Singapore American School 1956-2006 Singapore's Eagles
Author Jim Baker takes us on a journey through the school's history in a time of great historical significance. He tells the story of Singapore as it gains self-rule and independence to become a modern economically developed nation; of the American community in Singapore; of young people growing up in a culture different from their own; and of an institution meeting the challenges of growth and change. Front: An aerial view of the Woodlands campus with students and staff celebrating 50 years of school history, (photo Paul Griffin) Back: /5 Rochalie Drive, the first campus, in 1956. â€˘ flap: King's Road campus 1962-/996. Backflap:UluPandan campus 1973-1996. Campus paintings (pages iv. vi, viii, x) by Davi Beschiz
FOREWORD ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTER ONE THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s CHAPTER TWO THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD CHAPTER THREE NATION BUILDING CHAPTER FOUR THE 1980s
CHAPTER FIVE THE 1990s - GROWTH & TRANSITION CHAPTER SIX WOODLANDS & A NEW MILLENNIUM PHOTO ESSAY: SAS AT 50
PREFACE This is a book that needed to be written. Who better to write the 50-year history of Singapore American School than an individual who has lived its history as a student, teacher and parent? Jim Baker's background as the son of American missionaries in Southeast Asia, and his association with the school as one of the original 105 students when it opened in 1956, have afforded him memories and insights that have been invaluable in telling the school's story in the context of Singapore's history and its ties with the American community. One of Singapore American School's longest-serving teachers, Jim has contributed as both a teacher and a coach for 27 years, and proudly gave his son, Randy, his SAS graduation diploma in 1992. A noted historian, Jim has authored three books about Singapore, and we are very glad that he was able to lend us his expertise and share his love of the school in authoring this book. Singapore's Eagles is a compilation of the ordinary, the extra-ordinary and the magical moments that are part of Singapore American School's 50year history. It will appeal to a wider audience than the parents, alumni, students and staff of the school. In addition to featuring Singapore American School, it includes significant references to the history of Singapore during this 50-year period and to the American community in Singapore. From its inception in 1956, the school has focused on creating a vibrant learning environment that is child-centered, international in perspective, engaging, active and critical. The defining characteristics of a school include the range of courses offered, the quality of the leadership and staff, the clubs and activities available, the quality of the campus, and its general atmosphere. This was true at the beginning of the school's history and continues to guide improvements to assure the school's success for the next 50 years. Currently the largest international school in the world, enrollment now stands at 3450 students in a facility that was recently upgraded to accommodate 3700 students. The school's Board of Governors and
community will continue to face intriguing challenges and a myriad of opportunities in educating children of the expatriate community. Some of those challenges can be seen on the horizon as enrollment approaches 3700 students. Should additional construction take place on campus to accommodate more students? Should there be a satellite campus? Should the enrollment cap remain at 3700 students? Will the demand for international school education in Singapore continue to increase? If the Singapore government changes its policy to allow easier access to international schools for Singaporean citizens, what implications will that have for Singapore American School? Are there ideal percentages of nationalities that should be represented? Will the school's ethos remain one of cultivating American values while nourishing international excellence? Care has been taken to make this book as accurate and reflective as possible. It is designed to make this the first port-of-call for anyone who wishes to learn about the history of Singapore American School. The information is uniquely presented chronologically and thematically. The result is a wonderful compilation of how the school's students, staff, and Board of Governors; the American community in Singapore; and Singapore itself contributed in making Singapore American School one of the premier international schools in the world. We are grateful for Jim Baker's commitment, scholarly research and forbearance of all who contributed to the creation of this book. We are also grateful to those who have spared no pains in ensuring that the visual impact of the book measures up to the exacting standards of its subject. Happy 50th Anniversary Singapore American School.
Robert L. Gross Superintendent, Singapore American School
Davi B Singapore American School. King's Road, 1962 - 1996
FOREWORD Baker was a classmate. For both graduations I had the great honor to be t is with the greatest of pleasure that I have been given the opportunity to write the foreword to Singapore's Eagles-a. history the Commencement speaker. of Singapore American School from 1956 to 2006 - 50 years of great All of our kids have gone on to higher education and, thanks in no small achievements. way to Singapore American School, they made the grade admirably. For a period of nearly twelve years of my life, thoughts of Singapore Daughter Ginny is today a middle school principal in San Francisco. American School, in one form or another, were with me and with the other founders in the form of belonging to initial creating committees, As a matter of possible interest to our readers, this writer himself graduated from another SAS - Shanghai American School - kindergarten being on the board, and finally, chairing the board. through twelfth grade, from 1928 to 1940. It is difficult today, with this magnificent school, to imagine how small we were at the start on Rochalie Drive. Our goals in the early days, when I doubt any of us in the early days could have envisaged anything beyond 1000 students. It would have been a tight squeeze at Kings Road. That we were not overly endowed with funds, were quite simple: the best we have this magnificent facility and a student body of 3450 is a great quality we could provide in the three "R's." tribute to the boards that followed us, and to the professional teachers, Our two oldest children were at Tanglin School - a fine school, but principals, and superintendents. it covered elementary only. Our two younger kids faced the same dilemma. Sending our kids away, and many in our community shared this MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! view, was simply not acceptable. The task before us was daunting but very challenging. We needed money, space, teachers, a principal, and more students. Slowly but surely our goals were achieved. In 1963 our daughter Ginny graduated in the first class to start at 7th grade at Rochalie Drive. In 1966 our daughter Diana graduated. Jim
Paul H. Bordwell, Jr. Founding parent and former SAS Board Chairman
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The arrival of SAS's 50th birthday has given impetus to anto alumni to create and reestablish the connections between them and effort to reconstruct, preserve and celebrate the school's history. their school. This book should be seen as a part of that larger effort and as an attempt to provide a narrative to complement the anniversary year. Susan Studebaker Rutledge also made key contributions to the anniversary year through her service on the anniversary committee and her efforts to There are many who should be recognized for their contributions to this establish lines of communication between the various groups involved in book, to the school's anniversary festivities, and to the greater endeavor the events, especially with the alumni. to recognize the past and present school. Two other groups of note that have contributed significant time and effort With regard to the book, editor Gillian Han should receive accolades to making the schools birthday a year to remember are the PTA and the Boosters Club. Both helped to place the events front and center in school for the quality of the finished product. Authors write stories. Editors turn those stories into books. This is especially true of this kind of book. life. Picture selection, layout and design are essential to making this book so appealing. Gillian brought unique qualifications to this project as a The occasion of the 50th birthday has also brought to light attempts of former member of the Board of Governors, school employee, and parent the high school library to preserve the school's history. For the past few of three graduates. Her efforts reflect affection for the school and respect years, librarian Ron Starker and library assistant Sarala Nair have been for its traditions. involved in a concerted effort to establish a school archives and historical collection. The book and the anniversary have been the recipients of their Two other people provided important contributions to producing this work and enriched by these resources. book. Junia Baker edited the text and Barnabas Lin (SAS '05) helped to Another person who has played a role in recognizing and preserving SAS's create the pictorial essay of SAS in the final chapter. past is Mary Gruman. Two years ago, as an Arts Council project, she There were a number of people whose memories were key to reconstructing embarked on a plan to chronicle the school's history on the walls of the main administration office. This reflected her belief that when people the school's history. They include Paul Bordwell, Eb Espey, Martha visited the school they should get a feel for how SAS has evolved and Smith, R.B. Cavaness, Norma Powers, Larry Wales, Harry Van Wickle, Kathy Tan, Karen Studebaker, Mel Kuhbander, Betty Snead and Betty grown over the years. At that time she also rescued the opening day plaque from the elements. It was literally rotting on a wall exposed to the weather. Baker, as well as scores of SAS graduates. Today this important piece of SAS's history has been restored and hangs A number of SAS alumni donated photographs and memorabilia. Bruce in the main office, a testament to the dreams of the school's founders. Kirkman, Dennis Leong, Paul Cavaness, Michelle Morgan Cordle, Finally, all of this would not have been possible without the support Barb Espey Sobal, Ernie Wong, Lee Bushman, David Hogan and Linda Cook Ferguson all gave pictures. Teachers John Hurst, Don Adams, Paul and encouragement of Superintendent Bob Gross and the SAS Board of Griffin, Bill Rives and Jim Baker also made significant contributions of Governors under the leadership of Shelley DeFord. The celebration of 50 years of Singapore's Eagles required financial backing, prioritizing and photographs. determination to make 2006 a truly memorable year. The anniversary celebrations owe much of their success to Susan Murray. The year-long schedule of events came primarily from her vision and commitment. As a former PTA president, parent of two graduates and a current student, and current Director of Development, her efforts reflect her love for the school. Susan was especially key in reaching out Jim Baker
n January 2004, then Prime Minister designate Lee Hsien Loong said that the American community in Singapore had the kind of civic mindedness he hoped would flourish in the larger Singapore community. In his speech to Singapore's Harvard Club, Lee was articulating part of his vision for Singapore. He foresaw a society more open to diverse views and citizen input. This open society was dependent on greater involvement by Singaporeans. He urged people to speak up and participate in the non-governmental organizations that create a better quality of life.
This is the story of the American community in Singapore as well. The community numbered 750-1,000 when the school opened and is now about 17,000 - 18,000 people. As it grew and prospered, the community consistently found the commitment and the vision to create an ever-improving center of educational excellence, even though as much as 25 percent of its population turned over in some years. This is the story of young people growing up in a culture different from their own as what some have labeled "third culture kids." For the nonAmericans who attended SAS, the story is about their experiences growing up in a culture not their own and attending a school whose system and culture were also not theirs. SAS has always been a home to diverse races and nationalities. Throughout its history, the student body has fluctuated between 20 and 40 percent non-American. When it opened in 1956, SAS students represented 12 nationalities; today it has students from 52 countries.
No doubt the needs and motivations of an expatriate community are different from those of citizens, but Lee singled out the American community as an example because it has established an impressive array of community organizations in Singapore. The American Association, the American Women's Association, Singapore American School, the American Club, the Singapore American newspaper, Singapore American Community Action Council, and two Singaporean organizations that evolved from American community activities - Singapore Reper- Finally, this is the story of a continually evolving institution. The school tory Theater and the Singapore Baseball and Softball Association â€” are began with a correspondence course curriculum taught by trailing spousthe result of community volunteerism. es, and became a recognized leader in international education, with a fully accredited curriculum taught by over 300 teachers, two-thirds of them exThe jewel in the crown of American community activism is Singapore patriate lifetime professionals. The school, like Singapore, grappled with American School, the product of 50 years of private and public support the changes that come with integrating into a global economy. Because of Singapore's geography and success, the school felt on a firsthand basis the and volunteer efforts. promise and challenges of what would later be known as globalization. This is a history of SAS, a school that began in a house rented for $850 The school adapted and coped with its multi-cultural, multi-national clia month with an enrollment of 105 students in 1956, and in 50 years entele and with establishing its identity in Singapore, in the Singapore American community, and in the larger expatriate community that it also grew to become a $220-million, 37-acre facility for 3,700 students. served. The history of the school is actually four stories. It is the story of Singapore as it gained self-rule and independence and became a modern, eco- This, then, is the story of Singapore's Eagles. nomically developed nation. The school mirrored that success as Americans made important contributions to Singapore's growth in terms of education, investment and trade. The school's modernization, expansion and improvements ran parallel to those of Singapore.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s The creation of an American school in Singapore was the result of the changes that World War II brought to Asia in general and Singapore in particular. The war had destroyed the political and economic status quo of the European colonial powers. The decline and end of colonialism, along with the advent of the Cold War, created a new role for the United States government as it stepped in to fill the security vacuum in Southeast Asia. The end of the British colonial empire also offered tremendous opportunities for American businessmen to expand their trade and investment in the area. It is important to note that Singapore's ties with the United States had been firmly established prior to World War II. The United States had become Singapore's most important trading partner as early as 1915, with Singapore providing much needed tin and rubber to American industry. Singapore's port and position in the oil trade attracted a growing number of American businesses. American missionaries played an important role in educating the children of Singapore and Malaya. On the eve of World War II, some 15,000 students attended these mission schools. By the 1930s, Americans made up the second largest group of "Europeans" in British Singapore. The growing American population brought about the creation of the American Association in 1917 and the American Women's Auxiliary (now American Women's Association) in 1935. These ties meant that when Americans began to flock to Singapore in the 1950s and thereafter, the community infrastructure was well established. When World War II ended, American companies that had been in Singapore before the war were quick to reestablish their presence. These
companies played an important role in getting Singapore's economy up and running again, especially in the petroleum, shipping and rubber sectors. The cost and devastation of the war had brought the economies of the European powers to their knees. These countries were slow in recovering and reestablishing their pre-war positions in Southeast Asia, and this opened a door for American businesses in Singapore. The number of Americans who lived in the colony began to grow dramatically. Within the first five post-war years, the American community grew to 700 - three times the size it had been before the war.
Previous page (left): On January 3, 1956, in a ceremony held at 15 Rochalie Drive, Singapore's Governor, His Excellency Sir Robert Black, officially declared the school open, pulling the drawstring to unveil the dedication plaque which still hangs in the schools main entrance. Also present were Lady Black, Mr. Elbridge Durbrow, Consul General of the United States, Mrs. Durbrow, Mr. Mohammed Sidek bin Haji Abdul Hamid, the Assistant Minister of Education, Mr. Albert V. Fisher, the school's Principal, members of the founding School Board chaired by Mr. E. P. J. Fee, and the sponsors of the American Association of Malaya. The ceremony took place in the dining room, which was to serve as the school's assembly hall and library. The American flag and the British flag continued to flank the windows until Singapore became self-governing in 1959. (Photo from the Collection of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.) Previous page (right): One of the Goodyear black and white houses on Swiss Club Road, typical of the accommodations of non-missionary American families in the 1950s and 1960s. Above: A celebration greeted the arrival of the first 707 jet at Singapore's Paya Lebar Airport in 1959. Access to jet travel had a significant impact on Singapore's expatriates. (Photo courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.) Opposite: Expatriate families in the 1950s crossed the ocean in large luxury liners to reach Singapore. APL's S.S. President Cleveland and S.S. President Wilson, each of which carried up to 832 passengers, were two such ships. Typical of many American businesses in Singapore, APL was one of the founding contributors to the school and has continued to be a corporate sponsor to the present day.
The major American rubber companies â€”Goodyear, Goodrich, Firestone and U.S. Rubber - were well represented in Singapore as the Americans raced to obtain a raw material that was in short supply in the United States. American shipping was also key in getting the rubber trade moving again. American President Lines (APL), American Export Lines and Isthmian Lines quickly filled the vacuum created by the slow return of colonial merchant fleets, and Pan American World Airways resumed regular service to Singapore in 1946.
Brothers, facilitated a significant portion of these exports. Soon, newly arriving U.S. companies were finding important niches in Singapore's economy. Bank of America, Carrier Air Conditioning, Western Electric, IBM, the Insurance Company of North America, National Carbon, and Union Carbide joined American International Assurance, Kodak, Singer, Caltex, First National City Bank (FNCB, now Citibank) and Stanvac (Esso/Mobil) in establishing an important American retail and financial presence in Singapore.
The slow recovery of European economies left an opportunity in the market for manufactured goods, which American companies attempted to fill. By 1948, U.S. exports to Singapore were six times what they had been a decade earlier. Resident American trading companies, such as Getz Brothers, Dodge and Seymour, Muller and Phipps, and Connell
Hollywood was also quick to reestablish in the area. In the American Association roster of 1948, the fourth largest group of members, after those from oil and rubber companies and the missionaries, worked for American movie studios, including RKO, M G M , Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Frieder.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 3
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 4
U.S.Diplomats, the Military and the CIA The Cold War in 1947 caused the United States to look beyond its economic ties with Singapore and see the colony in a larger global light. The communist insurgency in Malaya (1948-1960), the victory of the communists in the Chinese civil war (1949), and the North Korean invasion of the South in 1950 drew Singapore into a larger policy of containment. Singapore's British bases, its geographic location, and its access to Malaya's raw materials increased America's political relationship with the island.
to Singapore and the British naval base. Singapore was a major liberty and re-supply center, and American personnel were on the ground to handle the logistics and needs of the ships. The CIA established a station in Singapore in 1949. Singapore was the headquarters of Britain's armed forces and the center of its intelligence gathering in the Far East. This gave American intelligence officers access to important information about Singapore, Malaya and Borneo. Singapore was an important listening post for China, where there was a British diplomatic presence but not an American one because the United States did not recognize communist China. The CIA's involvement in covert activities in Singapore, Malaya and Indonesia at times caused tension between Singapore's rising political leaders and the United States.
America's enhanced interests in Singapore were reflected in the growth in size and importance of the American official presence on the island. By 1948, the staff of the U.S. Consulate had tripled to 22 officers. One reason for this increase was that American military attaches and political officers stationed in Singapore were responsible for all British territories in the area. The size and role of the American mission grew further with the opening of the U.S. Information Service office and library. USIS was an important arm of the overt propaganda war against the communists.
Opposite bottom: Shenton Way, 1950. (Photo from the Collection of Tan Kok Keng, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.)
In addition to the military attaches at the consulate, a U.S. Navy liaison office was set up. Ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet were frequent visitors
Above: Singapore in the 1950s. St. Andrews Cathedral on the left, Queen Elizabeth Walk in the foreground.
Opposite top: Singapore River in the 1950s. (Photo from the Collection of Lim Kheng Chye, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.)
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 5
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 6
In preparation for the school opening in 1956 a school logo was developed and included on the invitation (opposite). The logo survived for the first 40 years of the school. With the move to Woodlands in 1996 a new logo was developed incorporating an eagle and "modernizing" the red stripes. Not popular with everyone, the controversial logo lasted eight years before a totally new look was incorporated at the beginning of the 2004 school year. The new logo (above, right) was meant to suggest a creative and forward-looking environment, while moving away from the overt American look.
The size and role of the American missionary community grew and changed as well. The largest and oldest mission, the Methodist Church, which had been in Malaya since the late nineteenth century, was in a unique position when the war ended because many of its leaders were already in residence, having spent the war years in prison camps. These missionaries went literally from internment camps to their former workplaces â€” the schools and churches. At this time, the Methodist schools in Malaya and Singapore were educating about a quarter of Malaya's children who were studying in English, and the reactivated schools were big components in restoring normality
to Singapore. The rebuilding and restoring of these Methodist schools and churches in Singapore and Malaya also brought large numbers of a new generation of missionaries to Singapore. The Seventh Day Adventists expanded their presence in 1948 with a medical mission. Youngberg Memorial Hospital was staffed by Americans and American-trained doctors, and opened at a time when Singapore's medical services were severely stretched by its growing population. The American missionary community also grew with the arrival of the Lutherans and Baptists. Both groups came because of the communist victory in China in 1949. When the missionaries of both denominations were forced out of China, they refocused their efforts on the overseas Chinese in Singapore and Malaya.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 7
As the American community grew and changed, a matter of increasing concern was the education of its children. In the decade after the war, the civilian expatriate community in Singapore was mainly British. They clung to the colonial practice of sending their children to boarding school. This meant that there were a few British-curriculum elementary schools in Singapore but no secondary schools for expatriates. Sending children to boarding school was alien to American views of raising children, and many American parents were unhappy with this option. Martha Smith, one of those parents, maintains that the impetus for Singapore American School came directly from mothers who wanted to keep their children at home. The American Association of Malaya, whose board represented the leaders in the American community, recognized the education problem as early as 1948 when it established a committee to look into the feasibility of setting up an American school. The association concluded that the
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 8
community was too small to support a separate school. It decided to help support the Dean School, a private British-curriculum school, in return for 40 guaranteed places for American children and a promise to make the curriculum a little more American friendly. About the same time, the Methodist Mission opened a boarding school in Frasers Hill, near Kuala Lumpur, which subsequently moved to Malacca because of the communist insurgency that was taking place in the jungles around the hill station. This school was only for elementary-aged children, as most missionaries sent their older children to mission boarding schools, such as Woodstock and Kodicanal in India and Brent in the Philippines.
Opposite: Side view of the Rochalie Drive school Above: Girls sporting the PE uniform of the 1950s. From left: Linda Cook, Joy McMurray, Christine Cavaness, Joanna McCaffrey, Annette Schiro.
The need for an American school continued to grow, as did the size of the community. When 130 children showed up for a Christmas party at the American Club in 1952, the American Association revisited the issue. In 1955, it decided to set up an American school under its sponsorship. It convinced the greater American business community that the funds they spent on boarding schools for their employees' children were better spent on a school in Singapore. What ensued was truly a community effort. Virtually all the Americans were involved in creating the school in one way or another â€” fundraising, looking for second-hand furniture and books, teaching classes, manning the office, and providing milk and cookies for mid-morning snacks. Parent volunteers also ran the library and organized extracurricular activities. Their efforts and enthusiasm were similar to those of a proverbial small town in America â€” set in a British colony in the tropics astride the world's trade routes. After deciding to proceed, the school committee estimated that it needed $ 100,000 at the outset. The American business and missionary community raised the entire amount, but within two years the community had to raise another $100,000 to build and expand because of increasing enrollment. American companies were especially generous in supporting the school. Stanvac, Caltex and Goodyear donated $40,000, $10,000 and $10,000, respectively, which would be eight times those amounts in today's dollars. In all, close to 40 companies contributed to the school.
"It was the beginning of one of those very successful community efforts which a small community can achieve, such as the pioneers did in America with their one-room schools and colleges. I consider it one of the most significant and satisfying achievements of my career. " Larry Wales SAS School Board 1956
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 4
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 10
The school opened January 3, 1956 at 15 Rochalie Drive in the Tanglin area in a seven-bedroom colonial house. The dining room became the assembly hall and library. At assembly, young Americans sang God Save the Queen until 1959, when they switched to Majulah Singapura. The bedrooms were classrooms, some combining several grades. The servants' quarters provided space for the kindergarten and music room, while the garage functioned as a science laboratory. The grounds were big enough for a softball field and a basketball court, which the students shared with chickens belonging to a Malay family that continued to live on the grounds as part of the lease agreement.
The school day was from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. because the board felt that was the maximum time students could concentrate without air-conditioning. The short school day meant that only core subjects were taught â€” English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages. The students returned at 3 p.m. for voluntary music, PE, art, drama and other enrichment activities. The school did not have a cafeteria, but across Tanglin Road there was a canteen for Singaporeans who worked at the British military headquarters nearby. The canteen quickly became a gathering place and smoking lounge for SAS teenagers. Above: July Fourth celebration at the Polo Club in 1959. Principal A. V. Fisher is standing in the center. Founding parent Martha Smith wearing sunglasses is on the left.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 11
What emerged was a school that was a cross between home schooling and the proverbial "little red school house." The curriculum was based on the Calvert School, a home correspondence course. The original ten teachers were mothers whose pay was so low they might as well have been volunteers. The only male on staff was the principal, Al Fisher, who was hired from the United States. Larry Wales, one of the original school board members, remembers Fisher's arrival in Singapore. "Even as Margie [Wales] and I met him at the old Kallang Airport in a driving tropical rainstorm, I wondered why anyone in his right mind would have accepted our offer."
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 12
"A most important contribution to our prosperity." Governor of Singapore, Sir Robert Black, January 3, 1956
"Even as Margie and I met him at the old Kallang Airport in a driving tropical rainstorm, I wondered why anyone in his right mind would have accepted our offer." Larry Wales SAS School Board 1956
Smith (Firestone, 20 years), Eb Espey (APL, 20 years), Paul Bordwell (Midler & Phipps, 18 years), Red Newell (FNCB, 20 years), and Methodist Missionaries Wilder, Berckman, and Amstutz. These men solicited funds, served on the boards of the American Association and SAS, dealt with government agencies, and gave many hours of their time to the community. They provided the vision and commitment that led the school through the Rochalie Drive years and built the new campus on King's Road. A similar group of mothers was equally dedicated. Martha Smith and Norma Chappell taught, worked in the school office, and served on the PTA. Margie Wales served on the school board, ran the library, and also worked on the PTA. Jo Airriess, who taught art and drama after school, and others like her, were essential in offering programs beyond the core curriculum.
Above left: Singapore Standard, January 4, 1956. Above right: This drawing of the Rochalie Drive school by junior June Williams appeared in the 1958 Islander.
When Sir Robert Black, governor of Singapore, officially opened the school in January 1956, he spoke about the community-minded volunteerism and generosity of Americans â€” citing the creation of the school and the fact that it was open to all races and nationalities as cases in point. He unveiled the plaque that now hangs in the school's administrative offices.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 13
only in the Chinese language. It made up three-fourths of the Chinese community. The colony that emerged from World War II was far different from the one that had existed before the war. The British defeat in Singapore in 1942, the shared deprivations of the war, and the increasing numbers of Chinese who were sinking roots and calling Singapore home, meant that political change was inevitable. In the post-war era, the British had faced increasing demands for selfrule. The political future of Singapore was complicated. It was of great economic and strategic importance to Britain and its allies in the Cold War. It was a society torn by race and class. The Chinese majority was divided along lines of dialect, class, and educational background. A small number of them were middle class and English-educated. This group of mainly Straits Chinese had long historical ties with the area and stood apart from the Chinese immigrants of the 1930s. The latter group, which had sunk roots in Singapore during the Great Depression, was mainly working-class, spoke Chinese, and was either uneducated or educated
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 14
In the 1950s, the newer Chinese immigrants began to flex their political muscle and demand a greater say in Singapore's future. The Chinesespeaking population had a host of social and economic grievances that the British authorities had failed to address effectively. The massive population boom within the working class after the war had brought about conditions that lowered its standard of living and quality of life. The population explosion also created a housing shortage of epidemic proportions. Between 1948 and 1953, political activity in Singapore was fairly quiet as a result of the communist insurgency (called the Emergency) in Malaya. This was because some 1,200 people on the island had been arrested for communist and anti-British activities. In 1953 the political climate changed, when the British turned the corner in their fight against the communists on the peninsula and began to release the detainees. Many of the former detainees spearheaded agitation for political and economic
change. The problems faced by the Chinese-speaking community created an environment conducive to leaders who could articulate its needs and aspirations. The most successful leaders came from the left and had great influence on the labor movement and Chinese student groups. On the surface, Singapore looked beset with disorder. In 1955 and 1956, there had been violent confrontations between the British authorities and radical elements of the labor unions and student activists. The school had to close twice during its first year because of island-wide curfews meant to quell civil unrest.
many of the more extreme elements of the trade union movement and Chinese student activists. Much of the PAP rhetoric was leftist, and the prevailing view in Washington, D.C., was that there was a distinct possibility that Lee and the moderate part of the PAP would not be able to control the extremists and that Singapore was heading toward a pro-communist future. The American School was established in the midst of this political uncertainty. The American business community, American missionaries and, to be fair, some of the American Consulate staff, did not share Washington's pessimistic view of Singapore's future. Paul Bordwell said that American
In 1959, Singapore was slated to achieve self-government. As the election to choose who would lead the new government neared, it became evident that the People's Action Party (PAP) would win because it successfully Opposite: Orchard Road 1950s. Amber Mansions has now been replaced by articulated the aspirations of the majority Chinese-speaking population. the Doby Ghaut MET Station. (Photo courtesy National Archives of SingaLed by English-educated democratic socialists â€” Lee Kuan Yew, Goh pore). Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, S. Rajaratnam - the party also included Above: Clifford Pier in the early 1950s.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 15
businessmen who worked up close with Singaporeans envisioned a capitalistic future for the country. They felt that Singapore was a nation of immigrants striving to succeed, and they would triumph over communism. Be that as it may, this was a risky time to be building for the future. What is remarkable is that many of those leading the effort to establish the school were, at the same time, involved in purchasing land and building new facilities for the American Club on Scott's Road. When Lee Kuan Yew won the election of 1959, some American companies, such as Esso, feared a leftist political tilt in Singapore and moved their headquarters to Kuala Lumpur. This caused a dip in school enrollment, and the percentage of Americans, which had been about 60 percent, dropped to its lowest point
Above: Singapore Free Press, January 16, 1956.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 16
in the history of the school. The school board considered the possibility of establishing a satellite school in Kuala Lumpur, but most American companies stayed in Singapore, and their optimism was justified. From 1960 on enrollment grew, and one of the prime challenges for the school board was finding the money and the land to escape the limitations of Rochalie Drive.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 17
The American school began initially as an elementary and junior high school, reflecting the demographics of the post-war baby boom and the fact that many high school children were already in boarding schools overseas, their parents reluctant to transfer them back to an untested school in Singapore. SAS had its first high school senior in the 1957-58 school year, when Louise Feng was the sole graduate.
the next decade. SAS was the only American curriculum high school in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Oil companies, such as Caltex and Stanvac in Indonesia, offered K-8 education for expatriate children but nothing for older children. For expatriates in the area, SAS was a good alternative to U.S. boarding schools because parents could see their children on a frequent basis. In 1959, a hostel was opened on Cairncourt Road for these students. Later, Caltex opened its own hostel and it operated into the mid 1970s.
As the school grew, so did the high school. By 1958, of the 250 students, 40 were in high school, and a year later the number increased to 64. O n e of the reasons for this increase was that SAS had become a regional high school. Close to a quarter of the high school students were boarders, either in group houses or private homes, a phenomenon that lasted for
In 1958, the Methodists opened a hostel on Barker Road for missionary children. Their school for expatriates in Malacca had closed, and missionary children from Malaya, Borneo and Indonesia were sent to SAS. Later, the Lutherans and then the Baptists also opened hostels for their children.
Opposite left: Cairncourt Hostel. Opposite right: Methodist Hostel.
Above: Group photo of boarders at the Methodist Hostel on Farrer Road in 1967. Director of the hostel, Betty Snead, who was also a member of the SAS school board, is standing at the center in the back. Snead ran the hostel until the 1980s and was well liked by the boarding students.
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Hostel living was a mixed blessing for the school. The boarding students provided a significant part of the school's enrollment. At the same time, the hostels also benefited the constituencies that were key in establishing the school; oil and rubber companies and the missionaries still had people living in remote areas in need of an American education. The problem was that the independent hostels did not always offer the structure and discipline that comes with school-run boarding facilities. The quality of supervision and guidance that boarders received varied greatly among the hostels. Significant numbers of students were living away from their parents, and the school had little control over them after school hours. On at least two occasions, the school board seriously considered proposals to establish school-run boarding facilities. The closest the school came to this was in the 1970s when it worked with International Schools Services to establish a short-lived hostel on Adam Road. Hostel living added an entirely new dimension to attending SAS that was shared by hundreds of students. Being new at SAS was not quite so traumatic because hostel students had an instant pool of friends where they lived. The people they lived with helped ease them into SAS life. They had roommates to share their experiences, and then when the holidays came they were off to places most had never heard of, such as Sarawak, Sumatra and New Guinea. The mission hostels were somewhat different from those of the oil companies because they included children with a broad range of ages, many of whom would spend most of their educational lives in the hostels. The
nature of their parents' mission work gave them a somewhat different expatriate upbringing from that of their schoolmates. There seemed to be more of a family feeling at these hostels. The hostels run by companies and independent groups were for the most part directed at high school students. Wherever they lived, former SAS students recall those teenage years of shared living with extraordinary fondness. The Methodist missionary children's hostel had a unique identity in that for most of its existence, from 1958-1982, it was run by the same person â€” Betty Snead. A missionary teacher, Snead was a surrogate mother for hundreds of kids for 20 years. She viewed the position as her life's calling and created a family and home that all her former charges recall with respect and affection.
"As much as possible we try to keep it like a home. I'm here when the children are here. It's rare when I'm not. I am the one person to whom they are responsible. My mornings are filled with planning, shopping and taking children to the doctor. In the evenings, after dinner, we say devotions. It's a chance for us all to be together as a
family." Betty Snead in 1981 on the Methodist Hostel THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 19
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 20
As the high school grew, SAS began to develop the kinds of activities and traditions normally associated with an American high school. The SAS Eagles were born when the students voted on the team name in 195859. That year the school's first varsity team took the field in fast-pitch Softball. The Eagles played as the Diamonds in the Singapore Softball Association under the sponsorship of Goodyear, because the school did not have a budget for extracurricular sports. To call it a varsity team was a stretch as it contained seventh and eighth graders.
Above: Softball in 1957-58. Principal Fisher directed the Softball program. Forty-eight boys in grades 4 to 11 took part in four inter school teams. Another team represented SAS in the Singapore Schools League.
In the first decade of sports at SAS, fast pitch softball was the most important school sport. It was also popular with the greater expatriate
Left: Varsity Volleyball Team 1961-62. Fred McMurray (front left) later went on to join the Canadian national team.
Opposite: Front entrance of 15 Rochalie Drive.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 21
school's main sport was softball, which does not lend itself to cheerleaders as well as basketball and football do, but the squad persevered. Until the late 1960s, SAS had the somewhat strange anomaly of cheerleaders with pompoms at softball games. Often the cheerleaders received more attention than the team, and the comments and reactions from Asian spectators were quite colorful. No one in Singapore had ever seen anything like this â€” girls in short skirts dancing and performing at sporting events. While at Rochalie Drive, the Eagles began to compete with another overseas school - the International School of Bangkok (ISB). SAS had hired a former ISB teacher, Julian Chun, to teach social studies and PE, and in the 1961-62 school year, he was instrumental in arranging to send the SAS team to Bangkok for a multi-sport exchange. During the April
The 1958-59 school year saw the origins of other American high school customs. The dining room became a theater as the school attempted to put on its first drama, Arsenic and Old Lace. Unfortunately it ran into difficulties, but it was followed by other successful productions. The dining room proved to be too small for both stage and audience, and future school plays were performed outdoors, in spite of the possibilities of rain delays and cancellations. SAS's first yearbook was published in 1958 in paperback and was aptly named The Islander, as it is today. The first junior-senior prom was held the following year at the American Club with 16 couples participating in this enduring American tradition. In the eyes of some Americans, the sports program needed cheerleaders, and the first squad was organized in the 1959-60 school year. The
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 22
Upper left: A junior school play performed on Washington's Birthday, 1959. Osa Lager in foreground. Upper right: 1961 junior-senior prom. From left: Peter Dale, Jacqueline Swindle, David Baker, Pat Cohen, Leslie Bolingbroke, Clyde Wilson, Sandra Sharkey, Brent Nelson. Lower left: A. V. Fisher did extra duty leading classes in addition to his responsibility as principal.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 23
holidays, nine SAS boys traveled to Bangkok to play against ISB in volleyball, basketball, softball and bowling. These boys were true pioneers â€” they traveled to Bangkok on the train, second class, two days and a night. The Singapore-Bangkok games became one of the high points of the year for SAS athletes. For the following 20 years, SAS and ISB traveled to each other's schools to participate in the multi-sport exchanges in basketball, volleyball, softball, badminton and bowling. (In the mid 1960s, the number of sports was increased to seven.) Visiting squads had limited numbers for financial reasons and as a result, in a period of a week, most visiting athletes played three or four different sports. The first years of the games were pretty lop-sided affairs given the much larger student body at ISB. Varsity bowling teams are not very common, but bowling was an important activity at SAS, and the school insisted on including it for the first eight years of the games. At SAS bowling was more than a sport; it was a social activity. The American Club sponsored a junior league on Saturday mornings for members and non-members alike. Almost half the 60-70 students in the high school participated in the league, and most of the other high school students attended the competition. In the early years of the SAS-ISB games, the pins were set manually by Malay pin-boys whom the SAS kids knew quite well. When SAS hosted, the ISB team often claimed that pins would fly out of nowhere to assist SAS hits. Mohammed, who ran the club's bowling alley, is remembered with great fondness by these early SAS athletes. Mo was a friend, a coach and a guidance counselor all in one. Above left: The 1966 varsity bowling team. Bruce Kirkman, Craig Capen, Ken Stoehrman, Jimmy Baker, Jeff Barton.
What was impressive about the exchanges with ISB was that they were student supported and organized. Students raised the funds to pay for the transportation, and students bought the uniforms. Hospitality for the visiting team was also provided through student effort. The most important fundraising event for the annual ISB-SAS games was a fashion show organized by students and parents. The models and their escorts were drawn from the student body. This tradition carried on for some 20 years and was in itself a highlight of each year.
Above right: Mohammad ran the American Club bowling alley from the 1960s to the 1980s, (photo taken in 1987) Below right: First SAS-ISB competition, April 1962 in Bangkok. Shown are Llewellan Woodford, David Lissaur, Bob Vallet and Lincoln Catchings.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 25
The growth of the school, especially the high school, meant the staff and curriculum had to change. A pool of mothers teaching correspondence courses was rapidly becoming unacceptable. The high school needed teachers with skills in specific disciplines. Evidence of this was apparent in the 1958-59 school year, when the headmaster, Al Fisher, taught Spanish II and advanced algebra because the school could not find teachers for those positions. In 1959, James Aven was hired to lead the school through the transition from its folksy origins to a K-12 multi-divisional school with a clear purpose and a curriculum that reflected the school's unique situation. An administrator with a decade of experience in the California public school system, Aven had quite a challenge ahead of him. While Fisher, according to Larry Wales, had been the school's esprit de corps, Aven was the organizational genius.
The staffing problem was solved initially by reaching out to qualified Singaporeans. In the fall of 1959, K. Abraham was hired to teach math and science. The next year, Abraham's wife, Jolly, was hired to teach science along with a Malay language teacher, Cikgu Eshan, and a French/Spanish teacher, Andree Huq (later Rajoo). Each of these teachers taught at SAS for more than 30 years and provided continuity as the school changed and grew. These pioneers, along with later Singaporean teachers, provided a diverse faculty that offered SAS students insight into the country and culture in which they lived. Abraham often tells the story of walking into his first class and the students remaining in their seats. In Singapore schools, this was unheard of â€” students were expected to stand when the teacher entered the room. He recalls wondering if this was because he was Asian. Later the principal walked in the room, and the kids did not stand. He realized that he had entered a different world of education.
Above: Grade One Class, 1958-59. Back Row- Betsy Guinn, Joan Willis, Mark Sullivan, Carol Cavaness, Jeffrey Hackler, Clifton Wharton, Mrs. Van den Bergh, Osa Lager, Paula Bun, Junko Watami, Kathryn Brineman, Micheline Lint. Middle Row- Jenny Burrell, Beverly Scaife, Evelyn Cheung, Barbara Murray, Carol Alexander, Penny Vanderbaar, Christine Mountain, Elaine Wales, Nena Cifra, Michelle Schiro, Susan Anderson. Front Row- Laurence Teh, Glenn Mason, Gerald Germillion, George David, Totto Hinata, James Kevlin, Graeme MacDonald, Mitsuru Monma, Mike McKelvey.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 26
The question of facilities was key as well. Within two years of the school's opening, the school board had gone back to the community to raise another $100,000 to construct additional buildings on the property for junior and senior high school classes. Once again, the community, led by Stanvac, Goodyear and Caltex, responded with the funds. Caltex was especially generous because the school was educating high school children from the oil camps in Indonesia. Finding a bigger property became an increasingly important issue for the school board. The problems with Rochalie Drive were exacerbated when the landlord demanded that they either purchase the property for $185,000 or vacate in six months. Finding the necessary funds seemed unlikely until American International Assurance offered the school a low-interest mortgage. But this was only a stopgap measure. By 1961, enrollment had passed 300 students, and the Rochalie Drive property was just too small. The regular school day, which had been 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., became 7:20 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate extra classes. In the eyes of many students, the 7:20 class was "the curse of death."
"I think that the American School is an outstanding institution. The students here have a rare opportunity to meet and study with many nationalities and thus develop a broader viewpoint." James Aven, SAS head, 1959 Above left: It was common for an ice cream vendor to be located just outside the front gate of the school. Above right: Student / staff volleyball game 1960-61. In the background is the junior high building that was added to the original property.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 27
Even though the American community sought to offer its children an American education and the teenagers tried to create the customs of an American high school, their lives were far removed from the experiences of their peers back home. This was not just because they were living in Asia, but also because they were living in a British colony. Expatriate Singapore in the 1950s was still very much a colonial city both socially and economically. Even after the British defeat in World War II and Singapore's move to self-rule, race was still an important distinction of class. Although the school was multi-cultural and multiracial, the greater expatriate society was significantly racially exclusive. Most Americans belonged to more than one club. The American Club was multi-racial, but the Tanglin Club, Golf Club, and Swimming Club had color bars. This created a situation in which Asian classmates were excluded from places where many Caucasian students socialized.
Many social events, including school dances, took place in peoples homes. Young Americans had very comfortable lifestyles. They lived in large houses with extensive grounds and had anywhere from two to eight servants and often chauffeurs as well. At the clubs and shops that they frequented, goods and services were available by merely signing a "chit." While these young expatriates were separated from Singapore's larger community by race and class, in many ways they were confronted with Asian life more than were the succeeding generations of SAS students. The Singapore of the 1950s made it impossible not to be engulfed by Asia and its customs. A minority of Singaporeans spoke English, and the linLower left: Student Council 1957-58. Standing is Louise Feng, president and the first SAS graduate.
Opposite: A crowded Chinatown market.
Above right: Netball team 1960-61. Most of the same girls were also on the softball team. First step- Marsha Cook. Second step- Margaret Jacobs, Anita Upper left: Glee Club 1960-61, on the new outdoor basketball court spon- Kesselring. Third step: Janice Sterrett, Gail Norbom, Ruth McMurray. Fourth sored by the PTA. step: Micheline Vallet, Andrea Heath, Lesley Bolingbroke, Ginny Bordwell.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 29
gua franca among all races was Malay. Because of this, most students at SAS spoke some Malay to communicate with servants, taxi drivers, and shopkeepers. For many years, the Malay language class taught by Cikgu Eshan was not only a popular subject but a very practical one. Underdeveloped plots of land in Singapore drew collections of squatters. Often, squatter kampungs were right next to the palatial homes of the wealthy. For example, the Holland Village area was home to a large segment of the expatriate community, and a large Chinese kampung occupied the land where Cold Storage Jelita is today. They raised chickens and ducks just across the street from some of Singapore's most expensive housing. O n Coronation Road, there was a large Malay kampung and a mosque, and the call to prayer was loudly broadcast five times a day. The sounds of District 10, as the area was called then, were much different from the sounds today - Chinese opera from one kampung, the call to prayer from another, and the cackle and grunts of livestock from both. Farrer Road had Malay and Chinese kampungs where today are H D B buildings, and there was a large Malay kampung on the corner of Bukit Timah and Whitley Roads. The rituals and customs of the Asian population were too arresting to ignore â€” the rattle of the bottles by Indian milkmen and the horns of old newspaper collectors on overloaded motorcycles. Firecrackers were legal, and Chinese New Year was impressively loud. Chinese funeral processions with bands and mourners took over many blocks of public streets. Above left: The graduating class of 1961. Baccalaureate at the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 30
Malay satay sellers and Chinese noodle vendors roamed the streets, bringing their wares to the homes. Indian snake charmers were often hired to entertain at birthday parties. A child's memory of a flared king cobra is not easily erased nor is the memory of vibrant teeming streets, which made deep impressions on many SAS students. About a third of the American students were missionary kids who, because of the nature of their parents' work, were more involved with the greater Asian community. In addition to their expatriate associations, many were members of local church youth groups, went to Asian church camps, and had somewhat more local perspectives of Singapore. When expat kids made forays into the Asian community, it was always helpful to have a couple of missionary kids along because they spoke Malay fluently and knew interesting parts of the city that were outside the expat enclaves. Above right: Snake charmers were a big hit at birthday parties.
Another dimension in the lives of these young expatriates that set them apart from their counterparts at home was the British influence on their lives and tastes. In the 1950s, corporate America had discovered youth culture. The spending power and tastes of the baby boom generation created a whole new popular culture in the United States through TV, radio and magazines. In Singapore, however, British popular culture was still dominant. Singapore had been a British colony for 140 years, and this connection had a heavy influence on consumer goods, the media, fashion, music and entertainment — the mainstays of post-war youth culture. More than at any time in Singapore's history, the colony was a garrison town. Fifty thousand British airmen, soldiers and sailors were stationed in Singapore along with their families. Twenty percent of the island was occupied by the British military. The tastes and spending power of this group were important determinants of what was stocked in the stores, the kind of nightlife that existed, the sports played, and the kinds of print media available.
Many American students had attended British schools prior to the opening of SAS and had received their introduction to things British. Some parents who lived in Singapore at the time have remarked that one of the reasons they wanted an American school was that they did not like the British accents their children were developing. The three major department stores that expatriates frequented — Robinsons, John Little, and Whiteaways — were stocked with British consumer goods. Many young Americans grew up reading Enid Blyton books set in England rather than Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. The comic books were Beano, Dandy and British war stories rather than G.I. Joe and Marvel superheroes. The toy soldiers were Coldstream Guards rather than U.S. Marines. Christmas was celebrated with Father Christmas and party crackers. Even the candy and ice cream were British. When American Navy ships came to town, visiting on board was popular not just because of interest in the ships but because the sailors treated the students to American ice cream, hamburgers and candy. American teenagers probably felt more disconnected from their home culture than did their younger siblings. T V did not come to Singapore
Above: "Black and White"Amahs with expatriate children.
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 31
until 1964, so there was no "American Bandstand" or similar programs. The driving age was 18, so the teen car culture was not available. Even if the driving age had been lower, most families had only one car with a driver, and taxis were inexpensive alternatives (fares started at 40 cents). Radio Singapore was a poor imitation of the BBC, and popular music programs were limited to about an hour a day. The one English-language station was more likely to talk about gardening or insect collecting than to play rock-and-roll. Music and magazines catering to teenagers had their origins in Britain, and American music usually made it to Singapore only if it was popular with the British. Most Americans in Singapore knew as much about Cliff Richard as they knew about Elvis Presley. Singapore's nightlife reflected the fact that it was a colony and military garrison. Hotels catered to the upper-class British clientele with staid music from previous decades, while cabarets and bars catered to the military. Naturally, a number of American teenagers checked out these latter establishments. While some of the boys received quite an education in these places, it was against school rules for girls to fraternize with British servicemen. Above left: Bill Bailey's Coconut Grove Bar, 1950s. Most of the American kids found niches of social life. Live rock-and-roll music was played at tea dances on Sunday afternoons. The most popular of these were at the Adelphi Hotel and the Golden Venus Lounge at the Orchard Hotel. Mont D'Or, Rose D'Or, Cozy Corner, the York Hotel, and Bill Bailey's Coconut Grove all became popular hangouts for SAS teens.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 32
Above right: 1961-62. After-school volleyball games between adults and students were a common sight. All were welcome to play. Center â€” Yusuff, the custodiam who worked for SAS from 1959 to 1995. To the right â€” Cecilia Fitch, Julian Chun.
Top: A group of singers perform, 1959. Kathy Saludo Tan (SAS '67 and current SAS teacher) secondfrom left in the first row. Lower right: Folk Dance Club 1959. Lower left: Drama Club 1959. The Drama Club presented "The Littlest Angel" and planned a performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace " that did not make it to the stage. Sponsored by Mrs. Jo Airriess, the club also participated in debate. Back- Gary Speir, Chuck Morris, Tony Dreyer, Chris Beemer, Nan Itz, Dean Johnson, Dick Wales, Paul Cavaness, Chris Pixton. FrontPat Dodd, Pam Potter, Katherine Huehne, Beverley Cropper, Penny Billings, Carmen Onstad, Jacquie Swindle.
"Every morning we sang "God save the Queen. " Our uniforms were blue and white dresses and I was so proud of the big blue bow in back. We used to line up to wait for our name to be called when our cars came to take us home. The science classes were in the garage, the kindergarten in the servants quarters, and the library in the dining room. And there were chickens everywhere." Kathy Saludo Tan (SAS '67)
THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE 1950s 33
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD
AS left the chickens and the old house for a purpose-built facility that actually looked like a school. For many Americans who had worked to make the school a reality, the class of 1962 graduation in the new auditorium was a moment of great pride and satisfaction. It was unlikely that many people missed Rochalie Drive, and the future of the school looked far different than it did in January 1956. The new site at 60 Kings Road accommodated kindergarten to grade 12 students from 1962 until 1971, when the student body split into two campuses. These were years of dramatic growth, from 307 students in 1962 to about 1,200 in 1971. The story of Kings Road is another chapter in the success of the American community in marshalling its resources to provide quality education for its children. The American Association had recognized as early as 1958 that Rochalie Drive did not have much of a future because it was too small. The challenge was to find the necessary finances to purchase land large enough to build a K-12 school in the expensive residential area where most expatriates lived. Purchasing land and building a school was a multi-million dollar project for a school that was operating on an annual budget of $250,000 - $300,000. The opportunity came when First National City Bank decided that it was impractical to continue to offer palatial accommodations for its top executives in Singapore. The house of its president sat on 7.2 acres and required a maintenance staff of 8-10, which was excessive even in those times of large homes and multiple servants. The house alone was not much smaller than the school on Rochalie Drive. FNCB offered to sell the land and the house to the American Association for about 15 percent of its value - $150,000 for 7.2 acres of prime real estate. Even with this generous offer, the association still needed about $ 1.7 million to build and furnish the school.
As before, the community went to work. Consul General William Maddox and his officers lobbied the U.S. State Department and obtained a grant for $450,000. Another $150,000 was raised from 42 companies and 37 individuals, including eight Japanese parents who made a joint donation. One Japanese parent, Mr. Ito, donated two pianos, which APL shipped from Japan. Sime Darby, the agent for Caterpillar, donated the equipment to level the grounds, and American oil companies donated the gasoline for the equipment. Various American firms donated everything from drinking fountains and movie projectors to library books. These gifts saved the school another $200,000. The school was built next to the existing colonial house on what had been its garden. The house on the hill was preserved and looked out over the playing field and a Malay kampung. The house remained until the campus was redeveloped for the third time in 1985In June 1962, the school moved. The move itself reflected the spirit of the school. Missions and companies donated the use of trucks and vans. Many of the students and school custodians packed and carried the books, boxes and furniture. O n another occasion, the students laid sod on their newly leveled sports field.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 36
Previous page (left): Overview of the King's Road campus showing the three newly constructed buildings, playing field and track, with one of the neighboring kampungs visible in the background of the unfenced campus. Previous page (right): A school song appeared in the 1961 yearbook. In preparation for the 50th reunion activities the 2004-05 student council revived the song during a pep rally. Top left: The original dedication plaque at King's Road. Lower left: Students help to lay sod in the playing field of the King's Road campus under construction. Above right: Program for the official opening of the King's Road campus, June 1, 1962.
"Out at King's Road a magnificent new American school is nearing completion. It is the pride and joy of those who are directly connected with it. It is a source of pride as well to the numerous American business firms and to the United States government who provided the monetary wherewithal. When the new building opens in February, our pride will be boundless. " Patricia Lindh, SAN Editorial, Novemberl96l
"It is a great opportunity for us to be able to associate with so many people of different backgrounds and cultures. The variety of opinions and points of view to which we have been continually exposed has developed a more tolerant, flexible and mature group of students than those who have spent their lives in one place. " Cherie Phillips (SAS '63) Valedictorian
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 37
Above: Lee Kuan Yew announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965. (Photo from the Collection of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, courtesy National Archives of Singapore.) Opposite top: The senior schooljudges junior school Halloween costumes in the theater. Opposite right: A typical kampung in Singapore in the 1960s to 1980s.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 38
From 1962-1967, the existing house was the home of the school principal, Dr. Harold Elsbree. The head custodian, Yusuffbin Almari, lived in the former servants' quarters with his family. Both Elsbree and Yusuff knew every student and missed little because they "lived above the shop." After 1968 the house became at various times classrooms, community offices, departmental libraries, school offices, and on at least a couple of occasions, an ill-fated senior lounge. (Every time the seniors were granted a senior lounge, they lost their privileges through smoking, vandalizing, and sloppy care of the premises.) Receptions after graduation were also held in the "principal's house." The property was not fenced and, as was the custom at the time, a jaga (watchman) guarded the premises from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., sleeping on the proverbial rope bed at the front of the house. The school's neighbors used it as a thoroughfare between the two kampungs that flanked the property, and Malay children often hung out near the water fountains, entranced by the cool, running water that they did not have in their own homes. The school board occasionally talked about fencing the property, but it did not happen until the 1970s.
The fact that it was not fenced also made the principal's house an easy target for adolescent American "guerrillas" during Chinese New Year. Firecrackers were still legal in the 1960s, and for a period of about four years, the principal did not get much sleep over those holidays. The "tradition" ended in 1967 with a principal who valued his sleep over tolerating teenage antics.
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 39
Above: The 1964 racial riots showing a barrier erected in Gelang Serai. (Photo from the Collection of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, courtesy National Archives of Singapore.) Opposite: A science lab at Kings Road, 1964.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 40
"I'm proud to be a graduate of SAS. " Maile Repetti (SAS '64)
The times were still uncertain in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The Cold War was producing distinct pockets of hot wars. In spite of this and because of this, newly independent Singapore was modernizing and prospering. Parallel to its growth was an expanding American presence in the Singapore economy â€” and in the school. The 1960s were a period of great drama, change and progress. At the beginning of the school's second year at Kings Road, a new flag flew over the school - the flag of Malaysia. One of the main objectives of the PAP when it assumed power was to merge with the Federation of Malaya. Ties of history, race, family and economics made merging a logical move at the time. In 1962, Singapore conducted a campaign to mobilize public support for the merger. It pulled out all stops to sway public opinion, liberally using rallies, billboards, the media, parades and posters. Anyone who lived in Singapore at this time will remember the song, "Let's get together, sing a happy song, Malaysia forever, ten million strong." The campaign culminated in the creation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, which consisted of Singapore, the Federation of Malaya, and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak. The union did not last. What Singapore entered with such promise proved to be a disappointment to its leaders, and the two years that Singapore was part of Malaysia were trying times. As part of Malaysia,
Singapore lost its good economic relationship with Indonesia, which had been one of Singapore's main trading partners. President Sukarno of Indonesia said that the new country of Malaysia was a British neo-colonial plot and declared an armed confrontation against Malaysia. In Singapore, the "war" seemed unreal. There was an increased presence of British and Commonwealth forces in defensive positions around the island, but there were often SAS beach parties right next to the troops. When Indonesian saboteurs blew up a deserted beach and an isolated sea wall, the incident was more comic opera than real danger. The only truly frightening event was when Indonesian saboteurs set off a bomb in MacDonald House on Orchard Road, which killed three people. Most of the actual fighting took place in Borneo. Singapore had hoped that its role after the merger would be like that of New York, as Malaysia's financial and manufacturing center, while Kuala Lumpur would be like Washington, D.C., the political and diplomatic center. However, many businessmen on the peninsula did not want to have to compete with Singapore. As a result, neither side could agree on a common market. Singapore had also joined Malaysia in part to create greater social stability as a part of the larger country, but the reverse happened. In 1964, serious race riots broke out between Malays and Chinese. The army was put on alert, and curfews were in place throughout the island. Why Singapore was eventually forced to leave Malaysia is a matter of some historical debate. Suffice it to say that they had irreconcilable dif-
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 41
Above: The Career Workshop in 1962 was totally student organized. It was a precursor of the career and college day event now sponsored annually by the high school counseling office and the PTA. Opposite top left: The Rhythmettes entertaining at the George Washington Ball in 1963. (From left: Marsha Cook, Sally Hinebaugh, Linda Cook, Susan Hinebaugh.) Opposite top right: Oei Tiong Ham Park in the 1960s, part of a typical expatriate neighborhood. Opposite lower right: C. K. Tangs Ltd as it existed on Orchard Road in the 1960s.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 42
"The Methodist Youth Hostel was so much fun because of the little pranks we played and the camaraderie among the residents." Jane Svoboda (SAS '65)
ferences and separated. When SAS opened in 1965, it was in the newly independent Republic of Singapore. After its exit from Malaysia, Singapore was forced to reevaluate its economic policies. Denied access to its traditional hinterland, Singapore had to pursue economic growth as a part of the global economy. To do this, Singapore sought multinational manufacturing companies to provide both capital and guaranteed markets. By 1967, one of the highest priorities of Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) was to entice U.S. multinational companies, especially those in the electronics sector, to its shores. Singapore's timing was right in that the American electronics industry was just beginning to outsource. Hong Kong was not a viable alternative at this time because it was politically unstable as a result of China's Cultural Revolution. The U.S. giants - General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments, and others â€” were impressed with the EDB's ability to provide quick, efficient, tailor-made services and facilities, and they opened factories in Singapore. These companies employed tens of The American community would grow and change as a result of these thousands of Singaporeans. In 1970, General Electric had a work force investors as well as the arrival of the oil service industries, which was on of close to 10,000, the largest private sector employer on the island. By the horizon. 1969, the United States had become the most important source of direct foreign investment in Singapore, easily passing both Britain and Japan. A change in government in Indonesia opened up the potential for oil ex(To this day, 60 percent of Singapore's exports to the United States are ploration. The new Suharto government offered incentives to draw in forfrom its U.S. multinationals.) eigners to tap Indonesia's natural resources, especially oil. As the major oil companies picked up concessions to look for oil, they subcontracted most Companies already in Singapore expanded their operations at this time. of the exploration and drilling to other companies. By the late 1960s, InMobil built a new refinery in 1966, an investment of $23 million that donesia had become a boom area for oil service companies. Reading and would grow to $2.5 billion by 2003. Caltex opened a new sea terminal Bates, Dowell Schlumberger, Dresser, Haliburton, Santa Fe Pomeroy, and and expanded its chain of filling stations in Malaysia and Singapore. Avery Lawrence poured into the area to take advantage of the boom.
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 43
"I had great teachers at SAS, but Coach Kasi was special." Doug Thurman (SAS '69)
"Mrs. Neville was so passionate and thoughtful about English. Listening to her read Chaucer was magical." Fielden Ludy (SAS '65)
Above: Floods in the 1960s and right up to the early 1990s could keep students from school and disrupt plans. By the end of the 1990s virtually all flood-prone areas in Singapore had disappeared. Opposite left: 1964 junior-senior prom. From left: Beth Teilmann, unidentified, Paul Cavaness, Angela Dobson, unidentified, Jim Roderick, George, Ralph Arnasen, Ginny Bordwell, Lincoln Catchings. Opposite right: The Class of 67 carrying on the previous year's tradition of painting the water tower.
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"tradition" faded from memory, although it was briefly revived by the class of 1975. The Singapore that emerged in the 1960s was quite different from the one the PAP government had inherited in 1959. Much of the old Singapore remained, but modernization and development were remaking the island and providing a more diverse environment. The old and the new added texture and excitement to the lives of young Americans in Singapore. Some things had not changed at all. The school was situated in a floodprone area, and SAS still had occasional "flood days," when it was impossible to get to school. Students who lived in flood areas often earned money by pushing cars that were stranded in the deep water.
The curfews resulting from the race riots of 1964 were deja vu for those who had lived in Singapore in the 1950s. The violence took place in nonexpatriate areas of the island, and except for the missionary kids who lived in the less affluent sections, the actual riots had little direct impact on expatriates. SAS students organized curfew parties, and some deliberately missed the curfew deadlines and spent the night at the American Club. Graduation was held at a moment's notice between curfews. There was no fear of a long-winded speaker that year because people had to make it home before the curfew.
Ironically, Singapore at this time had to ration water. It had insufficient reservoirs to meet the growing demand for fresh water, much of which came from the rivers of Johor, Malaysia. Thus, when it did not rain in Johor and Singapore, water had to be rationed. There were times when the water would be turned on for only one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. The price of a late sports practice was many times a bath out of a bucket.
In the 1960s and 1970s, beach party excursions were popular components of student life. Groups of SAS students would rent bumboats at Jardine Steps and have overnight parties on Pulau Hantu and the Sisters Islands. Some spent weekends on the islands off Mersing in Johor, where a group of American families shared a beach house. Before the redevelopment of the Singapore coastline, Ponggol and Changi Beach were popular draws for parties and water sports. Somehow the sea seemed a much larger part of people's lives in those days than it was in later years.
To solve the problem, the school built a water tower, which was a great temptation for American kids armed with paint and brushes under the cover of darkness on an unfenced campus. At least four classes painted their class years on the tower - those of 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968. They were inevitably caught and made to scrub the tower clean. Another
Even though Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963 and became independent in 1965, the British military presence on the island blurred the realities of these nation changes. A new flag flew over Singapore, but the British military continued to occupy a prominent place in the life of the island. The British occupied large areas of real estate. This and the sheer
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 45
number of troops and their dependents made it difficult at times not to think that two flags flew over the country. When the British announced their plan to withdraw from their bases in Singapore in 1967, things began to change. SAS students could not help but feel the changes that took place in many parts of Singapore as the bases closed and the British families left. Areas such as Holland Village, Changi Village, Tanglin, and the Alexandra area went through a metamorphosis. The 1960s had been the height of the British military presence on the island because of the Cold War, the Emergency, and Malaya's confrontation with Indonesia. Their teenage dependents attended the Alexandra School until the opening of St John's Comprehensive Secondary School in 1964. For the first time, there was a resident British teenage population on the island. There was often friction between SAS students and the British military kids but there was an upside. The military sponsored youth clubs, such as the one at Gillman Barracks, that offered weekend dances and live bands. SAS kids and their bands managed to be included in these activities. St John's and SAS were also keen rivals in sports, especially basketball and track and field. The fact that Singapore was a garrison town created a most colorful late night scene in the form of Bugis Street. The site was a collection of hawker stalls, restaurants and bars off Victoria Street in downtown Singapore. Most of the customers were British servicemen. The beer and
food were inexpensive, and the establishments stayed open as long as people were buying. Bugis Street was popular with other groups as well. In the 1960s, U.S. servicemen on R and R from Vietnam, U.S. sailors on liberty, SAS students on late night forays and, eventually, tourists all found their way to Bugis Street. It was an event as much as a place. In the 1960s, it offered many of the services that tend to accompany social gatherings of unmarried military personnel, but slowly the women drifted away and were replaced by transvestites on parade. Each evening these people would dress in their finest clothes and cruise Bugis Street. Their performances were entertaining street theater more than anything else. Twelve-year-old children went from table to table, playing tic-tac-toe for money. All sorts of questionable activities were available. It is ironic that this night scene was advertised by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board in the 1970s. Although the government discouraged men from having long hair, apparently it was okay to have long hair if dressed as a woman and entertaining tourists. SAS students ended many an evening at Bugis Street and still have special memories of those times, such as the embarrassing antics of the British soldiers on top of the bathrooms, the most outrageous transvestite, and the funniest tourist.
Opposite: The Class of 1964. Above left: Dinner menu from the Prom 1964. Above right: Playing softball below the construction of the new gymnasium, late 1960s. Right: Cheerleaders 1969.
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"Abe [Abraham] taught me in my student days and guided me when I was a young teacher; he became my role model. I am a teacher today because of him." Jim Baker (SAS '66)
Opposite: Bugis Street stalls, 1960s
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"We the class of 66 will ever be proud of its alma mater. We hope we will bring honor to her name as we leave to pursue our destinies unlimited." Cheryl Thurman (SAS '66)
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Singapore's increasingly clean, modern and prosperous society also shaped the lives of young expatriates. The increase in tourism and rising living standards created markets for the popular culture that young Americans craved. From 1967 on, the live music scene improved by leaps and bounds. The father of an SAS student opened Singapore's first disco on Tanglin Road in 1965 â€” Gino's a Go-Go, built atop an Italian restaurant. It was followed by the Talk of the Town in the downtown area. (School board members checked this one out carefully because they feared it was a place to buy drugs.) New hotels that were built to service the increased tourist trade also opened discos with live bands. The Spot-Spot at the Hilton, Barbarella at the Ming Court, Pink Pussycat at Princes Hotel and the Pub at the Malaysia Hotel were all popular with students. Singapore's growing prosperity drew new products, restaurants and shopping areas. By the late 1960s, pizza was available at Gino's and La Taverna, hamburgers were appearing on hotel coffee shop menus, and the first Mexican restaurant had opened on Orchard Road. The government had cleaned up the hygiene in the hawker areas, and more adventurous SAS students experimented with Asian food. The declining British influence was replaced with popular American culture in the form of music, fashion and the media. Television was introduced in 1964, and many of the programs came from the United States. These programs were often a bit dated, but in some ways helped young Americans catch up with some of what they were missing from home. Jet travel also increased interaction with American culture, and trends at home were not as out of date when they arrived in Singapore. It is interesting to note that SAS did not follow an American school calendar year until the 1969-70 school year. The school followed a trimes-
ter system with month-long vacations in December, April and August. This schedule was a holdover from the days when people went on home leave only every three or four years. It survived because of parent, especially missionary, support. As late as 1968, parents voted 2 to 1 to keep the trimester year. The huge influx of Americans in the late 1960s and the relative ease of jet travel finally influenced the school to institute a standard U.S. school calendar with a long summer break in 1970.
Opposite: Thaipusam in the 1960s, much like it appears today in 2006. Above: The Paya Lebar Airport, opened in 1955, replaced the old Kallang Airport, which was later turned into recreational facilities. By the 1980s a new airport was required and Singapore's current airport was opened at Changi. Below right: Junior â€” Senior prom 1963. from left: Cliff Groen, Marsha Cook, Fred Dy, Barb Green, Andreas Scheel, Micheline Valet, Terry Ng, Johanna Teilmann
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Above and above left: Changi Beach in the 1960s was a popular place for students to spend weekends.
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Above: The Gillman pool in the 1960s was part of the youth club established by the British military for their families and where SAS students were often able to join in activities.
Although the school at King's Road was built under the leadership of James Aven, he only spent two months as principal at the new site. He did preside over the first class to graduate in the new auditorium in July 1962 before returning to the United States. Dr. Harold Elsbree, who came to King's Road after a 35-year career as teacher, administrator and academic in the United States and overseas, led the school for the next five years. When he arrived in 1962, the school had 302 students representing 17 nationalities. When he left in 1967, there were 557 students from 22 nations. Within two years of moving to King's Road, the school had to build again, adding 12 new classrooms, a cafeteria and a PE office. These additions completed the originally planned 600-student school. R.B. Cavaness, a school board member at the time, remembers how many community members scoffed at the possibility of a school for 600 students. Given the turmoil that Singapore experienced between 1955 and 1965, the skepticism was probably not unreasonable. The school was fortunate that its board saw beyond the pessimism of some in the community. In Elsbree's first three years, SAS retained many of the attributes of the original school. The headmaster was a one-man show â€” K-12 administrator, guidance counselor, disciplinarian and father figure. The student body was small, and many parents still taught classes. As the school grew, Dr. Maynard Catchings was hired as high school guidance counselor in 1965, and a year later Dr. Harry Barteau came to the school from Taipei American School to serve as the first high school principal. Barteau succeeded Elsbree as headmaster in 1967 and became the school's first superintendent when the post was created in 1968.
Barteau was head of the school until 1969. During his tenure, the school was redeveloped. In 1968, the Balestier Memorial Gymnasium opened, named after the first American Consul to Singapore in 1837. For the first time SAS students could plan basketball and volleyball games without the threat of rain. A new library and 12 additional classrooms were also added. The entire school was air-conditioned, and classes were 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. By the time Dr. Jack McLeod took over in 1969, the school had over 900 students and was running two sessions a day in the lower grades. Between 1968 and 1976, the school met incredible challenges. It grew at an unbelievable pace from 750 students in 1968 to over 1,500 in 1971, when it split into three separate facilities. A former British army primary school at Alexandra and the nearby Gillman Barracks were turned over to SAS by the Singapore government. These became schools for grades K-6, and grades 7-12 remained at King's Road. The government made land available for a new school, between a garbage dump and a cemetery, and the school began to build its Ulu Pandan campus for the elementary and middle schools.
Above left: Dr and Mrs. Elsbree in 1967. Above right: Senior class officers 1965-66. From left: Jim Baker, Joubert Kristoffersen, Eric Lapp. Below right: Senior English class 1964. Teacher Mrs. Rose Catchings taught all English classes at the high schoolfor six years.
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The school community was growing in size and changing in nature. In 1968, the Ministry of Education decided that Singaporeans would no longer be allowed to attend expatriate schools. Since its inception, Singaporeans had made up a large non-American contingent in the school. In the same time period, the school had to limit the intake of other non-Americans because there was simply not enough room. By 1971, the school was over 70 percent American, its largest percentage to that point in time. The makeup of the American portion of the student body was changing as well. Until the late 1960s, the Americans in the school had consisted mainly of children of missionaries, diplomats and corporate businessmen. Many in the new group pouring into the school were products of the oil industry, the sons and daughters of blue-collar workers, primarily from Texas and Louisiana. Incorporating this new diversity into the school would prove to be a great challenge. The first decade at King's Road saw a distinct change in the teaching staff. By 1963, 40 percent of the staff was Singaporean, 40 percent was drawn from trailing spouses in the American community and 20 percent from trailing spouses in the greater expatriate community. While the Singaporeans provided continuity and covered some of the specialized subjects, the school was dependent on a highly transient community for the bulk of its teachers. There was a growing sentiment that American teachers needed to be recruited to bring current American practices to the school and to fill the specialized positions that could not be filled locally, as well as to provide a more stable staff. A new category of teacher was created in 1964 - the foreign hire - a teacher from outside Singapore with expatriOpposite: The Balestier Gym was officially opened in 1968 and for the first time SAS basketball and volleyball teams could play indoors. The scoreboard at the far end was built by students. Event shown is a student/faculty game in the early 1970s. Above right: July 1967. SAS students win American Club bowling championship with USIA Director Bert McKee. From left: Jim Kirkman, Ernie Wong, Bert McKee, Ambassador Galbraith, Russ Ng, Jim Baker
ate benefits, such as a housing allowance. The first of these foreign hires were Keith and Rothi Miller, hired to teach math and girls PE. A handful of others were brought in, their salaries and benefits covered from U.S. State Department funds. In 1968, most State Department funds dried up. One reason was that Singapore no longer allowed its citizens to attend international schools, and some of the funds had been from accounts that used local attendance as a prerequisite. Funds from other State Department sources were not available because they were being diverted to ISB and TAS. Both schools had rising numbers of military dependents and, as a result, better access to available government funds. In spite of this the school continued to hire overseas, and by 1971 there were 33 foreign hire teachers on staff. Singaporeans continued to be hired and to make important contributions to the school. Michelle Ricketts, C. T. Phua and Myrtle Sharma were brought on board in 1962 and 1963, and both would give over 30 years service to the school. Atma Singh was hired to teach math in 1967 and worked at SAS for 28 years. Magdalene Lie, Farida Mallal and Pauline Ashness, all hired in the late sixties and early seventies, continued to work for the school right into the new millennium. While the new school improved curricular opportunities with new science labs and classrooms, it also opened up new vistas for SAS students in their school life outside the classroom. The new auditorium had a real stage, with changing rooms and makeup areas, a far cry from the performance area on the front lawn at Rochalie Drive. Betty Walton, a sixth grade teacher, established a drama program and directed the first SAS play to be performed on a stage. The Importance of Being Earnest in 1963 was followed by The Man Who Came to Dinner in 1964. Both plays were community supported as were most of the school plays in the 1960s. The American Association, American Women's Auxiliary (now American
Above left: Junior â€” senior prom 1966 at the Cockpit Hotel. From left: Craig Capen, Karol Tice, Jim Baker, Leslie Stevens, Ken Stoehrman, Diane Fitzwater.
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"The Abrahams taught me precision in the use of the English language. That's why I've succeeded as an international lawyer. " Cliff Groen (SAS '64)
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Women's Association), PTA and ad hoc community committees provided most of the funds and support. From 1965 to 1981, the direction of the drama program came from the high school English department. The first director was Molly Neville, who expanded and improved the program to the point where, in 1968, two major productions were performed. Neville, a native of New Zealand, taught at the school for most of the 1960s. A popular teacher, she also coached girls hockey in addition to her drama activities, and organized lively student discussion groups on literature and current events. The existence of the drama program as an adjunct of the English department meant that until the 1980s, the fortunes of SAS drama would rise and fall according to teacher interest and staffing requirements, making it difficult to establish continuity. The new auditorium also acted as an active social center for SAS students. School dances soon proliferated, including a Sadie Hawkins dance, Christmas Ball and Valentine's Day dance. It was a popular venue for after-school movies, which were rented from M G M and other film distributors. It also held a badminton court and hosted indoor sports competitions. The new school's food service began with a small snack bar that sold hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks. It was managed by the Student Council with the help of PTA parents. Student volunteers manned the counter and cash register. Kids were overjoyed to have a place to eat
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and to congregate on campus and business boomed. The snack bar did not make much of a profit, probably because it was managed by students whose customers were their friends - not the best business model. In 1965, a cafeteria was built, and this time it was turned over to professionals. Ho Tee Jam and his son, Ho Juan Sin, had been caterers for the British military. Why does SAS have fish every Friday to this day? Because the military served fish every Friday. The new cafeteria provided more variety, better food and the establishment of an enduring SAS institution — the H o family, which includes another brother, Hoe Juan Jok, wives and grandchildren. Numerous SAS graduates have fond memories of Ho's curry, Ho's sweet and sour, and Ho's szechuan chicken. SAS alumni have the unique distinction of remembering school food with pleasure. Not many schools in the United States could make such claims of their cafeterias.
Above: The cast of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1964), the second play produced on the new stage at King's Road. From left, standing — Ken Stoehrman, Lincoln Catchings, John Saxton, unidentified, Lee Zweifel, Linda Cook, Betsy Snead, Barby Espey, Astrid Scheel, Mrs. Betty Walton, Fielden Lundy, Ernest Glass, Barb Green, Giselle Fitch, unidentified, Frank Trani, unidentified. Front — Charles Glass, Loretta Trani, John Snead, Anette Shiro, Steven Sestanovich, Angela Dobson.
"SAS completely altered my life and opportunities for the better. " Joubert Kristoffersen (SAS '66)
"Mr. Abraham was an excellent math teacher, and he gave me confidence in that subject. Coach Kasi used to stand in the middle of the track and yell, 'Go, little one, go!'" Jane Svoboda (SAS '65) THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 59
Opposite: Track and field varsity team runs against local high schools in the 1966 Singapore Schools championship. Pictured from SAS are Jim Baker and Rick Gadbois.
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King's Road also created a new world for the SAS sports program. The Eagles now participated in the Bukit Timah District of the Singapore Schools Leagues. For the boys, this meant competing with two of the powerhouses of school sports, Chinese High School and Anglo-Chinese School. Another school in the district was Boys Town, a vocational school for kids at risk. For most of the 1960s, one of the most intense and exciting high school rivalries in Singapore was between the Boys Town Stars and the SAS Eagles in fast pitch softball. A Canadian brother had introduced the sport to Boys Town in 1960, and they played their first game against SAS in 1961. SAS won that first game but did not win again until 1966. Boys Town embraced the game, and when the Eagles played at Boys Town, every single student from Boys Town attended. SAS brought cheerleaders to the first game, and by the next year Boys Town had cheerleaders as well. It was the poor kids against the rich kids. From 1961-1965 every game was close, but somehow Boys
Town had the key hit or made the great play to win the day. Every Eagle who played during this time remembers Boys Town because, 9 times out of 10, whichever team won that game also won the district and national championships. In 1968 a team came along that ended the Boys Town supremacy and established itself as the team of the decade. In that year the SAS boys softball team won the junior varsity national championship, giving SAS its first national team win. The next year most of the same boys followed this up with a varsity national championship. That championship contest was a game to remember. The regulation seven-inning game stretched into 17 nail-biting innings with SAS winning by a home run in the bottom of the seventeenth. The second year at King's Road represented a total sea change in sports when a full-time qualified PE teacher and athletic director was hired â€” S. Kasinathan. "Coach" or "Coach Kasi" opened whole new vistas for SAS
Opposite: Basketball game against ISB 1965. Above: The cheerleaders seeing off the SAS team, seen here with Coach Kasi, heading off on the long trip to Bangkok for the SAS-ISB games.
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"Because we all knew our time together was limited, there was an unspoken poignancy to relationships, a wistfulness that I believed then, and now, is uncommon at that age — the knowledge that our time together is short. It's a lesson that has served me well throughout
Above: The 1969 Championship softball team.
Opposite right: SAS cheerleaders 1963. Back — Cindy Boydstun, Lila Donhauser, Cherie Phillips. Middle — Ann Rountree. Front — Marsha Cook.
Doug Thurman (SAS '68)
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Opposite left: LIDO on Orchard Road was a popular entertainment spot for SAS students to see the "latest" films. (Photo courtesy National Archives of Singapore.)
athletes and continued to do so for 20 years. A native of Sri Lanka, into after-school activities, especially between September and December, Kasinathan was a graduate of Springfield College in Massachusetts. He when Singaporean students were studying for exams and not available to had the rare distinction of having represented three different countries play sports, in sports â€” Sri Lanka in rugby, the United States as a member of the national collegiate all star soccer team and Singapore in cricket. Every The high point of the year for SAS sports and also for ISB sports was their student who played sports at SAS between 1963 and 1983 has a story annual competition in April. Throughout the 1960s, basketball, volleyabout "Coach." ball, softball, and track and field were the regular sports played. Badminton, table tennis, bowling, and cross-country came and went. The proThe sports program expanded dramatically. Field hockey for girls, swim- gram settled in the late 1960s with soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, ming for boys and girls, the first serious track and field team, and junior and track and field as part of the SAS-ISB games. For the entire decade, varsity teams were all added. Kasi's great passion was soccer, and the first ISB was a much larger school than SAS. The Vietnam War had increased team took to the field in 1968. By the following year, SAS played in the the American presence in Thailand dramatically, and ISB had large numnational semi-finals, quite a feat in football-mad Singapore. bers of military dependents. The school peaked with 3,300 students in 1968. Given that ISB was over three times the size of SAS, it was incredAt this time, a house system was established for intramural competition. ible how competitive the games were. Victory usually came down to one The high school and junior high school were divided into four teams or two sports, and SAS managed a tie in 1963 when debate was included â€” the Mohawks, Apaches, Navajos and Pawnees. For about a decade the in the competitions. The size discrepancy made SAS's first overall victory intramural competitions drew most students in some way or another in 1969 even more impressive.
THE MOVE TO KING'S ROAD 65
The Singapore Schools Sports Council games were of special importance to girl athletes because until the end of the decade, the girls were not included in the Bangkok competition. SAS had girls teams in three age groups and they had considerable success, winning many more district titles than the boys in the 1960s. They were powers in swimming, softball, track and field, and volleyball.
Above left: 1962-63 Varsity softball team. Above right: 1964-65 Varsity softball team. Back left is Charles Stoehrman, chairman of the school board. Opposite: Coronation Road Kampung in the early 1960s. (Photo courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.)
Originally, SAS did not want girls to participate in the Bangkok Games. As early as 1964, Bangkok had proposed including girls in the games, but the SAS school board rejected the proposal. There were no budgetary considerations and the games were played during school holidays. Thus the rejection had to come from a fear of their daughters traveling to Bangkok, where there were large numbers of U.S. servicemen. In 1969 it was finally agreed that the girls could compete. The same year the girls were equal partners in the inaugural SAS-ISKL Games.
"At that time the school was very much a family thing and a community thing in that both parents and non-parents were involved. There was a sense of intimacy, of belonging. It was small town fun. However the things we had to deal with as a board were not funny. We were making professional decisions about curriculum and the selection of teachers." Betty Snead School Board, PTA, Director Methodist Hostel
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"Biology with Mr. Donaldson was so different from biology in the States. We classified coral by spending a lot of time snorkeling and diving on islands. We performed experiments in which we developed our own hypotheses and tested them. I trained fish to differentiate between red and green. I really enjoyed school." Debbie von Platen (SAS '69)
NATION BUILDING The 1970s were a pivotal decade for Singapore. Along with Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, Singapore became one of the "tiger" economies of Asia. Many described the incredible economic growth as the Asian economic miracle. For a century Singapore had been the commercial and financial center of Southeast Asia, and its port was easily the most important. The policies and actions of the PAP government in the late 1960s and early 1970s had created the environment to lift living standards tor all citizens by inducing large-scale foreign investment. Singapore had plowed huge sums of money into building a modern economic infrastructure to draw these foreign investors and businessmen. Its port, airport facilities, and communications systems were unmatched in the region and were continually upgraded. As a result, many companies established their regional Asia headquarters in Singapore. In manufacturing, the Economic Development Board convinced American and other foreign businesses that it would do whatever was necessary to entice them to Singapore and that their needs would be met efficiently and quickly. Contrasted with the governments of Singapore's neighboring countries, its efficiency and honesty were important factors in attracting investors. In the eyes of Singapore's leaders, none of these efforts would succeed unless there was political and social stability in the republic. To this end they entered into a social contract with the people of Singapore. In essence, the unwritten social contract was that citizens would give up some of the "rights of the individual" that are associated with a liberal democ-
racy in exchange tor a prosperous economy and high living standards. Singaporeans accepted detention without trial, and gave up rights such as trial by jury, the right to strike, and freedom of the press. Most Singaporeans accepted these changes because the government was delivering on its part of the social contract â€” a safe society and rapid economic growth.
Some of Singapore's leaders saw the influence of Western popular culture as a downside of the country's rapid growth and modernization. When you invite the world into your society, not everything that comes with this presence is desirable. Singapore aspired to become a global city and was dependent on Western capital and markets as a result, but Western popular culture came along with closer economic ties to countries such as the United States. Some themes of popular Western culture at this time â€” self-gratification, experimenting with drugs and sex, living for the moment, and challenging the establishment - were the antitheses of the values that the republic wanted to instill in its young people. Singapore wanted its young to be disciplined, to save money, to work hard, and to sacrifice for the future. In the early 1970s, Singapore launched a campaign against "hippy culture," which included tight censorship of music and movies, especially those in which drug use was involved or tolerated. Males with long hair were banned from entering the country until their hair was cut. In government offices, males with long hair were sent to the back of the line, and some were given haircuts on the spot. Discotheques with live music were closed down because they were seen as breeding grounds for the drug trade. In 1976, Singapore instituted some of the toughest penalties in the world for drug trafficking, including mandatory death penalties for possession of what in the West were considered relatively small amounts of hard drugs and marijuana.
The following gives some background for the concerns that Singapore had about youth culture at the beginning of the 1970s and puts some of the problems the school faced at that time into proper context with the environment in which expatriates lived. Extract of speech by parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education, Inche Mohd. Ghezali Ismail, on "Education in Singapore" to the 90 teachers of SAS at the school's auditorium on King's Road on September 22, 1970: "As a developing country, we can't afford to have our young people living unproductively, adopting hippie culture, and becoming drug addicts, because not only will they become parasites but the source of social and economic problems of the State. We are too small a country to allow such craze to develop. On the other hand they need not necessarily be red guards, but they all must learn the good qualities of successful nations like being hard working, self reliant and being economically productive. That is the background that shapes our educational policy. " (extract courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore)
"The best thing about the school was the attitude of a true multicultural community where we all lived while attending a college prep school in an incredibly beautiful part of the world. We were all treated as adults. Some of us cherished that station while many abused it. " Mike Sullivan (SAS '71)
Previous page (left): The Ulu Pandan campus after its expansion at the end of the 1970s. Previous page (right): The American Club, undergoing renovations in 1971, was an important gathering place for American families and for SAS students. Opposite: The American Club pool in the 1970s. Above: Singapore River, 1970.
The Singapore government's campaign against negative Western culture placed young expatriates on the wrong side of nation building. The Western popular culture that displeased the authorities was their culture, and they were plugged into it as never before. Jet travel and the revised school calendar meant that SAS students were spending the summer holidays in the States and other Western countries and were regularly exposed to "decadent" popular culture. Increasing numbers of new arrivals also reinforced the current views, attitudes and consumption habits of the West. The school itself was becoming more American. As the community and the school grew, the percentage of American students at SAS rose, reaching 70 percent by 1971. In the mid 1960s about half the teachers were Americans. A decade later, as more teachers were hired from the United States, over two-thirds of the school's much larger staff was American. Just like schools in the States and Europe, SAS had to confront the problem of drug abuse. The difference was that SAS had to deal with drug abuse in the context of a larger society that had somewhat different views of crime and punishment. The school dealt with drug problems through education, counseling, extracurricular activities and expulsion if necessary - sending a far different message to the students from the message endorsed by the Singapore government. This in itself probably led to a belief that American school kids faced different levels of accountability than their Singaporean counterparts. Opposite: A sidewalk satay seller 1970. Above left: Making "love letters"for Chinese New Year.
SAS students tended to feel safe, immune from the law, and invulnerable. Risky behavior, such as drug taking and drinking, did not have sufficiently bad consequences to deter many young people. Because of the insular nature of the American community, students were also relatively protected from the criminal justice system. When trouble was brewing, safety was an airplane ride away. Couple this attitude with relative affluence, and it is no wonder that substance abuse was a big problem at SAS for most of the 1970s. For a variety of reasons, drug abuse was a problem in Singapore during this time. The country's rapid social change as a result of economic growth and modernization had weakened traditional social institutions, especially in the Malay community. Singapore was geographically close to the Golden Triangle, a region in Thailand, Burma and Laos that was a booming source for drugs that were increasingly in demand in the West and by U.S. military personnel in Vietnam. Heroin, marijuana and morphine were readily available in Singapore. SAS students were plugged into the popular culture of their home countries and were not immune to the drug experimentation that was taking place in the West. In addition, many drug dealers in Singapore preferred to sell to expatriate youths because they were wealthy and obviously not undercover police. The school recognized that it had a significant drug problem but had difficulty with exposing its students to Singapore laws. SAS introduced urine analysis for suspect students, set up a drug education program, and hired a psychologist. The school's strategy was to identify and eliminate drug usage through education and counseling. If the abuse continued, the school expelled the students rather than turning them over to the police, and hoped that their families would have the good sense to leave Singapore before their children were arrested. Between 1973 and 1976, 68 students were asked to leave the school for drug-related problems.
Above right: "Carpark" hawker stalls on Orchard Road. Opposite Cold Storage.
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"It was a great school because there was a close community amidst much diversity. In fact, the ethnic composition found on campus in 1974 was great preparation for a similar composition where I am now in Silicon Valley." Craig Fiske (SAS 74)
Above top: Student lockers have always provided an informal meeting area. In 1976, lockers were searched for drugs by Singapore police, as a part of the government's crack down on expatriate drug abuse. Lower left: A group of graduates in 1973 preparing for the ceremony.
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The drug problem also prompted the school to fence the campus and post security guards. One alumnus from the time commented that he was not sure whether the fence was to keep outsiders from coming on campus or SAS students from leaving. It was probably both. The local authorities were aware of the drug problem in the American community, but had no great desire to incarcerate the children of the investors who were so important to Singapore's economic growth. Their reticence in arresting SAS students seemed to indicate that the authorities hoped the American community would find ways to deal with the problem. Their patience ran out in 1975, when they put dozens of students
Lower right: Fitzpatrick's â€” one of the more popular shopping spots for expatriates in the 1970s and the first to introduce supermarket convenience to Singapore.
under surveillance. The operation culminated in March 1976, when the police raided the King's Road campus. Drug-sniffing dogs searched the lockers, and 25-30 students were taken into custody. On March 26, the headlines in The Straits Times read "200 of 700 students on drugs in Singapore school." Of the students who were detained, all but one either left the country voluntarily or were deported. The one served a few months in prison.
Singapore government to establish a summer employment program to keep the students constructively occupied. SACAC's efforts were recognized by an award from the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association in late 1976.
Between the actions of both the school and the government, most of the worst offenders were no longer in the country. In addition, the raid had caught the attention of many SAS students and put a big dent in their feelings of invulnerability. The arrests were the turning point in resolving the schools drug problem. Another approach to reducing drug abuse came with the American Association's establishment of the Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC) in 1973. This organization provided counseling and intervention programs for kids who were at risk. It also established a host of activities to help expatriate kids fill their free time constructively. American football became a SACAC program in addition to gymnastics, swimming, basketball and baseball. SACAC also collaborated with the
Above: A student retreat in the mid 1970s. Right: Media coverage of the "DRUG BUST" at SAS.
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"It was an ideal place to grow up. It was safe and we were free to explore and be kids. " Larry Houser (SAS '75)
"I would have more sanity left and had lots less fun if I had gone to a school anywhere else." Patty Strickland (SAS 72)
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In the 1970s, the American community was transformed by a tremendous expansion in the petroleum industry. As long as oil products had been used in Southeast Asia, Singapore had played a central role in storing, shipping and distributing them. After World War II, Singapore grew in importance as a refining center as well, but what took place in the 1960s and 1970s gave the petroleum sector a new definition. By the mid-1970s, American oilmen in Singapore were involved in every aspect of the industry from finding oil to drilling it, refining it and putting it in consumers' tanks. The oil boom made Singapore the "Houston of Asia." In the late 1960s and 1970s, a huge wave of American oil and oil-related companies arrived in Singapore. They came to participate in the oil exploration boom in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. This boom was fed by a change in government in Indonesia (1966) and increases in the price of oil because of global oil crises in 1973 and 1978. For the most part, the concessions to drill for oil in the area were held by major oil companies such as Mobil, Esso, Union, Caltex, Phillips and Conoco, but much of the actual exploration and drilling was subcontracted. Singapore was the logical place for the subcontractors to set up operations. Its central location, port and air facilities, financial and commercial infrastructure, and open business environment were magnets
for these companies, especially when compared with the still-developing infrastructures in the surrounding countries. Since the exploration took place primarily in remote areas, Singapore was also the perfect place to base the families of the oilmen. As the British began to withdraw from the military bases, Singapore offered these extensive facilities to the offshore oil services. The market was wide open, and the companies rushed in. Halliburton, McDermott, Reading and Bates, Brown and Root, Dowell Schlumberger, Oceaneering â€” everyone and anyone who had an interest in oil exploration was soon in Singapore. The boom in oil exploration also contributed to the growth of manufacturing in Singapore. Marathon LeTourneau and Bethlehem Steel were pioneers in establishing Singapore as a center for the construction of oil rigs. The first American oil rig was launched in 1975. McDermott, as well as Reading and Bates, set up production facilities for constructing drilling platforms, wellheads, valves and pipes. Singapore's proximity to the oil fields made it possible to save time on replacement parts and repairs and to offer specialized services to the drillers. This influx of oil-industry Americans remade the American community in Singapore. The twentieth century American community up to this point had consisted of three basic groups â€” corporate businessmen, diplomats and missionaries. They were well-educated, middle class and, except for the missionaries, had social lives that revolved around private clubs and dinner parties in their homes. Their home offices were San Francisco, Los Angeles, Akron, Detroit, New York, Seattle and Philadelphia. Their most popular sports were tennis, golf and Softball.
Opposite top: 1976 class photo in front of the Balestier Gym. Opposite bottom: The Principals House circa 1970. This was the original colonial house existing on the King's Road property and it underwent a variety of changes before its demolition in the mid 1980s.
Above: The senior tree was planted as a seedling when the King's Road campus was developed and became very significant to students as year after year class photos were taken beneath its branches.
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Into this staid community pouted thousands of Americans who were tool pushers, drillers, barge hands and divers. They were "blue collar" workers, mostly from the southern American states. The "oil patch" had arrived in Singapore. The exact number of Americans who lived in Singapore at the height of the oil boom is hard to pin down. Most of those who worked on oil rigs alternated two weeks on the rigs with two weeks on leave in Singapore. Some had wives and children living and studying in Singapore but were paid offshore. Bachelors came and went to the tigs, never really establishing residence anywhere. Based on school enrollment, attendance at community functions such as American football games and Fourth of July celebrations, and rough guesses by those who were in Singapore at the time, there were 5,000 to 7,000 oil-related Americans in Singapore at the peak of the oil boom in the mid 1970s, about half the size of the entire American community.
Left: The Harlem Globetrotters visited the school in 1973 and spent time talking to students across grade levels. Pictured are Eimi Zecha and Sabrina Boutwell. Above: Candy Stripers were one of the earliest of the community service groups in the high school and were active during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Rena Campbell, front, founded the group in the 1968-69 school year. Opposite: The 1976 graduation invitation incorporated Singapore's Merlion.
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"We gave Mr. and Mrs. Abraham such a hard time but we learned so much. " Jill Hopkins (SAS '72)
"The most magical memories of my childhood rest in Singapore. " Stanley Fields (SAS 72)
Muhammad Ali at SAS
"I don't think there are many who came into contact with Mr. Clarke who were not changedfor the better. While strict, he tried to instill in us a healthy respect for the rules, and prepared us for life after SAS. His dedication to the students and the subjects he taught are fondly remembered by all who knew him. He provided a foundation for not only the learning experience but for practical experience in photography, woodworking, drafting and other subjects that I for one still remember, use and can apply even though it has been 27 years since I graduated from SAS!" Greg Rutledge (SAS '78)
In March 1974, Muhammad Ali brought excitement to the SAS campus. He was in Singapore for an exhibition bout, fighting for a comeback after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared him of draft evasion. Guidance counselor Sue Cooper learned that he was staying in the Mandarin Hotel and somehow discovered his room number. She went to his room and invited him to speak at the school. Ali rearranged his schedule and proceeded to entrance the entire student body. He recited his unique version of poetry â€” Ali was one of the first rappers â€”for an hour, and when the bell rang to end the school day, no one in the un-air-conditioned gymnasium moved until he was finished. Once he was done with the students, he visited with the custodians, giving them memories to cherish as well. After his fight that night, Ali invited a group of 7 or 8 SAS teachers back to his hotel. He cleared the hotel coffee shop for his private party and entertained the teachers.
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By the fall of 1971, the King's Road campus contained only grades 7-12. Grades K-6 were in temporary quarters in the former British military's Alexandra Junior School and nearby Gillman Barracks. The arrangement lasted for two years, while grades K-8 awaited the completion of the new campus at Ulu Pandan. Dr Jack McLeod guided the school through this transition period. Like James Aven before him, McLeod was instrumental in building a new school but never really led the school he built. Dr John Plank, an administrator with 25 years' experience in California public schools, followed McLeod. In 1973, the Ulu Pandan Campus opened for grades K-8. King's Road, only a decade old, became the high school campus and remained so for over 20 years. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the demographics of the school had changed dramatically. The oil boom brought an entirely different kind of
student into the school. By 1976, 45 percent of the students came from the states of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Many came from public schools that were far different from the college prep Singapore American School. Other students were the products of many schools as their families had followed the ups and downs of oil exploration around the world.
Opposite: The eagle emblem was a student project completed in the late 1970s, sponsored by the art department and the varsity club. Until campus redevelopment in the mid 1980s it could be clearly seen from many parts of the campus and was sometimes the object of pranks by visiting teams. Above: The Alexandra campus, although short-lived, was well-liked by teachers because of its small size.
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Above: An IGE classroom at Ulu Pandan, designed to hold about 120 students in an open environment. Left: Prince's Hotel Garni The Prince's Hotel Garni is particularly memorable because of a film by Peter Bogdanovitch, "Saint Jack," that was made in Singapore and released in 1979. Much of the footage was filmed at the hotel and a number of SAS students were cast as extras, mainly playing GI's. SAS high school deputy principal, Charles Longbottom, music teacher, Brian Leonard, and two students, Andy Nickson and Keith Masavage had credited roles in the movie. Leonard actually went on to be cast in three other moves over the next decade or so. The Prince's Hotel Garni was demolished to make way for the Crown Prince Hotel, which was only recently renamed to remove "Prince" from its official title. (Photo Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore)
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curriculum. On the surface, this seemed to be a perfectly reasonable way to deal with the school's unique student body. Unlike the high school, the junior grades had to deal with changing demographics while on the move. First K-6 moved to Alexandra and Gillman, and then K-8 moved to the new campus at Ulu Pandan. Given the temporary nature of their sojourn at Alexandra, it is interesting that teachers who worked there have positive memories of it. Apparently, the smaller size of the schools and the adversity that they faced by moving twice in three years created an esprit de corps among them. The Alexandra school was in appealing physical surroundings. Pat Choo recalls, "The elementary upper grades were up the hill in the jungle. Creepy animals, chameleons, snakes, squirrels and monkeys were regular visitors to the school. One teacher, Eric Cooper, brought his pet gibbon, Jimmy, to join the animal kingdom. It was a fantastic place for nature lovers, and with fresh air! "The lower grades were down the hill at Gillman, next to a Singapore Army camp. Occasionally, we heard the 'Sound of Music,' the drums and army boots. The soldiers were marching outside the school. There was much excitement in the classes and everyone rushed out to witness the parade. It was fun!" While at Alexandra, the school began experimenting with a new approach to organizing, grading and promoting students â€” a system known as Individually Guided Education (IGE). The constant turnover of students and their diversity of backgrounds had convinced the school leaders that the way to meet these challenges was through individualizing the
IGE was more than individualization; it was a system on which to organize a school both physically and in terms of its instruction and curriculum. Rather than group kids in the traditional manner, by age and grade, multi-age communities were set up to encourage students to learn at their own pace, based on their individual abilities to master skills and concepts. The new school at Ulu Pandan was designed with this philosophy in mind. There were no traditional classrooms, but rather learning communities without walls. Each community was the size of about six normal classrooms and supported 120-140 students and a team of teachers. Dr Robert Anderson from the Harvard School of Education was hired to introduce IGE and train teachers to implement the system. Hong Kong International School (HKIS), International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), and Jakarta International School/Joint Embassy School (JIS) also bought into the concept and, as a result, an IGE coordinator for the area was hired and based at SAS. From 1975 to 1979, Bonnie Leister held this position and traveled among the four schools to help them grapple with the challenges of the program. While IGE as a concept had great merit, its successful implementation faced serious obstacles at SAS and the other schools. The program required teachers to guide groups of kids without the structure of a traditional, self-contained classroom. While most good teachers individualized naturally, this was a system that required the entire learning community to keep records, share responsibilities, and work as a unit according to a Above: Construction of the Ulu Pandan campus in 1972. The distinctive podstructure of the design can already be seen taking shape.
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particular method. The high teacher turnover made this a difficult task. the next four or five years, IGE was phased out and replaced with classes New teachers â€” at the beginning of the year and sometimes in the middle that looked like a traditional school. By 1982, IGE was a memory, but â€” were asked not just to teach a grade but also to integrate into a group of Johnson was not. Ulu Pandan named its second gymnasium after her in teachers. The program required incredible amounts of teacher prepara1983. tion and record keeping, which was exacerbated by a constantly revolving door of students. In the 1970s, the elementary teachers at SAS, HKIS, Many teachers who worked at SAS during those years believe that IGE ISKL and JIS more than earned their salaries. The school at Ulu Pandan had much worth in its attempt to individualize. Michelle Ricketts, who had to institute a half-day for students every Wednesday so that teachers taught at SAS both before and after IGE, maintains that even though the could catch up with the demands of the program. system was flawed, teachers learned valuable lessons in individualizing their instruction. When the school moved away from the open concept, Parents had a difficult time adjusting to IGE as well. It was an unfamiliar the teachers successfully incorporated much of what they learned into system of education with little understood assessment tools and positive their self-contained classrooms. results. Learning communities seemed chaotic, and many parents could not relate to what they saw. Adjustment was difficult for students too, as they came from traditional classroom settings. Also, there were kids who needed the structure and comfort of a self-contained classroom. Many teachers at that time point to the arrival of Helen Johnson as Ulu Pandan principal in 1976 as an important milestone. A plain-spoken, experienced public school administrator, Johnson, in teacher Kathy Tan's words "made sense of the place." IGE was just not working because of the teacher time expended, discontent in the community, and the limited results. (Math scores on standardized tests actually went down during this period.) Johnson led the school back to a degree of normality. In 1976, one of the communities was divided into self-contained, single-grade classrooms to accommodate the children who needed more structure. Over
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Above (left): Opening day at Ulu Pandan. The "learning communities" were named after planets and Greek letters, rather than labeling classrooms with grade levels. Above (right): The Ulu Pandan library was named after Robert A. Anderson, a board member who had died before the opening and who had been instrumental in planning the campus. Opposite: The program from the official opening of the Ulu Pandan campus.
"SAS gave me a view of life I treasure. I grew up at SAS and it enhanced my life in many ways." Linda Chambers (SAS '72)
"Perhaps because they have moved halfway around the world, the children seem to me to be more flexible in their attitudes, more accepting and open to new ideas and excited about the school." Helen Johnson Ulu Pandan Principal
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The changing student body and the splitting of the school had a direct impact on the culture and nature of the King's Road campus. Its future identity would be shaped by the fact that it was now a high school. Facilities no longer had to be shared with small children. Many decisions about programs and scheduling could now be made without the needs of other grades as factors. New classroom space offered opportunities for curricular changes. Beyond this though was the camaraderie that comes with being an American high school â€” albeit one in Singapore. In terms of its curriculum, SAS maintained its focus as a college preparatory school. Many of the new parents who brought their kids from non-college prep schools were appreciative of the quality of the school and supportive of its goals both financially and through volunteering their time. Adjustments in the curriculum had to be made though. Until the early 1970s, virtually every graduating senior was college bound, but during the mid 1970s the number dropped to around 75 percent. It was still a school that was driven by college acceptance, but one in need of a more diverse curriculum. In the early 1970s, the high school began to offer woodshop, electronics, drafting, accounting, music and photography â€” a wider curriculum for a more diverse student body. The industrial and business arts departOpposite: Kathy Tan (SAS '67) joined the school us an elementary teacher at ments were born. Mobil joined with the school to offer an industrial the Ulu Pandan campus in 1973. arts experience at its refinery. Students learned to use tools, weld, drive industrial vehicles, and work and learn alongside Singaporeans. Begun Top: The Johnson bench at the King's Road campus was typical of memoraas an after-school program for 30 kids, within a couple of years enrollbilia that became part of the school history. Although most were moved to the ment had grown to 80. new campus when it was built in 1996, some, like the concrete benches, did not survive the transition. Right: Some of the class of 1976.
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"It's nice to see a documentary on television about the jungle, but actually experiencing it is a different story." Darcy Villeneuve (SAS '82)
"At first we all felt very uncomfortable as if we were invading the Dyaks privacy. Soon things got better and we were accepted as part of the family. Even though they couldn't speak English and only a few of us knew Malay, some of us bargained to buy Dyak spears and parangs. Everywhere we went we were the center of attraction. This was a surprise and unusual role since we thought of the natives as picturesque and different." Tom Howes (SAS '78) On the Interim Semester â€” Longhouse in Sarawak
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Opposite (right): Interim Semester in Thailand. The trip was marred by arrests (left) which made Interim a controversial program. Opposite (left): Local excursions were also part of the Interim Semester program. This group takes off from the Mersing shore to a nearby island.
As before, the changes in the school were mirror images of changes in Singapore. As the nation grew and prospered, so did SAS. Rapid change places great stress on civil society, infrastructure, and traditions, and it did so at SAS. Both Singapore and SAS suffered growing pains. The physical division of the school, the changing student body, and social change in Singapore and the United States had important ramifications for the SAS community. There was a growing feeling among many at the school that the changes taking place in Singapore and in the American community were isolating SAS students from traditional Asia. Interim Semester was born out of this concern. In the 1972-73 school year, first semester ended at the winter break, and the high school took a week between the semesters for programs that taught students about Southeast Asia or about subjects that were not covered in the regular curriculum. Today, Interim Semester is one of the high points for most high school students at SAS, and a program that has become part of the high school's identity.
worldwide. By the end of the decade, the school board and most teachers agreed that the primary emphasis should be on Asia. The 1980 Interim Semester program included the Maldives, New Guinea, Bali, Lake Toba in Sumatra, the Philippines, upriver Sarawak, Taman Negara, jungle survival in Malaysia, India, Nepal, China and Malay kampung living near Malacca. Thousands of former SAS students have vivid memories of these experiences. Graduates, almost to a person, cherish their uniquely-SAS Interim Semester memories. In the first three or four years, Interim had teething problems. Given the challenges the school was facing in Singapore, it was not surprising that when SAS students left the island those problems went with them. Some students were arrested in other countries for drugs, and some abused alcohol. A few students were arrested in Thailand for sacrilege because they sat on a statue of the Buddha and photographed it. These incidents reflected the insular nature of the school and almost brought Interim to an end. In 1975-76, the high school faculty senate voted to end the program. On the school board, a number of members agreed with the teachers. Both groups felt that the program was not worth the disruption of the school year and the headaches it was causing.
In its early years, the primary focus of the Interim Semester courses outside Singapore was on Southeast Asia â€” Thailand, Indonesia, and Ma- Somehow Interim managed to survive. The teachers who were commitlaysia. As Interim became an established part of the school curriculum, ted to keeping it alive spent considerable time developing procedures there was considerable discussion about how far afield students should and guidelines. A divided school board was willing to give the program a go. Some felt that the program should concentrate on Southeast Asia as chance. By the late 1970s, as the school population began to stabilize and originally planned. Others thought Interim ought to include all of Asia, the student body began to move beyond the behavioral problems, Interim while a third school of thought was that the opportunities should be Semester was a virtually untouchable program.
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Until the 1970s, music at the high school was extracurricular. Vocal music had been limited to the Glee Club, which was viewed as a female activity, and there were occasional attempts at rock and roll and school bands. This changed in 1970 when music was brought into the high school curriculum. The school hired Brian Leonard to develop an instrumental music program. Leonard had received much of his music training in the British Armed Forces. At the time he was hired, he was instrumental music advisor to the Singapore Ministry of Education. The following year, Jim Perry, a choral director from the United States, came to SAS. He and Leonard built the foundation of the school's massive music program. The two charismatic teachers attracted incredible numbers of students â€” though some said Leonard was more eccentric than charismatic. Within a year, the high school had a concert choir with 50 students, a high school chorus with another 50 students, and a junior high chorus with 70 students. The instrumental groups included a concert band, a high school band and a junior high school band, some 120 students in total.
In 1972, the band, choir and drama club joined forces to produce a full musical â€” Oklahoma â€” beginning a tradition of annual musical performances. The most dramatic of these school performances was South Pacific in 1973. It was performed outdoors at King's Road in the central open-air space around a banyan tree, while the audience watched from the second and third floor balconies of the surrounding buildings. Perry and Leonard took the choir and selected musicians, 44 students in all, to the United States in 1974. They performed at an Atlanta Braves game and sang on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building, at schools and in churches. Cikgu Eshan, the Malay language teacher, choreographed an Asian dance segment that was part of the show as well. Perry left SAS in 1974, but Leonard carried on as vocal and instrumental director until 1978. Not only was the school's music program solidly established, but it had also energized the greater American community and led to later musical productions by the American Association. Opposite and above: "South Pacific,"performed outdoors in 1973, was one of the most memorable theater events in the school's history.
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"Not all Americans are as barbaric as my grandmother warned me they were. " Brian Leonard High School Music Opposite: Sports teams in the early 1970s made Teacher a significant impact on local press. Left: Jim Perry (top) and Brian Leonard (bottom) made great strides in establishing a credible music program at the school in the early 1970s.
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High School in the semi-finals and ending its string of 11 straight championships. The growth of the school had an inevitable impact on the quality of SAS high school sports teams. Prior to the 1970s, SAS had seen some individual success at national and even international levels. Prathin Pattabongse (SAS '63) represented Thailand in the 1962 Asian Games in badminton, where she won silver and bronze medals. Prathin was also Singapore Schools champion for two years. Fred McMurray (SAS '66) and Jackie Armstrong (SAS '67) set national records in track and field. Sidney Keenan (SAS '72) broke Singapore swimming records and represented Singapore in the Commonwealth Games. Margaret Wong (SAS '66) won the Singapore Junior Tennis championship, and Jimmy Stewart (SAS '73) won the Singapore Amateur Golf championships three times. In the 1970s, because of its growing size, SAS was becoming a force to be reckoned with in team sports other than its traditional strength, softball. Soccer, basketball, rugby and girls field hockey all grew to be successful school sports. Two sports in particular made an impact on high school competition in Singapore - basketball and rugby. In the 1971-72 school year, the boys B division basketball team won SAS's first non-softball national championship. That same year the boys varsity basketball team was eliminated from the final rounds of the national championship because of a near riot they caused. Playing on an outdoor public court against Catholic High, the game drew a large crowd from the surrounding H D B apartments. The game was close and physical. When an SAS player retaliated against his opponent and missed, hitting an official, the crowd became incensed. The boys had to literally run for the bus in a hail of abuse and anger. For a couple of days it was a major item in the sports pages. The following year, the SAS team redeemed itself by winning the national championship, knocking off Chung Cheng
The boys rugby team, in its first year of competition, won the national seven-a-side championship in 1971-72. They beat traditional powers such as Raffles and St Andrews along the way. In 1972-73, the team made it to the national 15-a-side final game. The game was to take place after the boys basketball final. During that basketball game, the attention SAS received was not just from their success, but from the length of the hair of the SAS players. Successful longhaired athletes did not fit well with the model that Singapore wanted for its youth. The Singapore Schools Sports Council told the rugby team that they had to cut their hair before they played in the championship. Most of the team refused and as a result SAS had to forfeit the championship, and was ejected from the council's leagues. SAS was readmitted to the Singapore Schools Sports Council leagues in 1975 on the condition that Eagle athletes conform to the hair code for Singapore schools. By that time, however, the school's athletic program had moved in a new direction, and the Singapore league was never again as important to SAS competition as it had been from 1962 to 1973. In addition, the SAS school calendar, holidays, sports schedules and Interim Semester conflicted with those of the Singapore schools. Opposite: Baker returned in 1971 to teach at SAS, after graduating in 1966. As a young teacher he also coached basketball in a particularly memorable time for the sport. He is shown here being carried by the boisterous and victorious team after winning the first varsity national championship in 1973, defeating Chung Cheng high school and ending its 11-year reign. Above: The rugby team was equally successful but forfeited the championship due to the team's refusal to cut their hair.
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Left top: Softball 1970, in front of the new Balestier Gym. Left bottom: Girls field hockey was a popular and competitive varsity sport in the 1970s. At the right side, inthe foreground is Julie Nickson, who later appeared in a Rambo film with Sylvester Stalloneâ€”Rambo: First Blood Part II. She has since acted in a number of films. Opposite right: Girls volleyball, 1972. Opposite left: Games were popular and well attended by both the American community and local school fans, as can be seen at this outdoor basketball game at Chung Cheng high school.
"If I had lived in Ohio all my life I wouldn't have been able to meet new people and get along in a new situation as I did in Dallas [at the Miss Teenage America contest]. I think moving around has helped me develop the confidence to go anywhere. " Kara Glover (SAS '79)
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A major reason that SAS did not compete as frequently with local schools was the increase in exchanges and tournaments with other international schools. In addition to the annual Bangkok games, SAS had established annual exchanges with ISKL in 1969 and the Joint Embassy School (now JIS) in Jakarta in 1973. Both exchanges included girls teams. Singapore International School (formerly St. John's Comprehensive, and United World College today) was included in the Jakarta school competitions, which also incorporated rugby. All of these exchanges followed the SAS-ISB format. The visiting team brought 20 or so kids who each played four or five sports. This meant that SAS did not have traditional seasons for sports. Most were played yearround, and many athletes played two or three sports at a time. It was an incredible experience for the athletes who could play several sports, but many students who were good athletes in only one sport were excluded. Nonetheless, a limited school budget and tradition kept the system going through the 1970s. One important difference in these new exchanges was that, from their inception, the girls teams were equal partners.
In 1973, SAS basketball teams began to play in the Hong Kong International School annual Christmas tournament. At that tournament, SAS played against International School Manila (ISM) for the first time, and the following year against Taipei American School (TAS). (IASAS fans should note that SAS beat both ISM and TAS in these first encounters.)
Other competitions evolved in some individual sports. In 1971, SAS inaugurated the Christmas Basketball Tournament, which was a high point on the athletic calendar for the next decade. The Jakarta school became a regular participant, and ISKL, UWC, and the Dalat School in Penang played in some of the tournaments; but over half the teams were drawn from Singapore high schools. In 1975, boys and girls seven-a-side soccer was added to the Christmas tournament, and ISKL and Jakarta participated in this as well.
In 1978, ISKL initiated an annual soccer tournament that included SAS, ISB and the Dalat School in the first single-sport expatriate tournament in the area. The games were held during the northeast monsoon, and the muddy conditions led to slippery slides, spills and much comedy. The annual Bangkok Games continued in their traditional format until 1979, when ISKL joined SAS and ISB, and the Triangular Games were formed. For a week each year, the three schools played boys and girls soccer, softball, basketball and volleyball.
After 1974, the Ulu Pandan gymnasium became the venue for home games. It had considerably more seating and space, and throughout the 1970s, the games were well attended and included a spirit band. In the late 1970s, it was not unusual to have 1,000 people attend high school basketball games. There were a number of reasons for the large crowds, but the most important reason was that SAS produced some of its finest boys and girls basketball teams between 1978 and 1980.
Coordinating all these competitions had become a logistical nightmare, and the international schools, under the prodding of ISKL Superintendent Gail Schoppert and with the support of SAS Superintendent Mel Kuhbander, moved to bring some sanity to their athletic programs. O u t of their efforts came IASAS â€” the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools â€” formed in 1982. The founding members were SAS, ISB, ISKL and JIS.
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"With SAS teaching languages of the local people, some of us had the opportunity to put what we learned into direct practice as we communicated with the people personally. " Sam Brodland (SAS '75)
Opposite: Coach Kasi watches the action amidst a horde of young fans from the competing team at a volleyball game in 1973. Above: The basketball team on its way to Hong Kongfor the HKIS Christmas tournament in 1973. The long hair of the players was a source of irritation to Singapore officials and was the cause of SAS eventually being oustedfrom the local league, a condition that lastedfor two years.
American Football â€” a Singapore Phenomenon Barry Newman, Singapore representative for the Wall Street Journal, described the football program in the Singapore American newspaper in 1976: "It's complete with chaw tobacco, chili with raw onions, and portable toilets. People are walking around the grandstand in cutoff jeans and T-shirts and those golf hats the tractor companies hand out. Cheerleaders wearing cowgirl outfits and waving pompoms are going through tricky routines. On the field, the Aggies and the Boilermakers, in professional football finery, are tearing away at each other while striped-shirted officials blow their whistles and fling their penalty flags. "It used to be said in this part of the world that only mad dogs and Englishmen went out in the midday sun... On Ulu Pandan field this blazing afternoon, there isn't a known Englishman or any mad dog in sightâ€”-just one basset hound (the Aggie mascot) and hundreds of whooping Americans."
The lives of young Americans at this time were also enriched by a number of activities generated from within the American community. In terms of sheer numbers and community resources, no school program could match the American football program that was established primarily by an enthusiastic group of "oil patch" parents. The nature of the community had taken on a much more Southern accent that dictated which new activities would be popular. Football is no doubt popular in the United States, but in the Singapore American community of the 1970s, it quickly became a passion. Football is an expensive sport, but the parents negotiated with SAS for permission to build a full-size field on the Ulu Pandan campus with stands and lights, an announcer's booth and concession stands. This required hundreds of thousands of dollars. The yearly operating budget of the league ranged between $150,000 and $200,000, beyond the costs of uniforms and gear for the kids. Such prohibitive costs would have discouraged the establishment of such a league, but the oil service companies bankrolled the program. Their contributions and $40,000-$50,000 a year in beer sales made the football program possible. Within a few years, SACAC took over the administration of the football program, but its popularity and success continued to rest in the hands of the parents. For a decade (1975-1985), football was the largest program in the American community. The number of people involved in the program was nothing short of phenomenal. At the different age levels, there were 12 teams each with coaches and staff, cheerleading squads, water girls, and student trainers. In 1978, it was estimated that 500 students were involved, close to a third of the school.
Above left: Community spirit was at its height in the 1970s and 1980s. A tug of war was part of the Fourth of July festivities, held every year at the Ulu Pandan campus until the mid 1990s. Pictured in the center foreground wearing light shorts and dark shirt is Bob Livingston, Chairman of the Board of Governors at the time.
An outgrowth of the football program that also benefited school athletics was the creation of a group of sports medicine trainers. Organized by Jane Bell, a PE teacher at Ulu Pandan, these students were taught first aid skills and taping techniques to assist the coaches. Their service was not confined to the football program as they assisted SAS varsity and junior varsity teams as well. This group proved to be an invaluable asset to both school and community programs. In many ways, football filled a sports need that had arisen with the establishment of the school at Ulu Pandan. When the junior high school was on the King's Road campus, grades 7 and 8 had participated in Singapore age-group sports competitions. In 1967, the junior high softball team made it to the semi-finals of the national championship. The philosophy that Ulu Pandan adopted in the newly created middle school precluded an active interscholastic athletic program. The belief was that competitive inter-school sports were inappropriate to the development of individual self-worth. SACAC football and baseball, and later, basketball, swimming, softball and gymnastics filled the void. The football league began the 1974-75 school year widi two leagues of four teams for kids from grades 4 to 8. The following year a high school league was added. It had four teams â€” the Bulldogs, Oilers, Vikings and Steelers. All three leagues played on a rented field on Dover Road before they moved to Ulu Pandan in 1977. ISKL also established a two-team high school football league. The two leagues played off and on in the 1970s and early 1980s and for a while this was called the Durian Bowl. For a couple of years, Singapore also played against the Jakarta school, but its league was short-lived because Indonesia did not have quality medical facilities for injured athletes. Crowds of 1,200 to 1,500 attended the football games over the weekends. They ate barbecue provided by the Cajun Chefs, a group of oil patch men. Drill teams, cheerleaders and play-by-play commentators completed the picture - American football in the tropics. Above right: Opening ceremonies at the start of the football season 1979 at the Ulu Pandan campus. Football opening ceremonies continue today to be one of the major events of the year at the Woodlands campus, where American football continues to involve hundreds of SAS students.
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This new community provided opportunities, challenges and heartburn for those leading SAS. The nature of the oil exploration community was one of constant movement. Trying to plan for the future in terms of budget and staffing was a Herculean effort. Projections were sheer guesswork. In 1970, the school leaders thought that SAS would reach an enrollment of 2,400 by 1975, and the building plans for Ulu Pandan were based on this number. By 1972, the projection had been reduced to 1,500, and a quarter of the classrooms were eliminated from the plan. The actual number of students who showed up in 1975 was about 1,800. The fluctuations were also dramatic within individual school years. In 1971-72, the school went from 1,658 on opening day to 1,575 in December to 1,675 by June. In 1974-75, the school opened with about 1,700 kids, grew to 1,820 by Christmas and finished the year at 1,952. The school board estimated that there was a 40 percent student turnover each year between 1972 and 1974. The swings in student enrollment played havoc with the school's budget because determining tuition fees sufficient to operate the school was like trying to hit a moving target. It was extremely difficult to keep tuition fees equitable with rising operating costs. Between 1975 and 1981, when the school stabilized, the school fees increased from $1,000 registration, $3,200 tuition and $800 building surcharge to $1,500 registration, $6,400 tuition and $850 building surcharge. In the 1975-76 school year, the tuition had to be raised mid-year, causing an outcry in the community, especially from the many companies that had already budgeted tuition payments for their employees' children.
Above left: Cast members of "Arsenic and Old Lace. " Above right: Shenton Way in the 1970s.
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The fluctuations in the numbers and makeup of the student body were reflected in the teaching staff as well. By the 1970s, there were three distinct groups of teachers at SAS: foreign-hires, trailing spouses, and Singaporeans. Because the school could not find sufficient experienced teachers in the expatriate and Singaporean communities, the number of foreignhire professionals grew throughout the decade to eventually make up 40 percent of the faculty. With a few exceptions, the foreign-hire staff during this time did not stay long. The changing makeup and transience of the student body and dealing with drug problems made teaching a real challenge. At Ulu Pandan, the IGE program demanded a huge commitment of time and paperwork. Another negative aspect for teachers was the rising cost of living, especially in housing. It was difficult for the school board to increase benefits as quickly as the living costs rose, especially when it had already raised the tuition fees in order to hire the expatriate teachers and build new facilities. Some foreign-hires came in the 1970s and made long-term commitments to the school. Ken and Linda Clarke, Mike Norman, Kirk Palmer, Nora Irvin, Bonnie Leister and Diane Peterson were the forerunners of a much larger group that would arrive in the 1980s and would spend most of their careers at SAS. The trailing spouse group of teachers added to the instability of the school faculty. These teachers were married to businessmen, diplomats or missionaries, and their time in Singapore was dependent on the spouse's employment, not their commitment to SAS. A few, such as Rosemary
Above: Spring break, 1974, at a retreat in Chendor, north east coast of Malaysia. Back row from left: Jimmy (Geiser [brother of Jack (wiser (SAS '74)]. Steve Long [brother of Sue Long (SAS '75)], unidentified, Scott Carson (SAS '76), Keith Lindaman (missionary), Terry Slaton (SAS '75), Don Clark (SAS 75), Larry Houser (SAS 75). Front row from left: Jeff Slaton (SAS 76), Bill Frye (SAS 75), unidentified, Mike Payne (SAS 75), unidentified, unidentified, unidentified, J. B. Bowles (SAS 75). [Photo courtesy Sue Long] Farmer, Judy Williamson, Chris Paine and Linda Harley, taught for With the exception of Hawkins, all the children of these early alumni many years, but for the most part this group added to the revolving door teachers also attended and graduated from SAS. David's daughter, Karyn, that seemed to characterize SAS. graduated in 1981; Jim's son, Randy, was the class of 1992; and Kathy's daughters, Anne-Marie and Claire graduated in 1996 and 1998. In later Some Singaporeans and long-term local expatriates did stay and provide years, other alumni taught at the school, including Chris Clarke (SAS continuity during these years - teachers such as Abe and Jolly Abraham, '68) from 1973-1974, Elizabeth Barili (SAS 7 5 ) from 1979 to 1980, Atma Singh, Andree Rajoo, Nat Bava, Mike Burgess, Roby Johnson, Bri- Jenifer Anderson (SAS '84) from 2001-2005, and Vicki Rameker (SAS an Leonard, Kathy Tan, Magdalene Lie, Diane D'aranjo, Farida Mallal, '95) from 2001-2005. and Pauline Ashness. Though a small group, these teachers provided the institutional memory necessary for a school. Each department had two Another group that was key to holding the school together through all or three of these dedicated teachers who carried on traditions. the turmoil of the 1970s was the non-teaching stall". While teachers and administrators tend to come and go in an expatriate school, the local The local hires also contributed to some of the school's headaches when support staff remains constant. The secretaries, custodians, teaching assisthey organized a union in 1972. The benefits for foreign hires had ere- tants, clerks, and bookroom and library staff are vital to making a school ated serious financial inequalities among the staff. The union was de- operate well. SAS was fortunate to have many people who not only filled termined to narrow this gap and recognize the contributions of local these positions but made life-long commitments to the school, hire and Singaporean teachers. Ihe union maintained at the time that it contributed to SASs ability to hire excellent staff because it cajoled the Two individuals in the high school stand out in particular, Bonira Kapel school into increasing salaries. and Azizah Sultan. Since the early 1970s, they have been constants at SAS. In good times and bad, these two individuals always had a smile In the early 1970s, a number of SAS graduates returned to teach at their and a kind word for everyone. They have seen more than ten principals alma mater. In 1971, David Baker (SAS '61), Gail Hawkins (SAS '67) come and go and have eased those principals and the school through each and Jim Baker (SAS '66) joined the staff. David taught social studies for transition. When alumni return to SAS to visit, their first stop is often the a year while completing fieldwork in Malaysia for his dissertation. Gail high school office to see Boni and Azizah because they are involved in so taught third grade for two years. Jim taught social studies for three years, much of the students' lives - Interim Semester, graduation, attendance, and then returned to SAS in 1982 where he continues to teach high lockers and even problems at home. Among the teaching staff, the answer school social studies and to coach debate and track and field. In 1973, to almost any question is "ask Boni" or "ask Azizah." Kathy Saludo Tan (SAS '67) joined the elementary school and is still with the school today.
Picture on these pages (clockwise from top): (I) Rick Silverman teaching Aikido, (2) Boh Dodge visiting the Leprosy Home, (SILRA) (3) Farida Mallal with her 1st grade students, (4) Kirk Palmer reading to primary students during Pumpkin Patch, (5) Joan Adams at her farewell with middle school students, (6) Linda Clarke signing up migrant workers for computer training, a volunteer teaching program that she initiated, so popular that students had to be on hand for crowd control during registrations.
Also at the high school was a trio of custodians whom the students and faculty knew well. Ahmad Rodzi bin Abdul Rahim (Rudi), Abdul Rahim Yahya (Rahim) and Abu Bakar bin Mohd (Bakar) helped make the afterschool activities run. Bakar on occasion might as well have been the assistant athletic director. He kept score, dealt with officials and prepared the equipment for the games. All three understood the complicated logistics of IASAS tournaments, theater performances, and other school activities as well as, or better than, most of the coaches and teachers involved. Participants could depend on these men to make events work right, and their contributions were often greatly acknowledged on awards nights and at closing ceremonies. YusufF bin Almari, the head custodian, was a part of the school from 1959 until 1995- He played a key role at Ulu Pandan, while Rudi was de facto head custodian at King's Road. Both were essential to the smooth running of the school and its many activities.
Above: Singapore River 1970.
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Ann Tan joined the Ulu Pandan support staff in the 1970s. Ann went on to become the superintendent's executive assistant in 1983 and continues to fill that role today. Every superintendent she has worked with has commented on her importance to the school. She is the keeper of the keys, so to speak. Complementing her contributions was Teresa Sim who actually predates Tan, having joined the SAS staff in the 1960s. As the head of the personnel department, Teresa is invaluable not only for the job she does but as a source for the history of the school's personnel policies and guidelines.
"Mrs. Stratton regaled the class with impromptu stories and genuinely cared for her students." Jan Nelson (SAS 74)
"I remember Miss Clark. She was young, smart, athletic and enjoyed teaching. It was a tropical school with great teachers, great curry from Mr. Ho with lifetimefriends who get together every two years." Sally Howes (SAS '77)
participated in some way. The administration had mixed feelings about the productions. The needfor them was a commentary on low morale â€” that the It is interesting to note that in theface of myriad difficulties faced by teachers staff felt it had to go to such lengths to improve it. On the other hand, there during this turbulent decade, they eventually found creative ways to forge a was skepticism that if teachers were so overworked, how could they find time school-wide bond. In 1981 and 1982, the faculty put on two musicals, Oli- to put on musicals? In spite of any controversy, most teachers felt the plays ver! and The Music Man. In their eyes, this was a way to bring the faculty achieved their objectives, together, get to know one another, and create unity. Virtually the entire staff
"In a world that has become more complex, we share a common past which can be remembered but not revisited; a place under the tropical sunshine that was glorious in its time." Stephen Hurst (SAS 74)
"The faculty is really good. It is an extremely youngfaculty and its members like to get involved. " Kevin Long (SAS78) Student Council President
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ingapore in the 1980s and 1990s was virtually unrecognizable to anyone who had lived there in the 1950s and 1960s. Physically the island had been remade. In 1995, when SAS held its first alumni reunion in Singapore, long-time resident and guide Geraldine Lowe led a "what used to be here" tour. Places where people had once lived, shopped, socialized and dined were simply gone. Orchard Road was one-way. The Tanglin stalls were Tanglin Mall. Fitzpatricks, the Satay Club and Gino's were gone, and Bugis Street was a sterile glass-covered, air-conditioned series of boutique shops called Bugis Junction. By the mid 1980s, Singapore was for all practical purposes a developed country. Compared to their neighbors and, in fact, residents of some European countries, Singaporeans enjoyed a standard of living that was surpassed in Asia only by Japan. The island had been transformed. Over three-fourths of the population lived in modern high-rise public-built apartments. Entire new towns had appeared - Bishan, Yishun, Toa Payoh, Tampines and Woodlands. Chinatown was no longer a slum but a refurbished up-market area of shops, offices and restaurants. Traditional Malay kampungs had disappeared. Racial quotas in the new housing estates had broken up the old communities, which had been ethnic enclaves, and Singaporeans lived in racially mixed communities as never before.
Singapore's investment in education had paid great dividends, and it was producing some of the best-educated adults in the world, especially in math and science. The education system was also creating an Englishspeaking nation. Students still learned their mother tongue, but Singapore's lingua franca was English, which added to its appeal for foreign investors, especially Americans.
Arguably the greatest challenge for Singapore in this era came in the middle of the 1980s, when its economy experienced a serious downturn. In the two decades since independence, Singapore had flourished during uninterrupted strong economic growth. In spite of its expulsion from Malaysia, in spite of its lack of domestic resources - other than its location and its people â€” and in spite of the British military withdrawal, Singapore was one of the great post-independence success stories. The recession was especially traumatic because in some ways Singapore's economic success had become part of its national identity.
The recession had a number of origins, including the steep American recession of 1981 to 1983. Economically, when America sneezed Singapore caught a cold. This expression was first used in the 1920s, when the American post World War I recession caused a similar economic contraction in Singapore. At that time, the downturn reflected Singapore's dependence on a prosperous port that exported tin and rubber to American markets. In the 1980s, American investment and the export of goods produced by American companies had created a new dependence on the U.S. economy. Another reason for the recession was that Singapore's rising standard of living made it an increasingly expensive place in which to do business. Land values had skyrocketed as the country prospered and modernized. Homes that cost $50,000-$ 100,000 in the 1960s were worth millions just two decades later. Commercial and residential rentals were among the most expensive in the world. The booming economy had also driven up labor costs significantly and, as a result, many of Singapore's neighbors, especially Thailand and Malaysia, had become more attractive places for investors.
"I call it the black hole in my memory of U.S. trends and the music I missed, but now I know I would never trade it for anything. " Jennifer Vesper (SAS '88)
"Mr. Calabrese trusted me with opportunities to grow." Bill Anderson (SAS '86)
Previous page (left): The King's Road campus changed its face several times during its 33-year history. This shows the Fine Arts Center just prior to its completion in 1987. Previous page: Former president Gerald Ford came to the campus and spoke to students in 1981. Opposite: UN Day in the Saturn community at Ulu Pandan in 1985. United Nations celebrations have continued to take place every October, celebrating the many nationalities of the SAS students. Above: Michael Cox teaching a class in AP chemistry in 1985-
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Opposite: Author Roald Dahl reading to elementary students at the Ulu Pandan campus. Left: The cast of "Bye Bye Birdie" (1979).
"Mrs. Smock taught me the value of examining something thoroughly before making a judgment. Mrs. Farmer encouraged me to keep practicing, even when I thought I couldn't make it. Mr. Imperi made classes and learning enjoyable. " Leigh Ann Whiddon (SAS '87)
Because of the recession, Singapore was forced to take a hard look at its economy and the investment incentives that it offered to foreigners. One answer was to build up new sectors of the economy, such as the chemical industry. Due to its position as an oil refinery and bunkerage center, Singapore had a well-developed petrochemical industry. The cornerstone of this endeavor to develop a more diverse chemical industry was a government project to join four offshore islands and create a "chemical island." By sharing a common government-built infrastructure, foreign companies could cut costs. The venture proved to be highly successful and was the impetus for drawing American companies such as DuPont, Eastman Chemical, 3M and Dow Chemical. These companies, along with Chevron and Exxon Chemical, pumped billions of dollars into the Singapore economy. At one point DuPont was the largest expatriate employer in the country, bringing in over 100 American employees to start up its new plant, as Singapore became the regional center for the production and distribution of industrial chemicals.
Besides the commitment of the government, Singapore had a number of advantages to offer these high-end technology-based businesses, especially those from the United States. The first wave of electronics companies, such as Texas Instruments and Hewlett Packard, had created a pool of trained, experienced managerial and engineering talent. These workers were familiar with the American way of doing things and were less expensive to employ than expatriate expertise. The first wave had also produced a host of support contractors, both domestic and foreign. New ventures could turn to local suppliers for printed circuit boards, die casting, precision machinery and automation, and clean room design.
The most prominent and successful of the 1980s investors were from the hard disc drive (HDD) sector. High-end disc drives were extraordinarily complex, and no other Southeast Asian location possessed the depth of engineering resources to make them. This, for the most part, became an American sector of Singapore's economy. Seagate and Maxtor led the way, but were soon followed by the major H D D players, Western Digital and Conner Peripherals. The growth of this industry was nothing short of phenomenal. For example, in 1986 Singapore produced 3.8 million H D D s ; The first wave of electronics in Singapore â€” components and consumer by 1998 this had grown to 52.2 million. By the late 1980s Seagate was the electronics â€” had become increasingly vulnerable to low cost competi- largest private sector employer in Singapore. tion from neighboring countries. As its costs rose with economic development, Singapore had to move up the technological food chain to sur- Singapore's successful "operational cluster" for high-end technology in vive. To this end, the EDB moved its emphasis to attracting companies turn encouraged companies such as Seagate and Hewlett Packard to esthat required Singapore's better-educated work force. tablish research and development centers, reflecting and encouraging the island's drive to become a knowledge-based economy.
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Left: The class of 86 posesfor its yearbook photo.
"Linda Clarke's compassion and understanding were blessings." Dawn Masavage (SAS '81) Singapore also invested in its aerospace infrastructure by expanding Changi Airport and its associated facilities. Grumman, Lockheed and General Electric all used Singapore as a service center and regional headquarters, as did American airfreight and courier companies. The progress that Singapore had achieved up to the 1980s meant that it was playing in a new economic league, so to speak. In electronics, Singapore had moved away from traditional component supplier to higher-end endeavors, such as providing research and development, testing, design and marketing functions. The financial sector had also opened up and liberalized to enhance Singapore's traditional position in these kinds of services. Emphasis was placed on higher education. Singapore needed engineers more than it needed technicians â€” people who could succeed in the technology and information sectors. The government expanded polytechnics, junior colleges, and other opportunities for higher education.
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The cost of doing business in Singapore came down as the recession took the steam out of the property market. The government lowered rents and reduced taxes, fees, and the compulsory contribution rates to the country's employee retirement program. Singapore's efforts, the American economic recovery and expansion, and new types of foreign investors combined to bring Singapore back on track. By 1987-1988, Singapore was doing quite well again.
"Thanksgiving at International Baptist Church: everyone brought dishes and Mr. Ho supplied the turkey and large platters of fried rice. I know that fried rice is not traditional Thanksgivingfood, but for me it is. " Leigh Ann Whiddon (SAS '87)
Above and right: Ulu Pandan renovations added light, color and openness to the campus, 1987-
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The changing economy and society in Singapore were mirrored within the American community. One important change was in the decline of the missionary component. The increasing number of Americans â€” over 10,000 by the end of the decade - made the missionaries a small minority in the community. Improved living and education standards, and the forces of nationalism, meant that the need for American missionaries to pastor churches and teach was over. The Methodists took the lead and reduced their foreign missionaries to a handful as Singaporeans took over the leadership and staffing of the Methodist Church. A few expatriates taught in the seminary or were counselors. Other denominations, such as the Lutherans and Assemblies of God, followed suit. The sector of the American community that had come with the oil exploration boom also decreased significantly. By the mid 1980s, those remaining in the petroleum industry tended to be in corporate or entrepreneurial operations. The doodlebug, the driller, the barge hand and the diver had moved on. Singapore continued to be the oil center of Southeast Asia, but as a regional headquarters and a refinery center, and for people who had set up their own companies to service the oil exploration and drilling industry. These changes in the community were reflected in its support structure. The American Association, which for seven decades had been the central community organization, diminished in importance. With over 1,000 American companies doing business in Singapore, and tens of billions of dollars in American investment, the American Business Council (later the American Chamber of Commerce) became the most important Opposite: King's Road campus in 1988.
community organization. When visiting dignitaries, such as Vice Presidents Bush and Quayle, came to Singapore, they spoke at ABC functions. The school's role grew as well, eclipsing its American Association founder as the center of community activity and interest. As Singapore prospered and modernized, and as its economic ties with the United States expanded, the two countries struggled to find a comfortable relationship. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were some tense moments in their non-economic relationship. Some Americans found Singapore a puzzling country. On the surface it was modern, affluent and westernized, especially when compared with its neighbors. Yet its system of governing was rigid. Many observers felt that an open, progressive economy should include a more open and democratic political sphere. Many Singaporeans during this time also called for a greater say in the decisions that shaped their lives. They wanted a more diverse and open political system. For the first time since the 1960s, opposition candidates were elected to parliament. Some Americans were tempted to encourage greater individual liberties and a more competitive political system. As a result, one American diplomat was expelled for allegedly assisting and encouraging the opposition party. Time, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune and The Wall Street Journal at one time or another suffered restricted circulations for their commentaries on how the ruling party ran the country and treated the opposition party. American academics were also called to task for their critical views on the emerging nation. Singapore's message was that it welcomed American investment and trade, but not criticism or suggestions on how to run its government.
Above: "The Real Inspector Hound" high school drama production
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Left: Mrs. Marilyn Quayle, wife of U.S. Vice President Quayle, visited with students during a trip to Singapore in 1989. Opposite: SAS high school cheerleaders and band members surprised Singapore Airlines executives when they arrived unannounced to "cheer"the new airline service SIA had begun between Singapore and the U.S.A. 1978.
"Mr. Watson was very earnest and true to life. " Chang Hee Kim (SAS '87)
"I remember Mr. Dodge for his relaxed demeanor and sense of humor." Robert Livingston (SAS '87)
"Coach Kasi had an excellent sense of humor and spent time with students besides regular classroom time." Heiko Oberleitner (SAS '81)
In the 1970s, many SAS students had been on the wrong side of the cultural discourse on the island. The governments efforts to combat the perceived negative Western influence could only be a holding action against the inevitable assault of the cultural influences that came with growing globalization. In The End of the Nation State, Kenichi Ohmae talks about the "Californization" of global popular youth culture. As the world shrinks through global communications and media, youth culture becomes more and more similar throughout the world. Consumer habits, tastes in music and dress, and speech patterns are increasingly driven by the global brands that mold them, such as Nike, M T V and Levi's. Singapore in the 1980s and 1990s was in the forefront of this trend. With each passing year, the external manifestations of its youth culture became more and more familiar to expatriate teenagers. Whether it be American fast food, such as McDonald's and Pizza Hut, American fashion in popular brands, American teen magazines, videos, music and so on, there was much that was familiar and available. Indications of this Californization of youth culture appeared in Singapore's schools, as they began to organize proms at some of the best hotels. Parents' letters to the editor of The Straits Times criticized the expense and waste of these events but did little to deter their increasing popularity. Local schools also began to form cheerleading squads that copied the American phenomenon â€” including short skirts, pom poms and dance routines. Singapore was soon having national cheerleading competitions, a shock for anyone who had witnessed the reception of SAS cheerleaders in the 1950s and 1960s. A renegade radio station on the nearby Indonesian island of Batam began broadcasting four channels of all-day popular FM music, and Singapore had to redesign its radio programs to compete for listeners. Singapore radio moved from its neo-BBC format, with one station in English,
"I think that as guests in this country, we have a special obligation to govern ourselves before the authorities step in and apply their own law. " Taz Cox, Chair SACAC in 1981
to a proliferation of FM stations playing current music. The availability of American music solidified with the arrival of Tower Records in 1993, while other American consumer goods were easily found on Singapore's shelves. Virtually the only cultural icon that American teenagers missed was the car. Where this new global culture was strongest was also where most expatriate kids lived. Orchard Road, down Holland Road to Clementi Road, over to Bukit Timah Road, and back down to Newton Circus was an "expat triangle" that contained their schools, clubs, shops and nightspots. If SAS students experienced culture shock in moving to Asia, it came, in many cases, from the new degree of freedom that they enjoyed. SAS students could stay out until all hours of the night without fear of being mugged, robbed or even hassled. The live music scene had returned in full force, the drinking age limit was rarely enforced, and there were many new establishments in which to listen to music, dance and party. The Warehouse, Fire, Zouk and Brannigans became popular hangouts, while the Newton Circus stalls remained favorites. Like Singaporeans, expatriates had also become apartment dwellers. New condominiums sprouted like weeds, especially in the expat triangle. In popular condominiums, such as Pandan Valley, Ardmore Park, and Arcadia Gardens, many SAS students were neighbors who rode the school bus and hung out together - a new form of expatriate living. The ease and familiarity of life in this part of Singapore isolated SAS students from the everyday lives of Singaporeans, who lived in the new towns and housing estates. The students only made occasional forays outside their turf â€” to Ponggol to waterski, to offshore islands for beach parties, and to hawker stalls for a variety of activities, often revolving around cheap beer. Life was insular but it was good.
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This lack of reality was not lost on the school, and was one of the reasons that, throughout the 1980s, the school board pushed hard to focus Interim Semester trips on the Asia-Pacific region. The school's desire to acquaint students with Asia was also reflected in enhancements to the high school social studies curriculum. From one Asian course the options were expanded to include five courses, and SAS became the only IASAS school to make a year of Asian studies a graduation requirement. Students and teachers also reached out to the greater Singapore community through the high school Social Services Club that was established by Jo Clem in 1984. This was expanded by the efforts of Shirley Wu and Judy Williamson, and greatly enhanced by the contributions of Hazel Adolphson. The philosophy of the club was to encourage students to become actively involved in community service. SAS students had
participated in social service before, but most of their activities revolved around raising money for worthwhile causes. At Ulu Pandan an annual "Earn to Give" program involved the younger children in doing extra chores and actively participating in fundraising projects in order to make donations to worthwhile community groups. The exception to the fundraising thrust was the Candy Striper program, in which students worked at St. Andrews Hospital for Children in the 1960s and 1970s. The Social Services Club asked students to give their time and apply their experience to the problems of others. Initially this included visits to the Vietnamese refugee camp, work with spastic children, and visits to homes for the elderly; and it quickly expanded to include a variety of other community linkages, including work with the Singapore Leprosy Home and children in the Special Olympics program. With each passing year, the number of students involved in the Social Services Club increased, giving them glimpses into Singapore society that they would never have normally experienced.
Opposite: Students visiting the residents of Villa Francis in 1987. Students at Ulu Pandan worked during their "Earn to Give" campaign to earn funds that were donated to the home. They also addressed 1200 handmade cards to Above: Interim Semester, Nepal 1986. Teacher Don Adams is on the left in the 140 residents of the villa. the front row.
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Top left: Students enjoying a break during Interim Semester in Kota Kinabalu, 1983: (from left) Kirk Sadler, Darren Wilson, Tiffany Smith, Peter Wkes, Michelle Morgan, Kameron Shields, Kevin Reizer. Top right: Interim Semester in Nepal 1979. Students had the opportunity to mingle with people living very different lifestyles. The Interim experiences were unique in their lives. Lower left: The Vietnamese Refugee Center was a favorite community service project for students in the 1980s.
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Lower right: A group of Social Service Club students ready to head to the Vietnamese Refugee Center. (From left front row) Gin Nah Lim, Elena Mateo, Jimmy Jo Beck, Sarah Hamby, Cindy Sierakowski, Sally Williamson, Anne Cangi. (from left back row) Rudi Sridheran, Richard Moh, Dana Lee, Nathalie Vo- Ta, Mrs. Hazel Adolphson, Sunshine Eckstrom, Sharon Lee, Jennifer Johnson, Dana Hanson.
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The establishment of the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) in 1982 was a significant milestone in high school student life at SAS. The founding schools - SAS, ISB, JIS and ISKL â€” had decided to move away from the multi-sport format of the past and focus on single sport tournaments played in defined seasons. The first year, soccer and volleyball were hosted by ISKL in November; basketball and swimming were at SAS in February; and softball and track were held at JIS in April. The high point of the year for athletes became winning an IASAS championship. ISM (International School Manila) joined the league in 1985 and TAS (Taipei American School) in 1986. The latter entry caused some discussion because of the longer distance that students had to travel and because the five tropical schools might have difficulties participating in sports in Taiwan's winter climate, but eventually the six schools meshed and provided a unique athletic experience for expatriate athletes. IASAS quickly became more than a sports conference. Its most important contribution may arguably be to shine a spotlight on the arts. Beginning in Bangkok in 1983, its festival of arts consisted of music, drama, forensics and dance - art was added in 1985. The IASAS Cultural Convention gave students in the arts opportunities to perform in front of their peers from similar schools. Until 1988, all the disciplines came together each year at one site - an extravaganza of the arts, including six one-act plays, dance performances, music adjudication, honors performances by individuals, and an IASAS choir and orchestra concert. The awards banquet was similar to Oscar Night with best play and best actor, awards for dance, music and art, and medals for forensics. SAS
hosted the last of these grand shows in its new theater in 1988, one of the high points of the decade. The success of the 1988 event reflected the efforts of a number of teachers, especially Mary O'Keeffe and Miffie Greer. Most significant, though, was the role of a student committee that took charge of much of the organization and direction of the convention. The next year, Cultural Convention was split into two venues. Music and art were in one group; drama, forensics and dance in the other. The sponsors of drama, dance and music also decided to take the competition out of their disciplines and concentrate on performance. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Cultural Convention was forensics. Prior to IASAS, ISKL had hosted a forensics tournament, but SAS was the only other IASAS school that participated in it. Including forensics competition in IASAS gave it a much higher profile.
Opposite: MUN 1985. SAS was a strong participant in MUN conventions, even before they were partially taken over as an IASAS activity. Students currently participate in both a fall and a winter convention. Above left: IASAS gave SAS students a forum for forensics competition that had been difficult to find in earlier times. Jelita McCleod and Shannon Salter pose with the IASAS debate trophy they won in 1988.
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"The school set standards, gave us every opportunity, diversity, qualified teachers. I felt I needed to take advantage of the opportunity I had been given. " Rusty King (SAS '87)
"Linda Harley treated us with respect. It was fun but she still had expectations." Lee Bushman (SAS '86)
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IASAS took over the sponsorship of the Asian Model United Nations (M.U.N.) in the mid 1980s. The host school, structure, and evolution of the event each year is determined by IASAS, but delegations are invited from Singapore, Philippines, China, India, Japan and Korea, as well as from IASAS schools, with close to twenty schools typically participating.
host families took their responsibilities seriously and were inconvenienced by students returning home at unreasonable hours or calling when they were lost. Many a coach met his kids for the trip home on Sunday, praying that everyone had survived the weekend and hoping there were no horror stories.
Setting up an activities conference with six schools in six different countries presented many challenges. Each school had traditions and priorities that reflected the community it served. There had to be a considerable amount of give and take in order to form the six schools into a group with common goals and expectations. While ISKL, JIS, SAS and ISB had ties that went back for some years, ISM and TAS were newcomers.
As time went on, curfews were instituted, as well as mandatory telephone checks by the coaches. Disreputable places, such as Patpong in Bangkok, were declared off-limits; common training rules, such as no smoking and no drinking, were put into effect during competitions; and severe penalties for violations, such as being banned from the league for a year, were instituted. For the first decade of the league, each student infringement had brought about a more severe review of rules and consequences from the schools.
Two areas that caused controversy and concern were student behavior and safety. Each league event was only possible if all the visiting students were housed with families from the host school. At any given time, as many as 250 students from five visiting schools were housed by an incredible diversity of host-school parents. Many of the athletes were accustomed to a wide degree of freedom in their home cities. Host families had varying standards for their own children and the visiting students. In the early years, the league was hesitant to impose uniform standards for fear of alienating the generous hosts. The result was sometimes student abuses of their freedom, especially on the last night of the conference. All six cities had active nightlife scenes and some of these, such as Bangkok's, were quite colorful. There were also safety issues. While the students were street smart in their home cities, was it wise to turn them loose in strange cities? Most
The six schools had varying qualities of facilities. JIS, with one gymnasium, had difficulty hosting a round-robin basketball tournament. One year, the second day of competition finished at 1:30 a.m. and the third day started at 7:30 a.m. None of the schools had a track, so hosting track and field was dependent on obtaining public facilities. In Bangkok one year, the entire meet was held in the mid-day heat because that was the only time the stadium was available. Each IASAS venue had its quirks and its weather variations. O n e year, the lights went out for two hours during the finals in basketball. Soccer was played during the northeast monsoon, and in 1988 the field at SAS was so deep in mud, and the players so covered with mud, that it was difficult to tell the teams apart. A late cold spell with wind and rain hit the track
Above: Water polo (1986) was part of the IASAS swimming competition for several years after IASAS started. It was eventually dropped.
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Above: A slogan that has kept its power through years of SAS sports seasons. SAS currently holds IASAS Golds in about half of the twenty annual events. Right: IASAS Basketball in the new King's Road gym 1986. Opposite: SAS battled]IS in IASAS soccer.
"/ loved the country, had incredible friends and felt Ifound myself academically." Chis Andraca (SAS '87)
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marathon events. It took time to bring rationality and consistency to the league. Individual schools had to give up control on some things, such as traveling rules, to conform on league-wide concerns. Dates of competition had to be brought into line with the distinctive calendars of six different schools in six countries. Some schools celebrated Chinese New Year; Rules were another big issue â€” and officials to enforce them. The schools others did not. Some had to deal with the Muslim fasting month; others used rules for international competition, but many of the American did not. Programs such as Interim Semester predated IASAS and were set coaches were used to American high school rules. Officials were usu- parts of a school's calendar. At times the scheduling was so difficult that it ally drawn from national sporting institutions, such as the Singapore was referred to the superintendents and school boards. Amateur Athletic Association, that used international adult regulations. In addition, different countries had different views on how to apply the Problems with facilities were solved to a great extent by school and rerules, which on occasion produced distinct culture shock in vocal and source expansions that came about as a result of the Asian economic emotional IASAS coaches. After such verbal abuse from track and field boom. By the end of the first decade of IASAS, all schools except JIS coaches in Singapore in 1987, the SAAA refused to ever again officiate had access to two gymnasiums on campus, and all except ISB had swimat an IASAS meet. ming pools. Rising student enrollment meant greater resources for all the schools and greater financial backing for the league itself. By the early 1990s, the league had transcended its early problems and member schools Few rule books really covered the unique IASAS format. Team sports played six games in three days in the tropical sun or in non air-condi- were truly proud of it. IASAS had become the core of each high school's tioned gymnasiums. Substitution rules and time-outs had to be tinkered activities program. with. This was especially true for Cultural Convention because the group virtually made things up as conventions evolved. The rule book for fo- IASAS instigated a revolution in varsity sports at SAS. Teams were relerensics and debate resembled a "Choose Your Own Adventure" format gated to distinctive seasons and each season ended with an IASAS tournarather than defining a firm set of rules and expectations. Because of the ment. Most SAS teams had exchanges with either JIS or ISKL as lead-up deficiency in rules, much of the interpretation fell to the host school, events to IASAS, and an athlete could travel to other countries as much many times causing cries of "foul" and "unfair hometown advantage" as five or six times a year. from visiting schools. There was a price to be paid for the setup. Many of the IASAS seasons These glitches were sorted out after the league was formed, and issues were out of sync with the schedules of traditional rivals in the Singapore were debated as needed, with coaches meetings often turning into schools. SAS continued to play local schools but on a catch-as-catch-can and softball tournaments in Taipei the first year that TAS hosted these games, and kids from the tropics desperately looked for ways to keep warm. The first year of IASAS, the girls softball championship had to be declared a tie because it rained for three hours during the final game.
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"It was surreal to be in such an amazing facility in such a diverse and vibrant place. " Willie Quinn (SAS '88) Above: Pep rally 1979. School spirit has always been strong but pep rallies faltered somewhat in the 1994-95 school year. Student Council accepted the challenge and got them back on track even reviving the school fight song that many students were unaware existed. Opposite top: Allison Dawson (SAS '87) held many school and IASAS girls swim records right up to the early 2000s. She still holds the recordfor 200m butterfly.
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"When I describe growing up in Singapore to people, I describe it as Utopia and almost perfect. I felt extremely safe there, very differentfrom how I feel now in the United States. " Kate van Wickle (SAS '89)
Opposite bottom: Coach Nat Bava talks to a group of athletes at King's Road.
basis. This was recognized as an issue between 1987 and 1990, as SAS increased meaningful competition with local schools by establishing invitational tournaments and meets in boys and girls volleyball, J.V. basketball, swimming, soccer and track and field. Some school teams were not part of the IASAS sports tournaments and as a result did not last at SAS. Within a few years after IASAS took off, badminton and girls field hockey ceased; and cross country faded - until it became an IASAS sport in the late 1990s. SAS stopped playing fast pitch softball after 25 years to accommodate the slow pitch IASAS version. Rugby managed to survive for 17 years because of the school's many local rugby rivals, especially St. Andrews, Raffles and United World College. SAS established an annual trip to Hong Kong for a 15-aside tournament with HKIS, and hosted a rugby tournament that drew quality teams from Singapore local and expatriate schools, HKIS, and later some of the IASAS teams. Finally, rugby survived because Dick Lewis, and then Nat Bava, gave it a high profile and provided strong leadership.
with two popular boys community sports programs - SACAC football and SACAC baseball. The standout team of the 1980s was girls swimming, which won eight out often IASAS championships under the coaching of Lyn Obendorf, Kathy Johnson, and Paula Silverman. The girls soccer team, under the leadership of Coach Vijay and then Don Adams, hoisted five league banners, as did the girls softball team.
In the first decade of IASAS, SAS saw greater success in the girls competitions than in the boys. There were a couple of theories about why this was true. One was that SAS had a long tradition of support for girls sports. Another was that the fall and spring IASAS programs competed
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LASAS required a large budgetary commitment on the part of the schools. SAS agreed to pay half the cost of each student's travel to IASAS events, a cost that significantly increased when Taipei and Manila joined the league, as they were more expensive destinations. The sudden increase in the activities budget initially left few funds for sports uniforms and equipment or for uniforms for music groups. In the past, kids had bought their own uniforms with some help from the school. This meant that the quality of the uniforms was determined by the motivation of the coaches and athletes. In a new league with a higher profile, a group of parents came together to address this problem. In the 1984-85 school year a Boosters Club was formed, initially to raise the funds for better quality uniforms that would remain with the school from year to year. The Boosters played an important role in stimulating school spirit and pride in the teams in the early IASAS years. As time went on, the school's budget caught up with IASAS costs, but the Boosters had established themselves as a key high school support organization. Ordinarily, Boosters are associated with sports only, but at SAS they are equal supporters of the arts. Throughout the years, they have provided the extra touches that the programs needed.
Although many contributed, three individuals stand out in the early years of the Boosters — Judy Fullerton, the first president, her successor Patsy Martin, and Sue Seator, who served on the board for six years. They exemplified the commitment and dedication of the early Boosters. During their first decade, Boosters helped with housing visiting tournament participants; they organized awards banquets and slide shows; they brought coats for the choirs; they checked kids in early at airports so the kids would not miss class; they provided hospitality for visiting coaches; and they raised large sums of money to supplement the school activities budget. For example, when SAS returned to the Hong Kong Christmas basketball tournament in the late 1980s, the Boosters helped defray the travel costs for the first few years. Using the funds they raised to pay for opportunities outside the school budget, the Boosters also went into the school spirit business, selling school shirts, hats, boxers and souvenirs.
"The most exciting, safe, comfortable, happy, educational environment any child could ever hope for. " Kristin van Wickle (SAS '89) Opposite (bottom right): Main entrance to the Kings Road campus before construction of the new Fine Arts Center.
Opposite (top): King's Road campus expansion in the mid 1980s meant that the old "Principal's House"finally had to go.
Above right: A Boosters Club meeting. From left: Standing — Jim Baker, Athletic Director, Heidi Friesen, Jan Mika, Dianne Wilson, Frances Jennings. Seated — Diane Anderson, Judy Fullerton, president, Nancy Belair, Mary
Opposite (bottom left): Author Alex Haley talking to Ulu Pandan students in 1987 about his books and about how he came to write "Roots. " Mr. Haley imparted the message, "We are all brothers and sisters.. .fundamentally, we are all the same. "
O'Keeffe. Above left: Three high school students take a break between classes in front of the newly renovated Kings Road library, 1987.
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Top right: Rosemary Farmer leads the school band at the opening ceremony for football season. Middle right: SAS Concert choir members working to raise funds for travel for a choir exchange at Dalat School in Penang Malaysia. During the 1980s the choirs established an exchange program with other international schools, a tradition that continued for many years. Bottom Right: The cast of "The Crucible" in rehearsal 1988. Cast included Christopher Stait, Marlene Grundell, Lana Leiby, with Trisha Kuester directing, John Hurst, lighting, Carl Homan doing set construction, and Rick Silverman producer. Opposite top: Helit Atar and Leslie Ee perform a Pas-de-deux in "Tapestry" the dance performance entry for Cultural Convention 1987.
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Opposite bottom: Stephanie Wilson and Jennifer Vesper in the one-act play "Tell Me Another Story; Sing Me a Song"for Cultural Convention 1987.
The arrival of the Cultural Convention as a part of IASAS was only one reason for an increased focus on the arts in the 1980s. The support and promotion that came from Superintendent Mel Kuhbander contributed greatly to the explosion of fine arts at this time. One of Kuhbander's stated goals was to improve the fine arts program, and he made sure the school had the resources to do so. The most obvious of those resources were the newly constructed fine arts center and improved dance facilities at Kings Road, on which little expense was spared. A participant in community theater himself, Kuhbander took every opportunity to promote the arts as a central program of the school. When he left in 1990, the fine arts center was named in his honor to recognize his considerable efforts.
music teacher was brought on board. The number of participants continued to grow and new groups and programs were added, including the SAS Singers â€” a performance ensemble, the now-traditional Christmas Yulefest, and the revival of Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) music honor society. SAS had built an outstanding music program to carry forward - a program it could be proud of. At the same time there was a strengthening of the visual arts as well. Linda Harley was responsible for taking a non-existent art program and making it a key part of student life. Harley and Ken Clarke, who taught industrial arts, also contributed considerable time to designing and constructing sets for drama productions.
Another reason for improvement in the arts was the leadership brought about by the arrival of faculty who had not only a passion for the arts but also a commitment to the school. A core group of teachers stayed long enough to build a self-sustaining program. John Hurst arrived in 1982 and was the drama director and then theater director for 15 years. From his first two productions, Bus Stop and Lil Abner, it was obvious that there were new standards of professionalism and innovation at SAS. Trisha Kuester took over the directing reins at the end of the decade and carried the tradition of theater excellence forward to the present. Rosemary Farmer came in 1981 and injected new energy into the music program. She taught both instrumental and vocal music and the program grew dramatically. By the end of the decade, a second full time
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Performance of "Diamond Studs. "
"Teachers are the people who cross the bridges between what is and what isn't. Leslie Ee (SAS '88)
Opposite: The front of the new Fine Arts Center made an impressive change to the King's Road entrance. The state-of-theart facility was to stand for only nine years before making way for a housing development after the school moved to Woodlands in 1996. Left: The Class of 1985 in their "construction site. " The Class of 2004 also felt that they spent the year in a construction site, which they commemorated by donning hard hats at the close of their graduation ceremony.
When SAS celebrated its 25th anniversary in January 1981, the school was literally bursting at the seams. Space was so tight that entry to the school was restricted to North Americans and non-Americans working for American companies. As a result, the percentage of Americans in the school had climbed to about 75 percent. A new pod was built on the Ulu Pandan campus as well as new gym facilities and a swimming pool. The Board of Governors was also looking at plans to expand and redevelop the King's Road campus. SAS had come a long way in 25 years, just as the country in which it resided. Within four years, as a result of the dip in Singapore's economy, enrollment dropped to about 1,500 students, the percentage of Americans dropped to 58 percent, and the school was open once again to applicants of all nationalities. To cope with the drop in enrollment, the school ex-
panded its English as a Second Language (ESL) program dramatically. It was estimated that if this measure had not been taken, enrollment would have been 10 percent less than it was. The board also discussed setting up an International Baccalaureate program to attract more students. Like Singapore, the school rebounded in the latter part of the decade, and by 1991 had climbed back to over 2,000 students. Even with the mid1980s redevelopment of King's Road, discussions were underway about a larger school. The contraction in the mid-1980s in many ways represented a turning point in SAS history because it was the last time that SAS experienced a significant downturn in enrollment. The Asian economic issues of the 1990s, terrorism, and the SARS health epidemic disrupted the region but hardly fazed SAS enrollment. O n e factor influencing this was that Singapore represented a haven of stability and security within the region, but an equal factor was the school's reputation for high quality education. By the early 1990s, SAS could have easily claimed to be one of
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the premier American curriculum schools overseas, an important factor in its continued growth through good times and bad. One reason the school was able to weather the mid-80s downturn was because the leadership and staff provided strong internal stability. In the 1980s, a significant number of administrators, teachers, and support staff either made SAS their permanent career choice, or remained at the school for a long period of time. This continuity was an essential ingredient in producing the quality school that emerged from the 1980s. In its first 25 years, SAS had seven heads of school, and only two of those stayed for at least five years. Given the challenges that Singapore and the school faced over this period of time, it is not surprising that the leaders moved on. In 1981 Dr. Mel Kuhbander arrived from the public school system in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He led SAS for the next nine years, and created a continuity of tenure that was a key ingredient in the evolution of the school. Perhaps his greatest contribution was in developing a teaching staff that viewed SAS as a desirable place to work and were willing to commit significant portions of their professional careers to the school. This was especially true of the expatriates whom he hired at this time. Salaries and benefits had increased greatly and, coupled with the excellence of the school and the quality of life in Singapore, made SAS one of the most sought-after overseas schools for American teachers. They wanted to teach at SAS, and many wanted to stay on. SAS had a core of long-serving Singaporean teachers on both campuses, but as the school grew, they made up an increasingly smaller percentage of the staff. In the high school, only three departments had been rela-
tively stable up to this time â€” math, science and PE - and this was due to their high number of locally hired teachers. Ulu Pandan also suffered from a lack of continuity. It was not unusual for elementary students to have two or even three teachers in a single school year. The curriculum, after-school programs, and student guidance had all suffered in this atmosphere. In the 1980s, with Kuhbander's hiring program, this changed. During this time, over 35 teachers came and stayed 15 or more years. Just as the school heads had turned over rapidly in the past, so had division administrators; but in the 1980s, two administrators stayed on and complemented Kuhbander's tenure - Barbara (Bonnie) Leister and Pat Emma. Leister first came to the Ulu Pandan campus in 1975 as an IGE facilitator for international schools in the Southeast Asian region. When these schools modified or moved away from the IGE program, Leister accepted the opportunity to became an assistant principal from 1979 to 1982 and principal from 1982 to 1987 of Ulu Pandan. She was, up to that time, the school's longest serving administrator. Her experience with IGE and her length of service were key elements in creating a stable learning environment at Ulu Pandan. Dr Emma came to SAS after working for 30 years as an administrator in the Montgomery County, Maryland, schools. He was assistant principal at Ulu Pandan from 1980 to 1986 and at King's Road 1986-1988, and his contributions to the school were invaluable. Kuhbander said, "He bordered on the outrageous, but he also had a deep concern for kids and would fall back on a few underlying principles for action. In that way, he was a mentor for us all."
Above: Connie Dickman (left), Director of Curriculum, and Bonnie Leister (right), Ulu Pandan Principal, together bad contributed 26 years of service to the school when they left in 1987.
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When Kuhbander departed in 1990, he commented on the fact that he had worked with over 90 different school board members in his nine years as superintendent. The high numbers reflected both the transient nature of the community and the high burnout rate in this particularly difficult volunteer position. There was, though, a core of steady board members who served on the board for many years and were important contributors to the school's ability to survive the decade and emerge a better institution as a result. Bob Livingston served for six years as both chairman and board member. Randy Guthrie, Bruno Wildermuth, John Mercer, Paul Taganides, and John Fennimore also served for many years. This group, along with Kuhbander, realized the need to continue to improve the facilities, salaries and staff. Given the fact that enrollment dropped by over a quarter mid-decade, it is remarkable that the leadership of the school pushed ahead with plans to redevelop the King's Road campus and to make the funds available to continue to obtain and retain its excellent teaching staff. Like previous boards and superintendents, they believed in the future of Singapore and the American community within it, and more specifically in the importance of the school's role. At King's Road the new gymnasium seated 1,000 people and included a dance room and modern weight training area. Even more impressive was the new fine arts center, which had a theater for 800 and was arguably one of the best-designed and best-equipped facilities in the country. The center included new and spacious music rooms, a huge art studio and a large, user-friendly cafeteria. One can only wonder what the Bangladeshi construction workers thought as they demolished this fine facility in 1996, just nine years after it was erected. The third major improvement at King's Road was doubling the size of the library, making it two stories by joining it with the old auditorium. Lower right: Dr. Mel Kuhbander reads stories to Mrs. D'aranjo's kindergarten class, 1988
The school's commitment to its staff during the downturn was equally great. Few programs were cut, salaries were maintained, and no teachers were laid off. The upshot was that the school was forced into deficit spending to maintain and improve the quality of the school, but the schools leaders felt this was preferable to reducing services and would pay dividends in the long run. Within five years, their vision paid off dramatically, and SAS became one of the best overseas schools in the world in terms of facilities, staff and programs.
Top left: A triumphant badminton team from the SMMWU sports fiesta 1983. Classified staff members on the team included Yusuff bin Almari (left) who retired in 1995 with 36 years of service, Sim Siew Tin (front second from right), and Betty Choo (front right), each still at SAS and with 33 years of service to date. Top right: Pat Emma with Rudi (Rudi is still at SAS with 37 years of service to date.)
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Above left: The official opening of the new King's Road Fine Arts Center (named in 1990 the Kuhbander Fine Arts Center in honor of the superintendent on his departure). From left, Randie Guthrie, Board chair, U.S. Ambassador Darryl Arnold, and Cindy Yu, president of Tri-M, who presented the scissors to the Ambassador.
"Without the valuable knowledge teachers impart, the future successors of humanity - the students â€” would ignorantly strip the world of any vestiges of civilization and create a society devoid of any civility and order Kiran Cherla (SAS '88)
i V - What a fine school with a delightful student body - now. SAS has changed positively since 1977. In 1984 a more international student body with a more academic, polite, witty conglomeration of students. And the pendulum continues to . upwards. " Assistant high school principal Charles Longbottom in 1984
Above: Multiple SAS reunions have been held every summer for many years. Most focus on certain class year groups, but always welcome anyformer students, teachers or parents. litis reunion took place in the early 1990s in Denver. Top (from left): John Scull, Chris Magee, Glenda Bready, PJ Donner, Don Chambers, Mike Ramsey, Bob Ford, Heath Harvey, Friedrich Wilm, unidentified, unidentified, John Hatley, Stephen Hurst, Bob Boyle, Mike Barry, Robert Lopez, Mitch Wood Middle (from left): Allan l.undy, Dave Scull, Debbie Farnum, Mike Gallagher, Mike Sullivan, Elisa Lundy, Steve Murray, Cort Boylan, Ellen Greg, John Elliot, unidentified, unidentified, Cindy Nichols, Steve Roszel, Linda Chambers, Steve Pringle, Sandy Woodside Bottom (from left): Bonnie Stoehrmann, Lisa Boelhke, Barb T ice, Jim Baker, Karol Tice, Maile Repetti, Cheryl Parkhurst, Jeanette Gewald, Ruth Wingeier, Kathy Blake, Debbie Dudley, Martha Wingeier, CC Finley, Karen Boom, Debbie Rowell, unidentified Also pictured: Sara Fowler, Degan Hambacher, Dean Ford, Renee Bienvenu, Dwight Gibson, Donna Hatley
1990s - GROWTH & TRANSITION
n many ways, expatriate life in Singapore in the 1990s was similar to living in a gated community. The country was without doubt more diverse racially and culturally, but the disorder, instability, and social and economic extremes of the Asia beyond its shores seemed far away. Expatriates enjoyed safe streets, excellent public services, and good schools in a clean and green environment. They were also sheltered from the challenges that faced the less privileged Singaporeans. The Gulf War in 1991 dented those community gates. Singapore was a Chinese island in a Malay/Muslim ocean. The injection of American troops into a Muslim country created great uncertainty in the civilian and diplomatic communities. Interim Semester was cancelled because of the fear of repercussions against Americans. The school insignia was taken off the school buses to make them less distinctively American. Security in the country was tightened, and civil disorder drills were instituted. Because of where they lived, SAS students were forced to confront the impact of the war far differently from their peers in the United States. The arrest and caning of Michael Fay also had a great impact. These experiences brought home to the students the fact that there were outside forces that could affect their lives.
A common complaint among American SAS students is that, when they return home, their peers in the United States have no idea where Singapore is and cannot relate to their experiences. During the 1993-94 school year, this changed dramatically. Michael Fay put Singapore and the American community on the map. By the end of the year, Singapore and the name Fay were synonymous. The incident also forced many to deal with the price Singaporeans had paid to create this peaceful, orderly life that expatriates enjoyed. Fay's arrest, trial and subsequent punishment grabbed the attention of Americans and Singaporeans because the events formed a multi-dimensional metaphor. The metaphor touched relations between the United States and Singapore, entered into the domestic American cultural/political debate, brought up questions about Singapore's social contract, and shed light on expatriate living in Singapore. The basic police case was straightforward. A group of expatriate teenagers were arrested for spray-painting a car. (The fact that the car belonged to a well-known judge probably compounded the problem.) In the ensuing investigation, it became clear that this group had vandalized other cars and stolen public property, such as traffic signs. In Singapore, vandalism carries a mandatory caning penalty. Fay's sentence of six strokes of the cane touched off a media frenzy, which placed Fay and Singapore front and center in the American spotlight.
The Straits Times broke the vandalism story on the front page in October 1993. That in itself was a warning of things to come â€” in a city of three million people, a vandalism case was front page news. Previous cases of vandalism had been buried deep in the paper if they had been covered at all. The newspaper editors probably foresaw that the story was really about whether foreigners would receive the same punishments as Singaporeans. The last time SAS students were part of a major news item had been 17 years earlier when a large group had been detained for drugs. That story had faded quickly, but the Fay story had legs, especially because Fay's family and supporters loudly protested the punishment and reached out to American politicians to bring pressure on the Singapore government to revoke the sentence. The American media added to the staying power of the story by making it a part of the American cultural debate. The tone and intensity of the coverage was probably compounded by the fact that the American media and the Singapore government had crossed swords before, and there was little love lost between them. The media spotlight on the case also drew SAS into its glare. Michael Fay had attended SAS, and the foreign media descended on the school. Reporters wanted student views of the controversy, and SAS was an appealing backdrop for the story. At the time of the sentencing, SAS was hosting IASAS track and field at Clementi Stadium. Reporters were barred from the event, but athletes and parents had to run a media gauntlet outside the stadium, much like a professional sports event in the States, except it had nothing to do with sports.
Previous page (left): In the summer of 1995 a group of more than 100 alumni and family members came for a reunion and a farewell visit to the King's Road campus. This was the first SAS reunion held in Singapore.
Opposite: The Singapore Harbor at the mouth of the Singapore River, 1990.
Previous page (right): Mr. Gomez, a security guard at the King's Road campus, was always ready at the front gate with a big smile and a wave to greet students, parents and visitors.
Above: Chinatown 1993. Most of the Chinatown shophouses were renovated by the mid 1990s. Bright clean colors topped each shop. Pockets of ongoing renovation could often be seen amidst a row of newly painted shops.
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On the surface, the debate was between those who maintained that the punishment did not fit the crime, and those who felt Fay was subject to the laws of Singapore and had to pay his dues. To the first group, the use of the cane as punishment was a symbol of the authoritarianism of the Singapore government and constituted a human rights violation. Singapore framed it as a matter of national sovereignty, and Singaporeans rallied to the support of their country. Evidence of this can be seen in two Straits Times polls. Before the Fay case, a third of Singaporeans supported caning for vandalism; a few months afterward, three-fourths said they supported the practice. If the incident had merely been a diplomatic spat, it probably would have died out quickly because of common economic interests between the United States and Singapore; but Fay's crime and punishment became part of a domestic American debate over the direction of American culture and society. In this sense, the Michael Fay case was as much an American story as it was a Singaporean story. Many times during the debate over Fay's punishment, the conflict was depicted as a clash between Asian and Western values. This perceived cultural divide had been a matter of considerable discussion in the 1980s and 1990s with regard to its role in the Asian "economic miracle." The view that there was a cultural cause for the economic success in Asia actually had its roots in the United States. A number of neo-conservative academics and social commentators had looked at the rapid economic growth in the area, and contrasted it with that of the United States and the West by saying that Asia's relative success was in a large part due to the area's cultural values. They claimed that the Asian value of subjugating the interests of the individual to the greater good of the group had created an economic juggernaut. Some predicted that by about 2010, Japan would pass the United States as the world's largest economy. Their view was that "Asian values" created stable, law-abiding societies that encouraged high rates of saving and a powerful work ethic.
"At Georgetown School of Foreign Service, I don't think any other student in my class had nearly the background in Asian issues as I â€” solely due to Mr. Bakers input and guidance. He outshone more than one of my professors. " Charlene Watkins Lamb (SAS '90)
Above left: Monkeys in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Above right: The Satay Club 1990. Lower right: In the 1990s indoor and sometimes air-conditioned hawker centers were replacing the old carpark stalls.
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"The Gulf War opened my eyes to the fact that a lot of people don't like Americans and also didn't want us in Singapore. SAS was a great place where more than just books were taught. There wasfriendliness between thefaculty and students. We were taught to be good people and given good role models. Living in Singapore was the most important part in shaping the person that I became. I miss it every day and would return in a second if the opportunity came. " Julie Payne Kemmer (SAS '91)
"Daybreak, the smell of Mr. Ho's food, everyone in blue and white and friends all around. It was like being in Cheers and on the Discovery Channel at the same time, always learning something new with friends." Brian Sovik (SAS '92)
Lower left: Rosemary Farmer leading the Concert Choir in performance.
Top left: The PTA Board 1992-93.
Lower right: Cable car view of the Singapore waterfront from Sentosa.
Top right: Yulefest 1993.
Opposite: LASAS girls soccer victory.
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The frame of reference for these neo-conservative commentators was the decade of the 1970s. In their eyes, the social and economic problems of that decade had created an American society that emphasized individual rights and entitlements over individual responsibility. High crime rates, abortion, unwed mothers, long welfare rolls, stagflation, and anemic economic growth were all symptoms of American cultural decline. Michael Fay was a poster child for their argument. Singapore was safe, law-abiding and prosperous because people were forced to take responsibility for their actions, and concern for the individual did not detract from the greater good. Many neo-conservatives felt the United States needed a little more of Singapore's no-nonsense justice system to deliver consequences for anti-social behavior. Obviously many disagreed with the neo-conservative position. The term "Asian values" was seen as a vast oversimplification. To find common values among people as diverse as Asians was impossible. From this viewpoint, the Asian values were really authoritarian values used to rationalize denying individual and human rights. The New York Times described caning as "barbaric." Polls in the United States showed the country split down the middle over whether Fay was getting what he deserved. Because Fay was part of this nationwide cultural debate, his case became a lasting and emotional issue. For the American community and the school, the Fay case was traumatic. There was a running debate in the local media that involved them. The American Business Council commented on the case and was told by the government to mind its own business. Like their compatriots back home, the community was also divided, although a sizeable majority wished the issue would just go away.
The case also brought home the many ambiguities and contradictions of expatriate life in Singapore. Americans lived in a Singaporean society that had sacrificed individual freedoms for a better life. American expatriates were beneficiaries of that better life. Because the country had little crime and modern facilities, parents allowed their teenagers much more freedom than they would have in the United States. There were few restrictions on their freedom to experiment, explore, and enjoy life. The drinking laws were rarely enforced, and students as young as 14 could buy alcohol. The school emphasized to students the severity of the penalties for drugs and the fact that the criminal justice system did not protect individual rights as it did in the United States. However, when students overstepped and their behavior came to the attention of the Singapore authorities, they, and sometimes their families, simply left the country rather than face the consequences. The Fay case exploded this complacency. Their safe, insular expatriate world had been shattered. The fact that the case played out on the media center stage made a beneficial solution difficult. Fay supporters reached out to American politicians, who in turn brought in U.S. President Clinton, who appealed to the Singapore government to forgo the caning. The Singapore government had painted American interference as an issue of national sovereignty, and therefore could not back down, although it reduced the sentence from six strokes to four. Few participants emerged from this incident unscathed. Relations were cool between the White House and Singapore because the president's personal appeal had been rebuffed. Of course, the coolness between the countries was only temporary. They shared too many common interests to allow relations to deteriorate for long.
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Opposite: The new American Embassy opened on Napier Road in 1992 with a structure many likened to a fortress. Left: Girls track team winning the Singapore Schools Relay Championship. The Straits Times. Top right: Linda Harley reviews a project with an art student.
"Mr. Dodge was a walking historical novel. I can only dream about giving my children the unique and priceless experience I had. " Sara Dallaire SAS '96
Lower right: Teachers Mike Norman, Jim Baker, Hazel Adolphson, Bob Dodge, Don Adams and Jolly Abraham with a group of National Merit semi-finalist students in Kings Road courtyard.
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"Learning about American values in a society that was self-consciously critical of those values was a uniquely valuable experience." Siddharth Mohandas (SAS '96)
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In the early 1990s, the American military established a presence on the island. Prior to this, there had been American military personnel attached to the U.S. Embassy, and American ships visited on a regular basis. When the Americans decided to withdraw from the Philippines, the Singapore government offered them facilities in Singapore. In the eyes of the Singapore government, it was imperative to keep the Americans engaged militarily in Southeast Asia. The alternative might be an attempt by a regional power to dominate the sea lanes of Asia. There are some 250 American military personnel in current-day Singapore. Most of them are attached to the U.S. Navy logistics base. The logistics command helps connect the U.S. Pacific Fleet with the Indian Ocean and beyond. The U.S. Navy in Singapore offers re-supply and repair services as well as assistance with joint exercises between the United States and Asian nations. The base was especially important during Gulf War I, Gulf War II and the Afghan war. The American military command has also formed an effective association with its host. The U.S. Air Force has a detachment that is assigned to the Singapore Air Force base at Paya Lebar. Singapore has adopted the American F16 as its main fighter jet, and U.S. pilots fly some six joint exercises yearly with Singapore. Singapore also maintains a squadron in the United States, where Singaporean pilots train with the U.S. Air Force. Singapore's purchase of a number of Apache attack helicopters has also created more ties between the two countries.
Opposite: The Class of 1993Above left: Choice Week 1991 - Alcohol and drug education in the high school.
The military added a new component to the American community and the school. Military functions became important parts of the American social calendar. During the 1990s the military recreational facility in Sembawang, the Terror Club, became the site for the Fourth of July celebrations, the most important community function of the year. The move reflected the excellent setting and services offered by the military and the fact that the SAS board had decided it was no longer appropriate to serve or drink alcohol at functions on the school campus. As the U.S. military represents the social and racial diversity of the United States, this spilled over into the school â€” not that the school needed a more diverse student body. By the 1990s, over 40 countries were represented. Within the 60 percent American population at the school there were changes as well. The percentage of Asian Americans rose at a steady rate through the 1990s and into the next decade. By 2002, close to a third of the American passport holders at SAS had Asian surnames. If Asian non-Americans are added to this number, over half the students in the school come from Asian backgrounds. This reflects the demographic changes in American immigration beginning in the 1980s, which saw large numbers of Asians moving to the United States. The Asian American connection also reflects the size of the American electronics and technology investment in Singapore, as Asian Americans are heavily represented in these sectors. It is another example of how SAS throughout its history has changed as Singapore's economy and society have changed. Singapore became a global city with an important role in the Asia Pacific region. That reality is reflected in the makeup of the SAS community. If Kenichi Ohmae needed a case study in the Californization of youth culture, SAS would provide an excellent opportunity. Above right: Cold Storage 1992. Singapore's supermarket choice expanded significantly over the 1990s, with the addition of many familiar products and the opening of the Tanglin Market, Carrefour and the Liberty Market specializing in American and European fare.
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Besides the changing makeup of the American community in the 1990s, what was remarkable was its sheer size. By 1995, the American Embassy estimated that there were over 15,000 Americans living in Singapore. Both factors were bound to have an impact on the school.
Opposite: Former Secretary of State James Baker answers a question raised by Roger Ahn (SAS 96) at a visit to the school in 1996.
"We were allowed to make choices, not treated like kids." Kelly Goodrich Benford (SAS '92) Top right: At a Booster Club Sock Hop fundraiser in 1991, "The Beach Boys" sing "Be True to Your School. " Don Adams, Jim Baker, Chuck Shriner and Rick Silverman. Lower left: SAS Singers 1993-94.
Top left: Student-initiated recycling projects at both King's Road and Ulu Pandan galvanized the community into environmental awareness. Recycling continues to be a major thrust at the Woodlands campus today.
Lower right: Sandy Clay leads a fifth grade choir group, with Melissa Cain playing the flute, 1993-94.
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"Ms. Harley inspired me to tap into my talent, which has led to my career as a graphic designer. " Natalie Egold (SAS '92) Opposite: This 1993 art display was part of the high school's spring Art Music Dance and Drama Festival that has become an annual tradition. In recent years, with the growing popularity of filmmaking classes, student films have been included in the festival. Above: High School Faculty in 1993.
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"SAS was a collection of individuals from all places who were galvanized into individuals who make up the foundations of a global community. " Dan Fleming (SAS '92)
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Perhaps the most significant curricular change for the high school in the 1990s was the growth of the Advanced Placement program in terms of course offerings, numbers of students taking the courses and its general importance as a part of the curriculum. The program at SAS began in 1968, when AP English was first offered. Between 1978 and 1990, ten new AP courses were added to the curriculum, including physics, calculus, chemistry, biology, U.S. history, modern European history, French, Spanish and computer science. By the end of the 1980s, SAS students were sitting for around 170 exams, and in the 1990s this more than doubled, in part because of new offerings in economics, psychology and statistics. By the end of the 1990s, over half the students in grades 11 and 12 were taking at least one AP course, and the average was more often two or three. By 2005, SAS was offering 26 different AP courses and had 314 students taking 774 exams, one of the strongest AP programs of any international school worldwide. It was not just the numbers that were impressive - it was the quality of the results. Over the years, a little over 90 percent of the students who took the exams scored high enough to obtain university credit. The scope and quality of its AP program easily placed SAS alongside the best private schools in the United States. One of the reasons the program grew was the growth of faculty, which brought a wide range of expertise and a deeper teacher pool to the school. Also, the community that SAS served demanded a school that prepared students not only for university but for the "best" universities. Year after year, over 95 percent of SAS graduates go on to four-year institutions of higher learning.
"The effort that all the parents and students put into IASAS made each athlete feel as if they were about to compete in the World Olympics." Mirabel Tirona (SAS '94)
"A great place for young minds to mix in a multi-cultural environment and build foundations for success. Julian Ratnayeke (SAS '91)
Opposite top: Kathy Tan and Jane Dodge show off books published by their students 1992-93. For many years a parent-run volunteer group, named "Word Works"and later "Gecko Press, " helped students to publish their stories. Opposite bottom: Peace Concert was a fundraising event that drew up to 1000 expatriate students from around Singapore to watch and dance to favorite bands. Above left: Joe Dirvin and Diane Peterson with an elementary school Spanish Club at Ulu Pandan 1992. Above right: Bringing home the IASAS Debating Gold and Silver medals. From left: Ajay Krishnan, Siddharth Mohandas, David Campbell, Sandeep Gupta.
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Middle right: Class clash event, tug-of-war 1996. Top left: Rugby Team 1990. Top right: Yulefest 1995-
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Bottom right: Nat Bava with the Championship cup from the UWC sevens tournament.
The second decade of IASAS saw the conference move beyond its growing pains to achieve stability and offer expanded opportunities. It is actually quite an impressive story, given the distance between each school and the political, economic and climatic conditions in which the association exists. The early 1990s were years of dramatic economic growth in the countries that contain IASAS schools. As economies grew, so did expatriate communities, which provided resources for new facilities and activities. SAS, ISB, ISKL and TAS all had new campuses with extensive, upgraded facilities. The demographic makeup of the schools also changed. All six schools had come into existence mainly as a result of the energy and commitment of their American communities. By the 1990s, though, ISM, ISB, ISKL and JIS had declining percentages of American students and staff. Americans made up around 25 percent of their enrollments. TAS and SAS continued to have a majority of Americans. The changed demographics led to the addition of new sports to the yearly calendar. Adding new events to the IASAS calendar required compromise on concerns, as all the schools were required to participate in all events. The three sports that were added reflected the new makeup of the various student bodies - cross country, rugby and badminton. SAS was the pioneer for rugby which, from the inception of IASAS, it had labored to include in the league. The fact that some schools played it and some did not limited its appeal in the league. Plus some schools had safety and medical concerns. SAS had been hosting a sevens tournament since the late 1980s, and other IASAS schools attended. A large number of British, Australians and New Zealanders were on staff at IASAS schools, and the schools had significant rugby-playing constituents. Thus in 1996, Jakarta hosted an invitational tournament for IASAS schools, and in 1997 rugby became Above left: In 1991 the track team was jubilant in its victory over Jakarta. Coaches included Bob Fenske (left second row), Bill Rankin (in red, front row) and Jim Baker (secondfrom right, front row). The track teams began a long winning streak during the latter years of the 1990s, as yet unbroken.
part of the league, first as seven-a-side and then later as ten-a-side. Along with boys rugby came a call for girls rugby, and in 1998 girls touch rugby was added. All the IASAS schools have significant Asian populations, which brought about a call for the league to play one of Asia's most popular sports â€” badminton. In actual fact, most of the schools had some tradition of playing badminton at the varsity level. Because of IASAS these programs had lost emphasis and most were clubs. SAS and ISB first played badminton against each other in 1963. In 1997, badminton became an official IASAS sport and proved to be one of the most popular sports in terms of student participation at SAS. The first decade of IASAS brought a new rivalry to SAS â€” the JIS Dragons. When IASAS began, SAS's chief rivals had been the ISB Panthers. SAS played all the schools but it was the Panthers they wanted to beat the most. The chemistry of IASAS changed this. For at least the first 15 years of the league, the two most successful schools in the sports tournaments were JIS and SAS. By the end of the decade, JIS had the largest number of league championships and SAS had the second largest. More often than not, the finals and fights for the gold were between SAS and JIS, and a majority of the time JIS emerged victorious. The relative geographical closeness of the two schools added to the intensity of the rivalry. Jakarta was a close plane ride away, and the majority of SAS teams had some kind of exchange with JIS. The same was true of ISKL, but the rivalry was not as intense because ISKL had less success against SAS. JIS was the biggest school in the league and the most important target. For years, the sweetest victory of the season was the one against the Dragons.
Above right: Eddie the Eagle and the cheerleaders at the last King's Road bonfire in 1996.
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"Ms Kuester was so interesting and inspiring, so compassionate and intelligent. " Helen Lee Kwok (SAS '96)
Top left: A dance performance of "The Snow Queen" in 1991. Top right: Paula Silverman leading a dance class in the new studio at King's Road.
"Miss Huntress listened as if you were her only student and made you think you could conquer the world and your fears. " Molly Bergstrom (SAS '96) Opposite top: Inbal Megiddo (SAS '94) and Mary Berlik (SAS '95), both accomplished musicians who went on to study at Yale (Inbal) and Harvard (Mary). Opposite bottom: Christmas dance performance at King's Road 1995.
Bottom left: "Carousel"performance in 1994. Bottom right: The set construction crew for "Carousel. " Carl Homan seated right front, Ken Clarke standing at right.
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"Dr. Dewan was the first instructor who really challenged my mind and treated me as an adult. Her class was much more than a typical English class â€” it was a cultural experience. " Mirabel Tirona (SAS '94) Pippin in 1996. In 1997 Ann Gould took over the reins of the program and led it to even further growth. Another area of student life that exploded in this decade was the dance program. IASAS and new facilities at King's Road had raised interest in dance in the 1980s, but in the 1990s it took off as an integral part of the school program. One reason for this was the expansion of dance as part of the school curriculum. What began as a dance class and a performance dance class with a handful of students in 1987 grew to four different levels of dance classes with over 100 students within seven years. Another reason for growth was the hiring of a teacher whose prime responsibility was dance. The first teacher to fill the position was Paula Silverman, who contributed greatly to the program. Her energy and enthusiasm for dance established the program as a key part of SAS life. In 1989, the numbers had grown to a point where the tradition of two major dance performances a year was established. One was near Christmas and had a Christmas theme in the early years â€” Twas the Night before Christmas in 1989, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas in 1990 and The Snow Queen in 1991. The other major performance was the Dance Showcase in the spring, which by 1993 had evolved into a thematic approach that encompassed the entire show. Tremendously popular, both shows today draw some of the biggest crowds of the year and feature more individual participants than any other school activity outside of music. The establishment of a premier dance program also added to the quality of the musicals put on by the drama and music departments. Evidence of this was seen in the choreography and dancers in Kiss Me Kate in 1990, Carousel in 1994, and
During the same time, dance also strengthened at the middle school and was especially influenced for many years by Ulu Pandan PE and dance teacher Ursula Pong. During these years the PTA sponsored an annual Ulu Pandan Talent Show that became the highlight of the year for many middle school and younger dance enthusiasts. In the last year of the Talent Show before the move to Woodlands in 1996, the King's Road auditorium was packed for two highenergy, enthusiastic, and tightly choreographed performances supported by a small army of volunteer moms.
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from schools such as U W C and SAS. The event raises thousands of dollars and is one of the best-attended after-school events of the year. The ethic of active community service that was promoted by the Social Services Club in the 1980s grew and expanded in the following decade. The club grew and, by 1994, was actively conducting ten different projects in Singapore, supported by 150 students and 15 teachers. Following in the club's footsteps, an environmental group was organized under the sponsorship of Chris Paine. Like the SSC, the idea was to get kids to commit their time to actively giving to the community. Named SAVE (Students Against Violating the Environment), this group participated in the international coastal cleanup campaign, played a major role in setting up a nature sensory trail for the blind on Pulau Ubin, and spearheaded a recycling program for paper and cans on campus, which has been so successful that recycling on campus today is a matter of habit. In 1995, the Rotary Club recognized the efforts of this group with an award and $5000 for its environmental efforts. In the same vein, a chapter of Amnesty International was set up at SAS. Reflecting the realities of life in Singapore, the name of the group was changed to Peace Initiative. Amnesty International is persona non grata in Singapore because it criticizes the government's security policies. The purpose of Peace Initiative is to educate people about human rights violations by writing letters and lobbying on behalf of prisoners of conscience and to raise money for a school they support in Pakistan, in addition to other causes in keeping with the group's mission. The main source for raising money comes from the annual Peace Concert, one of the high points of the year for students from all expatriate schools in Singapore. The performers are primarily independent bands comprised of students
Efforts to involve SAS students in community and social services were not confined to the high school. Parallel activities took place in the lower grades, especially in the middle school. Initially these activities revolved around raising money for those in need. For example, middle school students ate plain rice and gave their lunch money for famine relief in Africa, while the elementary grades made posters. This was part of an annual "earn to give" drive that placed efforts to help others in the center of school life. As time passed, the school began to look at ways to go beyond fundraising and to actively involve the students in community service. Kate Thome and Richard Frazier organized an ecology club at Ulu Pandan. Initially planned to raise awareness of Singapore's ecosystem, it branched out into community service as well. The club participated in the sensory trail project, helped to clean up Sungei Buloh nature reserve and promoted recycling. Middle school students have developed a very close relationship with the Tabitha organization in Cambodia over the last decade, which has grown over time to include participation by high school and lower grade students as well. The program evolved from raising money for Tabitha to Opposite lower left: The Earn-to-Give campaign was always a key event at Ulu Pandan and continued on the Bay Tree campus. Opposite lower right: Elementary students visiting Villa Francis, 1992.
Opposite top: Sungei Buloh beach cleanup 1995. The SAVE group and other volunteers have participated in every International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore since the annual event began. The SAVE group has developed an outstanding reputation for its environmental leadership.
Above: SAVE Club executive members accept an award from the Rotary Club in 1995. From left: Anne-Marie Tan (secretary), Ami Kanaizuka (treasurer), Ramsey Yount (vice president), Robert Frazier (president).
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"Mrs. Donahue taught with passion and really made literature come alive." Kate Bailey (SAS '93)
"the wonderful Kings Road campus that allowed us to always be outside as we walked from class to class... " Kate Bailey (SAS '93)
Above: Performance of "The Real Inspector Hound" in November From left: Iwa Hooe, Brad Wrenn, Christine Constantin.
Opposite: Deputy Principal of the middle school Paul Combs greets the Holland family at the main Ulu Pandan entrance. It has long been tradition at the school that an administrator from each division, and often the superintendent, is in front of the school each morning to greet students. Tracy and Heather Holland were instrumental, along with teacher Amy Ferguson, in establishing the long-lasting service relationship the school has with Tabitha Cambodia.
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actually traveling to Cambodia to help build houses for the poor, which 18 sixth graders, their teachers and their parents did in the 2003-2004 school year, and a group of eighth graders continued the following year in what may have become a new middle school tradition. The faculty has also strongly supported this organization with regular Thanksgiving and summer house-building trips. Students in the primary, intermediate and middle schools give of their time to work at the Adventist Rehabilitation Center, the Metta Home, the School for the Blind, and other organizations in the community. In addition they have played a role in working with schools on the Indonesian island of Bintan. When the 1997 Strategic Planning Committee included a community service component in its vision for the school, it was in many ways simply putting in writing a vision that was already an integral part of the school.
In 1990, Dr Don Bergman replaced Kuhbander as the superintendent of the school. Bergman was somewhat different from his predecessors in that his primary administrative experience had been in overseas schools as high school principal at JIS and then as superintendent of the Nagoya International School. Bergman inherited a school whose challenges emanated from its success rather than its weaknesses. The school at Ulu Pandan was at capacity and had a waiting list. A growing expatriate community was once again testing the limits of what SAS could offer. The growth brought up important questions about the nature and future of the school. Predicting the future needs of SAS was a perilous task. The transient nature of the community and the changing nature of Singapore and its economic growth had on numerous occasions proved assumptions about the future to be wrong. Historically though, the optimists were the ones who had the largest legacies in the school and in Singapore.
As early as the late 1980s, the Board of Governors began to talk about expansion. Given the downturn of the mid 1980s, it is understandable that they followed a conservative approach. The biggest problem was in the lower grades, where there were waiting lists, and it was difficult for non-Americans to gain admittance. In the 1990-91 school year, the question of expansion and the future of the school took on a greater urgency. Where was the school to go from here now that it was at capacity? A short-term answer was the establishment of the BayTree satellite school to accommodate 125 children on the waiting list. BayTree campus was in a recreational club in the Clementi area. Squash courts were turned into classrooms, and Jack's Steak House became the cafeteria. The future of the school was not only of interest to the American community, it was important to the Singapore government. The land that the Ulu Pandan campus occupied was leased from the government, and as the lease approached its expiry date in 2003, the size and future of SAS was bound to be examined.
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The interest of Singapore officials went beyond the fact that they represented the landlord. SAS was important to Singapore's economic future. Quality education for expatriates was a selling point to foreign investors. SAS added to Singapore's allure for foreigners because of its excellent staff, curriculum and facilities. SAS was a top-notch college preparatory school and one of the best and largest overseas schools. Adding to the attractiveness of SAS was its extensive and successful extracurricular program in the arts, sports and community service. As a result, SAS was not only important to the expatriate community but a national resource for the greater Singapore community.
The school and the community discussed three alternatives. The first was to stay at King's Road and Ulu Pandan and increase the physical limits of both campuses. This meant that if the school continued to grow, enrollment would be capped at some point, not an attractive proposition to many in the school. A cap would mean denying admission to many nonAmericans, which in turn would drive up the percentage of American students and change the nature of the school. Many felt that this would weaken or destroy the international makeup of the school, and hardly reflect the nature of the multinational and global business community in which Americans lived.
Board minutes in the early 1990s indicate that government officials felt that SAS should move and expand. They envisioned a school that was almost twice the size of the current school. The board and community found it difficult to embrace this vision. The amount of land for a completely new school would only be available in outlying areas of the island, which would effectively remove the school from the American residential areas. While it is true that redevelopment of the island had somewhat dispersed the community, most expatriates still lived in the "expat triangle" framed by Orchard, Holland, Clementi and Bukit Timah roads. The school was also a community center and played a key role in hosting programs such as Boy Scouts, football, Little League, gymnastics and swimming. It was the site of community events such as the Fourth of July celebration.
Another downside of remaining in place was the expense of upgrading some of the facilities. The Ulu Pandan campus was in constant need of repair due to the less than stellar original construction of the buildings. The original buildings at King's Road were aging and had not been built with the needs of central air-conditioning and technology in mind. To upgrade and stay abreast of the times would eventually require tearing some buildings down and starting over.
A major move would require selling the school's most valuable asset, the King's Road campus. Bought for $150,000 in 1960, the property was worth over $50 million. In exchange, the school would only be able to afford lease-held land at a new location.
Above right: The Asian Civilizations Museum opened in the 1990s. Two years after the Empress Place museum reopened in 2003, this museum was closedfor extensive renovation and will be reinvented as a Peranakan museum in 2007.
A second proposal was to build a new middle school. Those in favor thought that three distinct schools would offer an opportunity for the schools to develop their own identities. Opposition to this came from the administration, although it was a plan originally proposed by a previous administration. Current administrators felt that there were enough problems trying to coordinate curriculum and consistent policy on two campuses without taking on a third campus. Other downsides were distance and the redundancy of administrative tasks and operating costs. Eventually, the third path - a completely new school with all grades on one campus â€” was taken. Given a choice of three locations by the Singapore government, a 37-acre plot in Woodlands was selected, situated
Above left: A group of middle school students collecting soft toys for donations during "Earn to Give. "
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Woodlands Campus Construction American businesses generously came forward with donations for building the new Woodlands campus. An official Groundbreaking Ceremony was held on October 29, 2004 at the site of the new campus, and speeches were given by Mr.s. Lyn Reed, Chairman of the SAS Board of Governors, Mr. Dick Moore, project manager, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Mr. Timothy Chorba, and Mr. Gob Chee Wee, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade Industry and Communications.
Above: (from left) Mr. Kazuyoshi Tsuda, Ambassador Timothy Chorba, Mr. Gob Chee Wee, Mrs. Lyn Reed, Mr. T. C. Tham break ground in the official ceremony. Mr. Dick Moore is standing at the right in the background. Top right: The SAS Board of Governors at the time of the groundbreaking. Front row (from left) Dr. Ellen Cangi, Mrs. Molly Robertson, Mrs. Lyn Reed, Dr. Kathleen Campbell, Mrs. Linda Johnson. Back row (from left) Mr. Kirk Moul, Mr. J. Robert Clapp Jr., Mr. Ian McKinnon, Dr. John Culbreth, Mr. Pat O'Gorman. Middle right: The middle/high school entrances taking shape. Bottom right: Teachers view the drama theater under construction early in 1996.
Above left: Board members reviewing architects' plans for the new campus in 1994. Lyn Reed (center) is the longest serving member in the history of the SAS school board. She servedfrom 1989 to 1996. At the end of the current school year Shelley DeFord, current board chair, will exceed that record, and Garth Sheldon, current board vice chairman will follow a few months later.
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Above right: At the last assembly at King's Road Mr. Gomez was asked to cut the celebration cake.
in an emerging new town, and close to the causeway to Malaysia. The availability of new custom-built facilities silenced many of those who opposed the move. The new school would have two swimming pools, three and a half gymnasiums, six playing fields, a track, four theaters and a host of other facilities that the community could enjoy. The move to Woodlands was also made more palatable by Singapore's vastly improved transportation infrastructure. Woodlands was literally on the other side of the island from the "expat triangle," but Singapore's highways and rapid transit system made it accessible in 20-30 minutes from most parts of the island. A number of American families also moved to Woodlands, creating a mini suburban enclave next to the school. SAS was joining a host of other schools in Singapore that were relocating from the center of the island to outlying areas in order to obtain more land and create better facilities. The moves included premier schools on historical landmarks, such as Raffles Institution, St Joseph's Institution and Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. The Singapore government was pleased to make the land available because the school added to the allure of the new residential area that was being developed in Woodlands. The amount of land made available was sufficient to accommodate 3,700 students, a stipulation placed in the lease agreement as a condition for the land. Many Americans at the time were highly skeptical of there ever being a need for a school that large. Given a 90-year lease, facilities costing $150 million were erected to house preschool through grade 12. When the Woodlands campus opened in 1996, SAS had 2,500 students. Within eight years, it had to be redeveloped at a cost of $65 million. By 2006, SAS enrollment stood over 3,450 and rising.
Helen Johnson, who was Ulu Pandan principal from 1976 to 1983, once remarked that "SAS is what it is right now." She meant that SAS lives in an evolving, changing community and reflects the makeup and needs of whatever the present community requires. As Singapore changed and the American community along with it, a case could be made that there have been many Singapore American Schools. It could be argued that much of what changed was a matter of emphasis rather than identity; but the school of the 1990s was quite different from the school of the 1970s, which in turn was a far different place from the original school on Rochalie Drive. In June 1996, the last students wearing blue and white walked off the King's Road campus. The facility had served the American community in Singapore well for 34 years. The school was the centerpiece of the memories of thousands of expatriates who had lived and grown up in Singapore over these years. During the summer of 1995, over 100 SAS alumni returned to say goodbye to King's Road and celebrate the school's 39th anniversary. This was the first alumni reunion to take place in Singapore. Many who came had not seen SAS for 20 or more years. Their amazement at the changes that had taken place was not confined to greater Singapore society but included SAS. The last two redevelopments of the King's Road campus had created facilities that they as students could never have imagined. Many contrasted the school as it stood in 1995 with their children's schools in the United States and wondered why such an amazing facility was going to be torn down.
Above right: Graduation 1996. Speakers included Jim Baker, Abe Abraham Above left: The student council executive during the last year of King's Road: and Mel Kuhbander. Mike Imperi presented Dr. Kuhbander with the plaque (from left) Sara Dallaire, Stefen Jensen, Amir Shaikh, Stephen Tadlock. from the Fine Arts Center that was named in his honor.
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ANNOUNCING THE OPENING OF THE NEW SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL
SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL WOODLANDS CAMPUS
Top: The announcement that went out to the general community included the architect's drawing of the new campus. While today's campus still retains almost the same basic footprint, it is nearly unrecognizable with the significant architectural details that have been added to give the school warmth, identity, and distinctive divisions in addition to the extensions on both ends of the campus. The cafeteria and tennis courts/parking lot visible on the right gave way to the impressive new high school and early childhood center completed in 2004.
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Above left: Kirk Palmer, Richard Frazier and Linda Harley examine the new campus plans in 1994. A concerted effort was made to include the faculty in many of the decisions throughout the design phase. Above right: Some of the Central Administration staff gathered in the King's Road offices before the move, (from left) Ann Tan, Farouk Maricar, Suri Suyot, Linda Lee, Sue Matrawee, and Teresa Sim are all still on staff at SAS.
Anyone who had lived in Singapore through the previous 20 years was not quite as amazed at the changes. The sight of new buildings making way for even newer ones is common. Replacing the old with the new is as much a part of Singapore life as chili crab, char kway teow and satay. For expatriate young people the move to Woodlands reflected the reality of their lives. A common denominator that expatriate young people share is how much they must deal with change. Many change schools, many times, in many parts of the world. Being the "new kid" is an experience virtually all SAS students have shared. Those who do remain in Singapore see friends come and go on a regular basis. Goodbye is an often-used word.
The upside of all this is that expatriate kids understand change. In the same vein and for many of the same reasons, American communities overseas have very short memories. The turnover in the community makes the new commonplace in a relatively short period of time. King's Road would soon lade from the institutional memory.
Top right: Middle school science teacher and eco club sponsor, Richard Frazier, took his students on an expedition to the new Woodlands campus before construction began. Top left: The last school bus leaves the Kings Road campus.
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he opening ceremonies for the new SAS campus at Woodlands were held in October 1996. Participating in the event were then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (who became Prime Minister in 2003), American Ambassador to Singapore Timothy Chorba, SAS Superintendent Don Bergman and SAS School Board Chairperson Lyn Reed. Also in attendance was a bald eagle named Sue Ellen, borrowed from Jurong Bird Park. The Woodlands project had many critics, but once the school was up and running, a simple tour of the facilities changed many minds. Those who lamented the loss of a center for community activities quickly saw the potential of the new campus. For those who wondered how the school was going to find 3,000 students to fill the new classrooms, the answer was relatively swift. The move to Woodlands alone increased enrollment from 2,400 to 2,700, and enrollment continued to rise each succeeding year. Within six years, the school had to initiate a plan to expand facilities.
Previous page (left): The entire student body and staff participated in a 50th anniversary celebration in October 2005. This was part of a year-long series of anniversary events celebrating the school's fiftieth year. Left: B. G. Lee (Deputy Prime Minister at the time) was the special guest at the school's official opening of the Woodlands campus in October 1996. Classes began at the new campus in August 1996. The Straits Times.
"My fondest memory of Singapore is walking on Orchard Road in the early morning hours when everything was quiet and I felt as if I were on my own private island. " Thomas Murphey (SAS '98)
"Mr. Burnett made me love history. " Shannon Scott (SAS '04)
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Woodlands Campus Official Opening Top left: U.S. Ambassador Timothy Chorba and Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister B. G Lee Hsien Loong revealing the plaque that now graces the school's main entrance. Top right: SAS singers pose with B. G Lee. The Singers performed as part of the official opening, and Tesz Millan (front left) sang the "Star Spangled Banner. " Middle left: Lion dance performers entertained in the traditional Chinese good-fortune dance for the opening. Middle right: Stef Sanvik conducting the school band at the opening. Bottom right: Superintendent Don Bergman wondering where Sue Ellen is going! The eagle, on loan with her trainer from the Jurong Bird Park for the event, had been trained to fly to the main stage area, but unfortunately missed the mark and ended up on the far side of the stadium wall.
"Dr. Dewan was one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had. She expected high standards from everyone. She was a mentor as well." David Wilson (SAS '01)
"Ms. Pong taught me that passion, not technique, is what makes a great dancer and that this can be applied to all aspects
Bonnie Lau (SAS '03)
Opposite (left): students at all levels have extensive access to computers and online research facilities throughout the Woodlands campus. Above: The first graduating class at the Woodlands campus, the class of 1997.
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Opposite (right): Drama teacher Trisha Kuester coaches Brad Crowe and Alison Bones during a rehearsalfor "Your Country's Good" in 2001.
The move to the new school offered SAS opportunities to expand and upgrade the role that technology played in the curriculum and life of the school. In the 1970s, teachers Abe Abraham and Roby Johnson began to offer computer science programs after school as independent study courses. In 1980, computer courses were offered as Interim Semester choices, and the following year SAS purchased five computers and offered formal classes in computer science and computer programming. Superintendent Mel Kuhbander actively promoted the computer classes, saying that computers were becoming the fourth "R" of education. Computer coordinator positions were created at both Ulu Pandan and King's Road, and resources were made available to expand the school's access to new technology. By the early 1990s, the high school had a drop-in computer lab with 20 stations, a business lab with 20 personal computers and a programming lab with 25 Macintoshes.
"Mr. Godley always pushed me to do more than what I thought I could. Today I am not afraid to push myself and it has made me what I am." Coleen Dissmore (SAS '99)
The King's Road library had access to the Internet and research facilities through the National University of Singapore, a route that all schools in Singapore had to follow at this time if they wanted Internet access. In addition, all schools had to apply for yearly permission from the government in order to access the Internet. Until the mid-1990s, the Singapore government was hesitant to open Internet technology to the public without some idea of its ramifications. In the past, the government had been able to control or influence most sources of information, and in the early Internet years, there was a Young PAP project that tried to identify and black out sites that were perceived as unacceptable or inappropriate. The authorities quickly realized that it was futile to limit access to such a key informational tool. The need to be plugged into the global information highway greatly outweighed the government's reservations about the Internet. SAS has benefited from Singapore's desire to embrace the technological and informational evolution. Today, a higher percentage of Singaporeans have computers in their home than do Americans in the United States.
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The school board and leadership team under Don Bergman took the importance of technology to a new level with their determination to keep SAS abreast of current trends. The business offices at King's Road and Ulu Pandan were networked; student databases were created, and scheduling in the high school was computerized by 1991.
"A special memory is the 9/11 memorial service at National Stadium. I was an usher for the American Association and experienced firsthand that people with diverse backgrounds can come together to cooperate and unite against a common foe. " Robert Oandasan (SAS '03)
Top left: Captain Singh, head of security, greeting parents and students on opening day 1996. Neighborhood houses now fill the space to the left of the school's fence. Top right: The entire elementary school was able to use the extensive main stadium field for participation in an exercise awareness activity in 1996.
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There is no doubt that the building of a new campus at Woodlands offered opportunities to take information technology to even higher levels. A technologically advanced campus was one of the attractions in building a new school. As the new school was being planned, an IT consultant was hired in order to include this important component in its design. The entire school was to be networked, with a computer and television in every classroom. When the new school opened in 1996, there were over 175 networked computers in the high school alone. A new administrative position was created â€” that of Director of Instructional Technology â€” to foster the incorporation of technology within the curriculum, working with computer coordinators at all levels of the school and supervising a staff of six people, whose sole jobs were to service the system itself. The program continued to grow and was upgraded in 2003 and 2004, when the campus was redeveloped. SAS can now teach off-campus with students' home computers hooked up to those of their teachers and the library. Students can access assignments and teachers through the Internet, and parents can monitor the progress of their children through grade books online. Audio-visual facilities are also integrated through the school network.
Bottom: SAVE Club students during a weekly collection of recyclable paper. Behind them is the original Woodlands memorial garden, the repository for time capsules and memorial plaques moved from King's Road and for those added at Woodlands. With the campus redevelopment in 2003, this area was lost to the new high school and a new memory garden is now planned.
It is not surprising that SAS recognizes the importance of technology, given the makeup of its student body. A significant number of SAS parents work in technologically related companies. In addition, many parents travel for business, often to underdeveloped countries, and understand the need and role of technology in helping them stay connected with their home offices in Singapore. In many ways, the position of SAS on the cutting edge of educational technology is an important selling point to its clients.
The new technology also did wonders for student communications and publications. State-of-the-art equipment improved the quality of the student newspaper and yearbook. Both publications have received international awards for excellence. Today the school's audio-visual system makes daily live broadcasts possible in both the high school and middle school, and it offers a platform for the filmmaking students to show their efforts to the entire school and be recognized for them.
Above left and right: The new campus offered open passageways on three levels where students could gather to participate in courtyard activities such as this jazz band break gig, Charles Angelo conducting.
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The move to Woodlands coincided with a shift toward SAS becoming the dominant school in IASAS sports, partially â€” at least according to the coaches of other IASAS schools â€” because of its large student body. The Asian economic crisis of 1997 brought about sharp contractions in enrollment at ISKL, JIS, ISB and ISM. Singapore weathered the crisis better than any other country in the region, and many investors and businessmen in the area moved their headquarters to this safe haven. SAS continued to grow as other IASAS schools became smaller. By 1999, SAS had the largest enrollment of any expatriate school in Asia. The relative sizes of the schools no doubt contributed to SAS success in IASAS, but there were other factors as well. The new facilities at Woodlands made a great contribution. Track and field, swimming and tennis athletes could practice on campus for the first time. The track team no longer had to board buses for 45-minute rides to other tracks. It used to be said that the track team knew the island better than other students because it practiced on tracks from Woodlands to Kallang and Jurong to Bedok. The tennis team no longer had to check the weather to determine if it was worth traveling halfway across the island only to be rained out. The swim team no longer had to share the Ulu Pandan pool with Opposite: The central front entrance of Woodlands before redevelopment, looking over the middle school.
a myriad of elementary after-school programs. The new school quickly became an attractive venue for hosting other schools and teams, giving it a higher profile and providing more opportunities for athletes to compete. There were other reasons for the improvements in IASAS athletic fortune. They were the result of the SAS tradition of sports excellence, good coaching, motivated and engaged athletes, and supportive parents. At Woodlands, several sports took dominance in the league within a few years. Swimming continued to be the gold standard in IASAS. Between 1999 and 2005, the boys and girls swim teams won 13 out of 14 championships. The track and field team joined the swim team as the premier IASAS program by winning every girls championship from 1997 to 2005 and every boys championship from 1998 to 2005. The track and field team has never lost a meet on its home track. The move to Woodlands also saw the rise to dominance of a number of other sports. In 1999, the boys basketball team began a streak of IASAS championships that has yet to be broken. The following year, boys volleyball assumed control of the league and began its run of victories. Other teams saw repeat victories during this era of SAS sports including girls basketball, girls soccer, girls volleyball and girls tennis. The cross country team has won 10 of the last 14 boys and girls team IASAS gold medals. Above: The cross country boys and girls have enjoyed a very successful record during the Woodlands period, earning 10 IASAS golds in the last seven years.
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Top right: Poster of lnbalMegiddo (SAS 94) in front of which is teacher Bob Dodge, a guest at her debut recital at Lincoln Center in 2002. The featured soloist at the When students leave SAS they go to all areas of the globe and end up in many 50th anniversary celebration of the UN in Singapore in 1995, she also played the Kaddish at Yitzak Rabin's memorial in Madison Square Garden in the same year. different fields. Several reunions are organized by alumni themselves and held Inbal, a graduate of Yale in Music and International Relations, and already a world every summer, with informal get-togethers happening frequently. Many SAS classmates have become lifelong friends. It is the schools hope thatformer students, renowned cellist who has performed around the globe, is part of the SAS "Celebrating staff and parents will continue to stay involved with each other and with the school Our Alumni" series, performing at Victoria Concert Hall in April, 2006, during the in future years. A theme "Celebrating Our Alumni" presented a yearlong series of week of the official anniversary celebration and reunion week. events at the school involving alumni during the 2005-06 50th anniversary year, culminating in an official ceremony and a reunion in April. The school publishes Middle right: Hussein N. El Lessy (SAS '85) Engineer-Scientist and Project an alumni web page, a directory and a magazine to help keep connections strong. Manager: Orbiter Debris Damage Assessment for The Boeing Company and NASA. Systems. Hussein has worked as "Flight Lead"for a number of spaceflightsand has A few SAS alumni are highlighted on these pages. recently been on loan to the shuttle program from the International Space Station Life Support systems team. Hussein spent a week at SAS working with students at all Opposite Page: levels and gave a talk at the Singapore Science Centre as part of the SAS "Celebrating Our Alumni " series. Top left: Kristi Hagen Bauer (SAS '91), at her wedding, January 2000. Back row from left: Ann Cangi (SAS '92), Brandi Becknell (SAS '92), Kelly Goodrich Bottom right: Siddharth Mohandas (SAS 86) at left, currently in a doctoral (SAS '92), Simon Benfbrd (SAS '91), Hans Gartner (SAS '91), Julie Payne (SAS program in the department of government at Harvard after receiving a Harvard '91), Chris Mcintosh, Monique Borthayre (SAS '88), Inger Hagen (SAS '89). undergraduate degree in government and a masters in international relations from Front sitting from left: Cindy Cierakowski (SAS '91), Kristine Hagen (former Cambridge. Siddharth was an associate editor for Foreign Affairs and has written Ulu Pandan teacher), Kristi Hagen (SAS '91), Joe Bauer, Karina Martin (SAS for publications such as Newsweek and The Christian Science Monitor. In 2000 VI). he interned as a speech writerfor UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bottom left: Kendra Williams Bowers (SAS '90), lieutenant in the US Navy. In Above left:. Micheline Lim Chau (SAS 71), president and chief operating officer of 1998, Kendra was the first American female combat pilot to bomb an enemy target. She was part of Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. Kendra was invited back to Lucasfilm. Micheline was a student at SAS from kindergarten to 12th grade, later receiving degrees from Wellesley and Stanford. She was the Lucasfilm representative SAS to be a graduation speaker in 2003at the official announcement of the opening of the Lucasfilm studio in Singapore in 2003. Top middle: Linda Chambers (SAS '72) and Steve Pringle (SAS '72) married in 1996. Below: Susan Studebaker-Rutledge (SAS 80) and Greg Rutledge (SAS 78) also marriedyears after leaving SAS. Ihey are shown here speaking at the Class of Above right: George Fitch (SAS '65), pictured here at SAS with a student when he returned as a graduation speaker in the mid 1990s. He advised graduates to carefully 2005 graduation breakfast. Whatever it is that brings SAS alumni together after select their path when they came to life-changing crossroads so that they could look graduation, it happens often, and we have many SAS alumni couples. Tom Wagner back on their lives without regret. Fitch most recently served as Mayor of Warren ton, (SAS '90) writes in 2005, "the most life-altering event of my high school career Virginia, for six years. In 2005 he was a candidate for Governor of Virginia. In his was meeting Jennifer Vesper (Class of 1988) my sophomore year and eventually Foreign Service career Fitch was American consul in Belize and then commercial following up on that initial infatuation (nine years later), ultimately leading to our marriage seven years ago this October. " Tom was the official photographerfor trade attache to famaica and France. During this time he successfully created a the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for three years and now has a Super Bowl ring from Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Calgary Olympics and inspired the movie "Cool Runnings. " the team's 2003 victory.
Top: The track and field team regularly draws close to 100 team members from the high school. The girls track team has been undefeated for 9 successive IASAS meets, and the boys team victorious for 8. Bottom left: Coach Don Adams with the highly successful girls soccer team 2001. Bottom right: Swimming has continued to be a very strong sport for SAS. Boys and girls swim teams have won 13 out of the last 14 IASAS tournaments.
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Perhaps it was the atmosphere of a fresh start on the new campus; or perhaps it was a different community; and perhaps it was the particular vision of this planning committee; but this endeavor appears to have lasted through the ten years. The school that the committee envisioned for the twenty-first century was one that prepared students to participate in the modern global economy and community. The committee foresaw a school that was committed to providing state-of-the-art informational and technological tools in instruction and learning. A third vision was to create a climate in which community service was an integral part of each student's value system. Beyond this, the committee wanted a school that developed each student's passion for learning and encouraged students to follow their dreams.
The new campus and growing enrollment brought about a desire within the SAS community to reevaluate the school and where it was heading. A Strategic Planning Committee was established to set the course that SAS would follow for the next decade. The committee members were drawn from a wide cross section of the SAS community, including teachers, both local and foreign-hire, administrators, board members, students and representatives from the non-teaching staff and the community at large. Looking a decade into the future is an iffy proposition for an overseas school. If a committee had tried to plot the course of SAS in 1956, 1966, 1976 and 1986, the vision at the beginning of each of those decades would have been so very different from the school that emerged ten years later. The school did begin a strategic planning process in 1989-1990, but it was sidetracked by a change in administration and the plans to move the school to Woodlands.
Top left: Along with the move to Woodlands, the primary school split into two divisions. The four divisions each adopted a mascot with the move, to give them more of an identity on the large new campus. Primary school became fish, intermediate school geckos and middle school tigers (after a brief time as traveler palms). The eagle remained the high school sports mascot. Top right: With the move to Woodlands a new phenomenon for the school, but a familiar American concept emerged â€” the neighborhood school. Fully 15% of the school's students live in the Woodlands neighborhood. Woodlands neighbors sometimes have over 150 children ringing their doorbells in the predominately American neighborhood during Halloween. Bottom: Hubert Pan, Ron Starker, Harvey Alvy, Pat O'Brien, David Hoss and Mark Nerney were members of a strategic planning committee of administrators, faculty, staff, students and parents that developed a new mission for the school.
Living in Singapore between 1997 and 2005 offered many "teachable moments" about the interconnectedness of the emerging global community. Singapore could change many things, but it could not change its geography. The prevailing monsoon winds had always provided Singapore with clean air, but in 1997 and 1998, they brought ecological disaster. In Borneo and Sumatra, fires to clear the land for planting had grown into continuous uncontrollable forest fires that spewed huge amounts of smoke over Malaysia and Singapore. The winds brought a haze that rivaled the smog in southern California in the 1950s and 1960s. Farther north Kuala Lumpur, which already had a fair share of domestic pollution, looked like something out of a SciFi movie. SAS students flying on Opposite: Snow in Singapore? Every Christmas, or actually about two and decorations down Tanglin and Orchard Roads. The Tanglin Mall, entrance, which often magically turns into an appropriate Chinese New pre-Christmas festivities. In spite of the fact that the "snow" is actually
an exchange to KL experienced the smog coming through the air supply as their plane descended. In clean, sunny Singapore, a gray haze hung over the island for months. Air quality indicators became closely watched gauges to determine what activities could be held, and many sports events were cancelled or rescheduled. About the same time, the Asian economic crisis hit the region. In 1997, the flight of short term and medium term capital from Southeast Asia touched off an economic crisis of huge proportions. Regional currencies dropped against the U.S. dollar. Payments owed in U.S. dollars suddenly became much more expensive, and many businesses were in this position. Stock markets crashed throughout the region, and some stocks lost 50 to 75 percent of their value. Property values took a nosedive as well, adding
months earlier, Singapore prepares for Christmas with a massive number of lights built in the early 1990s has always had a giant Christmas decoration at its front Year's symbol the following month. "Snow-making" was added every evening to the warm soapy bubbles, the activity draws big crowds every night.
Above: A view of the Singapore River and downtown area 2005, showing off both modern and colonial Singapore. (Photo courtesy of Roger Thomas.)
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"Smileys cheery disposition always brightened my day. " Katherine Klusmeier (SAS '01)
"When I graduated, I had no idea how much I would miss the good ol'days ofEagle Country." Hubert Pan (SAS '98)
Top right: The PTA donated a half Javanese gamelan to the school in the early years of Woodlands. Since then elementary school students have had the opportunity to learn gamelan as part of the regular music program, and a fledgling staff gamelan orchestra emerged in 2005. Bottom left: Singapore provides many outlets for students to learn about Asia outside the classroom. Here a group of intermediate students pose in front of the Raffles statue by the Singapore River. Top left: Yulefest continues to be a Christmas tradition at the school, although now a biannual event and most recently performed in a somewhat changed format making use of the school's drama theater and expansive theater courtyard.
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Bottom right: The combined campus has afforded opportunities for older students to be mentors to younger students. Emily Lo (SAS '05) is working with some first grade students in the primary school library as part of the annual eco-ed program sponsored by the high school SAVE club.
SAS Mourns after September 11
The high school choirs (above) sangfor the crowd of 15,000 that came to the Singapore Indoor Stadium in a remembrance ceremony after the September 11 tragedy.Thecrowds (bottom left were made up of Singaporeans, Americans and many other nationalities, all holding candles during the simple service in which representatives of Singapore's multiple faiths eloquently spoke and flags few representing the nationalities of all who had died. At the school, during the days that followed, high school students lit candles and middle school students wrote messages on paper-lined walls, in addition to fundraising and other activities that took place across all divisions.
I Above: Some of the SAS Board of Governors serving in 2002 when the decision was made to redevelop the Woodlands campus. Clockwise from bottom left: Haywood Blakemore, Bill Belchere, Randy Quinn, Bob Gross, Beth Gribbon, John Medeiros, Sally Greene, Shelley DeFord, and Melanie Ng Chew (SAS 72) pictured in the center.
Above: David Hoss is the longest-serving administrator in the school's history. He and Ken Schunk are the longest-serving administrative team, both in their 6th year at SAS. Hoss (pictured gardening with two preschool students), hired in 1990 as deputy principal of the elementary school at Ulu Pandan, spent one year as interim principal during Peter Larsons illness, and then became principal of the new primary division at Woodlands in 1996. Schunk was hired as an elementary school counselor in 1988. After a two-year absence to work in South America, he returned in 1994 and served as interim deputy principal for a year. In 1996 he became deputy principal of the primary division. Primary school students are used to seeing the two administrators in their classrooms. The pair have been known to make an appearance as Batman and Robin (see photo essay) or other characters during Halloween and other events. Hoss and Shunk are well known for their Hop-a-long Hoss and Shoofly Schunk assemblies in the primary school (top photo).
a huge pool of non-performing mortgages. The crisis was especially difficult for the region because these countries had experienced over a decade of non-stop economic growth. The stability of the region shook as the downturn fueled civil unrest, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia.
by the authorities. No matter what campaigns or values Singapore has promoted, the core value has always been pragmatism.
When the Twin Towers went down in New York and the campaign against terrorism began, Americans in Singapore experienced the addiThe crisis set off much soul searching and debate among leaders, econo- tional dimension of living half a world away in a Muslim archipelago. At mists, businessmen and commentators. In the past, economic down- the Singapore memorial service organized by the American Association, turns in the area had been caused by poor economic conditions outside the SAS choir stirred the hearts of some 15,000 Americans, Singaporeans the region, especially in the United States. This time the crisis and the and other nationalities. But those shared moments were tempered by the arrests of extremists who appeared to be plotting to attack American fapain were self-inflicted as the U.S. economy continued to expand. cilities on the island. Armed Gurkhas were stationed by the government The post-mortem was made worse by the fact that many opinion-makers at SAS and at other American facilities such as the U. S. Embassy and the in Asia had embraced the neo-conservative "Asian values" position of the American Club. Once again the school's name was taken off the school early 1980s â€” that their economies and societies were different because buses and the individual flamboyant eagles sported by the buses soon the willingness of the individual to sacrifice for the greater good of the gave way to a generic yellow. The greater neighborhood was threatened by group had created a new model for economic growth. As economists bombings in Bali and Jakarta. School security suddenly became the top picked through the rubble of the economic crisis, the myth of Asia's item on many parents' minds and the focus of a number of parent forums economic model became increasingly apparent. Kim Dae Jong of South with Superintendent Bob Gross. Korea commented that the crisis exposed the true three Cs of Asian economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s â€” corruption, cronyism and In the 2002-03 school year, a disease jumped from chickens to humans collusion. The economies of the region had seen impressive growth, but in rural China and before long created a full-fledged medical emergency they had benefited the few at the expense of the many. Certainly, there throughout much of Asia. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) hit was a cultural component in the Asian economic miracle, but it had Singapore because of its position as a transportation and business hub. been under-scrutinized and vastly overstated and over-generalized. People from China and other nations flew in and out of the country in huge numbers every day. Machines appeared at customs checkpoints to The discussion of the relative values of Asians and Westerners had caused identify travelers with fevers. Hundreds of Singaporeans were quaransome discomfort to many Americans who lived in Singapore, who were tined as a precaution by health authorities, and as deaths reached 33 the sometimes caught in the crossfire, such as during the Michael Fay episode. After the economic crisis, the Singapore establishment consider- Above left: Singapore's festivals have always provided an opportunity for ably toned down rhetoric about the clash of values. No doubt the cul- student learning about Asia and its customs, and been an excuse for colorful tural determinism of Asian economic growth had taken a severe beating and exciting celebrations on campus. from the crisis, but Singapore was already moving in a new direction. Its leaders saw a need to revamp the educational system to promote inde- Above right: A second grade tradition at the end of a learning unit about Asia pendent and creative thinking. Singapore had to become a society that is a half day "Asia Fest" where dozens of parent volunteers contribute their lived off its own ideas rather than just subcontracting those of others. To expertise as students move from "country" to "country" playing games and achieve this would require more individual freedom, a reality recognized music, eating specialfoods, and trying on traditional clothing.
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Above: The class of 2005 was the first to graduate from the new high school.
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES 204
entire island seemed gripped by the fear of contagious disease. Facemasks proliferated, schools were closed and public events were canceled. SAS closed for two weeks because of the epidemic while many local schools were closed even longer. Some IASAS schools refused to allow students from affected countries on their campuses. For the first time, an IASAS event was cancelled because the third season tournaments were impossible to host. Between SARS and the terrorist bombings in Bali, the safety of Singapore seemed more tenuous than usual. SAS students were merely inconvenienced, but the economies of the area were hit hard, Singapore included, by the dramatic drop in tourism. They were reminders that Singapore was globally connected and that there were forces that were impossible to keep at bay. Problems in Bali, Borneo, China and Thailand eventually spilled over into life in Singapore.
"Mrs. Pat Liew instilled a passion for learning and made it so much fun. " Katherine Klusmeier (SAS '01)
Top left: Bi-annual school-wide choir festivals began in 1997 with guest conductor Michael Brewer. They recently became an annual event involving choir, band and orchestra for a weeklong music extravaganza across all school Bottom right: After 911, security became a major concern at the school. divisions. Security measures were improved and the Singapore government provided the school with regular police patrols and Gurkha guards. While the first sight Top right: Students have appreciated all the work the Arts Council has done of the armed Gurkhas at the entrance to the school was startling, having the to beautify the campus. Arts Council, a dedicated group of parents, designed guards has helped to provide a comfort level that has allowed the school to this casual seating area and purchased the benches for student and family continue to be used as a community facility in spite of the security-conscious use. environment in which it now exists.
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Thanksgiving with the Community A Service Event In 1999 SAS held its first Thanksgiving event, in conjunction with the American Association's Friendship Works, inviting more than 200 members of various community service groups that students work with to join the school at its cafeteria for a festive Thanksgiving lunch. Kindergarten students made decorations for the tables, fourth grade students played the gamelan as guests arrived, high school and middle school students served food and entertained. At the first event. President Nathan (opposite) was the special guest. The following year, Deputy Prime Minister B. G. Lee (above) honored us. Students walked around the room conversing with people they saw regularly in their community service work with organizations such as the Metta Home, Adventist Rehabilitation Centre, Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, Special Olympics and others. Students in a separate event took Thanksgiving meals to those who couldn't join them at the school, such as the residents of the Leprosy Home.
The Interim Semester program at the high school reflected the direction in which SAS was heading. The program had originally been limited to travel in the Asia Pacific region, but this restriction was lifted in the early 1990s. Courses were offered in Greece, France, Spain, Kenya, Austria/ Hungary, and Switzerland. The program had gone global. Beginning with the Nepal courses, which support the Ladakh School, the number of Interim programs with a service component grew progressively. Habitat for Humanity projects were organized in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Fiji. Students helped provide technology to schools in Bintan, Indonesia, and most recently, groups traveling to tsunami-hit areas in Thailand and India in 2005 carried donated funds for schools and children impacted. Community service projects also extended beyond Asia as students raised funds for projects in India, Africa and even the United States. In the 2000s school-wide fundraising took on an added dimension with drives that included relief for world disasters, from September 11 to the 2005 trio: the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast, and the India/Pakistan earthquake. Students continued to pledge their support to regional activities, such as house-building trips in Cambodia and Thailand, and to community
organizations with which they have developed strong relationships. Even kindergarten classes routinely walked three blocks from the school to help work with patients at the Adventist Rehabilitation Center, an activity initiated by long-term kindergarten teacher Eileen Sonnack together with the primary school administration.
Top: Eileen Sonnack's first grade students join her in leading a song and Opposite: Middle school students began a community service project to exercise activity with residents at the Adventist Rehabilitation Centre in the provide refurbished computers to schools on the nearby island of Bintan in Woodlands neighborhood.. Indonesia. The successful project has led to increased involvement year after year with Bintan schools and now also involves intermediate and high school Bottom: Eighth grade students with teacher Kurt Johnson pose with the students. Cambodian family whose house they have helped to build.
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New High School and Early Childhood Center Official Opening August 2004 Clockwise from bottom: (1) Ambassador Franklin Lavin (left) cutting the opening ribbon with assistance from Mr. Garth Sheldon, vice-chairman of the Board of Governors. (2) The ceremony was held in the new high school library, a focal point of the new school. (3) and (4) President of the Executive Student Council, Cordelia Ross, spoke, along with Derek Goad (next photo), Garth Sheldon, Jim Baker, Ambassador Franklin Lavin, superintendent Bob Gross, and high school principal Paid Chmelik. (5) (left to right): Louise Perdana, intermediate school principal Marian DeGroot, Paul Koebnick, and Leanne Pepple conversing after the ceremony. (6) Third grade children provided some of the entertainment along with a string quartet and the SAS Singers. (7) Center: Ann Tan, the superintendents executive assistant, who made it all work so well.
leadership contributed to a sense of community. Deeply involved in the life of the school, his personal knowledge of the day-to-day details that confronted the teachers and students helped to metaphorically shrink the school. Gross had at least as good a feel for the pulse and culture of the school as many of those who led it when it was half the size. His open style made all feel they had access. Communication among the parents, teachers and students was improved greatly at this time. The school and community's commitment to technology assisted this process. For example, parents can monitor their Above left: Pumpkin Patch has been a PTA sponsored activity enjoyed by primary school students for many years around Halloween. SINGAPORE'S EAGLES
children's homework and grades on a day-to-day basis over the school's Internet connection. A department of community relations was established to keep parents and the wider community better informed about what was happening at the school. A weekly electronic newsletter was introduced covering events in all divisions. The department provided a central location for information and a place to call or email with questions. Included in the mandate for this office was an increased effort to connect SAS with its alumni, and Above right: Bob Gross traveled to Taipei to watch the track boys and girls achieve their most recent IASAS gold medals. From left: Brad Brunhoeler, David Bywater, Bob Gross, Katie Crocker.
"Mr. Bruno instilled his love of history and was a great role model." ' Melanie Habaluyas (SAS '98)
"Mr. Imperi taught me about the region in a way that made it an interesting and beloved place to live in." Mariana Robillard (SAS '98) SNGAPORE'S EAGLES Top: Jane Goodall kissing the tree planted in her honor in the Blair Sonnenberg memorial butterfly garden, along with SAVE Club students.
Bottom: The original plaque from the school's opening, refurbished and hanging proudly in the main reception area at the Woodlands campus.
Above: Modern Chinatown. (Photo courtesy of Roger Thomas)
photo courtesy Roger Thomas
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J im Baker is a history and economics teacher at Singapore American School. He is an American who has lived in Singapore for most of his life. His parents and grandparents were active participants in civil society through Christian Mission work in the region.
A 1966 graduate of SAS, Baker's own history with the school began in its inception year when he entered as a second grade student. He returned as a teacher from 1971 to 1974 and, after eight years teaching in other parts of Asia and the Middle East, came back to stay in 1982. Besides teaching, he has served as an athletic director, and has been an avid coach Baker's contributions to his adopted home include Crossroads, A Popular of basketball, track, and debate during his time at SAS. History of Malaysia and Singapore in 1999, Countries of the World: Singapore (2002), co-authored with his wife, and The Eagle in the Lion Baker has a bachelor's degree in history, a master's in education, and is a City, a book about America, Americans and Singapore, in 2005. commentator on Singapore history and current events.
Jim Baker is a history and economics teacher at Singapore American School. Other books he has authored include: Crossroads: A Popular History of Malaysia and Singapore, Countries of the World: Singapore, and The Eagle in the Lion City.
To purchase copies of this book, contact Singapore American School 40 Woodlands Street 41
sasinfo@ sas.edu.sg www.sas.edu.sg
SINGAPORE'S EAGLES SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL 1956-2006
SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL 1956 - 2006 Singapore American School was established January 3, 1956, by the American Association of Malaya, primarily to provide an American education in Singapore for the children of about 800 American families. From its opening in a seven-bedroom colonial bungalow on Rochalie Drive, the school has experienced nearly continuous growth. Now the largest international school worldwide, with an enrollment of 3,450 students of 50 nationalities and an outstanding reputation among educators, the school is celebrating its 50th anniversary. This book is part of the celebration of what the school has achieved in its first fifty years.