THE GLORIOUS CENTURY OF VISAKHA VIDYALAYA
By Dr. Anula Wijesundere, nee Samaranayake.
Mrs. Jeremius Dias, our iconic foundress,
Born Selesthina Rodrigo, Panadura her fortress,
Aged sixteen, she wed Jeremius Dias who became,
The philanthropist of the "Panadura Vadaya" fame.
The benevolent lady, nine children she mothered,
Widowed at thirty five, great courage she gathered,
Kind, gentle and caring, far sighted was she,
Sustained the family fortune and raised her family.
Without any formal education herself, she discerned,
Education for Buddhist girls was her primary concern.
In 1917, "Buddhist Girls College" she founded,
At "Firs" house in Colombo, her aim was firmly grounded.
Modestly commencing with twenty students on roll,
Dr Banning, the American scholar was head of the fold.
In 1924, three acres on Vajira Road was purchased,
Renamed 'Visakha Vidyalaya, our Alma Mater emerged.
A true statesman, a scholar Sir Jayatilleke D.B.,
Appointed by our foundress as manager and trustee,
For maintenance of Visakha, "Good Hope" estate was released,
Sadly in 1933, our great philanthropist deceased.
A succession of principals soon took over,
Ladies Ganguli, Westbrook, Deveraux, Fletcher and Lowe,
The value of our mother tongue was shown by Miss Pearce,
They guided our destiny for the next sixteen years.
From 1933 to 45, Mrs. Clara L. Motwani ruled,
In 1934, the Old Girls' Association was produced.
In 1940, our school uniform, pahana and tie were introduced,
With sports, dancing and home making, Visakhians were groomed.
After decades of great service, Sir D.B. resigned,
Youngest son of our foundress, Charles Dias was assigned,
Later in years, Mr. N. E. Weerasooriya moved over,
Till 1959, when the ruling government took over.
The "Pulimood Era" heralded the "Golden Age",
For twenty two long years, she was on top of our stage.
In 1947, our own school song was composed,
By musician and scholar, Ananda Samarakoon.
In 1947, Visakha transformed from Grade II to Grade I,
Dias, Dawes, Motwani and Jayatilleke, four houses began,
With laboratories in place, she began the science stage,
Enrolled science teachers from India and blossomed her image.
Mrs. Pulimood's special loves were books, children and flowers,
In 1959, with her guidance, to super grade we towered,
New offices and classes and laboratories came of age,
The Visakha operetta became part of the school heritage.
In 1963, the first girls' school band was presented,
On Mrs. Pulimood request, Sita Joesph consented.
Visakhians at all public examinations did extremely well,
Winning accolades in sports, drama and music to tell .
The year 1967 heralded our great golden jubilee,
Celebrated grandly at the race course for a week with glee.
After serving Visakha over two decades so well,
We bade Mrs. Pulimood, a loving, tearful farewell.
Ladies Chandra de Zoysa, Daisy Karavita and Sita Siriwardene,
Yeomen service they rendered from the prime of their lives.
Mrs. Pearl Wirasinghe recorded with love, Visakha's history divine,
They became true legends of Visakha, during our times.
Mrs. Jayasinghe was our very first national principal,
For seventeen years she remained undaunted, invincible.
Senior teachers and advisers caused her no fright,
With tact, poise and calmness, she took all in her stride.
In Mrs. Jayasinghe's era, Visakha's landscape changed much,
Temporary structures came down, solid buildings sprung up.
Building the Jeremius Dias Hall, an arduous task was required.
First time in history, our own playground was acquired,
Mrs. Eileen Siriwardene, stately lady of literary fame,
Renovated the Bodhi and shrine and held on the reins.
The sports pavilion and the computer centre donation,
Were gifts of the OGA, for our seventieth celebration.
Mrs. Edussuriya, so charming, poised and dignified,
Adopted Gonagala remote school, social service signified,
The indoor sports stadium, she completed as planned,
And linked up Visakha with the Junten High School in Japan.
By now our dear Alma Mater was in full bloom,
Principals Jayasekere, Siriwardene and Amarasinghe continued to groom,
Audio visual and reading rooms, the infra structure improved,
Hostel expansion was a necessity, the swimming pool became a reality.
In 1917, beginning with mere twenty students on roll,
In 2017, bursting at seams, over five thousand our toll.
Offering twenty two sports and thirty active societies,
Education at Visakha provides so much variety.
Mrs. Sandamali Aviruppola, our present guardian angel,
Will surge Visakha's march at the turn of the century,
May a bold, eloquent Visakhian of the next generation,
Guide the destiny of our beloved island nation!
In the coming century may Visakha continue to soar,
Realize the aspirations of our foundress and continue to roar!
May Visakhians emulate Visakha's wisdom, generosity and zest,
May our school by the Noble Triple Gem, forever be blessed!
"Pannaya Parisujjhati" By Wisdom Is One Cleansed
"Chirang Jayathu" Long Live Visakha Vidyalaya!