Thursday, May 24, 2007

Katong Convent

Sigh. What does it mean when a fairly new school building (I believe it was completed around 1990 or so) is demolished so it can be built up bigger and higher? Way back in 1930, Katong Convent started in an old house by the sea, on this very spot. Taking students from kindergarten all the way up to 'O' levels, many generations of school girls passed through its doors, played in its fields and prayed by the little grotto in the corner of the garden. The sea by the fence went when the land was reclaimed and the new Marine Parade town was built. My mother spent her schooldays here. The school expanded, new wings were erected. I spent four years - my secondary school years here. Well do I remember standing beneath those flagpoles and singing the National Anthem and School Song. Well do I also remember the times when I had to run around the field preparing for my 2.4km physical fitness test. As for my classrooms, these were generally placed around the quadrangle in the middle of the school. The few steps leading down to the quadrangle from the classrooms were depressed in the middle because of the many years girls had stood or sat on them. At the beginning of each year, we would walk to the Holy Family church for mass to mark the start of school. But enough of these happy schoolgirl memories.

In 1987 much of the building was torn down. Both the primary and secondary sections moved to a new building meant to house the secondary school. My sister started her primary school there. This lovely new school was then built for the primary school. I think it a beautiful building. Much of the architecture of this front block reflects the old house the school started off in. The details of the architecture reflect the peranakan culture so prevalent in Katong.

Today, our education system is taking new directions. Smaller class sizes, more IT in the classroom. Although the school building is still so new, it is not enough to accomodate these changes. So go it must. And as an Aided School, the community must raise the money to pay our 5% (or is it 10%?) of the building costs. So the school shifted out at the beginning of the year to an old school building in Bedok. Today, I saw that the demolition team has started its work. I can only think what a waste of a beautiful building it is.

Unfortunately, the building of the new school has been affected by the Indonesian ban on sand exports to Singapore. So it will be a while more before the merry sounds of girls laughing and calling to each other float through the air in this little corner of Katong.


  1. I'am a former Katong Convent girl who turns fifty this year!
    I was there in the early 70's while father worked on the oil rigs.
    Singapore holds happy memories especially my school days at katong Convent.I was very sad to hear that it will be no more.
    Progress is sometimes not always for the best.

  2. well, the good news is that the school is being rebuilt. I just feel very sad that the last remaining portion from the old school building (the quadrangle) will be demolished too. Waiting to see how the new school building will look. Probably will be ready in a year or two now.

  3. Hi, I chanced upon your interesting blog.
    I am an ex-KC girl (from IJ Opera Estate and then KC) too. This year my girl starts P1 and being a faithful girl with my roots deeply rooted, I put her back in there despite the fact that I live in Punggol and have to travel far.
    The new school is nice, but very high *panting*

  4. Dear Lily Ann,
    Thanks for your comment! I went to OE too and I guess if you think about it, from the canteen to the P6 classrooms and the hall right on top, it was pretty high too!
    Best of luck to your daughter in School - at least she gets to stay in the same building all throughout and not have to be in the temp building at all.

  5. Does anyone know if the angsana tree where the KC girls (1950's) used to play under and try to balance on its roots that spread like thick tentacles (if you fall you're out) still exist? It was supposed to be haunted, but we loved it.

  6. Oh yes! The old Angsana tree! Remember we collect the seeds to play games with?!

  7. Hi Anonymous

    I was also from Opera Estate and then KC. I loved the old school very much and have many wonderful memories of sitting and chatting on the roots of the Angsana tree.

  8. We called the seeds "devil's shoe" because ofits obvious shape and we called the sap "blood"
    What innocent days.

  9. Wow that photo of the old KC brings back memories!!! We used to play rounders from there....(in the 80s)

  10. Hi there! So glad I chanced upon your blog.
    My mum and I are both ex-KC girls. She graduated in 1975 and I was there from 1996-2005. I love listening to her old school stories, most of them include Sister Josephine!

    I do miss the old building. However, like you said, it had to go. At least the new building has kept the red and black colours but I much prefer the look of the old one.

  11. Bella, Mau and Aliya (also my anon commenters) - thanks for visiting! It is really so nice to get comments from fellow KC girls and share memories of our days there.

  12. Hi,
    I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the old house which was located right next to the school? We used to look over into the swimming pool by the canteen.

  13. I chanced upon your blog while looking for pictures for a post I'm doing on Katong. What a treasure cove of information! I'm an old KC girl too (1985-1994). I had 2 years at the old school at Martia Road, 3 years at the one at Marine Parade, then moved back to finish P6 at the new (but now gone to make way for newer) school.

    The old house: I think a condo now stands in its place!

  14. I graduated in 1981, when Mrs Bong was the principal. Yes, a lot of memories. I have sweet memories of the teachers and drama classes. Used to be so afraid to go backstage because of rumours. I love the architecture of the old building, remember those days saying our pledge in front of the building beneath those flag poles (with the prefects checking our uniforms, hair and nails). Thanks for the post....this is really sweet memories.

  15. I graduated in 1981, when Mrs Marie Bong was the principal. I have very vivid memories of those days...beneath the flagpoles saying our pledges and singing our school...."Forward Katong Convent, make our future bright, to achieve aims, bravely we will fight.....", I remember how some of us had changed the tune to 'hawaii-5-O' because we found it more catchy. The prefects would go round checking our uniforms, hair and nails...LOL. Yes, thank you very much for this, sweet memories indeed.

    1. Dear Laura,
      Thanks for sharing. Mrs Bong was my Principal too. I graduated in 1984 so we we hv overlapped slightly. And am sorry to confess I hv been booked before, for wearing one blue and one black hair grip on my ponytails!

  16. Hi,

    Am a former KC girl, too. I remember looking over the pool, I think there was a dirt path beside it going to Marine Parade town. The gate to that path was closed during school hours. Mrs. Bong was my principal, too. Was there when she staged "Merchant of Venice"- my first Shakespeare experience. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have gotten to like and understand Shakespeare.


  17. I was a pupil from 1947-1958 and it was an idylic place to have been in school - the playground with it's coconut palms cooled by a sea breezes.I also remember the "devil shoe" tree and once when the sea flooded the play ground. I wonder if anyone has any pictures of it then. I wish I had.

  18. The girls in my family are all KC students. They are my two daughters, a daughter-in-law, my niece and now my grand-daughter.



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