The alumni of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School returned to their former school to relive the experiences they have shared, from the days when they were at Victoria Street, till the time they moved to the current campus at Ang Mo Kio. Presently, they have embarked on an irememberSG project to mark SG50, and bond with students, teachers, parents and other alumni spanning their over eighty years of history. Read about their plans to finish a communal art installation entitled “SuperbaG50: Hope and Memories” in time for National Day celebrations, in their own words.
“It all began when someone in the group said she wanted to do a papier-mâché bunny. That’s how random we are.
Like how another one of us said she wanted to do a mural, and we went ahead to do three mural paintings in our school. Our old school, actually. Yes, we are former students of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School.
Some of us spent four years in the school, while some others spent up to 11 years, from Pre-Primary to Secondary 4. We are bound together by our collective memories of our alma mater, from the days when we were at Victoria Street, till the time we shifted to the current location at Ang Mo Kio. We fondly remember the canteen food, class assembly performances, games we played during recess, our Principal and our teachers.
The set of values that we have been ingrained with, and the common experiences that we share, enable us to form an inexplicable bond. And this is what we would like to share with our XMMs (小妹妹 or Xiao Meimei, Little Sister in Mandarin) through our little random projects like the murals, or making a gigantic banner for our Moonlight Party.
By involving our XMMs in these special projects, we impart some of the school values that we learnt during our time, such as sisterly love, teamwork, project planning, and maximizing the use of resources. It is also during such times when we share a fair bit of our school memories.
Evening chill out time, where it all began when we talked about how most of our XMMs’ choice of bags are of the saccharine-pink variety of Barbie Dolls and Hello Kitty, while the schoolbags that we used to carry were much simpler.
So, why did we choose to make a schoolbag to symbolize our collective memories as part of the SG50 celebrations? The obvious answer is because every single child who goes to school has one. However, what we have in our bags differ from each other. What we carry to school everyday is a personal choice. Did we hang cute little tags or charms on our bags? Or did we draw on our bags with markers and fabric pens? In a sea of blue pinafores, what set us apart was our little identity marker of sorts.
The schoolbag is, therefore, an apt reminder of our school-going days. It signifies the shared memory we each hold of the past, whether we went to school in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s. We thought it would be meaningful to share with our XMMs the school memories through photos and narratives that will go onto the SuperbaG.
After we had settled on the idea of making a SuperbaG, we started discussing the technical aspects of it. First and foremost was the question, how big do we want it? We all looked at each other and grinned, “Father Barre”.
Mention Father Barre to any St Nicholas girl who attended school at our Ang Mo Kio premises between 1985 and 2009, and she will be able to tell you about the huge statue of Father Barre that sat prominently at the entrance to our school. Father Barre was the founder of the CHIJ group of schools, so our former school principal had a statue of him commissioned and placed on a huge pedestal to welcome all visitors to our school. It soon became our de facto meeting point whenever we arranged to meet out friends to go home together.
What was unknown to us though, was that the Father Barre statue was made of papier-mâché! I was personally astounded by this new piece of information because my friend and I had cheekily climbed onto the statue for a picture once, and it didn’t give way. Truth be told, quite a number of us had done the same, without the knowledge of our teachers or principal, of course!
As we chatted past midnight, our discussion got increasingly animated as we got excited about this new project. But alas, it was time to call it a night.”
All words and images have been provided by Diana, Teen Yen and the other St Nicholas alumni, who will be updating us about their SuperbaG progress right here on the irememberSG blog. Stay tuned in the months to come!