convent have worked as a team to realise the result we are seeing today. What a proud moment for all Franciscans, and I once again congratulate all of you in this magnificent feat,” he said.
Also present at the opening of the new St Francis’ Convent school building were Sabah Education Department director Dr Mistrine Radin, Archbishop Datuk John Wong Su Kau of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Sacred Heart Cathedral rector, Reverend Father Paul Lo, chairperson of the St Francis’ Convent board of governors, Mary Gomez, St Francis’ Convent Alumni president Dympna Ubing, and St Francis’ Convent Secondary School parent-teacher association chairperson Roger James Maga.