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The Lasallian spirit lives on

 

The modern concrete, steel and glass school that houses the 1,600 enrollment of La Salle College today reflects the ever changing nature of education. 

After the school was reconstructed from scratch in 1979, it did not take two decades for the developing needs to demand more classrooms, space and facilities.

But more than education has changed, so have the brothers. Whereas once, while a brother in the classroom was always seen as a privilege, in another sense it was mundane; but today, it is a rarity. In 2004, Paul Lau Wai-keen, an old boy, became the first lay principal, with Wong Yen-kit as his deputy.

Passing on the Lasallian charism has become a priority and in 1994 this work began in earnest, with selected teachers travelling to Manila to begin the dynamic at the Asia Pacific Lasallian Educators Congress. In 1998 it was held in Hong Kong

The 75th anniversary publication describes its purpose as “to strengthen or organise formation programmes for new teachers, current staff and parents; to promote the Lasallian spirit through various means, such as having prayer rooms and heritage rooms, and to share the Lasallian mission at management, staff and youth levels.”

Other challenges faced came in the form of language. La Salle College was an English medium school from its foundation, but with the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the local government moved strongly in favour of mother tongue education.

It set three criteria for a school to fulfill to retain its English-language tradition; students’ ability, teachers’ capability and support measures. La Salle College was one of the 114 out of 500 secondary schools in the territory to qualify.

The 1990s saw the school broaden its horizons, with entries in the Hong Kong Maths and Informatics Olympiad, in which it did well, and other local and international exchange programmes.

The new millennium saw a new emphasis on music, drama, speech, dancing and visual arts, and the school symphony orchestra was revived, introducing a Chinese orchestra, a wind band and senior and treble choirs.

The flexibility of the college was evident during the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003, when the government was forced to close all schools for a period of about six weeks.

For a short period La Salle College went into distance learning and the availability of the Internet allowed teachers to communicate with their students at home, sending assignments and monitoring them through email and Websites.

Testament to its effectiveness came with the end of year results, which were some of the best ever on record for the proud education establishment.

Of course no established school is replete without a past students association and the La Salle Old Boys Association was formally set up in 1939, after the seven years of plenty.

The association has served the school well, organising a political campaign to pressure the British military to return the old school to the De La Salle Brothers during its occupation of the prestigious building in the 1950s. 

It also invested wisely on behalf of the school in a few blue chip stocks and providing regular friendship, support and opportunities to the school community.

The association also provided support when a primary section was opened in 1957. Today, housed in a new building completed in 2002, it has an enrollment of nearly 1,100.

As the standard of school facilities is higher than required by government, upkeep costs have always been problematic, but the old boys set up a fund in the 1990s to help defray extra costs and keep the school in top condition, as one of the best equipped in the territory.

As it lives through its 80th year under the leadership of Brother Steve Hogan, a student at La Salle has a rich history to feed from.

In the words of the Silver Jubilee Lasallite of 1957, “An unfailing source of inspiration to a La Salle Old Boy is integral loyalty to the past; the silent and deeply personal fidelity in daily conduct to the La Salle ideal—the allegiance of a man to the pure vision of life formed in boyhood’s years, an allegiance which no adversary can shake.”

 The original La Salle College on Prince Edward Road, Kowloon.