Dunman High School 1997 Yearbook

Welcome to my scan and commentary page of my Secondary 1 (1997) yearbook. I was in Dunman High School (Chinese: 德明政府中学 or Démíng Zhèngfǔ Zhōngxué — literally “Dunman Government Middle School”, even though the English name uses High School). This page is part of a larger project to catalogue my life story, and will eventually be linked to a central page where I will write endlessly about inconsequential but precious memories. DHS is the most precious school experience of my life as of the time of writing — my family left Singapore at the end of 1998 after my Secondary 2 school year, and in some ways I’ve never moved on from that somewhat traumatic experience. It took me over 20 years to reach out to some of my former classmates over the Internet again, and I still dream about several of them (forever immortalized in their Secondary 2 body images) quite often.

I have three yearbooks from Dunman High, and will be scanning and posting them. Each will have a page like this, which will be just made up of thumbnails and the occasional tongue-in-cheek commentary. You can click on the image links to generate larger versions, and you can even change the filename of the larger version and take out the -scaled part of the URL to get a full sized JPG scan. However, to preserve the bandwidth of this site, if you plan on opening pretty much every photo or want an archived copy of it, then to save hosting bandwidth, instead consider downloading them as a .zip file from the following link, which also has raw scans:

Mega.nz folder link to GIF files
Mega.nz folder link to TIF files

A couple of the scans in those folders are slightly better “version 2” scans too because I’m just an amateur scanner. If the links are broken, post a comment or email me at jesskitten at gmail.com. Thanks and enjoy!

(Most of this page was written on May 11-12 2021)

Introduction (Page 1-12)

This section has some interesting-to-me things that I will touch on here. As you can see, our school was pretty much bilingual in both English and Chinese. A corollary of that was that there was pretty much no one at the school from any of the other ethnic races (Malay, Indian, or Caucasian).

Our school motto on Page 3 is 诚 信 勇 忠 or roughly Honesty, Trustworthiness, Moral Courage, and Loyalty. The characters are in calligraphic traditional Chinese (誠 信 勇 忠) and are read as chéng xìn yǒng zhōng. The words to the side of it are the signature of the calligrapher – the first three characters are his name, 陈人浩, Chén Rénhào (Jen Hao), a former principal of Dunman High. He’s also mentioned on page 4 in the paragraph about the crest. I don’t know the last two characters, but the first one is probably 款 (kuǎn), which implies the last two characters mean something close to inscription or signature or style.

Page 5 contains our school anthem — I don’t remember this at all. There’s Youtube videos of the song (pre-2011 | post-2011) and nothing about it sounds familiar, even though I remember, say, my Primary 4-6 one quite vividly still. Here’s an English translation for it I found in my stash of documents though, circa 1997 or 1998.

Teaching staff (Page 13-24)

I had forgotten that we had a “Moral Education” class in addition to the Physical Education one. I don’t really remember an “Aesthetics and Craft” department or any music or art classes in secondary school at all, so not quite sure what that is about (although looking at my report card, there was a general “Art & Craft” subject that I don’t remember at all.

And.. library? Come to think of it, did we even have a library? We must have, especially since there’s a department for it, but I am mentally unable to place where the library would have been in the school. (Edit: I have since been yelled at that we did, indeed, have a library. That doesn’t help me mentally place it though! 😛 )

For Page 19, I do remember most of the Gifted Education Program (GEP) teachers as they were basically who taught all our classes, though I can’t 100% match them all to subjects. In picture order,

Mr Poh: Math (I think)
Mrs Low: Moral Ed (I think)
Mrs Tan: English
Mr Ng: Chinese
Mdm Tan: Higher Chinese (I don’t think I was in this class, but I’m not sure, as I recognize both Chinese teachers. I don’t remember how Chinese/HC were divided?)
Mrs Khoo: I don’t think this teacher taught us. Maybe Art or Phys Ed by elimination?
Ms Lim: History
Mrs Bok: Geography
Mrs Teo: English Literature
Mrs Shu: Science (she was also our form teacher. She’s “absent” here but she can be seen down on page 57 in our class shot.)

Secondary 4 Class Photos (Page 25-51)

In this yearbook, the graduating classes get a two-pager spread for each of their classes. It’s too bad these pictures are all in black and white because the school apparently was a bit of a cheapskate.

We had two uniforms that you can see in various shots through the book — the ones with the white collars and dark blue skirts/shorts/pants are the proper school uniforms, and the ones with the dark (blue) collars are the PE uniforms. Pants are worn by male students in Sec 3 and 4, shorts in Sec 1 and 2. Ties are optional but mandated for prefects, on special occasions like this, and I think possibly mandated once a week on Monday or something anyway (I might be wrong, been a while). There will be more on this in my Shrine of Memories.

I don’t actually know anyone in these lineups, except maybe some people from my Scouts troupe that I honestly didn’t care for. There were no GEP graduating classes either — the first GEP intake class in Dunman High were in 1996, so they were only Sec 2 at this point.

Secondary 1-3 Class Photos (Page 52-68)

Again, it’s a shame that these photos are in black and white, but at least we were individually given a coloured version of our own class photo. Here’s my class one — 1L. Detailed introductions to these precious friends will be made in the Shrine of Memories section of my blog.

1K and 1L (page 57) were the people I were closest with, as both classes together made up the 1997 batch of Gifted Education Program (GEP) students. Most of us were close to people in both classes because most of us came to Dunman High from the same four primary schools that offered GEP. We were basically one extended class split into two. We also knew a couple people in 2K/2L (page 63), they were basically the first batch of GEP students, the pioneers from the year before us. Basically our senpais.

New School Campus (Page 69-82)

So the students’ class pictures had to be black and white, but this opening ceremony was deemed more important and worthy of putting in colour in the yearbook. Tells you a lot about the administration’s priority, doesn’t it?

I kind of remember this, but I think I didn’t really understand the significance of the event and it didn’t stick with us, or at least me, afterwards. I mean, they had apparently moved from their old location to this Tanjong Rhu campus on May 27 1995, but according to this yearbook, they only did the opening ceremony for the place on Jul 26 1997. I don’t remember if I went to this event specifically. I must have, though, if not as a student then as part of my club (Scouts).

Events (Page 83-107)

It’s curious how little of these I remember. Especially something like that Lantern Festival (Page 104-105), which I would have loved. Some of these events were also from early 1996, I guess, and that’s peculiar that they’re in the 1997 yearbook instead of the 1996 one.

Enrichment (Page 108-128)

Notice the page numbers for this section on the Contents page (Page 1 up top) is wrong — it claims Events starts on Page 83 (correct) and Extra Curricular Activities starts on Page 129 (correct) but that Enrichment starts on Page 126 (wrong). Enrichment starts on Page 108.

I had no idea that there was ever a chance for an immersive exchange/trip to China (Page 109) or that there were ever visiting students from Japan (Page 128). I’ll speak to this more and allude to some examples in the Shrine of Memories, but being a new program at the school, I’m fairly sure we always felt looked down upon and excluded by the rest of the staff and students due to how boisterous and “troublemaking” we were compared to the average student. And how our grades were actually generally slightly worse than the average student’s, despite being in the “Gifted Education Program”. Some of these events were probably year-restricted anyway, but I wonder if some of the others were just never offered or mentioned to us because we were treated like the black sheep class(es) of the school.

Extra Curricular Activities (Page 129-172)

This is the last section of the yearbook, dedicated to the various clubs at the school. It’s interesting again because as far as I know, we were told that ECAs were compulsary, and our options were either sports clubs (but only if they wanted/scouted us!), or we had to go for either the music/symphony clubs, the choir, St John’s, National Police Cadets, or Scouts/Guides. At what point was there ever the option for us to join the Drama Club? Computer Club? Science Club? I don’t remember ever having the option. I feel like several of us would have gone to the Computer Club if we could, especially since about seven of us were even taking extra after-school programming classes at a University campus from a program that I’ll talk about in the Shrine of Memories section, but that didn’t get a mention here in the yearbook (cynically speaking, probably because it only involved some of us GEP kids and not the cream of the crop regular kids).

And that’s it! I also have the Dunman High 1998 and 1999 yearbooks, as well as various other interesting documents and photos and things to scan and upload sometime. I wish I had the 2000 one as well, as that would have been when my classmates would have been graduating and would have gotten a full page spread.

(Edit: An old friend is sending the 2000 yearbook to me as well, so I will hopefully soon have it and will scan it eventually!)

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