CHIJ Katong Convent celebrates 92nd anniversary, and its 'golden girls'

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SINGAPORE - The "golden girls" of CHIJ Katong Convent were all smiles as the school celebrated its 92nd anniversary with a gala dinner at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel on Saturday evening (Aug 6).

A group of eight women who enrolled in Katong Convent's primary school in 1949 booked one of the 28 tables reserved in the hotel's third floor ballroom to celebrate a post-pandemic reunion as well as their 80th birthdays.

Retired teacher Maureen Koh, 80, said: "I met these girls in primary one 73 years ago and we have managed to stay in touch, though we met less over the past two years because of Covid-19."

The group graduated from Katong Convent in 1959 and they are fondly referred to as the 59ers by the wider school community.

Other alumni, as well as past teachers, principals and current students attended the dinner, which was organised by the Katong Convent School Alumnae Association.

Also in the crowd were Ambassador-at-large Chan Heng Chee and United Nations Special Envoy on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, both former students.

There were music performances and a silent auction of school-related art and items, the proceeds of which will be donated to the IJ Homes and Children's' Centre, which serves at-risk children and young persons from financially challenged and disadvantaged family backgrounds.

While Katong Convent is now quite a ways inland at Marine Parade Road, it was located right next to the sea when the 59ers were in school, said Madam Ong Choo Neo, 80.

Madam Ong, who lived and worked in London and Hong Kong after graduating and returned to Singapore two years ago, said her memories of the school are populated by coconut trees and the sea breeze which would blow into some lucky classrooms facing the ocean.

To others, like retired teacher and principal Ursula Snodgrass, 80, Katong Convent was the beginning of a life in service.

She said: "The school moulded and shaped who we are, the values and attitude to life, faith in God and the desire to be of service."

But Saturday evening was all about celebrations, as Madam Irene Seet, 80, put it.

"We are Katong Convent's golden girls."

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