Today is indeed a day of gratitude and a day of memories and we are glad to welcome all our families, friends and ex-students to this place of memory, Holy Rosary International College, Owerri. This noble institution born fifteen years ago out of love for service, thirst for righteousness and quest for knowledge has lived to and by her founding spirit, mission, vision and values. We believe that today the Archbishop will beat his chest and say, I am glad I followed my passion. Nneoma Chief Theresa Okonkwo would look round and say, I laid the foundation and built almost all these structures, the ex-students will nod their head and say, this is my alma mater, the former and present staff will say, I am glad to be part of this wondrous story. Friends of HORICOL will pat themselves at the back and say, I contributed to the growth of this place. Deum Magnificare.
Actually, the story of HORICOL is that of a the biblical mustard seed (quote). This school which in 2003 started small at a temporary site, St. Mullumba with just 120 students has now become a giant shrub with 680 current students, 752 graduated students schooling and working in various places of the world. HORICOL has fed many families as the number staff expands and today is at 103.
In her fifteen year existence, HORICOL has become a household name within and outside our country, Nigeria. This is why students of HORICOL come from almost every state in Nigeria and from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Liberia, South Africa, United States of America, Britain, Canada and other countries. From families across oceans and lands, God has created a new international community, HORICOL. Even the current principal of this amazing institution was pulled from the United States of America to become part of this melting pot. Though from far and near, HORICOL is one big happy family where all hands are on deck to prepare young girls for tertiary education, personal, career and family life. What a great citadel of learning where only the best is acceptable!
In the months leading to this day, we tried to contact our ex-students and we are happy to share that their journey so far has been fruitful. In our search for their current status, we discovered that though they are all over the world, they are still one family highly connected in their institutions of learning and through social media. The joy of HORICOL at fifteen is the joy of the families whose daughters have passed through here and are doing well out there. Today, HORICOL girls are in various professions and various continents. One ex-parent was very delighted as he told me that her daughter who graduated from HORICOL some years ago is now a professional nurse in the United States of America. Therefore, it is our joy to welcome to their home all ex-students of the school who have made it to this celebration. We also thank all those who could not come but were excited to identify with their alma mater on face book and whatsapp.
Today, we take a moment to celebrate you, our respected ex-students because you are the true reason for the continuous growth of HORICOL. Your actions out there speak louder than words and your conduct is the most powerful advertisement for the school. My face beamed with smiles at the beginning of this academic year when a man so desired HORICOL, insisted on HORICOL and brought his niece to HORICOL just because his wife who passed through HORICOL is excellent in learning and character. This is the summary of today’s celebration. This is HORICOL@15. I wish I could meet this woman of prestigious quality whose conduct has so much edified his spouse impressed and positively influenced her matrimonial family. Deum Magnificare.
In the light of where HORICOL is at 15 years, today is a day of appreciation. Therefore, we thank the proprietor of the school whose love for quality education has brought all of us together today. Thank you, Your Grace, Most Rev. Anthony John Valentine Obinna for this giant brainchild of yours that has united families from various places. We remember and recognize the pioneer principal of this institution, Nneoma Chief Theresa Okonkwo. We salute her twelve uninterrupted years of diligence and dedicated service that nurtured Archbishop’s seed and raised it to a formidable height. We thank the former and current chaplains of the school, Fr. Samuel Ofurum, Fr. Lucien Amadi-Obi, Fr. Augustine Anagboso, Fr. Onukwufor and the current Fr. Augustine Bekee for the spiritual and academic services they have rendered to the school. Their invaluable presence and contributions have helped to shape the moral lives of the students. We remember and appreciate the dedication of the past and present Archdiocesan Finance Council and Administrators, Fr. Killian Ekeh, Fr. Dan Anyanwu and the current Fr. Bonaventure Opara who continue to believe and invest in the school. We thank the Archdiocesan Education Commission led by the priests- director, Fr. Victor Eleba and Fr. Moses Chikwe for their interest in the school. Their professional guidance gives a sense of direction to the college. We acknowledge the commitment of the past and present teachers of this school. Their daily standing, talking and writing in the classrooms are the reasons for the success stories told by our students and their families. We thank the non-tutorial staff for their supportive roles that keep the students healthy, on task and focused. In a very special way, we thank the pioneer employees of this school especially those who are still working with us especially our exceptionally dedicated driver and maintenance chief, Mr. Ikechukwu Ubenwanne, our matron, Mrs. Josephine Ezeamalu, the ex-dean, Mrs. Fanny Unegbu, Chief Njoku, Virgy Nwaogu, Mrs. Nneka Nriaka, and Augustina Ogueri.
On this day, we respect and thank the numerous families who trust HORICOL to the extent of entrusting the care of their very tender daughters to the school they love dearly. Their trust and support have kept the school open and the population growing. Many HORICOL families have had all their daughters pass through this school. A mother whose 3rd and last daughter graduated from HORICOL this year heaved a joyful sigh of relief, thanked God for the safety He granted to her the many years she traveled to and fro Port Harcourt to visit her children in the school and she pledged to remain a part of HORICOL Family. This is the experience of many of our parents. Some like the Nkwocha’s the Nwaneri’s and many others have been members of the school’s PTA for the fifteen long years the school has existed. Such parents have so much faith in the school and their belief has attracted their relatives, neighbours and friends to HORICOL. It has been observed that HORICOL is now densely populated by families who know one another and who have common faith in the school and similar vision for their daughters. It will not be out of point if we say that HORICOL has become both a school and a family to those families who desire just the best for their children without minding the cost and the high expectation for discipline. May God answer the prayers of all our parents for the good of their daughters and bless their families.
Our special thanks go to the many friends and partners who morally and financially support the school. Some are companies, some are individuals. Blessings on you all! We must thank the school’s host community, the good people of Avu, who provided the sufficient land for this institution and whose friendship and cordial relationship we have been enjoying. We thank our friendly neighbours who have also been supportive. Their comments are like catalyst which helps to shape the students behaviour.
Evidently, HORICOL has come a long way. The school has had fifteen years of steady progress in infrastructure, staff and student population. HORICOL has become a giant tree that has provided shade for many. She has brought smiles to many faces and given hope to so many. Justifiably, we praise God today for His abundant love and blessings on HORICOL.
Though HORICOL has accomplished so much in terms of infrastructure, academics and morals, there is still more to be done. The quest for excellence continues and the goal to make HORICOL a 5-star school by 2025 is ongoing. However, in terms of infrastructure, the school is yet to build the Administrative block; we are yet to fully computerize the school; there is need to invest in sustainable projects that will help to internally fund school as maintenance needs increase. Such projects include a potable water plant, Holy Rosary Nursery Primary School, one more teachers’ quarter and a CBT JAMB Centre.
We therefore appeal to our respected and admired ex-students today to begin to think of how to start helping their alma mater. We know that you are still coming up economically, but we also know that people give not because they have but because they care. We also believe that little drops of water make a mighty ocean. As we have proudly welcomed you home today and formally recognize your association, if you can contribute just a little amount every month or year, your will certainly do so much for the school that gave you so much. Your support will always be cherished and your own children, relatives and other privileged girls will equally benefit from your sacrifices. We also ask everyone here today to generously donate towards the brighter future and financial buoyancy of this great place of solid formation.
Thank you, Your Grace for always being there for your brainchild. Your presence today once again establishes the special place of HORICOL in your heart. Thank you, HORICOL families for coming in spite of your numerous engagements. Thanks to all staff and students of this admired school for the hard work towards this special occasion. Thank you, unique HORICOLITES for always being the admired best. Thank you, our friends, partners and guests for your esteemed presence today. God bless you all as we glorify God always. Deum Magnificare!
Rev. Sr. Dr. Ernestina J. Edoziem, DMMM