Friday, 29 May 2015

Yusof Ishak Secondary School launches Presidents’ Trail for SG50

New trail reveals values, histories of Presidents
Path features seven hotspots
By Regina Marie Lee, TODAY, 28 May 2015

Years ago, 12-year-old Wee Kim Wee was playing at the construction site of the Fullerton Building when he found a Mexican silver coin in the mud. The coin became his most prized possession, but when he saw his mother crying over their financial circumstances, the boy who would grow up to become Singapore’s fourth President, sold the coin and gave the money to her.

More than 80 years later at the very same site — the waterfront outside the Fullerton Hotel — the story was recounted by students from Yusof Ishak Secondary School as part of a Presidents’ Trail designed by the school.

“It is the school’s contribution to the SG50 commemoration activities and one that seeks to unveil a side of Singapore’s history that citizens do not often hear about,” said its principal, Madam Jessie Koh, 50.

The trail features seven hotspots, each centred on one of Singapore’s presidents, past and present.

At the launch today (May 27), 40 Yusof Ishak Secondary students acted as ushers and docents to 100 primary and secondary students from neighbouring schools, as well as family members of the late Mr Wee.

Armed with mobile tablets, the participants downloaded the trail information from the Pocket Trips SG50 Edition app and could access information, stories and quiz questions at each hotspot.

The idea for the trail came from Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who launched the trail.

She said: “Yusof Ishak Secondary is the only school in Singapore bearing our first President’s name, but I felt that that was not sufficient. The school needed to go beyond that to make (the significance of Yusof Ishak) come alive.”

Mdm Halimah hoped that the trail would allow users to “understand the values that underpin our presidents and have contributed to our success”.

The hotspots were chosen to highlight the values of each president, said Ms Ruby Jayanthisimmon, 43, the school’s Head of the Humanities Department, and overall-in-charge of designing the trail.

She said: “We didn’t want to choose the obvious sites like Benjamin Sheares Bridge. We read stories of the presidents, through what they wrote and from there, we also asked the families to get some leads.”

For example, the lighthouse at Fullerton Hotel has been chosen as the site for former President S R Nathan, as it was where he had worked as a seamen’s welfare officer at the Marine Department, defending the interests of the exploited community of seafarers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students and the general public to get to know a part of the history of Singapore. A people with a sense of history will be able to withstand whatever obstacles,” said Miss Wee Eng Hwa, 73, a daughter of the late President Wee, who was at the launch.

The other sites on the trail are the Foundation Stone outside Fullerton Hotel (Yusof Ishak), the SGH Museum (Benjamin Sheares), e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) (Devan Nair), the Esplanade (Ong Teng Cheong) and the Army Museum (Dr Tony Tan).

The public can embark on the trail from June 2, by downloading the trail information from the Pocket Trips SG50 Edition app on the Android platform.

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