Vembadi Girls High School is one of the few schools in the island, which can be proud of having celebrated several jubilees. The Platinum Jubilee Celebration of the Old Girls Association is one such event.
Our Alma mater has the distinction of having produced distinguished women in all walks of life; among them topping the list is the First Woman State Councilor in Ceylon Mrs. Nesam Saravanamuutu (1932) and the First fully qualified Tamil Lady Doctor Nallammah Wiliam Murugesu L.R.C.P, L.M.S (1911). These loyal Old Girls desired to rally round their Alma Mater and the First Re-union of Old Girls was held in 1904. In 1915, when Miss. Lythe’s was the Principal of Vembadi the Old Girls Reunion was inaugurated as the Old Girl’s Association. A women’s meeting was held on March 13th, 1916, attended by a large number of former pupils. They elected the office bearers and rules were drawn up and the next committee meeting was fixed for May 29th. At this meeting many useful suggestions were made to carry on the Association.
The records are silent till early 1920s.
In 1923, there are records to say about the revival of the OGA and the OLD Girls have contributed towards the building of a sick room. Miss Ireson undertook to collect from the old girls and contributed liberally herself and the building was named Ireson block.
At the meeting held in 1929, the photographs of the Rev. Trimmer, and Mrs. Trimmer (who was the head of the Vembadi school for nearly 30 years) were unveiled. During this period the OGA organized programs and the growth of the OGA was fairly steady.
In 1937, the Branch OGA was started in Colombo and Miss. Scowcroft attended the inaugural meeting at Wellawatte at which 50 Old Girls assembled.
In1938, when Vembadi celebrated its centenary, Miss. Miriam Pickard’s message about Vembadi OGA – I certainly never can forget the genuine and living interest in the school OGA, how their Secretary put me on my mantle by saying when I held my first OGA meeting, “You will tell me what to do and we shall do it – and they did”.
The success of the Centenary celebrations caused the OGA to meet as often as possible.
Unfortunately there are no records to show the growth of the OGA for a period of nearly one and a half decades.
In the 1950s as usual, the OGA met annually, enjoyed games and office bearers were chosen. Praise Service was an important item in the program and among those who performed this service were Mrs. Ratna Navaratnam, Mrs. S. T. Samuel and Miss. G. T. Vadivelu.
In 1960, Vembadi Girls High School was taken over by the Government. In spite of the drastic change in the school administration, the Old Girls went ahead with their activities.
The Colombo OGA called itself “VEMBADI OLD GIRLS ASSOCIATION COLOMBO”. The other parts of the world adopted the same name as well.
THE VEMBADI OLD GIRLS ASSOCIATION/CANADA
THE VEMBADI OLD GIRLS ASSOCIATION/AUSTRALIA
THE VEMBADI OLD GIRLS ASSOCIATION/UNITED KINGDOM
In 1952, the Association was revived again in Colombo. In response to the invitation sent out by Mrs. J. R. Wilson, Mrs. C. Nagendra and Mrs. J.S. Anandanayagam, 36 old girls from various parts of the city and three representatives from Vembadi, gathered and laid firm foundation for the association.
This revival was followed by an AGM at which the Association welcomed Miss. Mabel Thambiah on her return from the United States and also bade farewell to the last missionary Principal Miss. M. B. Barker. Thereafter the OGA met once a year at a social or dinner combining business with pleasure and the AGM was held.
In 1958, the dark days that followed the communal riots made it impossible to have any celebrations.
In 1971, the OGA organized a grand Public Farewell to the veteran Principal Miss. Mabel Thambiah. She was taken in procession to Mabel Thambiah Hall and distinguished members of the public spoke about her dedication, her innovation and landmarks in the school.
After Miss. Thambiah’s regime, the Old Girls Association had gone into hibernation for some time. The OGA erupted in 1976, put an advertisement in the Sunday Observer of 1976, calling for membership enrolment of the Old Girls. It was well responded and the AGM was held on the May 28th, 1977. After the 1977 resurrection OGA did not meet according to the evidences in hand.
Mrs. A. Rajaratnam, the principal, desired to revive the Jaffna OGA and sought the help of the Colombo OGA to rebuild the Jaffna OGA, which was defunct for quite a long time and got detached from the Colombo VOGA.
In 1987, the plan to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the school was given up due to the escalation of the civil war and it was celebrated the following year on the June 29th with the assistance of the OGA. The june 29th was the Founders Day.
In 1989, the OGA played a major role in the appointment Miss. R. Rajaratnam as the principal and successor of Mrs. A. Rajaratnam who retired on the May 03rd 1989. With the appointment of Mrs. A. Rajaratnam, a new chapter began in the history of the Jaffna OGA.
1n 1991 the Constitution of the OGA was amended. The Principal maintained a firm relationship with the OGA. The 150th anniversary magazine “The Touch Bearer” was released.
The first AGM of the OGA after the new constitution was held in March 1991, presided over by Miss. R Rajaratnam. Miss. G.T. Vadivelu was the guest of honour. Mrs. Thurairajah was elected as the President of the OGA at this meeting. The OGA invited the Executive Society of the School, headed by the Principal for the meetings.
The Jaffna OGA’s 75th anniversary was held on the July 05th, 1992 during the times of worst battle conflicts taking place around the school. The spirit lived on to encourage the Old Girls to rally round to overcome all adversities.
The “Grand Old Lady of Jaffna” had lost her grandeur due to the ravages of war. The buildings were badly mutilated during the battles that occurred around that area. These changes in no way affected the OLD GIRLS OF VEMBADI in the efforts to bring back the school to its original glory.