It was with sadness that I learned another history of my childhood would be gone. Many buildings of my childhood and youth have all but disappear with the modernisation of Singapore.
During my growing up years, cameras were not something many children had. There were also no annual year books – they were printed every decade in my school. Thus, we did not take any class photos except for an official one taken with another class when we were in Primary Five. There were some snippets taken in secondary school but they were too few and too closed-up to really show the school environment.
When I was in primary three (Class P3D) in 1974, we were told about the new building for the primary section at the hilltop. The hilltop, accessible via a long flight of stairs, was a mystery to us.
In 1975, the whole P3D were promoted to P4D and moved into the new building at the hill-top. The same people eventually remained together for the next three years with the same form teacher, plus or minus a few who left to join other schools (mainly because they couldn’t cope with Chinese) and some new comers.
37 years later, this new building is slated for demolition.
Last Saturday, the Principal (P) and Vice Principal (VP) were at hand to welcome class 6D (1977) for an informal homecoming. They already had two official homecomings in April and September, thus we were grateful to the P and VP to purposely open the school for us on a Saturday, and be present as well.
19 (out of the original 35) of us turned up to capture in photos what we had missed when we were studying there. My form teacher, now a octogernarian who dedicated her service to the school for more than three decades, was there to lend her support even though she had already attended the two official ones earlier.
Our 6D classroom at the top-level appeared much smaller than what we remember, but of course we were only twelve then, and middle-aged adults now. The wooden desks are now replaced by metal ones, and blackboard with white board. Even the lourve windows are different from my time. We should know, as the boys had broken a few panes from playing soccer in class and even at twelve, they were handy enough to replace the panes themselves. The teachers had never discovered (I think!) as no one uttered a single word, the missing pane covered by the curtains. In the end, the boys decided to stock up on the glass panes in their desk as there were just too many incidences of broken panes.
The courtyard in front of the u-shape building where we used to do morning exercise after the flag raising ceremony is now an eco-garden. The drains where we used to squat and brush our teeth after recess are covered with metal grates. The long staircase leading to this hilltop is also gone. Instead, a bridge connects this old building site to the new buildings, built in 2004 from the land vacated by the secondary section, via a linkway on the third floor of the new building. But I can’t complaint about the change. At least the bricks and mortar are still the original ones. This building had served all my sons as well, so some changes are inevitable.
On that hot and humid Saturday morning, lots of photos were snapped, many memories relived, and for that few hours, we were classmates again in 6D back in 1977, the feelings of carefree and innocence of childhood returned, if only momentarily.
Thank you, my fellow classmates, for being a part of my growing up journey, and thank you to my teacher, who played a huge role in my formative years. I feel so blessed to have all of you in my life.