We Hail You, PESS

ON SATURDAY 21st September 2013, my sister and I returned to our old school for a gathering of the old girls. It was our first trip back in more than 20 years. This was the school my four sisters and I attended. It naturally brought back a lot of nostalgia as we walked down memory lane and into our past.

What began as Pudu English School (PES) in 1914 was renamed over the years – Pudu English Secondary School (PESS, 1959), Pudu English Girls’ Secondary School, Sekolah Menengah Perempuan Pudu (SMPP, 1982) to its current name Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (Perempuan) Pudu.

The lunch event, organised by the PESS Old Girls Association (PESOGA) was to kick-start the school’s centennial anniversary next year, with a grand celebration planned for 20th September 2014.

Hundreds of old girls turned up, the oldest was 91 years old. I trust each and everyone had their own memories of the past and impressions of the school today.

These are some of mine.

Returning to our old school and spending an afternoon walking down memory lane was nostalgic...

Returning to our old school and spending an afternoon walking down memory lane was nostalgic.

A lovely water feature greets visitors upon entering the school gate.

A lovely water feature greets visitors upon entering the school gate.

The school office housed in a “new” building that wasn’t there during my time.

The school office housed in a “new” building that wasn’t there during my time.

Another “new” structure located at one end of the school field, named after Mr. John Skrine, former Chairman of the Board of Governors.

Another “new” structure located at one end of the school field, named after Mr. John Skrine, former Chairman of the Board of Governors.

The bungalow which served as classrooms during my time, now turned into a Heritage Gallery and looking regal in the school colour!

The bungalow which served as classrooms during my time, now turned into a Heritage Gallery and looking regal in the school colour!

This was what the bungalow looked like back in 1981 when I was still in the primary school adjoining the secondary school.

This was what the bungalow looked like back in 1981 when I was still in the primary school adjoining the secondary school.

The layout of the Heritage Gallery, which included a Historical Exhibition Hall where I found “me” in a scrapbook there, making me museum material (read old, antique, etc).

The layout of the Heritage Gallery, which included a Historical Exhibition Hall where I found “me” in a scrapbook there, making me museum material (read old, antique, etc).

(L) A brochure of the Heritage Gallery; (R, top to bottom) With Mrs. Yong, our Biology teacher who has been with the school for 33 years, and is the current Chairperson of the Board of Governors; signing on the guest book and leaving a mark; that’s me when the school interviewed me along with other former Head Girls in conjunction with the school’s Diamond Jubilee in 1989, compiled in a scrapbook which is placed in the Historical Exhibition Hall!

(L) A brochure of the Heritage Gallery; (R, top to bottom) With Mrs. Yong, our Biology teacher who has been with the school for 33 years, and is the current senior assistant of the school; signing on the guest book and leaving a mark; that’s me when the school interviewed me along with other former Head Girls in conjunction with the school’s Diamond Jubilee in 1989, compiled in a scrapbook which is placed in the Historical Exhibition Hall!

(L) The Pioneers Gallery among others, had a tribute to Mr. John Skrine, Chairman of the Board of Governors from 1966- 1986. There was a newspaper cutting of an interview with him in The Malay Mail dated November 10, 1986; and his obituary in The Malay Mail dated April 15, 1993 (he passed away on 13 April 1993); (R, top to bottom) The school held a farewell dinner for him on 8 November 1986 where my third sister also attended as a former student. I was drawn to the byline of The Malay Mail article “To Sir With Love” – Rohaizad Rahim. I now realised it is the same Rohaizad who joined The Star later and we became colleagues when I joined The Star after graduating. Sadly, he passed away in 2012.

The coveted Vandort Shield…a description by its side says, “This shield, named after Mrs. Murial Vandort, is an annual school award presented to a fifth former student who not only excelled academically but is also active in extra-mural activities. Any fifth former student who is outstanding (excluding the school captain) is eligible for this honour. Miss Chin Kwee Thai, an outstanding fifth former, was the first student to receive this award in the year 1969.” An exception was apparently first made in the year 1986 (where the School Captain was also awarded the Vandort Shield) and subsequently in the years 1993, 1997 and 2006.  I am also happy to note that my fourth sister was a recipient in 1984 and my godsister won it in 1982.

The coveted Vandort Shield…a description by its side says, “This shield, named after Mrs. Murial Vandort, is an annual school award presented to a fifth former student who not only excelled academically but is also active in extra-mural activities. Any fifth former student who is outstanding (excluding the school captain) is eligible for this honour. Miss Chin Kwee Thai, an outstanding fifth former, was the first student to receive this award in the year 1969.” An exception was apparently first made in the year 1986 (where the School Captain was also awarded the Vandort Shield) and subsequently in the years 1993, 1997 and 2006. I am also happy to note that my fourth sister was a recipient in 1984 and my godsister won it in 1982.

Alas, that’s as close as I could get to the real thing now that the shield is kept in a glass case; this was what was presented to me in lieu.

(L) Alas, that’s as close as I could get to the real thing now that the shield is kept in a glass case; (R) This was what was presented to me in lieu.

The Historical Exhibition Hall.

The Historical Exhibition Hall.

Also found in the Heritage Gallery, a display of School Trophies awarded by the school over the years. Two attracted my attention in particular because they were contributed by people I have met before, namely Puan Sri Tan Chee Koon, also a former Head Girl in 1939 (I first met her during Library Week in 1986 and subsequently during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1989) and the late Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin (I met and interviewed him on 25 August 1994 for a Merdeka special report for TV3) whom I recently discovered online, was also a former student of Pudu Girls’ School in the early days!

The Prefects’ Board is still in the same corner after all these years… me standing in front of the poster I did on a brief history of the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn (1976-1981) during our 1985 speech day; and on the same spot 28 years later in 2013.

The Prefects’ Board is still in the same corner after all these years… me standing in front of the poster I did on a brief history of the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn (1976-1981) during our 1985 speech day; and on the same spot 28 years later in 2013.

The school hall on 21 September 2013 where the buffet was served.

The school hall on 21 September 2013 where the buffet was served.

The school hall back in November 1985 during the annual speech day and concert.

The school hall back in November 1985 during the annual speech day and concert.

The backdrop we did in preparation for the speech day and concert in 1983. My fourth sister reminded me that she painted the Eifel Tower while I did the tulips!

The backdrop we did in preparation for the speech day and concert in 1983. My fourth sister reminded me that she painted the Eifel Tower while I did the tulips!

(L) The stage on 21 September 2013; (R) The same corner of the stage I stood in 1986.

(L) The stage on 21 September 2013; (R) The same corner of the stage I stood in 1986.

(L) Only four others in my batch turned up (one is not in the picture); (R) A group photo with friends of my fourth sister, Batch of ‘84 (except Nancie standing on the left and my sister on the right who are from Batch ’81).

(L) Only four others in my batch turned up (one is not in the picture); (R) A group photo with friends of my fourth sister, Batch of ‘84 (except Nancie standing on the left and my second sister on the right who are from Batch ’81).

I was privileged to attend the 75 years celebrations back in 1989… will I still be around to see the school turn 100? Hmm.

I was privileged to attend the 75 years celebrations back in 1989… will I still be around next year to witness the school turn 100? Hmm.

The program leaflet of the launching ceremony on Saturday 21 September 2013.

The program leaflet of the launching ceremony on Saturday 21 September 2013.

PS. The title “We Hail You, PESS” is the first verse of the old school song.

Related posts:

1) Re-calling “The Best of PESS” (link)

2) Mr. John Skrine – In His Own Words (link)

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