I almost didn’t make it for my alma mater’s Family Day Carnival as I was too busy lazing around in bed. (It’s a weekend after all. (;) Managed to get myself down in the end and boy, I’m glad I did.
The school is slated to be torn down in January 2014, so this is possibly one of my last few available chances to visit the school as it is right now.
Obviously, I wasn’t really there for the carnival. (Proceeds from the carnival are going to the school’s rebuilding fund … and I certainly wasn’t going to support that since I’m all for keeping the school the way it is now.) I was really there to revisit all my favourite nook and crannies of the school.
The garden outside the science labs.
Walking around the campus was refreshing, probably because I was looking at it from a fresh perspective. Back then, my head was constantly clouded with Chemistry/Physics/Mathematics/Biology assignments, exams and typical teenage girl problems so the school looked much more drab and mundane than it really was.
The campus is actually beautiful. A word which I NEVER used to describe my school back then.
More greenery in between Blocks A and B.
Plenty of gardens, with sculptures, a hut and waterfalls (which alas, I’ve forgotten to capture). There were many chill-out zones, although unappreciated and underutilized by teenaged girls.
Then again, I can’t quite blame them – my schedule was extremely rigid in my days of yore, with fixed timetables and only a 20-minute long recess break. Rules were strict as well – no girl was allowed to leave the classroom in between lessons and you even needed an ‘exit pass’ to visit the toilets. -.-
The large school field.
The school had a large field – the scene of many a PE lesson or footdrill training back then when I was a Girl Guide. I really loathed that field then, because it was always overgrown and muddy – and I’d never fail to spot mysterious long, slimy things wriggling in and out of the field. The field’s much more well maintained now and it was a flurry of activity … from willing parties. (Back then, everyone avoided the field like the plague unless they were forced to use it.)
It was exam periods for their students right now, so several areas of the school was blocked out. With those typical red and white plastic ribbon tapes no less … which made the out-of-bounds zone look dangerous and intimidating like a war zone.
The zone where my former classroom is was also blocked out, so I had to resort to sneaking around. Unfortunately, I was spotted and unceremoniously chased back to the ground floor. (Hey, that’s not the way to treat an old girl, okay?!)
I was chased away by a current student, who apologetically told me that “a teacher saw you and asked me to get you to leave”. As usual, we have teachers exerting their authority through young, innocent fifteen year olds. Damn, there goes my pride. :(
That also meant that I also didn’t manage to visit 75% of my favourite hideouts in the school either … since everything else beyond the ground floor was out-of-bounds.
Oh hello! That’s my classroom!
Just picture a much younger version of my current self seated at the far left corner of that classroom, who always screamed her head off when a bee flew through the door beside her (which was actually, pretty often – the school had a bee/wasp infestation problem back in the early 2000s). That’s pretty much my impression of my former sixteen year old self.
I bet everyone felt like this about school back then.
Being stuck in a world full of assignments and exams … with rigid rules dictating your every move – from your attire (collars cannot be unbuttoned, belts must be right, skirts must be knee-length, only black or dark blue hair accessories allowed, yadda yadda) to where you can go (no student is allowed to leave the classroom without permission). Not to mention how big brother is always watching from some corner … in the form of the Discipline Mistress (who had a knack of springing up on you in your most unsuspecting moment).
I certainly wouldn’t return to Secondary School again even when given the choice, despite the memories there – I value my freedom too much now. Back in those days, I was a kid who always complied to rules because I didn’t want to get into trouble. Now, I question every. Single. Damn. Thing.
Just swinging along.
Forward, Katong Convent.
An autonomous school since 2003.
There was a big hoo-ha about the school gaining autonomous status back in 2002. We’ve had representatives from the MOE visiting the school every now and then and conducting interviews with the students. I recall I was selected for one of these interviews, but I had to bail because I wasn’t feeling well that day and had to leave.
No effort was spared at sprucing up the school either. Within that year alone, we’ve had a hut pavilion and a new waterfall spring up within the campus, along with a fresh coat of paint. The school also had its mission and vision rewritten, all for the sake of impressing those big boys up there so they’d give us this “autonomous status”.
I didn’t quite get what the big deal was about having “autonomous status”. It was just another vanity label to me. Just like how students are labelled as “gifted” and “special”, or Secondary Schools having an “express” or “normal” section for their students.
Ah well, Singapore’s Education System has always been described as a crazy rat race, so this labelling thing is totally in line with that I guess.
But the most encouraging thing I heard today was that many teachers still insist on returning to CHIJ Katong Convent to teach because of the culture here – the girls are much more laid back and compassionate, with everyone treating one another as “family”. (As quoted from my former PE teacher whom I ran into today.) He also spoke about how he had taught a sister school and found the culture too stressful (with the students having a ridiculous obsession with being Number 1).
I guess with the “autonomous status” and all, some things don’t change – and that’s great. (;