MRS LEELA KANTHI GUNAWADENA
Mrs. Leelakanthi Gunawardena, a past pupil who served in the tutorial staff for many years succeeded Mrs. Kumrasinghe in 1999. She became another past pupil who had the privilege of being the Principal of Southlands. During her period, school was able to record many outstanding academic records as well as many achievements in extra curricular activities.
Southlanders were very proud to record the most memorable achievement in the academic history of the school when Anushka Wimalajeeva won the first place in the All-Island Advanced Level Examination in 1999 in commerce stream and Anjali Punchihewa won the second place in the District in the Medical stream. This record was maintained in the following year when a yet another student, Nadeesha Patabendige gained the first place again in the same examination in 2000 in the Arts stream. Such performances of academic excellence seem to be pursued by emerging generations when we proudly record that the 2nd and 3rd places at Ordinary Level Examination in 2003 were secured by Southlanders.
Physical resources of the school were developed during this period. The modern school auditorium, which was initiated by Mrs. Kumarasinghe, was constructed and was handed over to the school by the Ministry of Education. The ”Resterick” hostel which was constructed during the in 1930 was temporarily closed and was re-opened in 2000. The Ministry of Education gave financial assistance of 35 lakhs towards the reconstruction work of the building. Colombo Branch of the O.P.A assisted to re-furbish the hostel. They donated bed spreads with the school crest embedded in the centre and also some indoor games for the recreation of the boarders. A copper plaque was inserted on the front wall of the hostel on 1st of April 2002, on Miss Ridge’s birthday in honour of her who was a caring mother to the hostellers.
The school library was developed in 2002 with the assistance given by the Colombo O.P.A. on a project proposal submitted to Mr. Neil Gunadasa, Deputy Director of Education (Library Unit). Accordingly, a section of the library was re-furbished with the assistance given by the Ministry of Education to be used as a Reference Library.
At this stage a distinguished past pupil Vidyajothi Professor Stella De Silva donated Rs. One lakh towards the library development and many essential items were donated by the Colombo O.P.A. to the library.
Southlanders participated in many competitions at the National level as well as International level during this period and were fortunate to win number of awards. In 1998, the Young Entrepreneur programme was introduced to schools by the Ministry of education with the collaboration of Junior Achievement International USA. Southlanders participated in it as a pioneer company and won nine awards at the Young Entrepreneur Sri Lanka Presidential awards in 1999 being the best company in several categories and was chosen as the best school winning the highest number of awards at the competition.
Students of the science stream became the winner of the Environment Award in the school category for their project Recycling Program Relevant to Advanced Level student’s projects at the 59th annual sessions of SLAAS in December 2003. Two Southlanders won the All Island National Australian Chemistry Quiz Competitions in 2003 gaining the highest marks. Five Southlanders became the winners in the same competition in 2004 again, answering all the questions correct for the second time.
A junior Southlander, Yasoda Methmali became the National Chess champion at the age of 15 when she was crowned the youngest player to win the women’s title in Sri Lanka in 2004. Another Southlander Ranmini Lorensuhewa was chosen to represent the island at the world Festival for children in 2000 in Korea. In 2002, a swimming club was started and children won many awards. Southlanders were able to win two gold medals at the swimming competition at Chennai in 2004.
The co-operative society, which was started during 1979, became a very successful venture. Children were fortunate to win the first pace in the essay competitions among the school co-operative societies in both Sinhala and English in 2003. The Southlands co-operative society was chosen as the best school co-operative society 2001, 2002, and 2003 respectively. They won the “Dakshabimani” award at the Education and Trade exhibition in 2005 chosen as the best co-operative society.
During the Tsunami disaster in 2005, Mrs Gunewadena was able to receive assistance from all the past pupils associations and also individual past pupils to help the victims in school financially as well as in kind.
Mrs. Gunawardena rendered her services as an assistant teacher, Deputy Principal and as Principal for more than 30 years at Southlands and left school on a transfer to the Department of Education as an Additional Director of Education of Science and Maths in the Southern Province in 2006.