Chin Yoong Kim

My School days

A kaleidoscopic landscape of challenges, amazement and inspiration !!

I feel privileged to have the  opportunity to recall the times I had at the ACS, from Primary 1 to Senior Cambridge, many thanks to Chew Beng Hian.  In my time there was only ONE school – the ACS Ipoh. We were not separated into ACS Primary and ACS Secondary.   Later, the enrolment grew so large that it was more manageable to have two schools under separate administrations.

My first day in school was memorable because I was not admitted to any class.  My  elder brother, my twin cousin brothers and I were taken to school by my uncle. There were crowds of kids with their parents.  They were all crowded around the old Primary (wooden) Building, which still exists and is now declared a historical “old lady”, somewhat renovated and preserved.

After the War we were all over-age.  I waited for hours and had time to wander about the areas between the old wooden building and the lower field. There was a bomb shelter under the shade of a huge angsana tree and a red seeds tree, the Adenanthera pavonina or Saga,  ( the first Proton was named after this tree, information – with appreciation – from alumnus Lee Chee Keong). The railway track lies  beyond the field. When a train passed by, it was a fascinating and exciting sight, and we ran towards the railway line, waving at the passengers.

So, my first day in school was spent in the open, exploring the new environment.   Horley Hall and the gymnasium certainly seemed forbidding.

On my second day, somehow I got admitted into a class which met in the afternoon session. My teacher was Miss David and the class room was in the middle of the wooden block of 3 classrooms just before Horley Hall.  Miss David was a very kind, patient and pleasant teacher, like a big sister. That speaks a lot about her.

In Primary 2, we had a stern disciplinarian  for our teacher. I always kept a distance from her. Anyway, for reasons unknown to me at least, one day we were all sent for caning, one stroke on the palm by the then supervisor,  Mr. Aw Boon Jin.  Our classroom was on the ground  floor of Horley Hall.  Primary 2 was not memorable, except for the caning, and to this day, I don’t remember spending  a whole year there.  As we were over-age, we were pushed from one grade to another.

However, Standard 1 was a happy year.  We were in the gym (no supervisor nearby to fear) and my class teacher was Mr. U Yong Leong.  He would tell us stories and he played the violin to entertain us. Furthermore, he formed the first harmonica ensemble of the school.  Of course I was in the group.   It was a happy year.

I was hoping that Mr. Yong Leong would remain our class teacher in Standard 2.  Moreover, the  room was in the Main Building,  the  room facing the main field in the left wing,  a concrete room  that resonated with  grandeur and importance.  Unfortunately, it was not to be Mr. Yong Leong  and a gloom descended on me.  However, he came to teach us singing and that was a            great  relief    as I had found the other lessons boring. Most of the lessons were dull and at times we just spent time resting and waiting.  One day  the Indian friend behind us was daring enough to expose himself to the  disbelief and embarrassment of  his friends around him!  In addition, after each chapter in the  History or Geography lesson, the class seemed to observe a        “rest period” for days. I used to do  my own reading at home.

Fortunately, the boredom soon ended and I was sent to Standard 3 before the end of the year. Miss Doris Lee, a young Indian lady was a blessing.  It was a good year.  Miss Lee was entertaining, her voice would vibrate with energy and expectation.  Her clear and resonant voice must have charmed Mr. D R Daniel who would come “a wooing” every recess time.  (She became Mrs. D. R. Daniel of course!)  She taught us folk songs  from different countries-“ Rio Grande”,” Waltzing Matilda” and others.

Then, Mrs. Ho Seng Onn came to join the school, when her husband, the  Rev Ho Seng Onn became our Principal.  Mrs Ho was another jewel, she would come to  teach other songs – “ Billy Boy”, “Bobby Shaftoe”,  “The Grand Duke of York”,  etc.  She also tried out 2-part singing, a novel experience for me , with “Oh dear what can the matter be?”.  By the way, her daughter, Ruth Ho, became Principal of Ipoh MGS.

Standard 4 was fun and challenging as we were given homework.  Mr. James Appaduray was our teacher. A habit of his was pinching anyone in front of him whenever he got annoyed with someone in the class.  We had those American type  desks, with a very hard wooden counter in front attached to the seat by an iron cast frame and connected to a back rest.  Whenever James was close by we would put our hands on our lap, not on the writing counter where he could reach.  One day he was so angry with SS Singam, he put poor SSS under his table for the whole period.  By the way, SSS has left his name on the cement step of the stairs leading from the verandah at the side of the  Physics Lab block to the second floor that stretches to the canteen!!  He became Director of Forestry, Malaysia, and is now retired.  I met SSS 2 or 3 years ago at our Alumni Reunion in Ipoh.   SSS was quite a mischievous character, so he was fun.

I  was relieved when I  missed Standard 5 and went up to Standard 6 the following year.  Had we gone to Standard 5, we would have been under Mr. Chin Ah Koon, whose reputation as a  fierce and stern teacher was well known.  But he was also an excellent teacher and a  disciplinarian and we  became  good friends when I went to teach in ACS.

Standard 6, how could it not be memorable!!  Mr Lee Hoo Keat came as our class Mathematics  and Science teacher.  He was like a  resurrected Pythagoras!  Very knowledgeable and strict but fair.

My Standard 7 homeroom was the room upstairs, facing the field in the right wing of the Main Building.  We had great fun with Mr. Quah Quan Teik, our Geography teacher. He was lovable, apart from the fact that he was the school tour guide, organizing  groups to Singapore, K. L. Penang and Bangkok.   There was a story about him taking his wife on his motor-bike  to Penang.  When he reached the pier, he found that his wife was missing.

Standard 8 – work became more serious – more homework.  Mr. Harold Wakefield came as our Literature teacher. Unfortunately for us, after two weeks he was promoted to be Principal of St. Marks in Butterworth.  It was enough to leave an impression for the love of Literature. The school staged “Julius Caesar” and we went round Ipoh to sell tickets.  It was fun. Needless to say, the production made an impression on me!  “As You Like It” followed in 1953.

Senior Cambridge – 1953.  Inspired by Mr. Balagopal our Mathematics teacher, Mr. Gong Ngie Kong my favourite Geography teacher (he had pinched me in 1952 for spelling “equitor” rather than “equator” and I never forgot the spelling; of course I scored an “A” in Geography in my Senior Cambridge Examination), Mr. Na Negara (Mr. You-See-Now!) our highly respected “emperor” of the Science Department  and Mr. Teerath Ram, our History teacher who impressed us with valuable printed notes.  Our class, nay the school, made history because the History results were so impressive that the Cambridge Examination Board requested the examination invigilators, who were from another school, to submit a report. Ipoh  ACS Cambridge results were held up for one month until Cambridge was satisfied that no cheating took place during the sitting of the History Paper.  We had a half day holiday because of the good results. We often had a half day holiday because our results were always the best in Ipoh/Perak.

Impression – could not have asked for a better school environment with a well-rounded “school upbringing”, supported by strong sport ( always looked forward to Sports Day, when the old boys would return to participate against the present boys in the Tug-of-War and relay events), music ( a singing class weekly with Mr. Vincent Daniel at the piano in a corner of the Tuckshop), drama and Literary and Debating programmes, touched by some educators who were true to their calling and a Principal, the Rev. Ralph Kesselring, a leader of wisdom and integrity. Kesselring’s nicknames were “Chicago Gangster” because he graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Chicago, ( which in those days was well known for its mobsters) and “ Costa Rica”, a country he used to talk about. He must have served there as a missionary during WWII.

Rev. Kesselring arranged for the Thomas Cup to be  brought to ACS to inspire the students in 1949 because Mr. Teoh Seng Khoon, a student of ACS, played in one of the doubles pairs and the team won the Thomas Cup for Malaya that year.  Later in 1955, another ACS alumnus, Mr. Tan Jin Eong also represented Malaya, which won the Cup for the third time.  In addition, Cheah Soon Kit, another Thomas Cupper followed in later years.

We were educated in an environment of academic renown, imbued with  traditions and culture unrivalled.

Chin Yoong Kim (Cohort: 1953 Form 5A)

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2 Responses to Chin Yoong Kim

  1. Kathy Chew says:

    Hi, my dad is an ex student from ACS Ipoh and he has been trying to contact this long lost friend whose name is Fong Weng Sum (Im not to sure about the spelling of his name). They were both classmates and if he is same age as my dad they should be both 73 years old, class of 1950. Anyone can help?

  2. Mr.Chin: this is Chin Nyean, class of 1972, form 5. I participated in the 3rd festival of songs. Class mates were Chee Soon, Eddie Chin (?) etc. I am glad to see this and trying to locate some old friends, even a picture of the class. Anyone out there? Thank you. Happy New Year, 2013.

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