Our History

Our History | A Brief History: 1882 – 1996 ( The La Salle Era (1950 – 1988 )

1950 January – A historic year in the annals of the school. 5 De La Salle Brothers, led by Rev. Bro. Patrick O’Donovan who became the new Principal, arrived to take over the administration of the school.

The first picture we have Rev. Bro. Patrick O’Donovan speaking at the ceremony to welcome the Brothers and say farewell to Father Adrian De Vos.

The second picture shows a gathering of Old Boys of St. Joseph’s at the ceremony held in front of the school to farewell the Mill Hill Fathers and welcome the La Salle Brothers.

The student population increased to 714. The first class of students sat for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination.

1950 October – The St. Joseph’s Scout Troop was formed. 60 boys joined the troop.
1951 – The first science laboratory was set up. History was added to the curriculum. 1952 – St. Joseph’s became the first school in Sarawak to enter science candidates for the School Certificate Examination. 1953 – The first Form Six class was started.

1954 -Three candidates sat for the Higher School Certificate Examination. The William Tan Auditorium, two large science laboratories and a two-storey block of 10 classrooms for Form 4 and 5 was officially opened by Sir Anthony Abell, the Governor of Sarawak. The picture shows the William Tan Auditorium and the Form 4 and 5 Block, (today known as the Old Boys’ Block).1955 – Bro. Patrick O’Donovan retired as Principal and was succeeded by Bro. Henry O’Brien. 1958 – Three school athletes, Salleh Abdul Wahab, Joseph Lee Gut Hing and Tham Siew Kai were the only representatives from Sarawak in the British Empire Games in Cardiff, Wales.

From left, Rev. Bro. John Gaul, Joseph Lee Gut Hing, Salleh Abdul Wahab, Tham Siew Kai and Rev. Bro. Henry O’Brien.

1960 – Bro. Henry O’Brien retired. His successor as Principal was Bro. Hilary McGroary.

1961 August – The first edition of the school magazine, the Ad Astra (meaning “to the stars” in Latin) was published. 1962 – St. Joseph’s Private School, later renamed St. Patrick’s School, was set up to provide secondary education for students who could not proceed to Form 1 in Government Aided Schools.

1962 – 63 – St. Joseph’s Primary School was built. The Primary School became a separate establishment from the Secondary School. The first picture was taking during the opening ceremony of St. Joseph’s Primary School, 1962 while the second is a rear view of St. Joseph’s Primary School in 1962. 1963 August Bro. Hilary McGroary left for higher studies in Ireland. Bro. Albinus O’Flaherty succeeded him as Principal.

1970 – Mr. Polycarp Sim and Mr. Poh Chin Hang retired after more than 35 years of sterling service as teachers. This photograph, taken in 1960, shows the late Datuk Polycarp Sim (left) and the late Mr. Poh Chin Hang (right) with Rev. Bro. Henry. Bro. Albinus was transferred to Sibu to become the Principal of Sacred Heart School. Bro. Columba Gleeson became the new Principal of St. Joseph’s. The St. Joseph’s Old Boys’ Association was formed with Tan Sri Datuk William Tan as patron and the late Datuk Polycarp Sim as its first president.

1972 – A new four-storey building housing the library, 2 science laboratories and Form 6 classes, now known as La Salle Block, was declared open by the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, a former student of the school. 1977 – A Board of Management was formed to help govern the school in an advisory capacity. 1988 January – Bro. Columba Gleeson retired as Principal, bringing to an end the 35 year administration of the La Salle Brothers, as well as the era of the Fathers and Brothers in the administration of the school.

1988 Jan. 12 – Mr. Gerald Lee Leong Ai, a former Josephian, took over as the first lay Catholic Principal of St. Joseph’s. 1990 – A new two-storey, `5-Star’ toilet block was built. 1992 – Project “A Ringgit A Brick” was launched to raise funds for a new four-storey building to meet the need for more classrooms and better facilities. A total amount of RM 191,791.10 was raised. 1993 – The student enrolment reached 1800. 1993 May 29 – The four storey Josephian Block, costing approximately 1 million Malaysian dollars was declared open by YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abdul Taib bin Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, a former of the school.

1995 January – The Datuk Polycarp Sim Stadium, a multi-purpose indoor stadium costing 1.1 million Malaysian dollars was declared open by the Chief Minister of Sarawak. The Datuk Polycarp Sim Memorial Fund was launched to provide bursaries for deserving students.

1995 May – The Tan Sri Datuk William Tan Auditorium was reopened after having undergone extensive renovations to refurbish it and upgrade its facilities. The Auditorium is now fully carpeted and air- conditioned. Tan Sri Datuk William Tan, a student of the school from 1912-1922, officiated at the reopening ceremony. A book entitled ” A History Of St Joseph’s School, Kuching, 1882- 1994, written by Bro.Hilary McGroary, a former Principal of St. Joseph’s, was launched by Datuk Dr. George Chan, the Sarawak Minister of Finance and Public Utilities,a former student of SJS 1995 December – The ground floor of the Mill Hill Block where the staff room, and offices of the Senior Assistants and Afternoon Supervisor are located, was renovated and air-conditioned.

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1996 March

St. Joseph’s School went on-line. In this picture, Tan Sri Datuk William Tan and YAB Datuk George Chan, Minister of Finance and Public Utilities, Sarawak, both former students of St. Joseph’s, officiated the launch of the St. Joseph’s website. 1996 May 3 – Project “spare A Ringgit, Save Our Field” was launched to raise funds, to restore the playing fields of the school. A total of RM 150,461.23 was raised by July 1996.

1997 Jan – The School Diary was introduced. 1997 April – A new multi-media Resource Centre with “state of art” equipment will begin operating. 5 of the 20 computers will be linked to Internet. When fully functional, the Resource Centre will also be equipped with an LCD projector and scanner. 1997 July – Bro. Albinus O’Flaherty left Sarawak to take up a teaching post in China.

1997 August – Bro. Hilary McGroary and Bro. Columba Gleeson left Sarawak for permanent retirement in Ireland. 1997 November- -St. Joseph’s purchased a forty-seater, air-conditioned school bus. 1998 February – Rev. Bro. Adrian Gaule re-launched the SJS web site. – 1998 JuneThe Mill Hill Block was renovated to accomate a chapel and surau, both air-conditioned, and a clinic for the Red Crescent on the ground floor of the right wing. – 1998 July – Rev. Bro. Albinus returned from China.- 1998 August The AVA Studio in the La Salle Block was renovated, extended, refurnished, air-conditioned and renamed the ‘Dewan Kuliah’.