PM Lee recalls his time in Catholic High

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong greeting Mr Wong Wei Kong, 92, his former Chinese language teacher, at Catholic High School's 80th founder's day dinner at the Fairmont Hotel last night.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong greeting Mr Wong Wei Kong, 92, his former Chinese language teacher, at Catholic High School's 80th founder's day dinner at the Fairmont Hotel last night.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

He joins old boys and former teachers at dinner to mark the school's 80th year

As a student in Catholic High School's graduating class in 1969, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was put in charge of the school magazine.

The job was not easy, as Mr Lee, then 18, had to look for advertisements and persuade fellow students to contribute articles, which he then had to edit and typeset.

But guided by the principal, Brother Joseph Dufresse Chang, the magazine was published, Mr Lee recalled at a dinner at the Fairmont Hotel yesterday to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the school's founding.

Mr Lee joined about 1,800 old boys in catching up with old friends and former teachers, and reminiscing about their school days.

He noted that his alma mater had been preserved and transformed in the decades since he graduated.

Its old Queen Street campus has been converted into the Singapore Art Museum's 8Q annexe, and the school has moved to Bishan. But for old boys, memories remain.

Mr Lee told guests that when he visited the 8Q building a few years ago, he went to his old third-floor classroom. "The corridors and staircases looked the same as before... We spent many happy hours there and for a little while I was back there, 13 years old, Secondary 1."

Now, a new junior college is being built for students in the Joint Integrated Programme, in partnership with CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Singapore Chinese Girls' School. Mr Lee said he was glad the school continues to stay relevant "because the world is not static, and the graduates you produce must keep up with the times".

But what has not changed is Catholic High's emphasis on values and character development, he added.

The school has produced leaders in diverse fields because it is anchored on these values, he noted.

"That's timeless and essential, and something we want more Singapore schools to do more of," he said.

In doing so, students "will not only be book-smart, but will grow up to be citizens of good character who will contribute to society and serve fellow Singaporeans."

The school has also retained an emphasis on bilingualism, he said.

Last night, it launched 12 illustrated books in Chinese titled Growing Up Years, by Secondary 2 students.

Principal Magdalen Soh said these were given to all primary schools to encourage younger pupils to read in Chinese and make learning the language more fun.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'PM Lee recalls his time in Catholic High'. Print Edition | Subscribe