- CHIJ Katong Convent
CHIJ Katong Convent 加东修道院女校 Location Marine Parade, Information Type Autonomous Secondary Motto Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty Established 1930 Session Single session School code 7008 Principal Ms Lam Ai Leen Colour(s) Blue, white Website Link
CHIJ Katong Convent (Abbreviation: CHIJ - KC) is an autonomous all-girls Catholic secondary school in Singapore. The school is one of 11 Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) schools in Singapore. Katong Convent is known for its niche area, speech and drama. The school has produced alumni who are working in the entertainment industry, as well as in diplomatic positions.
In the 1920s, the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus acquired one of the private bungalows on the eastern coast of Singapore as a weekend holiday bungalow for the nuns and boarders of the convent.
In 1930, these rambling buildings were used as a private school and in 1932 the school was given a grant-in-aid status. The first set of students registered in January 1932 was mixed - 171 girls and 26 boys. Upon the completion of St Patrick's School in late 1932, these boys were transferred there. Katong Convent was no larger than a village school, consisting of four classes and a total enrolment of 197 students. Sister St Theodora was the first principal with a staff of only four teachers.
Under Sister St Vincent de Paul, the school building was extended in 1939 with eight new classrooms. In 1941, just before the outbreak of the war, there were 384 pupils - 60 in the secondary classes, 206 in the elementary and 118 in the primary. There were four nuns including the principal, and eight local teachers.
When the dark clouds of war were gathering in the East in 1941, the staff and students practised air raid drills. The first bombs were dropped in Singapore in December 1941. Most parents kept their children at home when the school re-opened in January 1942 and their fears were confirmed, for in February 1942 Singapore surrendered to the Japanese. At the outbreak of war, the school building at Martia Road was taken over by the British and became a military centre and was subsequently used as an internment camp to house local Japanese civilians as prisoners-of-war.
- School song
Forward Katong Convent
Make our future bright
To achieve our aims
Bravely we will fight
Guide us in our labours
To the Lord we pray
In wisdom, strength and courage
Growing day by day
By our motto sound
Simple in virtue
Strong in duty bound
In duty to our country
Let us steadfast be
Serving it with cheerfulness
And with loyalty
Let us ever noble be
In thought and word and deed
Striving to our utmost
Always to succeed
By our motto sound
Simple in virtue
Strong in duty bound
School reopened in May 1942 and Katong Convent functioned at St Hilda's School in Ceylon Road under the name of Ceylon Road Girls' School. The attendance was 102. There were 2 sessions - the morning session for girls and the afternoon session for boys from St Patrick's.
Peace came in August 1945, and when the school re-opened at St Hilda's in October 1945 there were 12 classes, and 430 students were re-registered for Primary 1 to Standard 5.
In January 1946, there were 483 students and in October, the numbers increased to 747. In October of the same year the school at Martia Road was restored and returned to the nuns. Prior to this, the building had been used by the British Military Administration as a rehabilitation centre for tuberculosis patients.
After the war, Sister Finbarr was appointed principal. The difficult task of re-organising the school, recruiting more staff, and bringing up academic standards fell on her shoulders.
In 1947, there were 17 classes with 755 students and in 1948, 18 classes with 688 students from Primary 1 to Standard 7. That year those who completed Standard 7 (i.e. Sec 2) had to complete two more years in the Convent at Victoria Street.
In 1949, a Standard 8 class was formed and in 1950, the school fielded its first Senior Cambridge candidates. In the same year, five new classrooms were built, opposite the oldest block and in 1951, part of this old building was renovated and converted into a Domestic Science classroom. After eight years of devoted service, Sister Finbarr was transferred to the Kuala Lumpur Convent and left in May 1954.
That year there were morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session comprised Primary 1 to Form 5 (Sec 4), with a total enrolment of 890. The afternoon session comprised Primary 1 to Form 3 (Sec 2) and a special class known as Form 4 Commercial, with an enrolment of 655. The students who made the grade were transferred to the morning session, and the less successful ones were placed in the commercial class.
In the following years, there was such an increase in the intake of students that it was necessary to build a branch school and for this purpose, the students and staff raised funds by running fun fairs and lotteries. In 1959, the building was completed and a few teachers from the Primary Staff were transferred to the new Convent at Opera Estate. Also in the same year, the school welcomed Sister Finbarr back and bade farewell to Sister Veronica.
The school continued to expand and it was again necessary to build a new wing. Again the staff and students worked to raise funds, this time at greater odds, because previously the Government had contributed half to any aided school extension scheme but now every cent was to be paid by the school. Undaunted, the school persevered, and in 1966, the new wing was completed. For the first time, the students had a proper tuckshop, library, sewing rooms and an Art room. Six new classrooms were included.
In 1971, Sister Finbarr retired. A senior member of the staff, Mrs Marie Bong was appointed headmistress in her place. Under her leadership, the school became known for choral speaking, creative writing and Shakespearean productions.
In 1982, plans were afoot to upgrade the facilities of the school. The offer by the Ministry of Education of a piece of land at Marine Parade in exchange for the site of Opera Estate Convent enabled the secondary school to move to a new premise, whilst the primary school was merged with Opera Estate Convent and was relocated to the renovated building at Martia Road.
At the end of 1986, after many months of planning and fun-raising, the school moved into its new building with Mrs Karen Oei at the helm. In 1990, the Primary section returned to the former site at Martia Road and Katong Convent became a single session secondary school.
In 1999, the school won the Sustained Achievement Award - Academic Value-Added, for having provided value-added education to both the Express and Normal Academic students for ten consecutive years (1996–2006).
2000 and beyond
Katong Convent celebrated its 70th anniversary in the year 2000. With it soon came the autonomy status which was granted by the Ministry of Education. And it also celebrated its 80th anniversary in the year 2010.:P
Father Nicholas Barre was born in Amiens, France on 21 October 1621. At the age of 19, he joined the Religious Order of the Minims of St Francis of Paola. He became a renowned preacher and educator.
17th Century France was in dire need of education. The poor were neglected, exploited and illiterate. Father Barre responded to their plight. In 1662, he gathered a group of young women to educate the poor, especially the girls, in free schools which he established. This marked the beginning of the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus and the I.J. Convent Schools.
Father Barre died in France on 31 May 1686 and was beatified on 7 March 1999.
The school badge which IJ girls wear on their uniforms is the badge of IJ schools all over the world.
The red shield has a silver band edged in gold. On the right is the Book of the Gospels with a silver rosary, on the left a golden distaff and spindle. The shield, surmounted by a gold cross is encircled by a garland of marguerites. The motto on the badge in English is: 'Simple in Virtue - Steadfast in Duty.'
The Rosary of the Virgin Mary symbolises communication with God. The distaff and spindle are symbols of womanly labour. The Garland of Marguerites speaks of simplicity, seen as the most charming trait in young girlhood.
CHIJ Katong Convent is affiliated to:
- CHIJ (Katong) Primary
- Catholic Junior College
- Andrea de Cruz - Actress
- Cheryl Fox - News broadcaster
- Dr Cheryl Marie Cordeiro - Winner, Miss Singapore Universe 1999
- DazzLing Chong - Inspirational entertainer and author of the Singapore Dating Guide Book for the Sg New independent Princess
- Elizabeth Tan - Actress
- Glenda Chong - TV personality
- Georgina Chang - Programme director, 98.7 FM
- Koh Chieng Mun - Actress
- Michelle Saram - Actress
- Melody Chen - Actress
- Noeleen Heyzer - Executive Director, UNIFEM; Nominee for 2005 Nobel Peace Prize
- Suchen Christine Lim - Writer
- Professor Dr Chan Heng Chee - Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the United States
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