Social media is a powerful tool. Put that together with passionate ex-students who appreciate things close to their hearts = KABOOM = an avalanche of throwbacks for our secondary school, CHIJ Katong Convent.
I first learned about the retirement of my alma mater’s bookshop uncle and aunty, and the drink stall uncle and aunty via Facebook and
Shiok.sg. Within hours, news spread like fire on Instagram and fellow classmates and schoolmates were discussing about it, along with the closure of our school as it was due for an upgrade. The next few days saw several “old girls” (that’s what graduands are termed as) returning to school for a visit. On the Facebook group, updates were aplenty with photos of girls and their teachers, special corners of our school that held memories in our hearts, nostalgic photos from the past, class photos, CCA photos etc.
Finally found time to make a trip down to the place where I spent my formative teenage years at. 12 Nov was the last day for public to visit as the place will be pulled down and movers were helping to get stuff to the holding school.
Allow me to walk you down my memory lane together:
My legs brought me right to the back of the premises, walking past the staff room, foyer, general office and into the canteen. Both couples from the drink stall and bookshop were there and suddenly, I felt like I wasn’t ready to walk the grounds or to converse with any familiar face. Vivid memories swarmed my mind and hit me like a hurricane without warnings. I could even hear conversations in my head and flashbacks started transmitting through my neurons, riding up a wave of emotions. I was certainly unprepared. So, I walked towards the open field behind the tuckshop and tried to regain my composure lest anyone saw Rudolph.
The view from where I stood. The basketball court back then was just concrete, without colours. Seems like the big trees and grass patch is now hoarded and belongs to Ngee Ann Primary?
My view on the left, of the nearby housings. Some days, we had our assembly on the grassland.
I took the steps up to the then-gym equipment area and was pleasantly surprised to see that there were still a few of them around!
Gym equipment – abandoned?
Another gym equipment.
This little walkway where the gym equipment were found, was one of the places we used to play games during Girl Guides’ sessions on Saturdays. Hated the flour + water combo our seniors liked to use – they stuck to your skin and it was so tough to rid clean. And, don’t get me started on that smell! *vomit*
At this level, it was also where some of our teachers used to sneak up on us by gaining a bird’s eye view of the tuckshop.
There were far more tables and seatings back then. Perhaps they have been moved. Drink stall uncle was dismantling his furnishings, as I later learned from the drink stall aunty that they had to see to their own property as the movers were only to move school properties.
Our school bookshop – textbooks, to PE attire, stationery, well just about anything you need!
And a short corridor brings us to the classrooms where our Malay students have their lessons at. I remember using one of them for our Girl Guide activities too.
Walking up the stairs just before the tuckshop brings me to the classrooms at this block. When I visited, the O levels were almost coming to an end.
Several handprints adorned the school walls and I later understood from Mrs Sng that the girls did that on the last day of school not too long ago.
Our Secondary 1/2 classroom back then! This row of classes were also the ones whom I taught at during my 4 month temp relief teaching back in 2005. It was good to return to my alma mater and pay it forward. Taking on a full-time teacher’s role, I taught majority of the Sec 1E classes English and History, and Sec 2/8NT English. One of my best teaching memories in my life :)
We used to illegally park our books under our tables, until these lockers were in place, we were supposed to rent them. Haha but whenever there were spot-checks going on, we temporarily hid those books in the lockers (without locking)… or in the OHP, or some corner in the classroom! Hahaha!
Walking to the next block where my then secondary 2/2 and 4/5 classes were at.
We used to run to the toilet via this emergency exit cos my classmates and I sat right at the back of the classroom. Just don’t get caught without our EXIT PASSES!
Where Sec 4/5 was back then. Our PE monitors even spoofed us on April Fool’s Day by getting us to change into our PE attires and hurried over half way across the school. Gen and Drea! Lol! And we punked our Lit teacher by switching classrooms with the next door class too!
The stairway leading downstairs to the art room/D&T room.
Our AVA room, favouritest place after exams for the awesome aircon and the not-so-awesome-for-me scary shows that the other girls loved to watch… like Exorcist… :(
Science lab where we burnt peanuts, and tried not to burn down the place or our own hair! Seeing some weird things stored in those jars filled with liquids were quite scary too… :S
A new addition at level one.
One of the rooms we used when we had to return during our upper secondary school holidays for supplementary classes. Aircon too! It was one of the luxuries back then. Heh!
The little bridge and pond which some girls liked having their food at during recess.
We had physics experiment at those labs downstairs.
I remember we were in Sec 2 then, and returned during the school holidays to practice singing + dancing for our class performance – Alicia’s Attic! Even had our own specially designed class tee and we came in first during the competition! :P What a blast for class unity! Kristal drew our tee!
We could smell fresh bakes from the Home Econs rooms, and whenever a class was going on, I’d tell my bestie who sat next to me “today, they are making chocolate cookies/pizza/cake etc”, and she was always thrilled with my “nosey” ability :P Do you remember this, Drea?? Haha!!
The back gate on level 2, which always tempted little girls to “zao” school. Hahaha!
Taking in the horizons.
Library periods were one of my fave because we get to read in aircon! I remember weekly library duties (Every Wed?) as a Library Prefect (yes, go ahead and laugh at my toot-ness) and I love books, so hence this CCA. Our teacher in charge back then was Ms Irene Lim – never fail to scare us with a high-pitched stern tone and whenever we saw her, we just wanted to run. She was our Discipline Mistress back then, how not to be scared?! :P
A peek inside the library. Where we had our annual Book & Music Week exhibits in the library as well. In addition to performances and activities at the hall.
Overlooking the foyer, which was map-less then. Foyer was a great place to pelt out punishments – I remember our entire class was hauled out for public display and we had to copy lines from our maths textbook. Ugh. After that, Mrs Sng threw them into the dustbin in front of us after we were done -_-
The Sec 2/8NT classroom I taught during my teaching stint.
O levels in progress – shhh! Our school hall brings memories of masses every term, assembly for prayers after recess and of course those teacher’s day performances, interclass competitions that we had too! Yours truly won my very first singing competition – in Chinese, no less! – with my group of fans. When hubs first knew about it, he couldn’t stop laughing and believed that my friends were the one who helped win the trophy. I don’t disagree with his theory. Here’s to you, Janice, Tanya, Christine! :)
Upper gallery for our Sec 5s then, and the AV room.
One of the staff room I had access to during my teaching stint. Small and cosy at level 2.
Messages on sticky notes left behind by the students :)
2nd level of the library where we got to watch videos during selected library periods. Heh!
We’ll always be girls :)
Oh the gym! Here’s where we did awkward rolls and handstands during PE, granted i’m not a sporty person. Always wished I could escape gym sessions! Also the place where our PFT stations would be at such as Sit and Reach.
On the right side under the sign “Block E”, was where the Library board hung.
No KCian is unfamiliar with this – our abode for prayers and peace.
Stairs leading to the hall.
Mother Mary watches over us.
Morning assemblies held here, and where we sung (or not) our school song :P
When we go back for Girl Guides on Saturdays, here’s the area the NCC girls used for their drills and meetings.
My least fave place – dental clinic! Yikes! The room beside it was the sick bay, and was also used for a blood donation drive. Whenever a student came knocking at the class with a clipboard, an unlucky one was summoned here!
New sightings we didn’t use to have.
Plates collection area and also where I used to stand with my friends and gobbled sandwiches because we had only 20mins to queue and eat! Long queue plus I don’t eat fast, so grab and swallow. Remember this, Pat Long and Jia Xin? :)
The stall with the purple signage used to be a cai fan stall, we called “”purple plate”. The uncle was always so jovial and some girls liked to climb over from the vacant stall to cut queue. LOL! Heard from Mrs Lim that his wife passed on sometime back and she was a kind lady who offered meat and veg even when some only had a dollar for recess. We loved his black meat (actually it’s black sauce pork) – it was the best!
New stalls except Western Food, which came in during my upper secondary school days. It was such a hit despite being relatively more pricey compared to the other food options. $2.50 for a set? Long queue always! Also the reason why I love mushroom cheese omelette since then!! :P
Guess they had to do some crowd control eh? Haha!
Cikgu Rathia’s room back then. She was one of the most iconic teacher we had – “I will sit on you!!!” Fierce and loud, she meant no nonsense! Had her for PE in one of the years too. Scared! Whenever we had to run 2.4km, she would hop on her bicycle to chase us with a loud hailer. Just don’t ever be one of the last few! She has since passed on due to illness… but will always remember her.
Drea, this one is for you! I will always remember you chatting up a storm with drink stall aunty with your super greeting “Aunttyyyyy, ni hao mah??” to which aunty was always grinning from ear to ear. Spoke to her and found out that she lives in Bedok too! But is now living at her son’s place in Changi.
It was probably Sec 3 or 4 when KC socks were introduced and boy, we all hated them because they were the ankle-length type. Back then it was the kawaii Jap craze with high socks, and we all had socks bearing logos like Nike, Adidas, Hush Puppies, Converse Polo Ralph etc or plain woolly ones, as though it was cold. Some of us had to cut those logos out when caught, hahaha!
Uncle Lim and Mrs Lim! Our memories are made of this. Uncle Lim used to have a bookshop at our primary school too, and stickers and erasers were my Achilles heel back then. Pls don’t tell my mother!
Our Maths teacher and Discipline Mistress, Mrs Sng, looking like she didn’t age one bit! She will be leaving KC too after being here for 27 years… and suddenly she didn’t know how she was going to spend her time not teaching. She’s considering flexi-adjunct teaching when the school is ready in 2 years.
Archives from the English Resource Room, one of the places I had access to as a teacher. This is making me miss teaching, seriously…
Here’s where we could photocopy stuff as teachers, to prepare for our lessons.
The English Resource Room… one of the places for teachers to reach out to teaching materials. I remember being in there after the teaching periods to research and prepare for my teaching materials and lesson plans :)
The big tree watching over us as we sat on the big steps.
Our Girl Guides board – look out for announcements and updates from here.
As students, stepping inside we had to be very silent lest some fierce teacher stared. As a teacher, stepping into this quiet cove away from the girls, and to prepare for lessons, mark tons of books, worksheets, exam papers..hahaha!
How the new place will look like in 2 years’ time.
Some of our girls out there in public – contributing to society and the world at large.
Used to wait for my dad at the foyer everyday after school. Don’t ask me why. Oh and we used to leave our school bags here too, and run off elsewhere. During my time, this Mother Mary area wasn’t there yet.
Our foyer, with access to the music room where we had music lessons, social etiquette class after exams, class bonding activities etc. For teachers, it was the place for Contact Time aka Teacher’s Meetings :P
The road outside our school, where my dad drops me off in the mornings. And that bus stop right outside where we took shelter from the heavy downpour after our Sec 4 exams – Drea, Angel, Siti, Sophia and Ner ;) – before heading to SingPost to hangout.
Every KCian knows about Blk 51 – don’t get caught there :P
HA! The infamous love bridge between us and St. Pat’s. It’s actually a myth because nobody would actually meet there, and risk getting caught, right? LOL!
As I trod those grounds with a heavy heart, I know I’ve come full circle. These memories are precious and the friendships (and sisterhood) we built over the years will always be held dear till our last breaths. Yes, we made teachers angry, some of them cried (even the tough ones) and some of them seemed nonchalant back then. But each person whom we connected with during those years; whether a teacher, student or those folks who fed us our meals at tuckshop, these are the people who seemed insignificant at that point but only to realize that the impact (no matter how big or small) in our lives, minds and heart have already been sealed.
Forward, Katong Convent. Thank you for making me who I am today. This article is specially dedicated to my friends of Sec 1/2 ’96, 2/2 ’97, 3/5 ’98 and 4/5 ’99, fellow Girl Guides and Library Prefects during those years, and of course, the pillars of our school; the teachers. Once a KCian, always a KCian. Girls will always be girls.