Friday, January 26th 2018 was a red-letter day in the history of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia as on this day the Thomian community celebrated the completion of 100 years of the College at Mount Lavinia. It was on January 26th 1918 that the RtRev’d Ernest Arthur Copleston, Bishop of Colombo, blessed and dedicated two permanent buildings, namely the Main Block of classrooms and the Science Laboratory and the College began to function in its new environs having moved from Mutwal at the end of 1917 by Warden,Rev’d W.A. Stone.
On January 26th 2018 the celebrations commenced with a special Service of Thanksgiving and Rededication in the College Chapel of the Transfiguration by 7.45 a.m.
Service of Thanksgiving and Rededication
The service was attended by members of the Board of Governors, staff, Old Boys, well-wishers and students. The congregation was led in service by the Lord Bishop of Colombo, the Chaplains of the College, Former Chaplains and a host of Thomian clergy. The choir sang the ‘Te Deum Laudamus’ composed by C.V. Standford, as a special anthem to commemorate the occasion. The preacher for the occasion was the Bishop Emiritus of Colombo, Rt. Rev’dDuleep de Chickera, former Chaplain and Sub-Warden of the school.
In his sermon Bishop de Chickera emphasized on the importance of the centrality of emotional and spiritual needs of children in the school system. Moreover, he mentioned that a foremost feature of STC has been the consistency of integration; i.e., the acceptance of all faiths in the Thomian community and the diversity of culture and faith though founded and maintained on Christian principles. He also commented on the importance of maintaining an education which is real and relevant in schools. Bishop de Chickera identified the school as a third model in the education system which is neither bureaucratic nor profit-oriented, yet encouraged the Thomian community to engage in generous dialogue with the other two models, to absorb that which is good. He ended by acknowledging that the school should renew its covenant to provide a good quality of life to its students and to the nation, and in doing so generations will follow its lead.
At the conclusion of the service, the Bishops and clergy recessed to the West Door – led by the national, school and house flags.The Lord Bishop of Colombo then pronounced a blessing over the school from the steps of the Chapel.
Rededication of Buildings and Special General Assembly
The Service was followed by the rededication of the two oldest buildings, namely the Main Classroom Block and the Library Block (formerly the Science Laboratory) and the opening of the 90 Block for the Lower Schoolby the Lord Bishop of Colombo. A bust of Rt. Rev’d. W. A. Stone was unveiled by Mr. Esmond Satarasinghe who represented the most senior league of Thoamians. Along with it, a portrait of Bishop E. A. Copleston was unveiledby Ven. V. L. P. Fernando, Emeritus Archdeacon of Galle and most senior Thomian clergyman.
After the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, the Warden, Rev’d Marc Billimoriadelivered his welcome address. Subsequent to this, there were speeches from the following Old Boys which carried so much knowledge, maturity and expressed their sentiments during their time in College and also shared their visions for the future of S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia.
- Air Chief Marshal Deshamanya P. H. Mendis (STCML 1940 – 1950), 1st Thomian Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
- Mr W. T. Ellawala (Head Prefect – 1957 / 1958), Managing Director of Ceylon Trading Company Limited, Chairman and CEO of T W Mackie Group of Companies.
- Mr J. D. Bandaranayake (Head Prefect – 1966 / 1967) Mr K.M. Waidyaratne (Head Prefect – 1978), Secretary of Defence.
- Mr V. P. W. Wijegunawardene (Head Prefect – 1989 / 1990), Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka.
- Dr N.G.R Perera (Head Prefect 1992), Chairman of the Basketball Advisory Committee of S. Thomas’ College.
- Mr D. S. Rajasingham (Head Prefect – 2009 / 2010), Lecturer in Law at the University of Jaffna, Consultant for the Public Outreach Programme of the Constitutional Assembly Secretariat of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
- D. S. Sansoni (Head Prefect of the School 2017 / 2018)
The ceremony was made more colourful by the special songs written by Mr. Suresh De Silva and Mr. PriyaPeiris. A few students of the College Forms also presented a special song composed and written by them. The first copy of The Memorials of James Chapman D.D., reprinted by VijithaYapa was presented by the Warden to the Lord Bishop of Colombo. Additionally, a book of verse and prose on the College by the late Mervyn CasieChetty wasprinted and presented by his son, Mr. N. Y. CasieChetty to the Warden during the Assembly.
The Thomian parade organized by the Old Thomians’ Cadet Union for Warden’s Special Events Team in celebration of 100 years at Mount Lavinia commenced at Mutwal on the 27th of January 2018.
Lead by the Sub Warden, Mr. Asanka Perera, and the Associate Chaplain, Rev’d Roshan Mendis, the cyclists commenced their journey from Christ Church Mutwal, where S. Thomas’ College was located for 67 years before it was moved to Mount Lavinia in 1918. The students were joined by a large number of the staff as well as Old Boys who joined in the celebrations of this momentous occasion. Perhaps for the first time in the history of the College, a Thomian parade was joined by a number of female cyclists which comprised of members of staff.
The cyclists peddled from Mutwal to Milagiriya where they were joined with the rest of the parade which consisted of a vehicle parade and many other members of the Thomian family consisting of Old Boys, present staff and students, retired members of staff, and well-wishers. Joining in on this parade were representatives from the invited schools, prefects from Ladies’ College, Methodist College, Bishop’s College and Royal College who came to celebrate this historic event.
This immense crowd coloured the streets in blue and black, all the way to Mount Lavinia, letting the world know of the happiness of success. At the end, amidst the papare and the loud “THORA” cheers, the parade concluded at the Small Club Grounds with the College Song.
Written and Assembled by
The Literature Class of 2019