The Legacy She Left Behind

What legacy will I leave behind?  What will my daughter, my husband (although he’s convinced he will go before me!), my siblings and my friends remember me by?

I’ve probably got, by the grace of God, some years to catch up but for sure it’ll be nothing remotely close to the legacy my headmistress, Miss Elena M Cooke has left behind.

We feared but did not hate her.  She had a look that pierced your conscience and a rebuke so sharp you’d think twice before fouling up again – but it was those same eyes and tongue that showed and spoke compassion.

She could smell out the defiant, the troubled and the poor and she opened her heart and home to them and, in turn, got them to open their hearts, mend and dare dream dreams.

She taught us to strive for excellence in the most mundane and lowly of chores (like cleaning the school toilets).  She sharpened our eyes to look out for and straighten lopsided pictures on walls.  Chairs have 4 legs and all 4 legs are to be on the ground. Litter belongs to litter bins.

She taught us pronunciation (I remember being corrected when I told her the “photo-GRAPHER had come”; she said “Girl, it’s pho-TOH –grapher”!).  She drummed into us the art of articulation (that’s why every BBGS girl will proudly tell you we were the BEST in choral-speaking!).

So many more lessons and values BBGS and Miss Cooke instilled in us.  Never mind that some labelled us as “squares”.  We learnt to stand our ground as “loyal women with our race”, as our school song says.

Most of all, she introduced Jesus Christ to the thousands of girls who had the privilege of studying under her.  This must be the richest inheritance our dear Miss Cooke left to generations of girls who walked the corridors of the Bukit Bintang Girls’ School.

by Kiang Chew Peng

NOTE: BBGS School Song & Interviews with Miss Elena Cooke taken from “BBGS GOLDEN HERITAGE”

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