In a time of wholesale transfers being implemented to Kandy’s national schools, Kingswood recently had to bid goodbye to nearly 50 of its senior staff, who had extended their services at various capacities to the betterment of Kingswood over the past 15-20 years. Among these teachers are almost all the teachers the members of this blog team encountered in a classroom during their entire Upper School life (except for Mrs. Punchinilame, who is set to retire soon). The least we can do is appreciate the great service rendered by these staff members, but — practically — this is a Herculian task; maybe, one that is a “fulltime” job, for a “part time” blog team, writing about Kingswood. But, in our future submissions, we will try to facilitate this vacuum to the best of our limited ability.
Apart from the transfers mentioned above, another senior teacher retired from Kingswood last year, bringing curtains on an illustrious career at school, which climaxed with a year as Acting Principal; who is none other than Mr. Ananda Weerasooriya, who was a balanced personality in both academics and sports. Mr. Weerasooriya — who is universally known by his pet name, “Panda” — is not someone who merely “eats shoots and leaves”, but a much loved master who was stern as he was mild; reasonable as he was strict; and a master who, in spite of his huge, athletic build was mild in manners and a leader by example. Mr. Weerasooriya is still remembered by the older old boys at Talatuoya Central College for his prowess as a young athlete: a skill with which he amply assisted Kingswood for many years, as he was the teacher in charge of many athletic teams over the twenty odd years he served.
However, Mr. Weerasooriya was also a much loved and popular Maths master. During the writer’s O/L years, the Maths teachers of the five classes included Mr. RG Ariyarathne, Mr. Keppetipola, Mrs. Podimenike, Mr. TB Ardithya and Mr. Weerasooriya. Arguably, Mr. Weerasooriya was a popular figure among both the classes he took and other boys who knew his perosnality. He was generally seen as an “honest” personality — someone who can be trusted on and as someone who took his responsibility and duty with seriousness. He has often been the House Master which, perhaps, was his reward because of the same reasons highlighted above. Mr. Weerasooriya, if I remember right, was more concerned in getting the “job done” than the “fireworks display” that should follow. This, we strongly feel, is the greatest lesson he leaves behind the present and future of Kingswood: to be honest and modest in your dealings and to leave no muddy footprints or not to thump your chest unnecessarily. Mr. Weerasooriya had a massive, broad chest (literally and figuratively), but where he accomplished his duty, he was known to do it with mildness and with effect.
A student of Mr. Weerasooriya — someone who was taught Maths by him during the O/Ls — has shared the following with us, in recalling his old Maths master. We carry it here without any editing (to content) for the benefit of all followers of our blog:
“Those were fun days with “Panda” doing Maths. He was a very serious teacher, but he knows how to handle the boys of that age like an expert. He is balanced, that’s the main good quality I see in him. Even in praising [and] in punishing. Sometimes he punches the boys for getting the Maths wrong, but he has a [sense of humour] that shows he understands the boys’ mental situation. He knew the weaknesses and plus points of ALL the students in class and knew how to tackle each and every [student] on [individual merit]”
Mr. Weerasooriya ended his career after a testing year as Acting Principal of the school: a difficult task, specially, as Principal Chandrasekara had had a solid 12 year run at the top. Mr. Weerasooriya — we feel — was even unfairly compared with some Principals and Acting Principals of the past, because the circumstances in which each of these persons lead the school was different. Comparison, in that case, is a tricky area though we are quick to compare without second thoughts. As his final crusade for Kingswood, Mr. Weerasooriya headed the Kingswood Week and Prize Giving of 2013 in which he represented the school head’s seat and presented the Principal’s Report. Proposing the Vote of Thanks, the Secretary of the Kingswood Union Kamal Dole acknowledged the “difficult times” through which Mr. Weerasooriya was steering the Kingswoodian vessal.
As a final farewell to Mr. Ananda Weerasooriya from a blog team to whom Kingswood matters, we would like to quote from Kingswood’s own song, for the line fits Mr. Weerasooriya’s personality and work ethic like a trim fit shirt: “Word and will true and clean, work and play strong and keen”. We wish you well, dear Sir and may Kingswood hold your memory to instruct its fold!