2020, the year of the Rat, heralds a milestone for Maryknoll Convent School, as we celebrate our Alma Mater’s 95thAnniversary! It is a time when we can rejoice in not only the heritage and legacy of the Maryknoll Sisters, but also the success of a reputable institution that provides all-round, quality education affordable to girls in Hong Kong. As a community, we also celebrate the Maryknoll spirit, the precious friendships that have been built over the years and the life-long loyalty to our beloved School. We hope that this reunion could further bond and build our community to support our Alma Mater ahead of the opportunities and challenges in education in the 21st Century.
A brief history of Maryknoll Convent School
Looking back, it is staggering to imagine the foresight and courage of the Maryknoll Sisters who built our iconic school building all those years ago in the 1930’s to provide girls in Hong Kong with access to education. None of them could have foreseen that this neo-Tudor style red brick structure would be declared a Historic Monument by the Government under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance in 2008, a pride and honor to all of us, and especially to the Maryknoll Sisters.
However, the Maryknoll Sisters’ vision went far beyond providing the school infrastructure. More importantly, following our School’s motto of “Sola Nobilitas Virtus” (Virtue Alone Ennobles), the Maryknoll Sisters have nurtured generations of young and inquisitive minds, and provided a holistic education for girls in Hong Kong. It was the vision of the Maryknoll Sisters for our girls to leave School as informed and innovative individuals, with moral, ethical and religious values, intellectually competent, compassionate in serving others, and capable of continuing self-development to meet the challenges in life and to contribute to society.
Since those early days, our School has weathered successive education reforms and continues to be a top school in Hong Kong. From 12 students in the 1920’s, the School has continued to expand and is currently providing quality education to 1,900 students. New buildings and extensions were added at various intervals to cater for changing educational needs. The Secondary section was moved to 5 Ho Tung Road in 1961 and the Jockey Club Wing was added in 1995, followed by the Rogers Annex in 2004. In the Primary section, the Regional House was turned over by Maryknoll Sisters in 1997 and was converted to Upper Primary classrooms to become whole-day school, in line with educational needs and Government policy.
The School Sponsoring Body – The Maryknoll Convent School Foundation Limited
In the early 2000’s, many Maryknoll Sisters started to retire and move back to the Maryknoll Motherhouse in New York. The Maryknoll Sisters decided that the time had come to turn over the sponsorship of the School to its former students, a group that understood and embraced the Vision and Mission of the School.
In 2005, the Foundation became the School Sponsoring Body of both sections of Maryknoll Convent School. It is responsible for supervising and overseeing the management and development of the School, to ensure that the Mission and Vision are carried out. It also gives general directions to the Incorporated Management Committees (IMC) of both sections in the operation and administration of the School.
One such important general direction is for our School to remain as a Government Aided School: our School was established in 1925 by the Maryknoll Sisters to provide education to girls from all backgrounds. That was more than 90 years ago, yet the Vision and Mission laid down by the Maryknoll Sisters remain unchanged as the cornerstone of MCS. It is therefore the view of the Foundation that being a Government Aided School would better allow us to carry out our Mission. As such, we have no intention to join the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS).
Other members of the Maryknoll Family – the Trust, FSA and PTAs
The Foundation would not be able to steer the School forward so successfully without the support of the other members of the Maryknoll community. These indispensable members of the Maryknoll family, which came before us, have contributed and continue to contribute to the School in their unique capacities:
- Maryknoll Convent School Educational Trust (MCS Trust): Established in 1992, the Trust provides financial support to the School and funds special projects and services that are in addition to and not otherwise covered by any Government funding. These services include School-based Educational Psychology & Clinical Psychology Support Services, staff duty visits, additional teaching and administrative staff, and staff development programs. The Trust relies on fund-raising events to support these special projects and services within the School.
- Maryknoll Convent School Former Students’ Association (FSA): The FSA exists to promote fellowship among Maryknoll alumnae, to strengthen links between the School and its graduates, and to contribute to the well-being of the School and its members. The FSA also regularly supports the School by providing donations, expertise and manpower.
- Parent-Teacher Association of both sections (PTAs): The PTAs were set up to facilitate communication and cooperation amongst the parents, teachers and the School and to improve student welfare. The PTAs also organize visits and service experiences to help widen students’ exposure.
Meeting the challenges of 21st century education – The Four Strategic Foci
In 2015, on the 10th anniversary of the Foundation, the Council commissioned a Task Force to study the ethos, culture and performance outcomes of the School in order to identify how we could, while staying true to our Vision and Mission, further equip Maryknoll girls to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This study culminated in The Four Strategic Foci:
- To serve: encourage students to embrace service as a way of life for Maryknollers as they grow as individuals and contributors to society.
- To pursue excellence: instill in students a strong growth mindset, a will to aim high and the humility to seek improvement.
- To realize their potential to the full: promote intellectual, aesthetic, physical, spiritual and social development based on students’ needs and gifts.
- To be forward looking: equip students with the necessary knowledge, skills and values to prepare them for the globally connected VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world.
With the Four Strategic Foci serving as guiding principles in taking our School forward and forming the backbone of curriculum planning, and under the guidance of strong management and teaching teams, our girls continue to go from strength to strength in both academic and non-academic arenas. We remain as a top Band One school in Hong Kong. Our girls are not only versatile, inquisitive and happy learners, they are also high achievers who demonstrate sportsmanship, artistic and musical talent, team spirit, but at the same time, are compassionate and humble in their endeavors in and outside of the School.
As has been the case since the inception of our School, the Catholic tradition remains the bedrock of the Maryknoll tradition, and Christian creed is the foundation of our education philosophy. In addition, Values education and character building form an integral part of our education. In both the Primary and Secondary sections, our teachers inculcate values through Positive Education, and workshops are regularly organized for parents to support Values education at home.
Our next milestone in 2025 – The Four Strategic Pillars of Development
With our 95th Anniversary as the starting point, the Foundation has begun its journey towards the next milestone in 2025 – our Centenary. The Foundation has identified four foci for the development of our School:
- School Campus and Infrastructure – Our iconic campus is the public symbol of Maryknoll education and provides a uniquely inspiring learning environment for our girls. As custodians of this valuable asset, we need to invest resources to protect our heritage and develop for 21st century learning.
- Student Development – Our school program must be designed to provide an educational experience that allows for personal growth, understanding of self and relevance of learning to life. We develop the unique capacity of each student so they become intellectually competent and compassionate contributors to a better world.
- Teacher Growth – Teachers are the souls of the school and the gardeners of the seeds (students) in our care. Our focus in the growth and well-being of teachers will have a long-term impact on the growth and development of our students.
- The Maryknoll Community – Our loyal and selflessly giving alumnae and parent community is incomparable. We should develop thoughtful and sustainable systems to engage and harness their passion, resources and expertise for the betterment of the School.
The Boundary Street Convent Project
Under the first pillar of The Four Strategic Pillars of Development (School Campus and Infrastructure), a major development came to light in September 2019 when the Maryknoll Sisters handed over to the Foundation the Boundary Street Convent. This space, forming part of the Heritage Monument, used to be the dwelling quarters of the Maryknoll Sisters until the summer of 2019 when the last Maryknoll Sister moved out. Subject to further feasibility studies, the plan is to convert and transform the Convent into an Arts, Culture and Heritage Block. This block will complement the existing classrooms and multi-purpose rooms in both the Primary and Secondary sections, and will offer an innovative, sustainable and creative space for art, music, performing art and cultural programs and help install in our girls an aesthetic and cultural appreciation befitting a well-rounded 21st century education. It is also the intention of the Foundation that the new facilities will be, where possible, practicable and subject to applicable regulatory requirements, extended for shared use, appreciation and enjoyment by the wider public community.
We welcome your interest in understanding more about this project and any professional advice or funding support you may wish to provide for the adaptive re-use of this heritage landmark.
Maryknoll Convent School as a Government Aided School
Maryknoll Convent School is first and foremost a Government Aided School. However, we are not complacent and have always strived to provide an “above-standard” education experience to our girls. Over the years, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of the MCS Trust and selflessly giving alumnae (including not least the FSA), we have been able to provide many above Government standard facilities that are not covered by any form of Government funding. These include dedicated funds, such as the “Sports Fund” and “Art & Music Fund”, set up under MCS Trust, which support students’ sports, art and music learning. Others come in the form of donations by alumnae or graduation classes to create new STEM rooms, 21st Century Classrooms and Digital Music Room and upgrading of the Cookery Room, Library, Computer Rooms and Multi-media Learning Rooms.
Looking ahead, the timely upkeep of our Heritage Monument, the development of the Arts, Cultural and Heritage Block, and additional resources for a forward looking education pedagogy to name just a few – these are all not covered by the standard provisions of a Government Aided School. We continue to look to the generous support of our alumnae to sustain these efforts, in order to provide a 21st century learning experience for our girls.
The Maryknoll Community – Bond and Build Towards the Centenary
The Maryknoll allegiance stretches far and wide. We have Alumnae Chapters in different corners of the world coming together for memorable occasions to support the School and the Maryknoll Sisters. Here in Hong Kong, local Maryknollers form the backbone of many School and alumnae-led events: many as mentors for the Mentorship Program; some provide job-shadowing opportunities and career counseling; others volunteer their time to assist in the School’s annual mock oral examinations, and many more provide their professional and personal experience to our School in the fields of human resources management, finance and accounting, construction and architecture, public relations and event management, catering, legal, medical, academic, design and merchandising. Our alumnae are indeed a kaleidoscopic pool of resources.
On this joyous 95th Anniversary milestone, we specially invite you, as part of the Maryknoll Community, to reminisce about our heritage, bond with us in faith, love, and hope and trailblaze ahead in this wondrous journey of building a better Maryknoll education for our Centenary – and beyond.
We shall not fail in this our trust,
For we have pledged ourselves to thee.
O School we love Maryknoll.
Chairperson of Maryknoll Convent School Foundation Limited