OFFICIAL OPENING AND CONSECRATION OF ACS BARKER ROAD CAMPUS
AMIDST a distinguished audience of more than a thousand guests at the Lee Kong Chian Auditorium and linked to Mrs Lee Choon Guan Concert Hall and Tan Chin Tuan Sports Hall with another 4,000 boys and parents, the new ACS Barker Road Complex was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Dr Tony Tan, on July 15, 2003.
He was received by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon, Mr Tan Wah Thong, Chairman of the ACS Board of Governors, and other officials in somewhat inclement weather.
Also present were the Acting Minister (Manpower) and Minister of State (Education), Dr Ng Eng Hen; the Senior Minister of State (Trade & Industry and Education), Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam; and the ACSOBA President, Mr Chelva Rajah — a trio of ACSians.
The atmosphere inside the auditorium was warm, with former principals, teachers and old boys genially recounting the good old days and congratulating the school on this major achievement.
Guest-of-Honour Dr Tan, in declaring the campus open, remarked on the excellent resources which the two schools now have. Their innovative design of cluster classrooms would maximise opportunities to tailor educational programmes and instructional strategies to the needs and interest of students, while the new Sports Complex, Auditorium and Arts Centre would provide ACS with opportunities to develop both ruggedness of spirit, and for creativity and artistic expression.
While these facilities symbolised the commitment to excellence and innovation, he said, the re-built Clock Tower reflected the traditions and ethos of the school and provides a link to all ACS boys past and present, an icon of the school’s heritage, history and values. It was a visible reminder that ACS must preserve and build on its underlying strengths – which had rested on the power of its traditions and ethos, its emphasis on values and a robust and enduring school spirit.
Bishop Dr Solomon tells ACSians: ‘The Best of all is that God is with us’
“Its strong ties with the Methodist Church and its Christian heritage have always sought to anchor its students in sound moral values and a strong sense of community,” he said.
Dr Tan emphasised that strong values are important because the benefits enjoyed by students from their education are ultimately justified by the quality of their commitment and contribution back to society. Those who gain most from the benefits of community must also bear the heaviest responsibilities and have the keenest sense of social and community obligations. This had been most clearly shown “in the spirit of giving and service to school and community that has been the distinctive hallmark of the ACS alumni”, he noted.
In his remarks, Mr Tan Wah Thong thanked the Government for its generous subvention of $80 million, and the generous support of well-wishers who donated more than $16 million, a remarkable effort considering the difficult economic situation. Meticulous planning and good design enabled the project to be completed on schedule and within budget, thereby enabling
ACS (Barker Road), ACS (Primary) and Oldham Hall to be suitably re-housed, with a student population of more than 3,000.
In recounting the educational mission of the Methodist Church with the founding of ACS in 1886, one year after Methodist work began in Singapore, Bishop Dr Solomon noted that “generations of ACSians have thrived in the special environment of sound Christian and moral values, holistic education and the ACS spirit of excellence, service and loyalty”.
It reflected the belief that a well-rounded education involves a process not only of information but of character formation – that while there is always something new to learn, one does not cease to be formed and reformed, but also transformed in this life.
The current shift in educational focus from rote learning to creative thinking underlined our belief that “knowledge of facts is not as important as who you are” – the result of creative living which is derived from the ability to discern and apply Christian truths in daily living. Students who do so “would live life with integrity and compassion and find meaning in all that they do”, he said.
He reminded the gathering that, as a Methodist institution, ACS stands for a quality of education that transcends the bricks and mortar of buildings. It is the relationship between teachers and students, the mentoring, the camaraderie, life lessons learnt, lifelong convictions and values, the spirit of loyalty and sacrificial service that are its soul that is passed from one generation to the next.
With these thoughts, he led in the consecration of the ACS Barker Road Campus, convinced that “the Best is Yet to Be” because “the Best of all is that God is with us”.
The Official Opening and Consecration was musically supported by the ACS (BR) Brass Band, Chinese Orchestra and the Combined Choirs of both Barker Road schools, ACS (J) and the ACJC Harp Ensemble. Their contributions were a delightful accompaniment to the lengthy programme appropriate for the occasion to celebrate the successful conclusion of a $97-million project.
ACS’ DISTINCTIVE HALLMARK
‘Those who gain most from the benefits of community must also bear the heaviest responsibilities and have the keenest sense of social and community obligations. This had been most clearly shown “in the spirit of giving and service to school and community that has been the distinctive hallmark of the ACS alumni”.’
— Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dr Tony Tan.