Although I had spent only two years pursuing my studies in ACS Ipoh, it was filled with wonderful memories. In ACS, I had the opportunity to meet some good friends and gain some unforgettable experiences.
In fact, the first time I stepped foot in the school compound was not in 1991 but much earlier. I was one of the participants of the school holidays Bible Camp organized by Wesley Church and was studying in MGS at that time. As MGS and ACS are related schools, there were a few occasions when I had the chance to be on duty in the badminton court of Teerath Ram Hall. I was also one of the MGS girls who bought tickets for the Variety Shows when the boys walked into our classroom (and, naturally, we girls were distracted from the lessons!)
Moving from a girls’ school (where I had studied for 11 years) to a boy’s school automatically made me adopt the stereotype of a girl and observe certain etiquette, i.e. a girl had to “behave”, speak softly and sit properly. However, it was not for long. Gradually, I learned to adapt by just being myself. That was how the two years flew by, with some lasting moments, not to mention a few embarrassing ones too!
I remember the so-called “Angel & Guardian” tradition, whereby the seniors would “take care” of the juniors or “freshies”. Some were lucky to get a caring and good-looking Guardian. If my memory did not fail me, my Guardian was from the “double maths” class.
My class was LAS/UAS, an arts class. I took the seat right under the fan while most of the boys opted for the last two rows in the class. I still wonder why. Perhaps it was to “keep an eye on the girls” behind our backs and doing their own thing without getting noticed?
For some of the MGS girls and me, one of the things we missed was the MGS canteen food. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the ACS school canteen. It was located quite far from our classroom and every time we walked past the boys’ classrooms, the younger boys would whistle at us. Now, I have come to realize that this sort of whistling is a type of sexual harassment!
In my early days at ACS, I must admit I had one or two arguments with a boy classmate. I found him violating a minor school rule and he refused to comply with it. We had an argument over it but, happily, we still remained friends. He even signed on my so-called autograph book, which was in vogue during my time.
The teachers were all focused solely on teaching, ensuring that we do well in the STPM examination. I particularly remember Mr. Tan Han Meng, who taught us Economics and Puan Rahmah, our Pengajian Am teacher. Mr. Tan would push us to work hard with our workbooks in the final lap for our STPM. Puan Rahmah, was our class teacher. She was rather strict and I was a little fearful of her as she would sometimes stare right at us.
I believe that to most parents and students, STPM is not a path which they would naturally opt for. Having to sit through two full years of Sixth Form, STPM is seen as “too lengthy” and the examination is labeled as one of the toughest, with no guarantee that one would be able to secure a place in the local public university or obtain the preferred course of studies even if you achieve excellent results.
Actually, I was one of those who wanted to leave home using the easier path immediately after Form Five and get the “freedom” that I longed for. However, due to certain circumstances, I decided to stay on and pursue my studies in ACS. But looking back, I have no regret taking this route. Two years in ACS was like a blink of an eye. The opportunity to be in Sixth Form is a once in a life time experience. Not only that – once you leave home for work elsewhere, you would always wish that you could spend more time with your family. There is no hurry to leave home to be “free.” Home is always where you are.
I am truly glad to be one of the ACS Ipoh students. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation to all the teachers and friends whom I have met in ACS Ipoh during the memorable years of 1991/1992.
Fong Po Kuan
(Cohort: 1992 Form 6 Upper UAS)