Chongfu School marks 100th anniversary with concert and dinner

SINGAPORE - She first stepped into Chongfu School 20 years ago but former student Jasmine Loh still remembers vividly the long, steep walkway that led to the school's assembly area and the constant babble of chatter among the pupils.

"On my first day of school, there were many children who were accompanied by their parents. Some were crying, others seemed excited," said Ms Loh, 27. "I had mixed feelings because I didn't know what to expect.

"But the teachers made me feel welcomed, to the extent that I looked forward to coming to school."

Twenty years later, Ms Loh is now teaching math and science at the primary school in Yishun. She was posted back to the school, an affiliated school of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, in 2013.

Ms Loh added that she wanted to return after graduation from the National Institute of Education. "Out of all my years of education, those spent here as a student were the happiest." she said. "I wanted to give back to the school."

Ms Loh is one of many former students who have returned to the school as teachers.

On Thursday, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who is a Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, acknowledged these former students who have returned to serve.

"When ex-students and alumni return to serve their school, they bring along a broader perspective from their own experiences," said Mr Shanmugam, who was speaking at Chongfu School's 100th anniversary celebration. "And they pass on the school spirit and culture from one generation to another. I hope this spirit of giving back continues."

As part of the centennial celebration, Mr Shanmugam toured an exhibition showcasing pupils' works and visited the heritage gallery which tells the school's story over the last century. The event also featured a concert and dinner.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam recognised the strong support of the school leaders, alumni, clan association and parent support group.

"Hundred years is a significant milestone for any institution," said Mr Shanmugam. "To last a hundred years, an institution has to keep up, continuously progress and improve. And yet, it has to preserve its heritage as that provides an institution its character."

Chongfu School began as an all-girls institution, Chong Hock Girls' School, in Telok Ayer Street in 1915. Today, it is a co-ed schools for all races in Yishun.

Notable alumnus include local food manufacturer and distributor Tai Hua Food Industries managing director Thomas Pek, Confucius Institute director Neo Peng Fu and national table tennis player Isabelle Li.

Ms Li, who attended the school from 2001 to 2006, took up table tennis when she was in primary three. The 21-year-old, who has put on hold her undergraduate studies at Yale-NUS, to train full-time for June's SEA Games in Singapore, said: "The school exposed me to the sport at a young age, and taught me that it wasn't all about competing but also having fun.

"It gave me opportunities to develop my passion."