SINGAPORE - The demolition of a school gate built in 1997 to make way for housing development at Bidadari has sparked a petition with more than 2,800 signatures to save it.
The removal of the gate at Maris Stella High School, slated for after May 31, was announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday night (May 12) and came as a shock to parents and students, both past and present.
On Thursday morning, Mr Harold Yeo, whose son is a Secondary 4 student at the school, started a Change.org petition to the Housing Development Board and National Archive Board Singapore to preserve the blue and white structure.
A signboard near the school on Mount Vernon Road said construction works involved road widening.
But Mr Yeo, a 41-year-old financial adviser, said the gate was a symbol of the school.
He said: "I don't think I find such a structure in any of the other Catholic schools."
The lobby for its preservation gained traction among parents as the news rippled through their chat groups, said Ms Pauline Tan, whose son, now in Sec 3, has been a student at the school for the past nine years.
"The structure is very majestic and has features that are representative of its bicultural identity...If we had known earlier there could at least be some discussion," said the healthcare manager who is in her early 50s.
"I remember walking through that gate on my first day of school," said Mr Jared Quek, 18, now a full-time national serviceman.
"I think that it's a pity for them to remove it as it's really an iconic structure through which people can relate to Maris Stella."
Mr James Tan Kiat Joon, 18, who graduated in 2018, said his Sec 4 form teacher had a wedding photo taken there, while Sec 1 student Justin Kam Rui Jie said it felt like their "sacred place" was being removed.
At about 6.30pm Thursday, several people were about, snapping pictures, including Mr Richard Chen, who was a Maris Stella student between 1976 and 1986.
He said that alumni like himself were planning to capture photos of the gate in the next few weeks.
"Back when I was studying, Bidadari was a cemetery so this place was very quiet. The old gate (before this one) wasn't too much of a memory...I feel sad that this too has to go but there is not so much of a choice," said the 51-year-old engineer.
In its Facebook post, Maris Stella High School, which has been at its location for more than 50 years, said a new archway will be constructed within the school after the new school entrance at Bartley Walk is completed .
"If demolition is inevitable, we hope that the structure can be replicated with its current features including the existing wording and blue tiles," said Mr Yeo.