The Great Outram Primary School Reunion

Ms Kelly Ling, 50, a Cathay Pacific in-flight service manager and learning and development executive, was overjoyed to be reunited with her former teacher Violet Tan at the event. (From left, standing) Former OPS pupils Peggy Wee, 49, now an accounta
(From left, standing) Former OPS pupils Peggy Wee, 49, now an accountant, and Edwin Leong, 54, now an educator, presenting their former principal, Mr Soohu, with a gift of a cane, similar to the one he used to discipline pupils with. Seated next to him are (from left) Mrs Heng, a former OPS teacher, and his wife, Mrs Soohu, a housewife.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ADRIAN SEAH
Ms Kelly Ling, 50, a Cathay Pacific in-flight service manager and learning and development executive, was overjoyed to be reunited with her former teacher Violet Tan at the event. (From left, standing) Former OPS pupils Peggy Wee, 49, now an accounta
Ms Kelly Ling, 50, a Cathay Pacific in-flight service manager and learning and development executive, was overjoyed to be reunited with her former teacher Violet Tan at the event.PHOTO: COURTESY OF ADRIAN SEAH

32 years after the school closed, 150 ex-staff, pupils get together

Closed in 1984, Outram Primary School (OPS) is long gone. But more than 150 of its former staff and pupils got together two weeks ago in its first school reunion in over 30 years.

After its get-together at the Suntec City National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) Guild House, the group decided to register an alumni association and is hunting down other schoolmates.

Ms Nora Lee, 46, an office manager at Aurecon and member of the Great Outram Primary School Reunion organising committee, said the reunion was "worth the effort".

The committee even managed to hunt down one of the principals, Mr Soohu Yiew Weng, now 86, who had a reputation for caning his students to maintain discipline.

That fact had lingered so long in their minds that the former pupils presented him with an old-fashioned cane at the reunion, to which Mr Soohu wondered out loud if he really did cane that many pupils.

Even after 32 years, some teachers still remembered their pupils vividly. Ms Christina Tan, 68, who taught English, mathematics and science at OPS and is now retired, remembered Ms Lee as a naughty pupil back in 1982.

Ms Tan recalled extracting a thumbtack from the buttocks of a pupil, the victim of a prank pulled by Ms Lee. Ms Lee, who confessed to the incident at the reunion, said she had wanted to get back at the pupil who had made fun of her large spectacles and called her names.

Though the tape recording of the school song had been lost for years, former pupil Simon Wong Teck Jee, 46, now a deputy director at Surbana Jurong, worked out the tune from memory. He, along with a group of former pupils, sang the song on stage, accompanied by a guitarist.

The road to the reunion began in 2014 when Ms Lee and her best friend from OPS came across a blog post about closed and merged schools in Singapore.

The post prompted them to search for their old classmates, some of whom had banded together in a Facebook group.

One of the group members then suggested a larger-scale reunion, partially to express their gratitude to their teachers, all of whom were above 60 years old, as well as their principal Mr Soohu.

During the event, attendees observed a minute of silence to honour the memory of teachers and pupils who had died.

Set up in 1961 and located near Pearl's Hill Terrace, Outram Primary was a popular school among parents living in Chinatown and the surrounding areas, despite being a neighbourhood school, said Mr Soohu.

The next reunion planned for March or April next year is a walk through spots - including the old school site where Outram Park MRT station now lies, and Pearl's Hill City Park, where "we (used to) catch spiders, tadpoles, (and play) hide and seek after school hours", said Ms Lee.

Former pupils of OPS can get in touch via the Outram Primary School (Singapore) public Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/17894777095.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'The Great Outram Primary School Reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe