In 1910, Miri was just a small fishing village. Even though petroleum had been found, drillings and excavations were carried out only on a small scale by Borneo Company Limited. Foreign technicians and labourers who were mainly Anglican strongly felt the need for a church. In 1918, Bishop Logie Dansoncame to Miri to discuss the building of a new church.
On September the 3rd, 1922, St.Columba's Church was completed and officially declared open by R.S Douglas. The Church was named Saint Columba after the Irish priest who lived in the 6th Century. The presence of the church attracted a few priests to Miri. One of them was Father Paul Chong En Siong (who would later become the founder of Saint Columba's School). The first task given to Father Paul was to establish a new school in Miri. Sarawak Oilfields Limited donated a piece of land south of the church and an old building to be used for educational purposes. Surprisingly, the land donated by Sarawak Oilfields Limited is still in use today as the site of Saint Columba's Secondary School (SMK St.Columba).
Father Chong and Father F.W Synott used the old building which was also an old government quarter as the first classroom. Saint Columba's School was officially declared open on January the 16th, 1929 with 13 students enrolled. Saint Columba's School was the first mission schoolin Miri. The establishment of St. Columba's School received a tremendous response from the people of Miri. Within a period of one month, the number of students had greatly increased.
Wan Thau Fen was appointed as a teacher of the new school. After that, two new classrooms were constructed. In the beginning, English was used as the medium of teaching. In the 1930s, with the increasing numbers of students, Father Paul felt the need to build a new building with four classrooms. In 1934, Father Paul left the school to continue his missionary work in Kuching, Kudat and other parts of Sabah.
His post as headmaster was taken over by Yeo Cheng Ho. At that time, the school faced two major problems: a shortage of classrooms and lack of funds. When Yeo Cheng Ho left for Kuching in 1937, his post was taken over by Lee Kui Choi until the Japanese occupation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak. Back then, the number of students had increased to 107 with seven teachers and four new classrooms. The British Government had started to support Saint Columba's School financially.
Japanese Occupation Period (1941-1945)
On the 8th of December, 1941 , the Second World War in the Pacific had begun and all the schools in Miri were closed. The Imperial Japanese Army landed in Miri on the 16th of December, 1941 and occupied Saint Columba's School, which was used by the Imperial Japanese Army as a storeroom. Lee Kui Choi was arrested and put into jail, but was released three days later.
After handing over his duties to Father Lim Siong Teck, Lee Kui Choi returned to Sibu. The Kempetai(Japanese Secret Police) arrested and killed Father Lim Siong Teck, Chong En Fui and Joel Paul, a member of the Saint Columba's Church Council.
By the end of the Second World War in the Pacific, the Imperial Japanese Army retreated from Miri. Before they retreated, they destroyed all the school buildings except the toilet and one of the stores. All the school belongings & records were destroyed except for the school's bank records. The Second World War had brought devastation to the school.
With the buildings destroyed, some people serving in the Anglican Church doubted the future of the school. The school faced financial problems. This period was very critical and crucial in the school's history. Thankfully, the school was gradually rebuilt and is what it is today, one of the best schools in Miri.
Post War Period (1945-1965)
On the 14th of September, 1945, the school made a proposition to Major Pollett a member of the British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit (B.B.C.A.U) to reopen Saint Columba's School. The proposal was approved and on the 17th of September, 1945 the school reopened with only two teachers namely Liew Kit Siong and Molly Leong and 41 students. They were assisted by one untrained teacher.
Liew Kit Siong was chosen as the principal of the school then. On the first day,several English Medium classes were reopened with 39 students in the morning while 21 students for the Chinese Medium class in the afternoon. At the end of the first week,the number of students increased to 79 and 39 students respectively. Throughout the year 1945,more than 200 students had enrolled. Due to the shortages of classrooms and teachers, most applicants were rejected. Additional classes were held inside the Saint Columba's Church (present day St.Columba's Kindergarten).
During this period, financial support came from school fees and the monthly support of 100 dollars by the Sarawak Oilfields Limited and 80 dollars by the British Army Administration. This helped Saint Columba's School to survive until this very day. Due to the increasing number of students, additional classes were held in Miri Gymkhana Club (GCM) Storeroom.
The current principal of SMK St.Columba is Madam Robinette Tiong Ai Giek. She is assisted by Senior Assistant Madam Wong Pek Yen, Senior Assistant of Student Affairs, Madam Maria Jau, Senior Assistant of
Afternoon Session Madam Supang Daring, and Senior Assistant of Co-Curricular Activities Mr. Muhammad Effendi
Currently there are five Prefect branches. They are:-
1) Discipline Branch
2) PRS Branch
3) 3K Branch
4) Co-curriculum Branch
5) Class Monitors
Watson Nyambek (Malaysian Athlete)
- Record holder for Malaysians of 100m sprint record of 10.30 seconds
Notable recent academic achievements
8 students achieving straight A1's in SPM examinations in 2007 (best SPM achievement of schools in Miri for 2007)
4 students to date receiving the JPA scholarship (full government scholarship for outstanding students) to do medicine:
1) Jonathan Wong Sing Hoon (IMU twinning to any partner medical school)
2) Wong Qi Ying (Melaka Manipal Medical College twinning to India)
3) Ling Sing Ping (Melaka Manipal Medical College twinning to India)
4) Wong Lynn Xuan (IMU twinning to St George's University of London)