Happenings, News

Gems of the ACS story

Anglo-Chinese School
Coleman Street
circa 1895.

— Methodist Church
Archives picture.

THE Anglo-Chinese Schools Board of Governors (ACS BOG) is publishing a book on the history of ACS, to be aptly called “The ACS Story”.

The 450-page coffee-table sized book is scheduled to be ready in the first quarter of 2003, in time for the ACS Founder’s Day on March 1, and the official opening of the new Barker Road campus.

“The ACS Story”, which gives an account of the history and achievements of the school, will find a place in every loyal ACSian’s library, and be required reading.

There are gems in this book. There will be about 100 pages of photographs, many in colour, and a few rare ones taken in the 19th century. It is the most comprehensive account yet of the ACS story.

The author and Editor, Mr Earnest Lau, assisted by Mr Peter Teo, Editor of Methodist Message, hopes that “The ACS Story” will educate and inspire 21st century ACSians and Old Boys with the contributions and sacrifices of the early pioneers, and the impressive achievements of the contemporary ACS family of schools.

Mr Lau, who was Principal of ACS from 1977 to 1983, is the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

It is hoped that ACSians will gain a better understanding of the traditions and values of the school and the leaders and the many hundreds and thousands that have formed the rank and file of Singaporeans as well as those from “India’s Strand, the Islands of the Main, China’s Plain and the Land of the Rising Sun”.

This book contains a fairly comprehensive summary of the evolution of the ACS in its 117 years of history that recounts the challenges, failures and accomplishments of the institution.

There are interesting biographical accounts of Bishops William Oldham and James Thoburn, and of the earliest teachers and students of the fledgling school at Amoy Street, Coleman Street and Cairnhill. They include sketches of Mr H. M. Hoisington (who composed the ACS anthem), Mr Yap Pheng Geck (who devised the ACS shield), and the Rev J. S. Nagle, who played a key role in putting ACS on the educational map.

Men like Mr Tan Ah Lok, the Rev J. A. Supramaniam and Mr Lee Choon Eng, who might have been forgotten, are given due recognition in the hope that they will be an inspiration to latter-day ACSians. Other prominent ACSians like Mr Tan Chin Tuan are also featured.

Following these are interesting accounts of each of the ACS schools, showcasing many of their achievements as well as their educational philosophy and value system.

The story of Oldham Hall, which has never been told, goes back to the early days when the Rev (later to become Bishop) William Oldham set up a “boarding department” which proved to be an important breeding ground for both ACS and the Methodist Church, while the ACS Old Boys’ Association and the Board of Governors highlight their roles in the physical and educational development of ACS.

The work of putting together this volume has taken the best part of two years, of research and writing, by the author and the ACS schools, ACS OBA and the Board of Governors.