PLMGS girls - past and present - celebrate a century of education

PM Lee cutting a cake last night at the Orchard Hotel ballroom with (from left) Mrs Quek Li Gek, principal of PLMGS (Secondary); Professor Hum Sin Hoon, chairman of the Board of Management; Mrs Quahe-Lim Su-Lynn, president of the alumni; and Ms Chua
PM Lee cutting a cake last night at the Orchard Hotel ballroom with (from left) Mrs Quek Li Gek, principal of PLMGS (Secondary); Professor Hum Sin Hoon, chairman of the Board of Management; Mrs Quahe-Lim Su-Lynn, president of the alumni; and Ms Chua Soh Leng, principal of PLMGS (Primary). Some 1,200 past and present students of PLMGS attended the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of their alma mater.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

It was like a recess scene at a girls' school: Groups stood in circles, exchanging stories and sharing a laugh or two over food.

It was no school canteen though, but an Orchard Hotel ballroom and an occasion graced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself.

Last night, 1,200 past and present students of Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School (PLMGS) gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of their alma mater.

The school was started in 1916 as a boys' school. In 1946, under the leadership of then principal Chew Hock Hin, the school functioned in two sessions - one for girls in the morning, and another for boys in the afternoon.

In 1961, it became a full girls' school and, in 1986, it moved to its present Lorong Ah Soo site.

The school honoured the memory of the well-loved Mrs Chew by choosing her birthday - Oct 14 - as its Founder's Day.

Last night, PLMGS old girls chatted away about their school days, former classmates and former teachers.

PM Lee, who jokingly pointed out in his speech that he was one of the few men at the event, commended the school for its many outstanding alumni, including former national sprinter Glory Barnabas.

Mrs Barnabas, 74, who still teaches physical education at Springfield Secondary, won a gold in high jump and a silver in long jump at the International Gold Masters competition in 2013, in the women's 70-74 age group.

PM Lee also praised PLMGS Secondary's robotics interest group for winning 15 awards at the World Robot Games international competition in August, where they were the only girls up against 300 boys.

He said Singapore schools must continue to give a good academic education. "But our students must also be exposed to non-academic areas and a broad range of experiences in order to discover their own interests and talent," he said, adding that schools need to inculcate sound values in Singapore's young people most of all.

"So that they grow up to be good people and upright citizens with a sense of belonging to Singapore, and a feeling of responsibility to contribute back to society," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'PLMGS girls - past and present - celebrate a century of education'. Print Edition | Subscribe