3 things only Victorians will relate to
Person A: “ Which Secondary School were you from?”
Person A: “ Oh, Victoria Secondary right? Or Victoria High?”
Me: *rolls eyes* “No it is just Victoria School”
Nestled in the far east of Singapore, far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Victoria School is home to us mighty Victorians. We are a proud bunch. So proud in fact, we do not even need a Secondary or High in our school’s name.
With our bleached white uniforms, we are often mistaken for students from Raffles or St. Josephs, and nothing annoys us more than people not acknowledging our existence and realising that we take on a completely different identity.
I guess it is your loss if you do not know about the awesome boys school that has their PE Lessons at East Coast Park;)
1. Climbing Stairs
Above is a picture of our campus. If you are counting the levels, you are on the right track. We have 7 stories in our school wing. What that means is that there’s a lot of climbing. Climbing that forces a half-asleep Victorian awake when he is getting to class at 7am in the morning.
And if that wasn’t already crazy enough, the older you got, the higher the level your classroom was on. The uninitiated Sec 1s had their classes on level 3. And because you were so used to climbing 4 years later, you got upgraded to level 7.
The canteen was on level 1. The staffroom was on Level 2. D&T was on level 1. Art was on Level 4. Morning assembly was on Level 5. You get the picture. Copious amounts of climbing.
I remember watching the athletes in school carry out this workout called “ 7 Heaven” which involved them repeatedly climbing up and down the stairs and felt sick to the stomach. Oh wells, with all that climbing, its no wonder we are fitter than the simple folk.
If you were ever wondering whether there were lifts in the school, there indeed were. But teachers were only allowed to use it. Or so they said.
C’mon people, we are from a boys’ school.
Eh boy, tuck in your shirt
Last I checked, our dear Operations Manager (OM) had hung up his proverbial gloves. I feel sorry for current Victorians who have not had the privilege of living under his tyranny er mmm… I mean strictness.
I kid. OM was really adorable; his tugging at his oversized trousers will forever be etched in my memory. As will his grunting in the school gym, as he – attired in an unassuming tucked-in white singlet – religiously curled his dumbbells.
Boy, did he have enthusiasm for life. A man of 60+ years, he was always at morning assembly, impassionedly discussing the ‘heinous’ deeds we were guilty of, and how it would reflect badly on our character. Unfortunately, these speeches with its endearingly mixed up ‘Ls’ and ‘Rs’ were mostly met with indifferent gazes.
Even though I still feel like I was unjustly punished sometimes, I now do realize OM had only meant well. When serving detention, OM would sometimes come up to us and talk about his varied life experiences. Each story would end with a moral or a caveat. A HTHT session if you will, that showed him to be the grounded person we thought him never to be.
In hindsight, he was not the OM Victoria needed, but the one Victoria deserved.
3. Uncle Foo
The canteen cleaner was Uncle Foo. Never one to shy away from conversations, Uncle Foo was the friendly gatekeeper of the school canteen, adding color and spice to our daily meals.
While at first glance, this may not sound like anything of interest, I do have to add that there’s a mystery to him. It could have been that his voice was pitched a little too high, or that he only ever had extended conversations with the pre-pubescent Secondary 1 and 2 boys, but for many of us, Uncle Foo was just way too friendly, and way too sweet.
When Uncle Foo’s contract was terminated a few years back, it was met with an uproar of sorts. Proofs of his absence were on the canteen tables: bird droppings and unfinished plates of food. Like a teenager overseas, homesick, and missing his parents, the school too, had felt Uncle Foo’s absence deeply. Recess and lunch was never the same.
The student body rallied and petitioned to get him back. I am not sure how much effect this had in actuality, but alas, he did return and everyone cheered.
It became evident then, that Uncle Foo was an indispensable presence in Victoria, very much of the same magnitude as the PE teachers or bookshop aunties most school kids adore. After all, Uncle Foo did no one any harm. I suppose, we all decided it was okay to have a little mystery in our lives.
Pranks and other practical jokes were as much of a major feature in the Victoria experience as were sports and studies. In my opinion, we were the embodiment of the “work hard, play hard” mindset.
To conclude, we dispute the “All work, no play” label on elite schools because we Victorians are a smart yet fun bunch. Not to mention, we also have a strong sense of pride and we carry it with us even long after we have left.