Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Farewell Assembly for Our Principal Mr Harphal Singh


Mr Singh all smiles on the first day of the new West Spring Secondary.

The school shed a tearful farewell to Mr Harphal Singh, our principal in a final farewell assembly. There was no way to graciously thank or bid farewell to the man who envisioned West Spring from its planning, construction into its eventual fruition today but West Spring came together with a heavy heart to wish him a final goodbye. Needless to say, West Spring would have been an entirely different school had her founding principal not been Mr Singh. The story of Mr Singh who built a school with people and not school walls is indeed legendary and aweinspiring within the learning community and beyond.

Back in the year 2000, a gungho and fearless Mr Singh bravely pointed out to a plot of land and called out to graduating PSLE students to join him in building a happy school where anything was possible. These students later formed the pioneer batch of the school (now graduated) who, in the 2004 GCE O-levels, brought value-addedness to the school. In between those years of 2000 and 2004, West Spring had moved twice before finally settling in its present location. The principal had faced formidable challenges while he championed for his new school, raised funds, customised construction plans, fended off sceptics, educated and inspired 4 generations of West Spring students. The pioneer students along with those who came later had been groomed to become confident, thinking, tenacious individuals – traits of their principal.

Instead of asking “Why?” to suggestions, Mr Singh always welcomed a fresh perspective on things with his “Why Not?” principle. His insightful reflections were often shared in the school newsletters and assembly speeches. His personal style that was unique and uncommon among school leaders inspired both his teachers and students to think beyond possibilities. Along the way, he had championed the Responsibility Model where he believed everyone could excel further under the guidance of his or her own personal sense of responsibility - be it in learning or personal leadership.

The watershed ceremony which commenced with a video presentation cleverly crafted by the Alumni members of the school brought back nostalgia and poignant memories of times with the principal. This was followed by a powerpoint presentation by the students’ council reminising of West Spring's journey with Mr Singh.

Mr Seet, present VP and incumbent principal, who would be taking over the helm of leadership of the school then spoke of a time when he had heard of a distinguished Mr Singh who started a school without a school back in 2001. He had not expected to be taking over principalship of West Spring when he first came but will continue the great work of Mr Singh. He acknowledged that Mr Singh will always be the Father of West Spring.

Ms Ong, a pioneer teacher of West Spring, continued with a heartfelt and brilliant speech which took many back to the actions and deeds of a man we had come to call principal. Amada Huan, representing the West Spring Alumni, in her speech added that the each and every pillar of the school is a testimony of Mr Singhs words and deeds.

In his speech that followed, Mr Singh wished everyone the best to continue to make West Spring a success story. He made special mention that West Spring now enjoys a reputation of good students among the grassroot members of the community, a simple characteristic of the students that he was proud of. He shared that a good man will walk down the street and be recognized as a good man for his deeds. He reiterated that "it is the people that makes a school and not the concrete walls". This was his final reminder to all.

The school had gathered to form a giant THANK YOU within the school hall. The principal accompanied by the vice-principal and student leaders then walked amidst the students and teachers while the Aud Lang Syne was played for the principal. The pouring thank you cards and tears shed could not replace a sense of loss for the departing principal. Mr Singh was always like a father figure providing a listening year and strict guidance to the school. Overwhelmed by the hugs and tears, Mr Singh was tearful by the end of his rounds surrounded by wellwishers and those who had shared unique experiences with the principal.

Mr Singh had diligently canvassed for many modern and unconventional facilities the school now has. An air-conditioned auditorium for a secondary school, a fountain and a pond (within months), a spirited 24 drums team, a school with BBQ pitts, a complete military band just to name a few of his salient and significant contributions. The school was coined by the Minister of Education, Dr Vivian, in his visit during the recent school opening ceremony, as a remarkable school with first-class, holiday-resort facilities. (If only the students realise what they have - BlogM.)

Many would remember the first principal of West Spring as a charismatic and compassionate leader who brought Life and injected passion into the lives of many. Our benevolent Mr Singh had always raised funds for needy students on financial assistance.

The story of West Spring will always be inextricably linked to this man who had masterminded West Spring. Mr Singh, we thank you and salute you for all you have done. May the years ahead be better and you find happiness always.

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