'Nothing compared to what school has done for me', says Northlight alumnus who buys ice cream for all students

Former student Aaron Liew bought more than 800 cups of ice cream for students at Northlight School on Children's Day (Oct 7, 2016).
Former student Aaron Liew bought more than 800 cups of ice cream for students at Northlight School on Children's Day (Oct 7, 2016).PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Now the co-owner of a diving centre, Aaron Liew said he is grateful for what the school has done for him.
Now the co-owner of a diving centre, Aaron Liew said he is grateful for what the school has done for him.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/AARON LIEW

SINGAPORE - It was ice cream that warmed the heart.

Mr Aaron Liew, a former student of Northlight School, bought the entire school ice cream on Children's Day, which fell on Friday (Oct 7).

A post on the Ministry of Education's Facebook page showed grinning students enjoying cups of ice cream at the school's canteen.

A tanned Mr Liew, now a scuba diving instructor, stood among the students, holding both thumbs up.

The post said that a free cup of ice cream that he got nine years ago while studying at Northlight touched him deeply.

"It was an early example of the kindness and attention he received over his three years there, which turned his life around," said the post.

The more than 800 cups of ice cream cost "a few hundred dollars", but it was nothing compared to what the school had done for him, Mr Liew told The Straits Times.

The 25-year-old was among Northlight's first batch of students in 2007.

The school takes in students those who have failed their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) and have struggled in the mainstream education system.

Mr Liew is an exception. He did well enough in his PSLE to enter secondary school, but he "caused trouble" in school, and was framed for a misdemeanor that forced him to leave the school, he said.

He felt sure then that no school would take him in, but Northlight's founding principal Chua Yen Ching "gave him a second chance", he said.

"I am really grateful that Mrs Chua gave me that second chance and believed in me," said Mr Liew.

"I remember in 2007, I did something wrong in school," he added. "She called me a few nights to talk to me and asked me to change."

He recalled that the students got an ice cream treat when he first joined the school in 2007.

One of the students asked if he could take the ice cream home to share with his brother, as they "did not have the chance to eat ice cream at home".

That incident stuck in his mind, he said.

The entrepreneur, who co-founded diving centre Xtreme Beluga, said he got the idea of buying ice cream for the students after a chat with Mrs Chua recently.

He then got a supplier to deliver the ice cream - in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavours - to the school on Friday.

"Northlight is really a wonderful school," he said. "I will never forget how the school changed me. I will try my best to sponsor ice cream to the school every year."