Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the secondary school I went to. It was even reported in the news.
As I looked over the posts on its Facebook page, memories flowed back into my mind. The feelings I have with the school are mixed.
The school is a SAP school and places high emphasis on academic excellence. Yet, it is also a ‘chinese’ school with its long history and its places high importance of traditional moral values. Compared to the schools of today, we also had a whole long list of ECAs that we can join.
This was the place I once hated to go to, because of the high academic standards. In hindsight, I often disagree with some of the ways grades were placed on such high priority. I can vividly remember the days where I dreaded to go to school, especially in the first few months after leaving primary school. Yet, it was the place where I forged friendships lasting till today. I have fond memories of activities in my ECA (yes, called ECA back then, not CCA), which gave me many opportunities to lead and to have fun. It is also the school my husband attended, even though I did not know him back then.
The school uniform looks really distinct and different from all other schools’. It still looks the same after 60 years. Our school song is like no other I’ve heard and it is in Mandarin. In school, we recited the national pledge in Mandarin. I found myself speaking Mandarin in school more than English and I totally, totally cannot understand the ‘hatred’ towards Chinese language that many children of today feel. I did not especially love or hate Mandarin, but I find myself more able to appreciate the beauty of the language as I grow older. Listening to the school song, I felt goosebumps on my arms. So few lyrics, yet such deep meaning.
On some days, I would drive past this other school I had wished to go to after my PSLE. I found myself wondering how different I might have been if I had attended that school, which is at the other end of the spectrum, at the ‘ang mo sai’ end of the spectrum instead of the ‘cheena’ end. I’m actually glad I did not go to that school, not because it is not a good school, but because a ‘cheena’ culture may suit me better.
Even though not everyone of us from a SAP school will be a high-flyer or choose to become one, thank you for the 4 years I have spent there.
Happy 60th anniversary River Valley High School. 立德立功，化愚化顽