St. Michael Institution was one of the oldest school in Perak. It was an educational institution managed by a management board called Board of Gourmenents. This board were responsible of managing the welfare of the school.
St Michael’s Institution is part of the La Sallian worldwide community of schools. The Ipoh City Council has designated the original building block as a historical landmark in Ipoh. It received a five-star rating from the Education Ministry of Perak.
Situated on Jalan SP Seenivasagam, formerly Clayton Road the school share the same compound with two primary schools, St Michael’s I and II.
St. Michael Institution was founded by two missionary, Father J.D. Choppin and Father Visitor James Byrne. In 1912, Father Byrne bought the land at a price of $6000 and on December the same year, the school started with 37 boys in a Malay home building with half blocks and half wood.
The first headmaster of the school was P.J. Mor Sight. He resigned on August 16, 1920, and taken over by two missionary, Brother Paul and Vernier Auguste.
The three principles of SMI are the La Sallian values of Faith (strong spiritual conviction irrespective of religion), Service (to serve and not to be served) and Community (working together for a common goal).
The school has a school hall, a lecture theatre, a resource centre that is the Marian Library, six science laboratories, two computer laboratories, a Living Skills building, a food court that is famous among schools in Perak, a foyer where the statue Pater Familias is prominently found, a chapel (restored in 2012 from damage caused by water leaking from the roof), and a pavilion for students. A notable feature is the five-star boy’s toilet. For sports, there are two basketball courts, a volleyball court, four badminton courts, and two football fields. On the second level of the school’s main block is the Heritage Room, a small museum that houses many items, documents and antiques that are part of the school’s history.
Clubs and Societies The school offers a lot of sports, societies and uniform units for students to join. There are currently thirty-three societies, fifteen uniform units, and more than twenty-two sports offered in the institution. Among these sports and games are water polo, golf, badminton, basketball, soccer, football, table tennis, international chess, Chinese chess, rugby, volleyball, softball, handball, squash, and bowling. The uniform units include The Michaelian Military Band, Scouts, The Michaelian Chinese Orchestra, Teenagers Cadet, St. John’s Ambulance, Michaelian Indian Orchestra, Michaelian Taekwondo Squad and more. The scout troop of St. Michael’s Institution is numbered 02 Kinta, which is combined from the former 24th Ipoh and 29th Ipoh Scout Troops. Every year, there are scouts who successfully achieve the prestigious King’s Scout Award Award (equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award).
The school site was part of an old Malay village home known as ‘Kampung Pisang’. The current blocks of the buildings were constructed over a period of thirty years from 1922. The idea of the design for the building was coming from Father Vernier Augustus (Auguste) who also design for Chapel of St. Francis Institution in Malacca and St. John Institution in Kuala Lumpur.
After Headmaster Morsingh resigned in 1920, the Brotherhood sent Irishman Father Paul Gallagher to take charge of the school. Gallagher was also commissioned to draw up plans for a new building, but he returned to Ireland in January 1921, before any plans could be finalised. The architects who did the submitting to Kinta Sanitary Board at the time were Stark and McNeil. Kinta Sanitary Board given late approval and the contractor who was supposed to handle the proposal of the building had passed away, and the building design plan had changed several times. Frenchman Father Vernier Augustus replaced Paul Gallagher.
Augustus, who was trained in architecture, arranged for the construction of a proper building, which was completed by the end of 1921. The structure he designed was strongly ecclesiastical in feeling, in the Gothic vernacular and straightforward in its detailing. All classroom doors were arranged to face either north or south, never east or west, so that sun rays would not cause disturbance to class activities.
“The surviving drawings show that there were three successive stages in the designing of the building. The first version was an exercise in the colonial Baroque style which had the stamp of Catholicism upon it but was devoid of inspiration. The second was more pretentious and might be termed Scottish Baronial. The design which was finally built was strongly ecclesiastical in feeling, in the Gothic vernacular, simple in its detailing…” – Kinta Valley.
Founded by Father Jean B. Choppin, this Gothic-style school was established in 1912. During the Japanese Occupation, the school fondly known as SMI. St. Michael Institution was rated five-star by the Education Ministry of Perak in terms of student performance.
On December 17, British army stepped down during Japanese conquest and the school was used as a Japanese army base and a treatment room for patients. The building also once used as a headquarters administration of Perak from 1942 until 1945. On December 23, 1941, Japan plane shot the building that causes severe damage to the building and forces all the pastor leaving the school.
In 1912, Reverend Father J.B. Coppin from St. Michael’s Church bought a plot of land in Kampong Pisang. A bungalow on Clayton Road served as the school building and P.J. Morsingh was appointed as the first Headmaster of St. Michael’s Institution. For the convenience of students, a well was built beside the school. The foundations of both the bungalow and the well remain.
Father Coppin was given the task of administering the school. He obtained the necessary grants from the Perak government, based on the statement from a Brother Visitor that the management of the school would be taken over by the Christian Brothers as soon as possible. The school opened on 4 December 1912, with 37 students.
The foundation stone for the new building was laid on 17 June 1922 by Major C.W.C. Parr OBE, who was the British Resident in Perak. Coppin blessed the finished building on 15 May 1923, the Feast Day of St. John Baptist De La Salle. The school was completed in stages over a period of some 30 years, and was included as a must-visit site in the Tourist Guide Book to Perak.