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History of St Michael's School

Our Principal, Mr Dominic Yip, was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) on National Day, 1992.

In 1993, our Primary Six students did us proud. St Michael's was one of the top schools in the PSLE and Leong Wei Lik was the top PSLE pupil beating 39,216 other pupils in Singapore scoring an aggregate of 288.
The school became a Double Session School in 1994 because of the high demand for places from among many parents who were past students and Catholics. On 15 April of that year Mrs Florence Lim, the first Stephen's to head the school.
letter_i.pngn 1952, the Brothers celebrated the centenary of their arrival to Singapore. In Singapore a dinner was held in the old Adelphi Hotel and many Old Boys from the Brothers’ Schools outside Malaya were invited along with the Presidents of the OBAs from Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Taiping. At this dinner a decision was made to build another Primary School, to be called St. Michael’s. It was opened by Mrs C. C. Tan in 1954.6pp356

St Michael’s School was named after the Archangel Michael as well as the much respected Director of the Christian Brothers in Singapore from 1900-1914, Br Michael Noctor.

letter_l.pngike a great river that traces its beginning to a humble source, St Michael's school can rightly claim her origin to the first stirrings of one man's compassion and love for the poor and uneducated youth of his time in of Christian Brothers, an order which started to first cater to the education of the total person. This fine La Sallian tradition of excellent education spans three centuries from 1680 to the present, with schools in over 770 countries.

The nineteen-fifties marked the beginning of an era of great social and political change in Singapore. Universal education became a necessity and the colonial authorities were badly equipped to cope with it. For a time the Brothers, themselves overburdened with existing commitments and the need to expand primary schools, took over the government schools in Tanjong Rhu and Balestier Roads. Furthermore, a large number of children who missed their education during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, longed to return to school and to secure a place in SJI when the war ended in 1945.

ln 1950, at the CBOBA Annual Dinner held in the Robinson Dining Hall, the Old Boys' announced their decision to assist in building a new Primary School in commemoration of the Centenary of St Joseph's Institution and as a token of gratitude and appreciation to the Christian Brothers.
So in 1952, when the celebrations took place, the plan to build a new Primary School went ahead. It was to be called St Michael's School as a reminder of the well-known Director of SJI,* Brother Ascisclus Michael (1900- 1914) as well as the *Saint who is always portrayed as the Angel slaying the serpent of evil.
Concept drawing of St. Michael's School.

After the World War 2, Brother Anthony Knoll (1947 -1950) invested $69,000, which was part of the sum the Brothers received as back pay, in land near Victoria Park with the intention of building a Boys' Town. But he was foiled, partially, in his wishes because another religious Order had built a Boys' Town before he could start. When Brother Ignatius (1951 - 1956) became Director SJI, he, with the help of the Land Office, divided the property into thirty lots. The Jesuits bought eleven lots for their Church and the rest were sold in record time. The Land raised $300,000. This sum, together with the funds raised by the CBOBA enabled the Brothers to build St Michael's on a piece of land purchased from the Singapore Improvement Trust. Mr CC Tan, then President of the CBOBA, headed the team of Old Boys on this fund-raising project.

On 11 January 1954, the school opened its doors with 590 pupils headed by Reverend Bro Thomas Dunne who came from De La Salle School.
Rev. Bro Thomas Dunne
Pioneer teachers with Principal, Bro. Thomas Dunne (1954 )
Pioneer Batch Primary 1A (1954)

The school was officially declared open by Mrs CC Tan, wife of the Chairman of the Christian Brothers Association on 11 September 1954 and was blessed by the Vicar­General Msgr Michael Bonamy on 10 November 1954.

VicarGeneral Msgr Michael Bonamy

The original St Michael's School was a three ­ storey building consisting of 17 classrooms, an office area, a staff room, a spacious hall and three very sizeable fields. Past Michaelians can recall with nostalgia the countless number of soccer and hockey games played there with such joyful memories. pg7_img1.png pg8_img1.png
Another historical feature of St Michael's which needs honourable mention is, its own Statue of St Michael, the school's patron saint. Very few knew where it came from. It used to adorn the Church of St Peter & Paul in Queen's Street. In 1969, its parish priest, Father Mathias Tung, gave it to St Michael's School. Since then, it has remained with St Michael's School.

The statue with archangel St Michael, poised to crush the evil Satan, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The original school badge depicted the same St Michael, with the latin inscription, “Sicut Michel Semper”. The statue still stands watch over the Michaelians like a big brother at the front of the school building, and is there to greet every visitor.
In 1956 Rev Brother Basil Voon, a former Director of St George's School in Penang, took over the helm upon Brother Thomas Dunne's retirement.
Rev Brother Basil Voon
Owing to the lack of space in St Joseph's Institution in Bras Basah Road, for the first few years St Joseph's Afternoon School shared the same premises of St Michael's School but functioned as an afternoon session. Then in 1961, St Joseph's Afternoon School moved back to Bras Basah Road, while St Joseph's Junior School moved in with 660 pupils in 17 Primary classes under Mr. Lim Choo Sye.
Mr. Lim Choo Sye

Mr. Lim Choo Sye, the first layperson made Principal in the CBS, retired as Principal in September 1964 after 11 years with St. Joseph’s Junior School, but continued to serve in St. Michael’s until the end of 1968.
In 1965, St Joseph's Junior School merged with St Michael's to form SMS (I) and SMS (2). That year saw the completion of New Extension project of 2 extra classrooms, an audio-visual aid room, enlargement of the tuckshop and a new exit road leading to Moulmein Road (completed in 1963). The New Extension was officially opened on 30 April by Mrs. Wee Chong Jin, who was then the Chairperson of the Mothers Committee (a precursor to the PTA) and wife of then Chief Justice of Singapore.
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Official Opening of the New Extension by Mrs. Wee Chong Jin
Under the helm of Brother Basil, the school's achievements soared to a dizzying height in sports and academic performance. St Michael's supremacy in soccer was well known and feared by all participating primary schools in those years. St Michael's was District and National Champions for soccer for many years. This led it to be dubbed as the "The Soccer School".
When Rev Brother Basil retired in 1966, Mr Ho Fook Seng, then a teacher from St Joseph's Institution succeeded him in January 1967.

The new administration guided the Michaelians to even greater heights of achievements in sports and academic performance and other extra­curricular activities.

With all these achievements, the school never lost sight of the spiritual character of a Christian Brothers' School, that of living out the Gospel so that each child can gradually become the person God wants him to be. Catechism lessons and first Friday Masses were the order of the day and they still are with some modifications.
Mr Ho Fook Seng

With such a reputation, nothing less was expected of or would be expected by St Michael's. Mr Ho Fook Seng, a man of vision and quiet dynamism saw the need for forging a closer relationship between the parents and teachers to ensure support and co­operation from the home. Hence, the birth of St Michael's School Parent­Teacher Association (SMSPTA) in May 1969. The Association organised a Film Show at the Odeon Theatre in November 1969 to raise funds for Extra Curricular Activities. It also organised the First Food and Fun Fair held on 1st August 1970 to raise funds for repairs and maintenance of the school. There was also a weekly Badminton evening for parents and teachers to meet socially.
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Its first President was Dr P.S. Chin. Both Mr Ho Fook Seng and Dr Chin realized the importance of letting parents know what was happening in school. The first PTA newsletter made its appearance in July 1970.

Today, SMSPTA is as vibrant and motivated as ever under the able and efficient leadership of many of the parent­volunteers such as Mr Gregory Emmanuel, one of the past Presidents.To quote his words," The PTA still adheres to the same ideals, principle and aspirations as was its intent when it was first formed. It is a well­oiled machine that hums along smoothly still providing certain services, helping to raise funds for various projects for the school.What is encouraging about the PTA is to see the tremendous rapport that exists between parents and our teachers."

The school’s Bugle and Fife Band, Lion Dance Troupe, Pugilistic Group and Choir Group were also founded under Mr. Ho Fook Seng in 1969.

After a stretch of 13 fruitful years, Mr Ho Fook Seng retired at the end of 1979. He would be proud to know that today, his brainchild, "The SMS PTA" has grown like the proverbial mustard seed.
Brother Dennis Watt then became the Principal of St Michael's in January 1980. He stayed for nearly three years, continuing the good work started by his predecessors and, at the same time his presence reminded the community of the Christian Brothers. Brother Dennis Watt left for Rome in September 1982 to study for the priesthood.
Bro Dennis Watt

Mr Lim Buck Thow succeeded Rev Father Dennis Watt to become St Michael's fifth Principal in the late 1982. During his office the school began to feel the need to expand its facilities and to innovate. He immediately took up the idea of renovation and building annexes instead of building a totally new school was agreed on.
Mr. Lim Buck Thow
That started the great 'exodus' for half of the school to Catholic High Primary School at Gentle Road in January 1987 and remained there till 1988. Then the whole school moved to the vacant Rangoon Road Primary School at Starlight Road in 1989 and stayed there for two years to make way for the building of a new school at Essex Road.

SMS holding school from 1987 - 1988 : Catholic High Primary School, Gentle Road
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Meanwhile Mr Lim Buck Thow retired in 1988 and at that crucial juncture, Mr Dominic Yip who for a short while was Principal of De La Salle School, took office in May 1988. The school had an enrolment of 1,200 and was bursting at the seams. Right away, he undertook the uphill task of seeing to the rebuilding of the new school from its planning to its completion in December 1990. Packed with boundless energy and dedication he almost daily visited the site and pushed the contractors into building the school in two years.
Mr. Dominic Yip

Mr Dominic Yip, a far­sighted man, envisaged the difficult task of raising funds to rebuild the school. In October 1988, we witnessed the formation of St Michael's School Management Committee headed by its Chairman, Mr Adrian Goh.

The objectives of this Management Committee are to foster a close relationship between parents and past pupils, to cultivate loyalty, to maintain the spirit and tradition of the Christian Brothers' School and to assist in improving the facilities and resources of the school. One of its main tasks was to raise $1.3 million to match the total grant of $5.3 million from the Ministry of Education. The new building had 30 classrooms, a dental clinic and courts for games. The imposing St Michael's School today attests to their success.
On 2nd January 1991, Michaelians stepped proudly into a $6.3 million school to begin lessons­quite unaware of the toil, sweat and tears that had gone into realizing a dream.
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Always a pace setter, St Michael's School was one of the three schools in Singapore to function as a Full Day School from January 1992. School hours were from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. Pupils spent an additional one and a half hours each day compared to the normal school. Pupils took their lunch with their classmates and teachers. A fully­equipped kitchen was built at a cost of $500,000.A games room equipped with shower rooms was also built for the students. The Day School also offered an optional After School Care Programme (ASCP) from 3.30 pm to 6.00 pm.

The school was reverted to a Single Session School after the Full Day School Programme was discontinued in 1993 on the instruction of the Ministry of Education.
The first part of St Michael's School had completed a full circle. Michaelians were then into the second year of another chapter in their new environment with facilities to meet the demand of modern day education. In the newly built school, which was completed in 1999 there were two, up to date, Music Rooms, two Language Rooms, a Prayer Room, a Science Room, two Art Rooms, AVA Room and a Computer Room amongst others.

On 28 May 1992, the new school was blessed by Archbishop Gregory Yong in a simple but moving ceremony celebrated by past pupils who have become priests, parents, Christian Brothers and Principals of Christian Brothers' Schools.
pg23_img1.jpgThe Principal, Mr Dominic Yip and the teachers pledged their steadfast loyalty to the school and set their hearts to realise the lofty ideals of St John Baptist De La Salle.
In an equally moving ceremony, St Michael's School was officially declared open by BG (Res) George Yeo, Minister for Information and the Arts and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, on 18 July 1992.

Principals, officials from the Ministry of Education, old boys and parents, formed the distinguished assembly that attended the ceremony and watched the items presented by Michaelians. The closing song was "One Moment in Time" and it was truly St Michael's School's one grand moment in eternity.
Our Principal, Mr Dominic Yip, was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) on National Day, 1992.

In 1993, our Primary Six students did us proud. St Michael's was one of the top schools in the PSLE and Leong Wei Lik was the top PSLE pupil beating 39,216 other pupils in Singapore scoring an aggregate of 288.
The school became a Double Session School in 1994 because of the high demand for places from among many parents who were past students and Catholics. On 15 April of that year Mrs Florence Lim, the first Stephen's to head the school.
In 1994, St Michael's celebrated its 40th Anniversary and its Parent­Teachers Association (PTA) celebrated its 25th Anniversary respectively. The celebration was held on 19 November at the Shangri­La Hotel. The Guest­of­Honour was RADM (NS) Teo Chee Hean, Minister of State for Finance and Defence and an old boy of the school.

St Michael's School student population stood at 1,523 spread over 39 classes.In 1995, St Michael’s came into the international picture when three of our Primary five students, namely Jordan Isaac, Nigel Fernandez and Irving Kat, represented Singapore in the International Children’s Conference on the Environment in Eastbourne, England from 23 to 25 October. In the same year, six of our students went to Suzhou, China on a Chinese Immersion programme.

In 1996, the student population increased to more than 1,680. Surendran, a Primary Four pupil, was selected by the Singapore Arts Festival Authority to lay the part of Litter Gavroche in the musical "Les Miserables" in 1996.

In 1997, the student population reached new heights with 1,745 pupils. The first ever "Family Day" and "Father & Son" overnight camp at Sentosa on 9 & 10 August 1997 met with an overwhelming response from parents.

In 1998, the student population increased to 1,811 with about 70 members of the teaching staff. School links were established with St Michael's College in Adelaide, Australia where twenty of our Primary Four pupils, three teachers and the Principal made an educational tour of Adelaide from 1 to 7 November 1998.
In 1999, St Michael's had a student population of 1927 students in 50 classes. Mr Robin Ong joined the school as Vice­Principal on 21 December 1999.

Thirty Primary Four students went on an educational tour of Hong Kong and were hosted by the La Salle Primary School, our premiere Christian Brothers’ School in Hong Kong.

On 26 November 1999, St Michael's School moved over to a holding school at 10 Winstedt Road to make way for the campus at Essex Road to be upgraded. St Michael's School was selected by the Ministry of Education for Phase 1 of PRIME ­ Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools. The objective was to equip the school with up­to­date physical infrastructures and facilities to enhance the learning environment for the students and to improve the teaching and learning programme on Information Technology.

Mrs Florence Lim left St Michael's on a routine transfer of duty to be Principal of Keng Seng Primary School and Miss Rebecca Wee Siew Sun carne on board to head St Michael's School on 15 December 1999.
In the year 2000, St Michael's had a student population of 1,891 students in 50 classes. Classes started on 3 January 2000 in the holding school at 10 Winstedt Road.

On 15 February, the school held a joint Total Defence Day activity with Monk's Hill Secondary School. Five of the Primary Five students were selected to take part in the Innovation Programme which culminated in the Young Innovators' Fair held in July 2000.

The school hosted a team of 30 boys and 5 teachers from La Salle Primary School, Hong Kong on an educational cum cultural tour of Singapore from 17 to 23 July 2000. In the same year, 241 Primary Six students and 11 teachers went on an educational tour of Malacca from 31 October to 3 November. A special Robotics Workshop was organised for all Primary Four students in October and November 2000. Ten students from each of the Primary Four classes attended a special Work Improvement Team training in November. Six teachers represented the school at the Asia­Pacific La Sallian Educators' Conference in India from 1 to 6 December 2000.

*The most memorable thing our Michaelians did in 2001 was to walk back to the old school at Essex Road and see for themselves the newly renovated buildings they would move back to in 2002. Older pupils from Primary 3 to 6 took part in the symbolic walk home on the 16 November 2001 from the holding school at Winstedt Road. *The Guest of Honour was Mr Goh Sin Tub, Chairman of our Fund Raising Committee, and many Old Boys and parents joined in.

In 2002, the six LaSallian schools in Singapore commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Christian Brothers to Singapore. We also celebrated the 350th Anniversary of the birth of our Founder, St John Baptist de La Salle.
Our Robotics teams brought honour to our school in the National Junior Robotics Competition 2002. Out of the 40 finalists at the national level, one of our teams, "MechCommandoes" took the fourth position while another team, "Team RTX" came in eleventh. Other ECA achievements included the gold award won by Stefun Tseng who broke a 22-year record in the Triple Jump event in the National Athletics Meet in June 2002. And, Renfred Ng was the champion in the Standard Ballroom and Latin Cha Cha categories at the 15th Lion City International Dance Sport Championships in 2002.

In 2002, the Community Involvement Programme (ClP) was raised to a higher level with the organization of the ClP tour to Chiangmai in Thailand. Forty-six Primary 6 boys were chosen for this tour and they visited schools and had a lot of interactions with the Thai children. This experience was as eye-opener for them as they could compare life in Singapore with life in Chiangmai and appreciated what they had.

The year 2003 has been eventful for St Michael's School and, in the light of the SARS outbreak, a very tumultuous one for all schools in Singapore. Thankfully we managed the SARS situation well with the help of our parents and stakeholders who worked with our staff to provide a safe environment for our pupils. The whole school community had become more resilient and persevering as a result of the experience.

In 2003, the five Robotic Teams performed well at the National Junior Robotics Competition. We won the first prize for sportsmanship at the competition which attracted a total of 741 teams from 228 primary and secondary schools.

Our effort in the Innovation Programme (IP) paid off in 2003. Head Prefect David Menon's innovation called "Just Button Up" won two awards. His idea of stitching press studs to the school tie won a bronze at an international innovation fair in Korea in August. Earlier in the year, he won a silver medal and $2,000 at the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors Award Competition. David's success had been an inspiration to other Michaelians to give off their best in their innovations.
On 5 September 2003, the upgraded buildings of the school and the newly built Pastoral Care Centre were blessed by the *Archbishop Nicholas Chia, Monsignor Eugene Vaz and six other priests - Fathers Terence Pereira, William Heng, David Theseira, Michael D'Cruz, Gerard Victor and Paul Lim. About 500 boys, parents and guests took part in the celebration. The Patron of St Michael's School Fund Raising Committee, Mr Gob Sin Tub, was presented with a token for his tireless efforts in helping St Michael's to improve its facilities.

The Official Opening of the upgraded buildings of St Michael's School under PRIME was held on 28 May 2004 and the Guest of Honour was then Minister of Defence, RADM Teo Chee Hean, an old boy of the school.

Some 800 guests who included Officials of the Ministry of Education, Principals of schools, Education officers from the cluster, parents and well-wishers attended the function. On his arrival at the school, the Guest of Honour, together with other guests, made a tour of the National Education & Heritage Corner and launched the Innovation Centre. A musical performance put up by some 40 students of the school was held after the formal declaration of the Official Opening by the Guest of Honour. The musical highlighted the life of St John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers Schools. It was a splendid performance.

The Full Day School was introduced as a pilot in January 1992 in three schools, Pei Hwa, Rosyth and St Michael’s, with plans to extend the programme to other schools. The programme was designed primarily to serve a perceived social need which was to provide an after school care service to Primary School children whose parents were both working.

Day School functioned from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm, a total of 7 hours which as ½ hours longer than in a normal Primary School. The extended day allowed for a 1-hour lunch programme and short breaks between lessons. There was no increase in curriculum time. An integral part of the Day School was the After School Care Programme (ASCP), an optional activity organised from 3.30 pm to 6.00 pm. This was to enable our children to remain in school until their parents finished work. It was provided within the school premises by private educational agencies on a fee paying basis. For the After School Care Programme parents pay a fee of $110 per month.

From the feedback obtained after half a year, it was already clear that majority of parents did not need to keep their children in school in afternoon. This was seen from the low participation rate in the After School Care Programme (ASCP). Most parents did not enrol their children in the ASCP because they preferred to look after their children at one in the afternoon or made other arrangements for them. Parents were also concerned with the long school hours and the high cost of the programme.

Both parents and teachers had observed that the children were tired at the end of the school day and had expressed concern that it would affect the children’s homework and studies. Many pupils admitted to feeling exhausted by the end of the school day.Based on the feedback obtained from parents, pupils and teachers and the poor response to the ASCP, it was clear that the Day School programme was not achieving its objective. It was therefore decided to discontinue with the pilot scheme at the end of 1992.