Tuesday, 3 April 2012

My early schooling years

Inspired by bookjunkie's reminiscences of her primary school days, I sat down and thought hard about my own. Then, I thought, why not start from kindergarten? :p

Ok, very long-winded...


Unlike kids these days, I didn't go to any playgroup or pre-nursery. Mother was a SAHM so no childcare for me either. That meant only one thing - there was only play all the way until my pre-school education started in kindergarten when I was five! Woohoo! Which kid has such luxury now??

Before kindergarten, I might have already learnt my ABCs but I didn't even know simple words like "shoe". This word stuck in my mind cos Yan was saying it back then shortly before kindergarten. I thought she meant 书! And when she explained, I think my reply was something along the lines of "isn't that 鞋子?" So I didn't know English but I was still bilingual ok - in Mandarin and Hokkien!

Yan and I were in the same kindergarten class at Teck Ghee Community Centre - so fun! We took to kindergarten happily compared to some other kids who were crying at the beginning.. But we weren't seated together cos we would talk *.*

I remember wooden blocks in this corner of our classroom - I like playing with them very much but for some reason, I seldom got to do that during play time. I remember blue hexagonal tables made from two halves, where we would do our art and craft and writing. I remember running around the classroom. I remember a nice classmate with long hair, and a nasty classmate - the first bitchy girl of many to come haha! - with short hair. I remember music lessons in a cool room (probably with aircon) with a piano and 郑老师 playing at the piano. (Yes, I remember our teacher's name!) I remember tea breaks in this warm room where we would usually have a cup of hot Milo and where birthdays were celebrated. After envying classmates for a whole year, I persuaded Mother to bring a cake to class for my birthday in K2 - the nasty girl tried to get the flower on the top of the cake but I got it cos it's MY birthday! *evil*

Back then, we always got our cakes from the neighbourhood bakery. Nothing fancy, just lots of colourful cream and chocolate sprinkles over a sponge cake and a couple of flower biscuits on top. But like now, babies seemed to get bigger cakes haha! (That's my cousin btw...)

Oh, I had one enrichment class! Art and craft! I drew a heart - as in the organ - and it was put up for an exhibition at the CC where I literally walked into our PM who was then already at Teck Ghee. I remember a teenager talked me out of one of my gold earrings in the toilet just before or after one of those art and craft classes - mini mf cried :(

Most of all, I remember hanging out at the void deck of the block right behind the CC, where Mother and Yan's mother would chat and chat and chat for hours while Yan, MZ and I ran around and played and sang for hours too! YQ was born by then but I don't remember him around leh, haha! But I'm sure he was there cos no one else was taking care of him. I think by K2, he was running around with us!

Our kindergarten class photos and individual shots used to hang on the wall in my old bedroom, before I took over that room. I really like them - we wore "kitchen table" uniforms, you know, the pretty red and white cheques :) I think at the beginning of the school year, I was wearing my own clothes to school cos they didn't have my size - I was big for my age! And the nasty girl went "Orhhhhh, never wear uniform!" Couldn't stand her! So when the teacher first punished her and she cried, we went obi-good! :p

It was such a fun time which came to an end all too soon.. I still have my kindergarten graduation certificate with a mugshot of a super blur-looking mini mf. Don't quite remember collecting it though.. The only thing I remember about our graduation was the dancing! Yan danced to “走走走走走,我们小手拉小手,走走走走走,一同去郊游!” which I liked very much but was pulled out of it cos I was too tall for the line-up - my first brush with body image issue? :( We both took part in a Mongolian-styled dance to the tune of "太阳下山明早依旧爬上来..." I didn't like that song very much but the makeup was nice haha! Oh yeah, my first brush with vanity for sure... (Or maybe not - I suddenly remember wearing Aunt's heels when she wasn't looking :p)

Primary school

I was very sad that Yan and I went to different primary schools :( So unlike kindergarten, primary school was really unfamiliar to me, especially when my English wasn't any better than before. I remember this vividly - the teacher said something and everyone around me started turning to their exercise books but I had to ask the girl next to me what we had to do! And barely two weeks into school, Mother asked a girl in the neighbourhood to share her spelling list with me cos I didn't have a spelling list - but we were in different classes! My first taste of kiasu parenting...

And so started primary school. The classroom had a U-shaped layout in primary one and two and lessons were conducted on the floor in the middle of the classroom. I remember reciting multiplication tables on the floor :) Later, we were always seated in neat grids of desks and chairs that filled the whole classroom. My first desk in primary three was such an old piece of wood that I could dig into it with my fingernails!

Still remember those little blue notebooks in our annual booklist? I used that a lot in primary one. The teachers would make us write down what we had to do in the little book. And at night when Mother packed my pink rectangular (!) schoolbag, she would refer to that. She probably had help with the English notes though. And speaking of my schoolbag, I think that pink one was my only new schoolbag in primary school. I had a blue backpack from my uncle from primary three and later I carried a large flowery handbag that belonged to Mother - those red flower prints on a grey background could be seen in many of my primary school excursion photos!

I liked my primary two form teacher but I forgot her name... She was the one who noticed me scratching my head and alerted Mother about a lice infection *.* She was also the one who noticed my bleeding lips and got Mother to bring me to the doctor for a very bad case of ulcerS *.* *.* She stood up for me when a naughty classmate tried to open my lucky draw prize at our class party - I won the top prize! Can't remember the prize though...

I also liked my primary one Chinese teacher 汤老师, even though she was this old lady who would use a ruler to slap the palms of naughty kids. No one said a thing about such punishment in those days but now, who dares to lay a finger on other people's kids?! I always got a C or D for Chinese writing exercises but I still liked those lessons. I mean, I could understand and do everything even if I wrote like shit!

All of us liked our Chinese teacher 蔡老师 / Mrs Seeh in primary six. She might have taught us since primary five... Don't remember now.. Anyway, she was a very strict teacher and looked kind of scary with dark eye liner but she was very nice too! How? I forgot haha! She went to another primary school and we met up once for dinner in 2005.

At dinner with Mrs Seeh

I disliked my primary one form teacher Mrs Tang. She had frizzy hair and wore tinted glasses. Worse, she didn't smile at us kiddies at all! But her worst crime? She never returned my lovely creamy chocolate chip bun after we wrote about the snack we brought to school that day! *fumes*

Then my primary three maths teacher Mrs Goh was this scary woman who would throw exercise books across the room for bad work! I think she flung my book once and I was sad cos it got dirty :( Sometimes I wonder why that didn't cast a shadow over my enthusiasm for mathematics, hmmm... Oh, and one year, I had a really battered maths textbook that must have been passed down for years! I wasn't happy but I had no choice. But I was really pissed when I didn't score well for an exercise cos the problem in that old edition was different from that in the current edition!

I think I had a love-hate relationship with music lessons. I love to sing! But unfortunately we had to play the recorder argh! My recorder is probably somewhere in one of our boxes back home...

By primary school, art and craft was a chore! I didn't like getting my fingers and uniform dirty so I really hated watercolour lessons, especially those potato prints! o_O I had no ECA, just external computer lessons in primary three after a promotion in school but it got too expensive for me to continue..

Later primary years involved more studying. I started going for tuition classes in primary four. I only liked it cos Yan and I were in the same tuition class yeah! Else it was quite boring... Back then, streaming took place at primary three so I was barred from watching TV once - I retaliated by not studying as well, just stared at one page the whole time :p In fact, by primary six, I was reading story books more than textbooks! But I think that really helped in my English. I even got a book prize for English!

Academic stuff aside, I remember the lovely milk packets in lower primary :) Well, I never ordered any :( but I had a couple of classmates whose parents ordered for them but they didn't like having it all the time so I got some free milk woohoo! I remember lining up in a row over the drain behind the classrooms to learn to brush our teeth properly - very kampong! - until a snake was spotted in the grass just beyond the drain! Then the exercise was brought to the wash basins, more crowded.

Recess was a wonderful time in lower primary. Parents were allowed to bring food for their kids, and I loved having fried ang kueh with sweet sauce :) And on good days, I managed to ask for a glass bottle of lemon barley - you had to return the bottle to a tray near the drinks stall - or a bottle of Yakult or Vitagen which came with a little gift :) On other days when I had to buy my own food, I was given 80cents - the noodles cost 30cents and upwards but I was a big girl so I had the 40cents bowl; the additional 40cents were a backup in case I dropped my bowl *.* By primary six, I think I had $1 a day, i.e. 50cents noodles! But I was always hungry, grrr.. Yes, I grew even bigger by then!

The short recess was also enough time for a quick games in the exercise area (monkey bar!), on the tarmac (hopscotch!), or in the school hall (zero point, catching or handkerchief game!), and in later years, some of us would use the time to do homework *.* Oh, and there were a few prefects in our class who guarded the staircases so we also liked to just hang out at the staircase near the canteen sometimes. I think the funniest thing about recess was in primary one - we had to walk in pairs, sometimes holding hands! Else, we put one finger on our lips and use the other hand to "lock" it! Imagine that!

There were lots of excursions in primary five and six, especially after PSLE. We went to the zoo and Haw Par Villa, and we played a lot of basketball! And other times, we played games in class - aeroplane chess, Uno, Old Maid, Happy Family etc.. The guys also started throwing one another into the rubbish bin, hmmm... And the Saturday after PSLE, my class had a gathering at Pasir Ris park - yup, the one where CY's mum had to convince Mother to let me go... Those were really good times :)

And so we left those wonderful days of scoring 100 marks or close, which btw never repeated themselves in later schooling years *.*

Some 10 years ago, our school was demolished :( The affiliated secondary school behind us expanded into our site while our school moved - in name only - to another school building across the road, but everything about it including the school song and motto had changed.

Our original school crest and motto. Think I still have the dark blue collar pin in my box of knickknacks..

Managed to find a little historical write-up on the school website!

"The former Teck Ghee Primary School merged with Chong Li Primary School in December 2002 to form the present Teck Ghee Primary School.

Teck Ghee Primary School was officially opened in April 1989 by Mr Lee Yoke Suan, then MP of Cheng San CC. Having started at 1 Ang Mo Kio Street 42 on 10 July 1979, it was the third government school built in Ang Mo Kio.The school celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1989, with B.G. Lee Hsien Loong as its Guest of Honour. The pupil enrolment of the school peaked in the mid 80s to about 2000. In December 2000, the school was temporarily relocated to 1 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10.

Chong Li Primary School was officially opened in September 1983 by Mr S Chandra Das, then MP for Chong Boon CC. It started in 1981, holding classes in the old premises of Braddell Secondary School. Through the hard work of teachers and SAC members the pupil enrolment increased to about 1800. It was then shifted to 4 Ang Mo Kio Street 44. In year 2000, it once again relocated to a holding premises at 6 Ang Mo Kio Street 44.

The new Teck Ghee Primary School started functioning at 1Ang Mo Kio Street 32 in January 2003 under the leadership of our new Principal, Mr Tan Say Kiat."

It's amazing how some of us are still keeping in contact to this day. Looking forward to catching up when I go back! :)

Some of my primary school classmates came to send me off on my first flight.

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