More than two thousand Methodist Girl’s School (MGS) students were given a crash course in Singaporean history when the school organized a series of events in July 2014 to mark its 127th anniversary and to honour the 14 alumnae who are in the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame.
When the school realised that 14 of the 108 inaugural honourees to the Hall of Fame were connected to MGS, it decided to honour these women during the week-long celebration of its founding.
MGS was established on 25 July 1887 by Sophia Blackmore, an Australian missionary sent by the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America. The school started with nine Tamil girls in a small shop house on Short Street and then expanded to Mount Sophia. In 1992, MGS moved to a new site at 11 Blackmore Drive. The road was named after the school's founder at the request of the school.
The week of celebrations started with a short presentation on the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame by SCWO at the Pre-Founder’s Day assembly on 16 July. After the presentation, there was a talk by Ann Elizabeth Wee, a SWHF honouree who taught at MGS in the 1960’s.
Mrs. Wee spoke of her early life as a teacher at MGS where she taught the lower primary classes. She also talked about her days as a social worker, when she worked in the slum areas of Chinatown. It was a difficult time for the slum dwellers, especially women as their economic circumstances meant that they were vulnerable and often abused or abandoned by their husbands. Most of the families were able to move from the slums once the bread-winners were able to find jobs.
The pre-Founder’s Day assembly was followed by a weeklong exhibition in the school foyer featuring pictures and brief accounts of the lives and achievements of the 14 SWHF honourees from MGS.
The 14 are: Sophia Blackmore, Constance Goh, Phyllis Eu, Ruth Wong, Kwa Geok Choo, Daisy Vaithilingam, Ann Elizabeth Wee, Jenny Lau, Fang Ai Lian, Geh Min, Pat Chan, Lynette Seah, Joscelin Yeo and Khoo The Lynn.
Wrapping up the week was the Founder’s Day itself on 25 July, which saw five of the SWHF honourees – Ann Wee, Pat Chan, Lynette Seah, Joscelin Yeo, and Khoo Teh Lynn – in attendance at the parade and then the graduation ceremony of their Secondary 4 cohort. The school presented the five Hall of Famers with an MGS token of appreciation and recognition for their past contributions to the school.
What did the MGS students have to say about reading about the SWHF honourees and being able to see/meet some of them?
“It’s very inspiring. I truly enjoyed listening to Mrs. Wee stories of her younger days as a teacher and as a social worker in the early days of Singapore’s independence. I had no idea there were slum areas in Chinatown back then.” as one secondary student said.