She drew forth the best in us
Miss Chandra de Zoysa, a name synonymous with Visakha Vidyalaya is no more. She passed away on February 11, after a brief illness. She was the longest serving Deputy Principal of Visakha, having held that post for 32 of the 35 years she served on the staff.
Miss de Zoysa strode the corridors of Visakha like a colossus, instilling discipline, decorum and decent values both by example and by precept. Always impeccably dressed, her rich sonorous voice commanded immediate attention. Her duties as Deputy Principal were multifarious. To all her efforts, she put in her whole heart, and therein lay her success. She stood 'shoulder to shoulder' with Mrs. Pulimood, that indomitable Principal, to fashion the 'golden epoch' of Visakha Vidyalaya.
During this tenure Visakha brought forth a deluge of bright students who later became top professionals and artists. Those of them who were present at her funeral, literally and metaphorically went down on their knees to worship her as she lay in the casket, in a spontaneous gesture of gratitude.
She was totally behind Mrs. Pulimood in organizing all the fantastic 'Visakha Jayantis' and with her two best buddies Mrs. Dilsiri de Silva and Miss Daisy Karawita dubbed by us as the 'Maha thun denna', she spearheaded the many extra-curricular activities, be it operas like the 'Visakha Geetha Natakaya' or Shakespearean theatre like 'The Taming of the Shrew'. Under her tutelage the school won many Inter School competitions. She also helped Visakha hold many a fashion show and pageant and even gave her unstinted support to the first ever 'Beat Show' held in a school in Sri Lanka.
Being a devout Buddhist, Miss de Zoysa played a lead role in organizing all the religious activities of Visakha. The 'pirith' ceremonies on the school's birthdays were meticulously planned. Miss de Zoysa had a lighter side to her nature, which students glimpsed most during school excursions.
She was game enough to plunge into the Gal Oya for a bath or to take a jeep ride on a night safari. Yet she never forfeited her responsibilities, as she unfailingly took head counts each time the bus loaded or unloaded its precious cargo.
She was at best a humanist, sharing our sorrows and disappointments, and exulting in our achievements. She tolerated with a seemingly straight face our pranks and practical jokes. Her gracious generosity towards Visakha and 'her girls' as she called us was legendary. She would pile us into her car and take us to 'Himani Gardens' or 'Fountain Café' for a Sundae whenever we excelled at an inter-school event. Miss Zoysa was a traditionalist, standing steadfast to time tested values, yet had her mind open to the changing world. She was never averse to accepting and appreciating modern trends as expressed in her fashionable clothes and accessories! Geography was her forte. Her lessons were meticulously planned and perfectly executed.
Miss de Zoysa had unflinching faith in Visakhians, and believed we were the 'cream of society'. She made us believe in ourselves and drew forth the best in us. May we all live up to her ideals and expectations!
By a past student