The St Michael’s School (SMS) Alumni Fund Committee includes Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, himself an old boy of the school. The school has been renamed St Joseph’s Institution Junior.

By Joyce Gan

Twelve years ago at one of their monthly meet-ups, some old boys from the former St Michael’s School decided they wanted to help the school’s needy as they were in a position to do so.

They got more of their old schoolmates together, organised a dinner and fundraised for the first contributions to the St Michael’s School (SMS) Alumni Fund.

The fund was officially set up in 2007 when the school changed its name from St Michael’s School to St Joseph’s Institution Junior (SJIJ). Since then, these old boys have been contributing to help the school’s needy students as well as supporting other areas of the school such as the sports hall and the stained glass at the school hall.

To date, the SMS Alumni Fund has assisted more than 500 students.

Ms Nora, a mother of six, says she is grateful for the financial aid since her eldest son was transferred to SJIJ in Primary Four.

“At that time, I was not working and my husband had just got retrenched. That was the time when, yes, we felt like giving up,” she shared.

“At least now I can give the kids a bit of pocket money to bring to school every day.”

Ms Christine, whose son also benefited from the fund, said that it is a boon for lower-income families. “It really helps the children to continue at school,” she said.

Aiding students

Forty-five students from 40 families are currently being aided by the SMS Alumni Fund Committee. Every year, about $12,000-15,000 are given to these families; the sum fluctuates depending on the number of families in need each year.

This is on top of what the Ministry of Education (MOE) is offering to families in crisis, and especially for boys who may not qualify for the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme.

The alumni fund helps provide support for after-school care, additional transport when boys stay behind for CCAs, meals required to be taken in school outside of recess time, and other miscellaneous costs incurred by the boys while at school.

This year, the school is utilising these funds to give out a “Good Progress Award” for needy students as well. This is done to provide some form of academic motivation for students who struggle with their studies because of difficult life circumstances.

Some come from single-parent families while others come from families where both parents need to work long hours to make ends meet. Some boys also have medical problems or have parents with illness.

Annual ‘hong bao’

On Feb 8, the alumni fund committee held its annual SJI Junior Hong Bao Presentation at SJI Junior. This is a yearly event where needy students and their families come to receive a special hong bao presented by Deputy Prime Minister
Teo Chee Hean, himself an old boy of the school as well as a founding member of the committee.

During the event, principal Timothy Goh noted that “community has always been one of those things which sets our school apart.”

Mr Joseph Bong, another founding member of the alumni fund, said, “We hope that this can help to encourage other schools to set up similar support for their students.”

Effective Feb 9 this year, a new committee comprising younger ex-Michaelians has been formed to oversee the fund.

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