A new millennium
The school then witnessed mergers in the 21st century. The first was in 2001 when FTPSS merged with Pei Dao Secondary School and Thomson Secondary School. 3 years later, in 2004, we merged again with Upper Serangoon Secondary School. That year also saw the school moving into its new premises at Toa Payoh East. It was officially declared opened by Dr Ng Eng Hen, then Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Education, and also Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, on 1 April 2005. The school also renewed its engagement with community partners, spearheading the Love Toa Payoh East Movement in 2004. This later became the basis for the development of the Toa Payoh Trail which was launched in 2009.
Mr Loh Ai
(Principal, 2000 – 2003)
One School, Two Campuses
Up to 2002, FTPSS was operating from two separate campuses at Thomson and Toa Payoh. Classes for students and teachers had to be scheduled such that there was less movement from one campus to another while ensuring that school events such as National Day celebration and Sports Day were held together at one venue to ensure that all students from both campuses were involved. As such, much planning and organisation were spent on how to get the school together, through what was taught and how it was taught. His Vice-Principal and himself rotated to different campuses on different days of the week. He also remembers with fondness how he had to cycle from one campus to another due to work. After a one and a half years wait, The school finally had a new campus at Toa Payoh East. The whole school population walked from the old school in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 to the new FTPSS grounds and had the then superintendent, Mrs Lim to open the new school.
A Third Merger
“Of course I feel nostalgic and sad that the school is merging once again, and more importantly, seeing the name of First Toa Payoh totally taken off. First Toa Payoh Secondary has done its job of contributing the young to the nation all these years and I hope that when they join with Bartley Secondary, the memories, the spirit, and culture of First Toa Payoh Secondary will still live on. That’s my only wish.”
Ms Nurul Ariqafitri
(Student, 2003 – 2006; Teacher, 2013 – Present)
Student Life – Past and Present
The House system, classified by colours, contributed to the high atmosphere during school events such as Sports Day. Student house leaders organised house meetings to practise cheers for these events, and the bonding and interaction during these sessions helped to nurture a sense of belonging to the different houses. That is the school culture that coloured her student years. At present, as a teacher involved in the Outdoor Activities Club, all students have attained the Level 1 Rock-climbing and Kayaking certification through the Outdoor Experiential Learning activities conducted, which is the school’s niche area.
My Teacher, My Colleague
Mrs Wong Wei Ling was her form teacher and her Elementary and Additional Mathematics teacher in Secondary Three and Four. Her first impression of Mrs Wong when she first walked into the classroom was of her petite figure. However, Mrs Wong was able to control the class, and stuck with the class throughout the two years despite several colourful characters in the class. At present, as a teacher, even though she is in a different staff room from Mrs Wong, Mrs Wong has continued to provide support during her initial years as a beginning teacher.
“To see Nurul back in school (as a teacher) is one of my greatest impact as an educator. It is a very different feeling to see your student coming back to be your colleague.” quipped Mrs Wong Wei Ling.
Mr Shaheenul Aiman
(Student, 2003 – 2006)
Outdoor Activities, Inward Advancement
FTPSS provided him with many opportunities to grow as a person, to organise activities and lead camps, which opened up his mind and helped him to better understand the challenges as a leader. His most memorable experience was leading the Outdoor Activities Club to clinch the 1st Inter-School Rock Climbing Championships in his final year, which he modestly attributes to his CCA teacher, Mr Alan Loh.
While he expresses his attachment for the school campus at Toa Payoh East, he is positive that the school’s culture and spirit would be sustained in Bartley. “The teachers here know what they are doing and they can bring a change to the students at Bartley (as well).”
Mdm Aini Maarof
(Principal, 2004 – 2009)
Love Toa Payoh East Movement
As a school, FTPSS contributed to the community through the Love Toa Payoh East movement. This was organised with multiple committee organisations such as Toa Payoh East Citizens’ consultative committee, Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council, Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Centre, Toa Payoh Fire Post and Toa Payoh Senior Citizens’ Home. Through the Community Involvement Programme, our students supported the community through fund-raising, performances by the performing arts group and other services. Our close partnership with the Toa Payoh East organisation provided the opportunity for FTPSS students to interact and perform for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England during her visit to the Toa Payoh Estate in 2006.
Our shared S.P.I.C.E. values
“’Everyone has a part in society and I strongly believe in them (our students)’. As a newly merged school in 2004 with students and teachers from First Toa Payoh and Upper Serangoon, we crafted the five core values, which were important to inculcate in each and every member in order to spice up the experience of students in the school. The five core values, S.P.I.C.E. stand for Self-discipline, Pride, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence. We also introduced the vision, ‘A gracious and vibrant learning community’ to enable our students to graduate as well-rounded and future-ready young ladies and gentlemen, who are grounded in positive values.”
(Seated) Ms Elisabeth Li Jia Hui
(Student, 2007 – 2010)
Teachers, my Pillar of Influence
She has vivid memories of her inspiring teachers at FTPSS who were approachable and transformed her into a more mature and independent learner. The comfortable environment at FTPSS served as useful platforms through which she was able to express any concerns to her teachers while also ingraining in her the importance of self-ownership in learning. “Without the teachers and school, my interest in Science would not have been sparked, and I would not have taken Biotechnology in Polytechnic and Psychology in university.”
About the merger
“First Toa Payoh has inspired me to achieve my best and to reach for my potential. It has also taught me to never be disheartened by setbacks but to stand up as a person. I know the teachers will be around but the memories are different. I guess my fond memories of the school and teachers will stay and will forever be etched in my heart.”
(Standing) Ms Mok Yan Rong Hilary
(Student, 2007 – 2010)
Teamwork and Perseverance: A Recipe for Success
She was part of the dance troupe that secured the Gold Award in the 2009 Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation for Dances (Chinese Dance Category). High standards were maintained throughout the one-year dance trainings and the dancers experimented with different dance moves and sequences with grit and perseverance. It was not an easy feat to lift the heavy drum weighing one kilogram during the dance and her long fake hair made of wool was often soaked in perspiration at the end of the training sessions. Her team surpassed their seniors by achieving the Gold Award for FTPSS.
Service to School, Service to Community
“We (Student Councillors) were given bronze badges in the first year, silver in the second year and gold badges in our final year.” As a student leader, her participation in the Toa Payoh trail also developed in her a sense of appreciation for the shared history in Toa Payoh, especially when Queen Elizabeth visited in 2006. It was a fulfilling experience to serve as a guide to both her school mates as well as Toa Payoh residents, in order to strengthen and fortify the Toa Payoh connection.
Mr Tan Chee Hao
(Student, 2007 – 2012)
Growing Years in FTPSS
“FTPSS shaped me (holistically), in terms of (both) academics and non-academics.” His form teacher, Madam Tan Chiew Kwee motivated him to move on after he was retained in Secondary Two and also gave him opportunities to develop himself in his character and leadership skills. His efforts led him to be the top student in FTPSS for the ‘N’ levels in 2011. He was able to sustain his achievement when he became the top Sec 5 student in the school for the ‘O’ levels in 2012.
His active involvement in his CCA, Wushu, not only helped to build him physically but also mentally. He understood that if effort was devoted into his Wushu practices and it translated into an improvement in his Wushu skills, then he should also apply the same diligent spirit to his studies as well. As it turned out, this diligent spirit has worked well for him in his academic pursuit.
Mr Lim Kok Hwa
(Principal, 2009 – 2015)
Traits of FTPSS
The students – “I have never seen a group of students who embraced special needs students so well. Their friends are very accommodating and treat them like one of their own, which is marvellous.” The staff – “Discipline with care, my staff care for the students, despite the fact that we are also the same ones who punish them. That is the one thing I like about the school, which is a unique combination of students who are basically kind at heart, staff that are firm but at the same time, students know they care for them.”
Small is Beautiful
“The other thing I like about the school is that it is a boutique school (with) a lot of flexibility in terms of customisation and personalisation even for the students in term of their education. No student is a stranger to us (staff).” “The 46th Speech Day (in 2014) involved almost every student and there is no better definition of holistic development than what we saw on that day.”
Mr Ramesh Nair, Father of Arun (Student, 2009 – 2012)
& Hemant (Student, 2012 – 2015)
A Flourishing Parent-Student-Teacher Environment
“During the Parent-Teacher Conference and other events, the teachers go all the way out to talk and get to know the parents, and there is sort of a bonding between the parents, teacher and child, which I find is very unique, and very nice.” The teachers were dedicated and would take the effort to find out what problems the students are facing and also ensuring a close follow-up with parents. He has noticed a positive change in both his boys throughout their secondary school years – their maturity level has increased, and bonding and interaction has improved. He acknowledged that these developments not only come from the home, but also from the interactions between teachers and students.
Love for the School
“Being the chairman of the Parent-Support Group, I felt that this school is part of my life and it is very sad to see this school (merge)….I really love the school.”
Mr Amirulhakim bin Mohamed Fawzid
(Student, 2009 – 2013)
FTPSS Football Legend
“Mr Kamil recommended me to join the combined school national team under-18 back in 2011. By then, I have already made a name in the soccer arena in FTPSS.” For the first time in the history of FTPSS, the school team was 3rd in the South Zone Football Championships and qualified for the National Inter-School Football Championships. As the underdogs, they trained really hard and the strong teamwork and bonds built through their four years in secondary school, saw them obtaining success. “Even though we did not win the National Inter-School Football Championships, it was good exposure for us and a learning point for the younger batches, because if we could get into the national team, why not them?”
FTPSS, My Alma Mater
“I like to thank the teachers and also my friends, my peers, for shaping me to be where I am and who I am today. Thank you so much, First Toa Payoh Secondary School!”
Ms Melanie Tan Ri Fan
(Student, 2009 – 2012)
The Sound of Music
As band major and student conductor in Concert Band, she kept not only the tempo of the music going, but also the rhythm and dynamics of the Club. She related that mutual respect and open communication was crucial in the relaying of information and building of the teamwork with her juniors. As a result, friendships were forged and ties that last up to this day.
Adventures of a Student Leader
Camps were the highlights of her time as a Student Councillor, and she fondly recollected the high-element games, opportunity to cook her own dinner, an outdoor 5 km run and a night walk, all in a day! It was an eye-opening experience for a teenager, and this out-of-classroom learning remains vividly etched in her memories.
Mr Manish Dhanehval (Student, 2010 – 2012)
Ms Joanne Chen Ziyu (Student, 2009 – 2012)
A Melting Pot of Cultures
In Manish’s recollection, everyone was asking about him on his first day in school as he came from India. Over time, these curious pairs of eyes became his good friends who guided him and motivated him to strive hard and be more focused about his future. For Joanne, FTPSS was a place where she embraced classmates from different countries such as India, Indonesia, fellow Chinese and local Singaporeans for the first time. Though they hailed from different backgrounds, they managed to exchange cultural practices, and bonded together as a class to face the ‘O’ levels.
Our School, My Identity
As his first institute of education in Singapore, Manish has a great attachment to Singapore as it has formed part of his identity during those formative growing years. For Joanne, this place fills her with a sense of nostalgia, and she would think about coming back to visit to share her milestones in life with her former teachers.
REMEMBERING OUR ALMA MATER