On 2 August 2014, close to a thousand alumnae, former Principals, Deputy Principals, teachers and staff returned to RGS for Homecoming III – one of the school’s 135th Anniversary activities. That day, the RGS spirit was experienced in full as the RGS community, past and present, came together and shared memories of their time at RGS.
Leong Choi Fun (RGS, 1971) joined in the celebrations and shared her thoughts.
Homecoming III was a first for me.
Decades after leaving Raffles Girls’ School, I returned to spanking new buildings surrounded by luxury apartments. The School field, where Flag Raising was held and the chair on which I stood conducting the National Anthem and School Song is long gone, replaced by a car park. The Multi Purpose Hall and School Canteen stands in place of our ‘New Block’ and Science Laboratory. You now need to know the Access Code before you can enter the Administrative Office and the classrooms are air conditioned. While the cosmetic changes are impressive, I wonder if the students and the School Culture had changed and if there is a basis for all the bad press on elitism in top Singapore schools.
The girls at the reception were polite, helpful and articulate. But what lies beneath the well mannered and polished individual? Will the girls still reach out and help their peers in their weaker subjects in today’s competitive environment? Will she share her food at recess with the student who does not have pocket money? Will she lend her clothes and sports equipment to underprivileged classmates or team mates? Will she make lifelong friends who would celebrate her birthday with her every year and be there for her in times of joy or sorrow? And, when the student is successful in life, would she have it in her to want to give back to society and to celebrate her life with meaningful actions? I sincerely hope that each and every RGS girl will accomplish all of the above.
The sound of animated conversation and smell of food beckoned. A huge banner for the RGS Alumnae, which was registered on 22nd July this year, greeted me at the bottom of the stairs. At long last, an Alumnae of our own! Some Alumnae committee members were enthusiastically signing up new applicants while others were busy selling food at the stall to raise funds for the School. Since the Alumnae’s best selling item was sold out, I tried the dried scallop porridge from another Stall. It was the Alumna’s grandmother’s recipe. I should have asked her for it as it was delicious. The stall managed by the ORA (RGS Chapter) was selling T-Shirts. Together with the other stalls they were enjoying brisk sales. There were many happy faces among Alumnae when they connected with old friends or teachers and the joy and goodwill in the crowd was palpable. It felt so good to be back in School.
Upstairs in the School Hall, the guests were treated to various performances by the students. The choir and the band did not disappoint but I was totally fascinated by the flexibility of the Gym Girls. Some of the moves looked excruciating to perform and would not have been achievable even at the peak of my fitness! The programme ended with one of the committee members delivering her well received pitch for the Alumnae.
The education I received at RGS gave me the opportunity to go on to university and to develop a career. The teachers imparted values which today still guides my Moral Compass. The good friends I made are friends for life. I will miss 20 Anderson Road in 2018 when the School moves to Bishan. While there will be a sense of loss and sadness, I am thankful that physical relocation will never displace fond memories.