PLANTING THE SEEDS:
OUR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Located in the heart of Clementi, Clementi Town Secondary School’s growth began in 1980 with only 12 Secondary One classes, under the loving care of our first Principal, Ms Kan Sou Tin. Even when the school started without a school hall and canteen, students held their weekly assembly in the school library and brought their own lunch to school. Ms Kan ensured that our students have an identity, thus they were endearingly addressed as Clementeens till today. To enliven school life, she organised the first Track and Field Meet as well as Speech and Prize Giving Day. The motto of the school, ‘Aspire & Grow’, has witnessed our teachers dedicated to nurture our Clementeens’ dreams, where the belief that our Clementeens will give “from each his best” and yet strive to aspire and grow ‘as one’ remains steadfast in nurturing our Clementeens. Clementi Town Secondary School was officially declared open by Mr Bernard Chen, MP for Clementi constituency on 29 July 1982. The lyrics of our school song was penned by Mrs Lee Hong Leong and Ms Ho Swee Yin, and the music was composed by Mr John De ‘Souza.
The Principals of Clementi Town Secondary School had believed strongly in nurturing Clementeens to be kind and empathetic members of society. Hence, under the second Principal, Sister Maria Lau, emphasis was placed on pastoral guidance and care where form teachers were addressed as Class Parents. The first Drop-in Centre, one of its kind in Singapore in the mid-1980s, was established in our school to provide Clementeens with a safe place to go to after school. Clementeens could relax and study at the Drop-in Centre after school hours. In addition, our school was a pioneer in piloting the Pastoral Care and Career Guidance programme to look into the welfare and total wellbeing of our Clementeens. In line with our devoted efforts to care for our students, our Residential Cohort Camps for Clementeens were established since 1988.
Besides providing pastoral care to our Clementeens, many new services such as the Media Centre and Library were established under Sister Maria. The seeds of IT were also sown as early as the 1980s with the first fully equipped computer laboratory declared open in 1988.
Therefore, under the leadership of our first two Principals, the continual desire to aspire and grow were deeply embedded in our DNA and the traditions that we keep in Clementi Town Secondary School.
NOURISHING THE BUDDING TREE:
In the 1990s, our school grew rapidly in different aspects of school life. Our next Principal, Mrs. Virginia Cheng, continued to build on the belief that Clementeens must pursue personal excellence so that they could grow to become people who could contribute to society. With lofty dreams to become a creative and innovative school of the future, she spared no efforts to develop the infrastructure of the school so as to nurture our Clementeens’ interest in Information Technology, an area of great growth then. Our school participated as a pilot school for the IT Masterplan, and Clementeens were deeply excited at being the first batches of students to be given access to the internet and email. Our school was also involved in the SMART Classroom Project and the Apple Macintosh Computer laboratory was set up, all geared towards exposing Clementeens to cutting edge tools for learning.
Architecturally, our school also went through some changes to better cater to the expansion of our school services and rise in student population. A wide school gate, which was the only gate into school then, was placed in front of the Administration block. It was fondly and playfully labelled by Clementeens, as ‘the prison gate’. A fourth block that was to be used for administration was added to join the classroom block and a new block named ‘Clementi Block’ was also completed, adding two more computer laboratories to our school to further support our IT Masterplan. The school was also selected to be one of the six schools involved in the pilot project of the Student-Teacher Workbench (STW), which was a strategic project between MOE and National Computer Board aimed to equip students with the relevant skills for tomorrow’s workplace. STW teachers prepared multimedia lesson packages to facilitate research and presentation as internet access was made available to the Clementeens. As one of the 22 IT demo schools, our school held an IT Open House in 1998, showcasing various IT teaching aids, facilities and student projects. It was officiated by the Minister of Education, Rear Admiral (NS) Teo Chee Hean in all the 22 IT demo school simultaneously with the technology of digital broadcast.
To strengthen the development of our Clementeens holistically, our school began to carry out educational exchange programmes with other countries. In addition, to enhance pastoral care for our Clementeens, the Youth Club was also started to support at-risk students, providing them with meaningful activities and counselling services after school.
Our CCAs (then known as Extra-Curricular Activities) also began to blossom in the 1990s. Clementeens participated more actively and in particular, our Uniformed Groups (UGs) grew stronger, as seen in their achievements. UGs such as the National Cadet Corps (NCC) started to win Gold for the Unit Overall Proficiency Award. The school’s scouting and guiding movements also produced a President’s Scout and President’s Guide for the first time, the highest achievement a Scout or Guide could obtain.
GROWING TO THE SKIES
In the 2000s, there was greater emphasis on critical thinking and innovation. In education, Singapore had a new vision – Thinking Schools, Learning Nation. In order to be more aligned with our nation’s vision, our school recrafted our goals to emphasise Character Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Aesthetics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
With much dedication and focused effort put in to cultivate our Clementeens’ love for Mathematics and Science, our school developed strong learning programmes in these areas. The school became a leader in the teaching of Mathematics and Science and soon, we were made a Centre of Learning for Mathematics. To fan the passion for Mathematics, our school organised Singapore Mathematics Festival project meetings, Mathematical Olympiad, and Mathematics Enhancement Programmes regularly.
In 2007, Clementi Town Secondary went through further upgrading through PRIME (Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools). The Indoor Sports hall was added and classrooms were expanded. In the interim period, the school moved to a holding site in Queensway while the upgrading works took place.
Many teachers and students remembered the big move back to the school compound fondly two years later.
“We felt so proud holding our school flag high as we held a relay from Tanglin Halt to Clementi. Teachers, students and all stakeholders, including alumni and members of the Parents Support Group and the School Advisory Council, were involved in the great march back to CTSS at Clementi. The public was looking at us and many were cheering us on.” – Mrs Teresa Chua, HOD (English)
In terms of school programmes, our school looked into providing more varied learning opportunities for our Clementeens in the Normal stream. In 2008, we started R.E.A.L – Reflective, Experiential, Authentic, Leadership Programme for NT students. Clementeens responded warmly to R.E.A.L programme as this programme taught them relationship skills and character through rich experiences. For thinking out of the box in helping our Normal stream Clementeens thrive, our school clinched the inaugural Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in the Normal Course.
There was also an evolution in the leadership development of the students. In order to increase student voices and participation in decision making, the Student Council was established in 2005 to replace the Prefectorial Board. To better hone the leadership skills of our Clementeens, all lower Secondary students received broad-based leadership training anchored in the Highly Effective Youth (HEY) habits. With the objective of grooming Clementeens into servant leaders, social responsibility and active citizenry were emphasised as students undertook volunteering projects that contributed to the school, local and global community. We also started the Student Leadership Development through Uniformed Group programme, where students learned leadership skills by participating in activities such as camping, providing first-aid and team building.
Our school also poured in more support for Clementeens with great love and passion for the arts. We embarked on our very first biennial musical, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, which was held in 2009, at our humble school hall. Although the Drama Club was not established yet, our determined Drama teacher, Ms Valane Tnee, roped in drama enthusiasts and had her own after school enrichment to prepare for the musical. With only $1500 for props, our students exhibited great resourcefulness and collected old clothes from others to recycle them into costumes.
True to our motto, ‘Aspire and Grow,’ our school was increasingly diversifying her programmes to nurture learners with different academic as well as non-academic interests and aptitudes.
GROWING TO THE SKIES
In the last decade, what was notable in Clementi Town Secondary was the flourishing of the performing, literary and visual arts. Besides starting a new Performance Arts CCA – Drama Club, there were numerous initiatives to expose Clementeens to different art forms. The Drama-in-Education programme was introduced to all Lower Secondary students to train their speech and presentations. Clementeens were also given ample opportunities to showcase their talent in singing contests and theatre performances. With more everyday performances like STARs at the CanTEEN taking place during break times, recess became more ‘happening’ and lively. The biennial musical, which was started in 2009, continued, with more original scripts and music. Our Aesthetics CCAs grew from strength to strength and by 2015, all seven Performing Arts CCAs had achieved the Certificate of Distinction.
For Clementeens, coming together as one big family to do something meaningful for society is also part of our culture. The 35th Anniversary celebration in 2015 was one such unforgettable and eventful community experience. One of the memorable highlights was the ‘Shoes for Soles’ fundraising drive, where Clementeens and staff came together to set a Singapore record for ‘the most number of people running barefoot for 200m’. In total, 1085 participants ran barefooted at the Japanese Garden to raise funds for the needy. As part of the celebration, the school also buried a Time Capsule where various artefacts that represented the aspirations and hopes of Clementeens were placed inside. These special items will be unearthed in 15 years’ time.
In the same year, our school rolled out the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) through activities in the Uniformed Groups, which aimed to equip students with skills and competencies to prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century, and at the same time imbue in them core values crucial in developing them to be socially responsible and active citizens.
Driven by our mission to prepare future-ready Clementeens, our school also continued her efforts to create forward-looking programmes that would meet the needs of a digital future and globalised world. Clementeens immersed themselves in Project Work (PW) where they were equipped in 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, creative and critical thinking. They worked together in teams to conduct research, engage in discussions and present ideas relevant to the VUCA world of today.
To provide every Clementeen with an early exposure to computer science related courses and careers, the school implemented the Applied Learning Programme (ALP). This programme empowered Clementeens to work collaboratively to address real-life problems. Using knowledge gained on coding, microbits and software such as Python, they dreamed up creative solutions and real products that could help mankind.
A key event in the history of our school was the Learning Festival, where teachers and Clementeens voluntarily committed to an afternoon to either teaching or learning a skill that they were passionate in, thereby encouraging self-directed and lifelong learning. They shared a variety of talents and skills such as playing musical instruments and origami.
In 2019, our school reached a special pivot point in history as we became a pilot school for Full Subject-based Banding (FSBB), an initiative that removes the placement of Clementeens in classes by stream. Under the new FSBB system, Clementeens could join different subject teaching groups based on their aptitude. In order to help students build a strong collective identity, our school revived the House system, with some bold adaptations that saw students grouped by CCAs. The CCAs were then grouped into 4 main houses (Oak, Maple, Saga and Willow) with an even distribution of sports, aesthetics and others.
2020 is a remarkable transition year. As we head towards the end of the decade, what the future holds gives many teachers and students a great sense of anticipation and excitement. While Covid19 has thwarted our celebration plans for a gathering of Clementeens past and present, it has also given us numerous opportunities to live up to our value of ‘Adaptability’. It is with utmost certainty that Clementi Town Secondary will continue not just to adapt, but also to grow in the passion to learn, the confidence to lead and the humility to serve.