1 March 2024

Dear fellow ACSians,

I bring you the greetings of the over 10,000 members of the ACSOBA on the occasion of the 138th ACS Founder’s Day!

Founder’s Day is special to all ACSians. All around the world, ACSians use Founder’s Day to gather in their cohorts and communities. There is usually an outburst of Red, Blue and Gold pride, much to chagrin of non-ACSians.

In addition to this outpouring of pride, Founder’s Day is also a chance for us to reflect humbly. We have grown from one school of 13 boys in a rented shophouse on Amoy Street to a thriving Family of seven schools, with more to come. Our achievements are not wholly our own, but only possible due to the providence of a faithful God, who has truly blessed us.

With His blessings, ACSians are now found everywhere across the world; and we are now honoured by an ACSian occupying the Istana. Today, the efforts of Bishop Oldham and our early pioneers continue to bear fruit.

Yet we must ask, what does this fruit represent? To answer that question, I am reminded of two encounters which took place earlier this year.

The first happened in January, when the ACSOBA Management Committee hosted about 40 new teachers from the ACS Family of Schools to a tour of the ONE ACS Heritage Gallery at the ACS Barker Road Sports Complex. In the Heritage Gallery lay many artefacts, some dating to the early 1900s. While touring the gallery with the teachers, I was reminded about the trials and tribulations faced by ACSians in the early years.

Those years were just as unstable as the times we face today. The pioneer ACSians faced global challenges like the Great War, the Spanish flu pandemic, the Great Depression and of course the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation.

Yet despite the odds, ACS and ACSians pulled through, while many other organisations withered away. There are several stories of ACSians working to save their classmates and their teachers from the horrors of war. One of the treasured artefacts we have in the Heritage Gallery is a school magazine dated November 1945. It was published just a few months after the occupation ended. Imagine the tenacity of the ACSians to pull together to publish a school magazine in just a few weeks! This shows the power of the ACS spirit burning brightly during a crisis and the most difficult of times.

The second encounter took place in early February. The legendary Mr Wan Fook Weng, former teacher and Principal of ACJC, brought together a group of retired teachers to celebrate the Lunar New Year with a Lo Hei lunch. As part of their gathering, the retired teachers stood up to sing the ACS Anthem.

I’m guessing that the retired teachers sang rather gustily as they attracted an audience – an audience none other than the President of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who happened to be in the same venue attending another function, but was drawn by the familiar melody of the anthem.

You might be wondering what the point of these two encounters. To me, these encapsulate what makes ACS truly unique.

The first is that ACSians have always treasured each other and have been their Brother’s keeper. That is the secret of the ACS spirit, and what truly defines us. To the students celebrating Founder’s Day today, I remind you to treasure your school days, and more importantly, treasure your bonds with each other. Your shared experiences in your days in school will help you to build strong friendships with each other that will last you a lifetime. With rising incidences of mental health challenges, I encourage you to keep each other close, pray for each other and uphold one another.

The second lesson is that ACSians should always remember where they came from and to pay it forward whenever they have a chance. The President did not have to stop to meet the retired teachers, or stay to take photos with them. But he chose to, despite his busy schedule. To me, this speaks of his desire to respect and honor those who played a role in his life, recognizing that this was part of what enabled him to achieve the highest office in the land. We owe a debt to those who helped us to achieve our potential, and an obligation to pay it forward to others.

ACS is truly special. And our story is not yet complete. We are still growing to welcome more students into our midst by opening a Special Needs School in 2026. This inclusivity is important as we face the challenges of the future. I hope that all of you remember the trademarks which have made ACS unique, and continue to maintain the proud traditions of the school.

To God Be The Glory!
The Best Is Yet To Be!

Lock Wai Han