Most people would regard me as an old SHS student but actually, I was in St Mary’s Primary School along Race Course Road (now Jalan Awang Ramli Amit) from Primary 1 to Primary 6. It was a co-ed school about half a mile from my house, so I would cycle to school or walk (and sometimes hitch a ride on somebody’s beca or trishaw).
Then I went to Sacred Heart Secondary School, an all-boys school, at its former location along the notorious Mission Road in the town, 1 and 1/2 miles from my house, so going on foot was out of the question. Then it moved to where it stands presently along Oya Road, another 1 and 1/2 miles from the town. Roughly, that would mean that I had to cycle 3 miles to go to school, one way – 6 miles a day and if we had to go back in the afternoon for something, that would be doubled.
I was not very active in the school. Being a boys’ school, the emphasis was on sports and games like rugby and hockey, and I was not into those things. Most of my friends then were from other schools, people who shared the same interests – radio-listening and requesting and going for parties and dances. I remember when I was in Form 2, I joined a singing competition in the school. I chose to sing the Rolling Stones’ “As tears go by”…but I was so nervous that I could not get a single note right and was unceremoniously booted out of the audition even before I finished the whole song! Poor me! My singing career ended before it even got off the ground! LOL!!! There was a Christmas concert and I was in the choir and also had a very small part in the play – “A Christmas Carol” and that was all.
The most memorable event was when a big group of us (led by Brother James, the rugby coach then) from the two Form 5 classes (yes, there were only two – one science and the other arts) went on a river cruise in a wooden motor launch to the Rejang Delta to trek to the Jerijeh Lighthouse (I never got there though! Stopped halfway! LOL!!!) – eating and sleeping and having a whole lot of fun on board.
Back in those days, only those in the science stream could stay in SHS for Form 6 while those in the arts stream had to go to Methodist Secondary School along Queensway (now Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg) and I was in this block for two years – Lower 6 and Upper 6, on the upper floor…
I was more active here and took part in debates, had a bigger role in a play that we staged for the Sibu-level drama festival and there were lots of outings, parties and dances like those organised by the Sixth Form Society…and being a co-ed school, there were girls!
I remember Ming Choo and her friends in Form 4; their classroom was in the block directly opposite mine and we all sat at the windows, making signals at one another while the lessons were going on. Hehehehehe!!!! When I was in Lower 6, the girls next door (Upper 6) were very friendly and a whole lot of fun, so I was hanging out with them most of the time, much to the disgust of the boys in their class. I remember towards the end of the year when the Higher School Certificate (HSC) Examination was drawing near, the girls were somewhat emotional about parting ways and were singing this song…
We were having our lesson next door and were quite distracted, so our teacher, Mr Johnson, went over and told the girls, “Very sweet, girls! Very sweet indeed! But we would like to concentrate on our lesson next door.” We had teachers from overseas then – two Americans, Mr Johnson (if I’m not mistaken, he came from the states) and Mr Funk and an Australian, Mr Gregory who taught us Economics.
Ah well…those were the days!