What catches you about it is its size. It’s huge. Acres and acres of land filled with trees and paved roads. Look to your right as you enter and you’ll see a Chapel. Turn to your left, and you’ll come across a huge, sprawling library. Go further to your right and you’ll enter an office. You’ll see counselling rooms. As an official here tells, ‘teachers assume the counsellor’s role very often.’ To make one smile.
This is St John’s College, Jaffna. With more than 2,000 students and 139 teachers, ‘sprawling’ is a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing it. No other word comes to mind, though. And no other word ought to, either. It speaks for itself.
The numbers are what strike you first. But that’s not everything. What counts even more is the way the school operates. Among the country’s oldest, St John’s is very probably one of the smoothest-running as well. Its overriding vision speaks about one of its many, many roles: To extend its ‘hand of mercy and support to the people of Sri Lanka, proving itself to be a Christian value-based service-oriented institution.’
‘Christian.’ The entire school revolves around that word. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that as far as faith goes, St John’s runs and will continue to run on spirituality. That is why, for instance, both vision and mission of the school are run on a Biblical verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The quote seems to sum up everything about the school. There is a sense of discipline which cannot be put down in words. Yes, this was all seen on a Saturday. But there were students. Teachers too. There is an air of reservation rarely to be met with in other schools. More important, there is also humility. At the end of the day, when it comes to assessing achievement, this counts.
The brochure tells us that St John’s has impressive credits to its name. To list them all here would be tedious and quite beside the point. Here’s a sample nonetheless. The school has had achievements in (almost) every sphere. In O/Levels (four students with nine As in 2014), A/Levels (five students with three As that year), the number of students admitted to University (34 that year), and of course the awards it has won from beyond the curriculum, there’s much to speak about when it comes to achievement. To put it shortly, it has almost been a smooth sail for St John’s.
That’s beside the point, however. What’s important is the present. Now.
The administration of the school quite candidly admits that they are experimenting with their students. They say that, as part of the national policy of languages, they are trying out both official languages on their students. As one official says, they’ve even taken in students from the South. Considering that their counterparts elsewhere obviously are lagging behind on this count in comparison, one should smile at this.
There’s hope, one is moved to conclude. Purely and simply.
St John’s is a popular school, going by current terminology. That, however, does not de-validate what it has done and what it will continue to do. There’s genuineness in whatever one’s eyes are laid on here. With schools, that’s rare. This is not an exaggeration, by the way. This is based on what can be seen.
And from what can be gathered, one can admit this much. Words can’t do justice here. Wherever one is – the library, the computer room, the counselling rooms, even outside in the open – there is a peace and tranquillity which only a firm but pliable school-culture can produce. Perhaps that is what moves anyone when it comes to schools. St John’s College, happy to say, may lead them all on this count.
Remarkable achievements in the recent past
• The school was accredited with the International School Award by the British Council (2012-2015).
• P. Mithushan of Grade 12 won first place in the Oratory- Impromptu (English) competition 2013 at National Level.
• The U-13 Cricket team emerged Runners-up in the National Level Division III Tournament (2012/2013) organized by the Sri Lanka Schools’ Cricket Association.
• The Cricket U-17 “A” became Joint Champions in the Division III Cricket Tournament 2013, and were promoted to Division II.
• The First XI Cricket team was acknowledged “BEST TEAM IN THE NORTHERN PROVINCE” by the Bata – Sunday Times School Boy Cricket Awards 2013 & Mobitel – Sunday Observer School Boy Cricket Awards 2013.
• P.Thuvaragaseelan and S.Jeni Flemin were selected for the U-19 National 31-member Cricket squad.
• Soccer U/19 emerged 2nd Runners-up at the Sri Lanka Schools’ Football Association’s Division III Tournament in 2012.
• At the National Level Weight Lifting competition, U. Vinothkumar (U-19) won 1st place, and B.Victor John (U-19) obtained 3rd place.
• The school won four Gold Medals and one Bronze Medal at the 7th National Karate Championship.
• Twelve Scouts won the President’s Scout Award, and six Cub Scouts won Gold Star, the highest award in Cub Scouting in 2012 – 2014.
• The school won first place in Villupaaddu at the National Level Tamil Day Competitions three times consecutively in 2010, 2011 & 2012.
• The school won the “All-Island Excellent Award” in the Best Environment-Friendly School Competition 2012.
• St. John’s has supported 739 displaced schoolchildren since 2009, and currently 307 children (Boarders 89 and Day Scholars 218) receive comprehensive free education.
• A. Sanjayan was ranked 2nd in the Island – A/L Bio Science stream 2011.
• In the Grade 5 Scholarship Examination 2013, M. Mithulan obtained 193 marks and was ranked 2nd in the Island (Tamil Medium).
• Four students obtained 9As in the GCE O/L Examination 2014, and five students obtained 3As in the GCE A/L Examination-2014.
• M. Tharushikan was ranked 1st in the District (English Medium – Bio Science) in the GCE A/L Examination-2014.
• Thirty-four students gained admission to university in 2014.
• A. Jenushan represented Sri Lanka (Member of the National Football Team Under 14) at the Asian Football Confederation U/14 Regional Festival of Football (2015).
• P. Thuvarakaseelan participated in the ‘Murali Harmony Unity Tour 2014’ in UK from June 9 to 17, 2014. He was the Vice Captain of the Murali Harmony Unity Team.
• B.Charan, S.Banugoban and T.Sayeeshan participated in the JENESYS 2.0 program (Japan East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) in Japan from March 9 to 18, 2014 organized by the Japan International Corporation Centre.
• Scouts T.Regno Romesh, A.Sam Thushanthan, P.Samuel and S.Sharmilan with two teachers in charge participated in the Global Friendship Camp in Norway from August 4 to11, 2013.
• Under the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms Program five teachers have visited the partner schools in Northern Ireland, UK in 2012 – 2015.