Monday, 31 December 2007

Favourite BBGS tradition

From June - Dec 2007, a poll on this blog asked BBGSians what their favourite traditions were. A total of 133 readers responded and here are the results:

1. Choral Speaking 89 (66%)

2. Fun Fairs & Food Sales 37 (28%)

3. Class & Toilet Cleanliness 31 (23%)

4. Cheerleading 24 (18%)

Long Live Choral Speaking!

And many thanks to all who voted.

Rotorua song

Hi Joanna,

Medaline Chang here. I was in the year with people like Savitha, Pek Tho, Melissa Siew, etc - 4Sc5 (1988) and 5Sc2 (1989). I was a Girl Guide and dear old Mrs Simon would teach us some unusual songs, like a Maori one which went like this:

Pokarekare ana
Nga wai o Rotorua
Whiti atu koe hine
Marino ana e
E hine e
Hoki mai ra
Ka mate ahau
I te aroha e

Hurry hurry hurry home love
Hurry home to Rotorua
To the mountains and the valleys
Hurry home to me
I know I know
You had to go
Please hurry back home love
I miss you so

Thanks for this song, Medaline. I remember it well from my Girl Guides days too!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Calling on Miss Yeap

(L-R) Ms Yeap, Joanna, Ms Li, Tomasina, Pn Che Bah, Lock Yee

Like many BBGSians, I have a high regard for Miss Yeap Gaik Khoon who was the Principal during the 1980's.

Miss Yeap helped me reach many major decisions: ranging from choice of subjects & extra-curriculur activities to university & scholarships. She sat down and cried with me when I received disappointing SPM results. She celebrated with me when I emerged as top STPM student. She has followed my career throughout the years.

And so I was really excited to pick up the phone and speak to her last Christmas. She sounded just the same: warm, caring and genuinely happy to hear from an old girl.

Always the dedicated teacher, Miss Yeap is still teaching English to unemployed graduates to help improve their chances of getting a job. We talked about how fortunate BBGSians were to have gained such a strong command of the language. It has helped us gain a foothold in the job market and develop our careers internationally.

We also talked about old girls, what everyone is up to, and she told me how delighted she is to bump into BBGS girls who remember her fondly. We laughed about how some girls had told her that they were more afraid of being sent to see Joanna Yeoh than Miss Yeap! (O dear...was I really that scary?)

Of course, we ended talking about the school grounds. Miss Yeap was almost apologetic when she mentioned how naive everyone was in assuming that BBGS would be safe because the land had been gazetted for educational purposes. That means we never had any claim to the land (in terms of ownership or lease). So once a business tycoon with deep-enough pockets could make an offer, the land was re-gazetted as commercial land, and the school was moved.

But building or no building, we'd like you to know how grateful we are for all the years that you spent teaching us, both school lessons and life lessons.

May God bless you richly, Miss Yeap.

Friday, 21 December 2007

A tribute to our teachers

As we celebrate the six-month anniversary of this blog, I'd like to pay tribute to the women who were so generous with their knowledge, experience and love. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us become the women we are today.

Dear BBGSians, join me in standing ovation, as we salute our BBGS teachers.

These photos are courtesy of Ms Betsy Li, and were taken during the annual BBGS teachers reunion in 2007. She also provides us with the latest updates on our favourite teachers.

  • Ms Yeap is retired but does short stints at the training centre of Institute of Bankers teaching English to unemployed graduates to prepare them for the job market. She still walks her dogs everyday and this explains why she stays healthy all the time. For more on Ms Yeap, click http://
  • Ms Betsy Li convocated last year with a Masters of Management with distinction (Congratulations...we're so proud of you!) For more on Ms Li, click
  • Ms Moey as CEO will drive Methodist College to greater heights. She also teaches Bible Knowledge classes to Form 4 and SPM students and conducts CU camps every year- end in St. Mary's School in Selayang, thanks to the generosity of the principal, Ms Goh Hai Bee, who incidentally is an ex BBGSian. Sadly there are no longer any participants from Seri Bintang Utara
  • Mrs Betty Wong is Senior Assistant of Sek. Men. Damansara Jaya, retiring next year
  • Mrs Lai is teaching A Levels at Taylors' College
  • Ms. Yap Kwee Lan is Afternoon supervisor at La Salle PJ
  • Mrs Siaw is Head of Science in Sek, Men.Tun Dr. Ismail
  • Mrs Tay is a seasoned traveller who's been going to places where less have been - like the desert in Australia, Alaska, Silk Road, Turkey and Egypt. Reason - she alreadybeen to all the regular places
  • Mrs Gan Ber Keat has migrated to US and is holding a teaching job in LA
  • Mrs Simon is still doing active work as the State Commisioner of the Girls Guides movement in KL
  • Mrs Chia Pooi Lan has retired and is now teaching in Wesley Methodist School in Sentul , the feeder school for Methodist College
  • Mrs Chew Hai Hong is a retired tai-tai in Singapore
  • Miss Tham Mei Fong teaches line dancing. Every Friday at 2.30 -4 pm she teaches line dancing to the ex BBGS teachers- Mrs Tay, Mrs Siaw, Mrs Mak , Joo Sim, Betty Wong at the UM Alumni clubhouse off Jalan Universiti
  • Mrs Guru is busy caring for her grandchildren( it started with one but it may have increased to two or three)
  • Mrs Kylas, on the other hand, longs for grandchildren but her two daughters are too busy pursuing their careers and do not seem keen to settle down
  • For news on Mrs Abraham, click

Remember Ms Li?

Joanna & Ms Li (Betsy) at their favourite restaurant, Dragon I @the Curve

I love coming home to KL! Even more so when it gives me the opportunity to catch up with my favourite BBGS teachers. This time, it was Ms Betsy Li Phui Chun who is now also known as Mrs Wong ;-) I am so privileged to count her as a close friend and confidante today.

Most of us remember Ms Li as the Deputy Principal who was the Accounts & Economics guru of BBGS. She was always impeccably dressed in power suits with heavy shoulder pads (this was the '80s ya?!). My classmates and I admired her no-nonsense approach to teaching her favourite subjects, and were always in awe of her pointer-swishing skills. She was the only teacher who used to carry a pointer in those cool.

Betsy (it's taken me 20 years to pluck up the courage to call her that), left BBGS in 1992 when she was promoted as Principal of SM Jalan Ipoh. After many years of serving in government schools, she entered the private education sector and worked for Taylors College & Inti College. She is currently the Deputy Director of Academic Studies for Methodist College. Coincidentally, Ms Moey Yoke Lai is the CEO of Methodist College. It's so good to know that the academic torch of BBGS is still burning bright in the hands of these amazing women.

Betsy is very proud of her links to BBGS and even prouder of her proteges. She is ever keen to find out the whereabouts of old girls and is the main point of contact for BBGS teachers. Being at the forefront of technology, she's even created a blog on BBGS teachers which I will share in future posts.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Bukit Bintang : a poem

When long ago this country, jungle clad,
Saw rising by the muddy meeting place of streams,
A hamlet of poor huts, a dwelling place for quiet country folk,
Was Starry Hill a name conceived in dreams?

When tin was mined and rubber planted row on row,
When streets were made, and gharries came, and bicycles and cars,
When people crowded in, and women, freed, came out to work with men,
Did someone say, "What shall we build upon the Hill of Stars?"

The mission came and sought the land upon the Starry Height,
The School arose and girls began to fill
Its halls and classrooms with a throng of bright young life,
And placed a coronet of stars upon the hill.

The Principal, the gentle moon, sheds radiance on all,
The Staff, the planets in their courses, truth instil,
The Pupils, more and more come year by year,
To clothe with great and little stars the Starry Hill.

This poem by Mr M. Lomas, Asst. Director of Education (Girls) 1951, was written in honour of Miss Glasgow, the principal then and printed in the first issue of the School Magazine in 1951.

Are SBU students part of BBGS?

I've been corresponding with a whole new generation of BBGSians on Facebook. These young ladies also attended Seri Bintang Utara, so I posed the following question:

"Dear all,

I belong to the '80s era of BBGS when we still had the buildings, and the traditions were very much alive! What was it like to belong to Seri Bintang Utara? Does it still feel like BBGS? If truth be told, many old girls from the earlier days probably wouldn't even consider them to be BBGSians. How can we help them preserve some of the culture? Or is it so different that it no longer matters?"

Emily Chang replied:

Our school moved to the new premises when I was in Form 4. I can't remember if they changed our name before that, but I still feel very much part of BBGS. This is because I've been in BBGS since primary days and honestly, I still say I'm a BBGSian :)

Sadly though, I think that all our BBGS traditions are slowly slipping or have they already slipped away? It's a pity..

Ainun Ghazali replied:

Hiya! I think this is a rather important question to tackle because it's something that I've been wondering over awhile as well.

I've been a BBGS girl since Std 1 till the day I graduated secondary school in 2002, and I am very proud of my alma matter.

I suppose I was fortunate enough to experience both the BBGS culture and the SBU culture, since we transferred when I was in Form 4. Even before I had graduated, sadly, a lot of the ol' BBGS spirit was waning.

Choral Speaking, despite being such a huge tradition in our school, had taken a step back in terms of its importance in inter-class competition when our school was not allowed to compete in the nationals anymore for the fact that we had won too many times already.

Cheerleading has not really been what it used to be. The Fun Fairs and Sports Day spirit that I had looked forward to so much in my first 2 years in secondary school was pretty much absent.
Even our school motto has changed from the famous,"Nisi Dominus Frustra" to "Kecemerlangan Tekad Kami".

We have a museum in the new school compound, a modest room that displays the very few artifacts and history that is left from the old school compound. And despite a stint as a museum prefect for a year, I feel that the museum does not do much justice to the legacy that is BBGS.

Before I left school, Form 2 students were required to do an assignment on the school history. And despite the good intentions, I'm not really sure if the new generation really understood the spirit behind the school. Much of what made BBGS so unique and beautiful in its spirit, tradition and culture have sadly dissipated into the past. And the fact that now SBU is a co-ed school, I suppose is a final blow. What is left behind is our school song, the centenary song, a much neglected museum and an attachment to the history pages.

Personally, I acknowledge BBGS and SBU as two different schools, with two different alma matter.

I may have graduated from SBU, but I will always and forever be a BBGSian in my heart.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Belle remembers

Belle Luer, or Tinkerbell Love Lee as she was known back in BBGS, is happily married with 2 beautiful children, living in KL and enjoys travelling, travelling and more travelling.

Belle is organising a 20th year reunion for the class of '88 in April 2008, so please get in touch with her if you're from that era.

Meanwhile, she shares these memories with us...

  • Makcik's fried chicken and spicy potatoes in the canteen
  • watching boys in speedos dive off the platform at Weld Swimming Pool
  • Food Sales (esp the asam laksa, roti jala and air bandung)
  • sneaking off to KL Plaza after school (even with a change of clothes the BATA shoes were a dead giveaway)
  • chalking up our school shoes before spot checks
  • Mrs. Aziz (my favourite teacher)
  • Ms. Cooke (loved her but was petrified of her)
  • Interact Club (which really was abt interacting with boys from other schools wasn't it?)
  • Mrs. Choe Ling our animated scarf-wearing Sejarah teacher who'd dictate entire chapters to us while we frantically scribbled in our books
  • playing with the bunsen burners in the Science Labs
  • grimy cups of diluted orange juice sold by the prefects
  • toilet duty (aargh)
  • saying "Selaaamaat Pagi Cikguuuu"...

Roll of Honour

Did you know that there's a BBGS museum within the school grounds of SM Seri Bintang Utara? I was informed by Ainun Ghazali, a much younger BBGSian who was part of the transition to the new grounds in Cheras.

Looking through the museum pictures, my heart literally leapt for joy when I spotted the School Captains Honour Roll that used to hang in the school hall. What a nostalgic sight!

I'm probably over-emoting and slightly biased because my name is on that honour roll, but it was a special honour to serve as BBGS school captain, and till today - it's an accolade that I proudly display on my CV.

School Captains of BBGS

1947 Boey Poh Theen
1948 Tan Leng Gek
1949 Liew Peng Nyun
1950 Ong Cheng Sim
1951 Chooi Kut Nooi
1952 Catherine Angus
1953 Wong Sui Fong
1954 Lim Chock Leng
1955 Sosie Kwong
1956 Ong Cheng Im
1957 Goh Yoon Fong
1958 Tan Kim Lewi
1959 Khoo Suat Pheng
1960 Tan Yoke Wan
1961 Choi Kwai Eng
1962 Leng Ah Mooi
1963 Boey Pick Yoke
1964 Kang Geok Sue
1965 Chew Fei Yin
1966 Chew Fai Peng
1967 Patricia Ong Buan Tee
1968 Tong Wai Sin
1969 Ng Ay Vin
1970 Alice Samuel
1971 Lee Yin Ling
1972 Phang Sow Yoong
1973 Kiang Chew Peng
1974 Kwan Poh Lan
1975 Yee Yoke Sum
1976 Caroline Ho / Kon Sui Phin
1977 Leong Kit Lan
1978 Audrey Kum
1979 Teoh Pooi Boon
1980 Yap Yoke Chin
1981 Lau Chow Ong
1982 Chin Yoke Mun
1983 S.S. Patricia
1984 Lim Yuet Suan
1985 Cheah Swee Peng
1986 Koh Lee Wah
1987 Lum May Yee
1988 Liow Bin Wei
1989 Joanna Yeoh Kui Pheng
1990 Lisa Ng Hew Mei
1991 Shariza Sharif bte Yusof
1992 Uma Devi Kylasam
1993 Yan Yin May
1994 Tong Yin Fen
1995 Tay Hui Ping
1996 Aina Zahari

If anyone knows the names of school captains post-1996 or the whereabouts of any of these special ladies named above, please drop me a note and I'd be delighted to feature them on this blog.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Letter from Belgium

I received this note from Goh Kee Kee last week, while travelling in China. Unfortunately, there were some restrictions on posting so it's a little delayed.

Kee is from the 5S1 class of 1999. She writes to us from Belgium, where she is pursuing her postgraduate degree.

I came to Belgium in September 2006 after accepting a scholarship. I am in a place called Gent (half an hour away from Brussels by train), completing my MSc in Food Science, Nutrition and Technology.

If you ask me how is life in Belgium, I seriously don't have an interesting answer:P This is partly because this place I am staying at is a considerably poor area, with not so many Belgians but more of other immigrants. The surroundings can sometimes be anything but conducive for living.

However apart from that, things have been great as I have been travelling to other places, for studies as well as for holidays. I was basically in and out of Belgium the first 10 months as the course promotes mobility i.e. moving around different institutions around Europe. Now it is nearing the end of my stay and I will be graduating in February 2008, after which I should be returning home to Malaysia.

Although this is not my first time studying abroad (previously stayed a year in Australia), I must say that still it took a bit of adapting to, here in a typical European country especially when basically nothing is in English, not even food labels in the supermarket. In my opinion it is certainly a huge difference from other western countries such as the UK, the US and Australia -culture wise, food, etc. With a positive mindset, all these are in fact very enriching experiences.

Apart from studying, the biggest 'event' here for me was being nominated as a student representative for my course. The photo I provide here was taken during the first general assembly meeting of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Student Association in Brussels.

I guess my days in BBGS, every single skill and experience that I got while I was 'within those cherished walls' made me into who I am today, I am able to do well because I was a BBGS girl. The way we carry ourselves sets us apart, it is almost as if we have the label BBGS printed on our foreheads:P I am very thankful being a BBGS girl and I've always wondered what will it be like if I have not attended BBGS...quite a number of my other BBGS classmates are now young professionals and they are everywhere around the globe, something to be very proud of.

I also met another BBGSian whom I call Aunty Lai Yin here in Belgium. She lives in another city called Antwerp with her husband and children (I'll inform her of this blog).