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20th March 2009 will mark the 15th anniversary of the day in 1994 when the late lamented Dr Guido Saliba – father figure, teacher and treasured friend to thousands of Lyceum past students – saw the realisation of a long-cherished dream of setting up the Association of Lyceum Past Students after many previous attempts had failed. I recall that 70 past students of different ages gathered at The Lyceum in Hamrun to attend that Foundation Meeting. Since then, the enthusiastic members who have sat on the Council of Administration through the years have made our Association one of the most dynamic and popular such organisations in Malta, now with over 700 members.
January 2008 was a busy month for all, Council of Administration and members alike. This month will continue to be remembered for the launching of the ALPS Choir, which saw its debut in the Foundation Day Concert with a version of the famous operetta La Principessa della Czarda directed by ALPS Cultural Commission Chairman Mro Joe Fenech. The concert was held at the Salesian Theatre in Sliema. The audience who packed the theatre to capacity were very well satisfied with the performance of the 26-strong choir together with the soloists and dancers.
This resounding success raised €1,000 in aid of the Salesian Youth Centre.
On the day following the concert a good number of ALPS members took to the air with Joe Fenech for a tour to Rome, highlighted by attendance at the performance of Tosca.
The Association’s annual general meeting was held at The Lyceum in the last week of January. Buoyed by the success of the Foundation Day Concert, held early in anticipation of general elections which could have disrupted attendance, the new Council of Administration with George dei Conti Stagno Navarra as President lost no time to get together, setting up the respective commissions to work on the programme for the year.
The philanthropic project Pitazz u Lapes jew Ġugarell, launched the previous Christmas under the chairmanship of Dr Nazarene Azzopardi with the indispensable help of Anthony Aquilina, started to show its success. Contributions of toys, pencils and exercise books as well as books and other educational items were received from students of State, Church and private schools and were handed over to the Malta Mission Fund in some 200 good-sized boxes to be transported to less fortunate children looked after by the Maltese Franciscan Nuns in Tanzania.
A long-held dream of the Association at last came true, this being the launching of the ALPS tie, made of dark blue texture with the ALPS logo boldly showing on the bottom part. A good number of ALPS members and other Lyceum past students purchased ties and could be seen wearing them proudly at the frequent events organised by the Association.
Due to the general elections held in March, this year’s Lyceum Bicycle Marathon was held between 11th and 13th April. As it has done over past years, the Association had been organising activities to enhance fund-raising so that we could offer the marathon organisers the greatest possible contribution to pass to the beneficiary, which this year was Id-Dar tal-Providenza. This year’s Association activities in aid of the marathon included the selling of lottery tickets to members and friends of ALPS and a fund-raising dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson SAS Bay Point Resort in April. Over 200 people attended and were entertained to a lavish buffet served by Island Caterers. The raffles at this event were also a success, with all prepared tickets being sold out. Ticket holders had the chance of winning from over 25 hampers prepared by Mrs Therese Calleja and Mrs Madeleine Stagno Navarra, besides other prizes offered by Mrs Mary Rose Grech on behalf of her principals Paolo Bonnici Ltd.
The Association also engaged in a programme of collaboration with the Lyceum Bicycle Marathon organising committee. It sponsored of a number of adverts in local media, gave a helping hand at the bazaar and manned the cash points at the bar and food stalls. ALPS members also gave a helping hand with answering telephone calls with pledges of donations for greater fund-raising. The ALPS involvement decidedly enhanced the proceeds in aid of Id-Dar tal-Providenza by donating €1,000 from the social activities, €1,550 from the sale of lottery tickets and the procurement of over €3,400 worth of prizes for the lotteries, mostly collected by ALPS President George Stagno Navarra.
ALPS also provided a number of hampers which were raffled during the weekend of the marathon. Another contribution towards the amount donated was a Walk a Mile fund-raising event led by Oscar Galea, the ALPS representative on the marathon organising committee.
Although all council members were involved in the success of the Lyceum Bicycle Marathon in one way or another, preparations for a Serata all’Operetta on 26th April had been going on apace. This was another great success, with over 230 patrons packing the main hall of the Casino Maltese in Valletta. Again the evening was organised by Joe Fenech, ALPS Cultural Commission Chairman and ALPS Choir master.
The very enthusiastic ALPS Choir accompanied a number of soloists in 20 excerpts from 15 very popular operettas written by a wide range of composers.
This year the Association experienced a new episode, this being the introduction of a younger generation of ALPS members. Sincere congratulations are in order to a group of Lyceum past students who organised a very successful reunion. The event was attended by ALPS President George Stagno Navarra, Treasurer David Abela and myself as guests, and yielded 47 new members from the Association. The President and organisers of the reunion urged all present to keep the name of The Lyceum always alive in their hearts and minds.
Holy Mass was celebrated by Spiritual Director Fr William Bartolo OFM Conv. to commemorate the feast of San Ġorġ Preca at the Chapel of St Anne at Pwales on 10th May. This was well attended by members and friends of ALPS. The ALPS Choir participated.
The annual spiritual retreat at Manresa House in Gozo was held in the last weekend in May. This was led by Fr Mario Jaccarini SJ. ALPS presented Manresa House with two linen and lace tablecloths, made by Mrs Therese Calleja, for the assembly hall.
The end-of-season barbecue was held at Ir-Razzett tal-Ħbiberija on 27th June, the closest possible to the traditional Maltese feast of L-Imnarja. All those who attended the event enjoyed the atmosphere immensely, chatting to long-unseen friends including friends from Canada who had participated in the memorable reunion held in 2007 in Toronto, reminiscing about their school days, listening and dancing to music provided by David Vella.
Saturday 12th July marked the eighth time that the Association celebrated the feast of St Anne at the Pwales chapel. ALPS Spiritual Director Fr William Bartolo celebrated Holy Mass with the participation of the ALPS Choir under the direction of Joe Fenech. A light reception was held after Mass.
Over 300 people attended the feast and were also entertained with a selection of popular songs by the choir. For this special occasion, on behalf of ALPS the Association’s Publications Editor Laurie Vella, after several months of research with a number of gentlemen, published a booklet about the history of the chapel together with the work done by various ALPS members to restore the chapel to its present splendour. The booklet was distributed to all present and was well received.
After a short break for August the enthusiastic council and respective commissions put their heads together for another packed programme for the last quarter of 2008.
In September a cultural tour was organised to Palazzo Falson in Mdina and the Domus Romana in Rabat. This was well attended by over 100 members. After the tour all joined in for a light lunch at one of the restaurants in Rabat. This seemed not to be enough for the very satisfied members, because most joined in for a ride around the places of interest in Mdina and Rabat on the Choo-Choo train.
October was one of the busiest months ever experienced by the ALPS administration in the past 15 years. This started off with the now customary Lyceum Grand Reunion on 4th October in the Main Hall of The Lyceum. The hall was packed with members of all ages – from those who attended The Lyceum before World War II to those who left just a few years ago – and their spouses. With the willing cooperation of the Lyceum Headmaster Tony Caruana Smith all went as planned. While reminiscing together Lyceum past students enjoyed the good finger food prepared by James Caterers and good wine, while also listening to music of all times by our now-regular entertainer David Vella on his synthesiser.
An appeal was launched to ALPS members and friends for the donation of suitable books and videos to child patients receiving medical care at the Disneyland Ward at Mater Dei Hospital.
Books poured in from a good number of members, including one residing in the USA.
On 10th October a group 62 members and friends of ALPS and their spouses went on a week’s Mediterranean cruise. All came back with glowing accounts of this unique experience. Land excursions were organised exclusively for the group in all ports of call. Quite beside the fact that it was a fantastic and well-organised cruise, even more marvellous was the opportunity for ALPS members and friends to enjoy one another’s company in a spirit of happy camaraderie.
Also in October a group of opera-loving ALPS members and friends, led by Joe Fenech, went to Gozo for a performance of Turandot. Besides attending the opera at the Astra Theatre the group enjoyed a lovely weekend together in Victoria, where one could forget everyday worries and daily routines.
October for ALPS ended with the Grand Vocal Concert at the Grand Hotel Phoenicia Ballroom to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. Put together by the indefatigable Joe Fenech, the concert featured seven of Malta’s best solo voices and the ALPS Choir. The programme included 16 pieces from 12 operas composed by Puccini. The concert attracted an audience of 400 patrons who crammed the ballroom. Here I wish to express appreciation to all those who in any way helped towards the success of such a wonderful event, which surely constitutes another feather in the multi-coloured ALPS hat.
The customary Mass for the repose of the souls of dear departed ALPS members, Lyceum masters and students, as well as members of the Pwales community, was held in mid-November at the St Anne Chapel in Pwales and celebrated by Fr William Bartolo.
The Yuletide Dinner held on 11th December at the Radisson SAS Bay Point Resort was a wonderfully-successful event, thanks to the 310 members and friends who filled the ballroom. There were 26 beautiful hampers prepared by Mrs Madeleine Stagno Navarra and Mrs Therese Calleja, together with other prizes for weekend breaks donated by the Diplomat Hotel and chocolate packs donated by Paolo Bonnici Ltd through Mrs Mary Rose Grech, wife of Deputy President and permanent council member George Grech.
The ALPS Choir decided to mark its first Christmas with a tour of old people’s homes to sing Christmas carols and other pieces to the residents. Wherever the choir went it was met with enthusiasm by the homes’ residents and management alike.
The year 2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Lyceum Past Students, and an organising committee has been working on a special programme of activities spread throughout the year. The Council of Administration is looking forward to record attendances for all these activities.
One can certainly say that 2008 was a record year with a variety of activities to meet all members’ tastes. For this I wish to end this rather-lengthy Administrative Report by thanking the President and each and every member of the council and respective commissions for their hard work, willingly giving some of their precious time for the ever-increasing success of the Association. I augur that 2009 will be another successful year with exceptional events to celebrate the 15th anniversary. I am sure that together as one family in ALPS we can continue achieving success while fulfilling the aims for which the Association was formed.
Association of Lyceum Past Students