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School History

Saint Gabriel's School started on 1 June 1953 as a small school with 212 students in five classes from Primary One to Standard Two. The students were taught by seven teachers, under the direction of the late Reverend Brother Louis Gonzaga.

Reverend Brother Elzear officially took charge of the school on 3 May 1954. In 1958, the enrolment increased to 970, with 640 pupils in the morning session and 330 pupils in the afternoon. In 1959, the school became a full school with the first Secondary Four class and in 1960, these students sat for the Senior Cambridge Examinations for the first time. In 1969, the school became two separate schools - primary and secondary. The Primary School moved into its new premises at Highland Road with an enrolment of 1350 boys. St Gabriel’s Secondary School continued functioning at 798 Upper Serangoon Road as a single-session school under the leadership of the long serving late Reverend Brother Emmanuel.

In 1984, Mr John Teo became the school’s first lay Principal, ending a line of clerics who have led the school honourably. In 1990, the school was lead by its first and only female Principal, Mrs Ng Peng Hock. With the increasing student enrolment, the school soon needed larger premises. A piece of land at Serangoon Avenue 1 for the new school campus was identified in exchange for the Upper Serangoon Road site. The school moved into the new building at the end of 1992.

The school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2003. The year also mark a change in architecture when a big portion of the Tien (天) building was demolished and the school moved to a new wing that was built on the old school field. In 2018, the school commemorated its 65th anniversary by sealing a time capsule that will be opened in 2053. The event also marked the unveiling of the Old Cross that was salvaged from the old campus symbolising a continuity of traditions and heritage that had started from 1953.


The Story of the Old Cross

Dubbed the ‘Homecoming’, the 65th Anniversary celebrations at St Gabriel’s Secondary School on 17th November 2018 was more than the homecoming of students. It marked the unveiling of a gallery that holds three important monuments, one of which had been brought from the gate of former school site.

The gate with the cross was already build before the completion of the teaching blocks.jpgThe gate with the cross was already build before the completion of the teaching blocks.
In 2016, the gate at the former school site had to be demolished. It had witnessed the growth of the school from its infancy. It was one of the first structures that was built when St Gabriel’s School moved into its first home after being hosted by Montfort School for several years. It greeted the boys when they come to school and bade them goodbye when they leave. The gate bears testimony to the laughters and the tears of St Gabriel’s boys for the many good years that the school was at 795 Upper Serangoon Road.

After the primary school section moved out to its own location at Highland Road, the gate continued to greet the boys in the secondary school. When the secondary school move out in 1992 to the present site, the gate stood resolutely at the old grounds as a historical signpost to mark the school past. Old Boys still visit the old site to take photographs and reminisce their younger, glorious days.

However, in 2016, a road widening project on Upper Serangoon Road caused the gate that the Old Cross had stood on since the 1950s to be demolished. To commemorate it, the school built a replica of the gate as part of the Heritage Gallery in the current site to allow the memory of the cultural landmark to be preserved. The school’s history and the social history of the Upper Serangoon neighbourhood was incorporated into the Heritage Gallery.

At the same time, Old Boys and school staff endeavored to salvage Old Cross that had stood on the gate to the present school site. Their unwavering and tireless efforts convinced the government authorities to allow for the school to be present during the demolition of the gate to retrieve the cross. A handful of Old Boys, former staff and current school staff were present at the poignant moment. The Old Cross was then brought to the St Gabriel’s Secondary School site at Serangoon Avenue 1 for safe-keeping.
The replica of the gate in the present school site.jpg




The replica of the gate in the present school site.

The history of Upper Serangoon district in the Heritage Gallery.jpgThe history of Upper Serangoon district in the Heritage Gallery.

Workers going to bring down the cross.jpg




The roof of the gate removed. Workers preparing to bring down the cross.

The small group that had gathered took photo with the cross after it was brought down.jpg




The small group that had gathered took photo with the cross after it was brought down.
In 2018, the school decided to commemorate the 65th anniversary with the homecoming of the Old Cross. Placed at a vantage position at the school foyer, the Old Cross will once again bear witness to journey of every St Gabriel’s boy who stepped his foot in the school.

As part of a trinity of monuments, the Old Cross symbolises the school heritage. The statue of St. Louis-Marie De Montfort adjacent to it represents the school Montfortian identity. Completing the trinity is a Time Capsule that symbolizes the school’s future aspirations. The Time Capsule will be opened in 2053 at the school’s centennial anniversary.

The time capsule bears artefact that tells the school’s rich history and preserves its present memories. It also bears the aspirations of the school leaders, teachers and students for the school. Several letters too, were placed into the Time Capsule addressed to students and school staff in 2053. It was hoped that these letters will be read at the opening of the Time Capsule in 2053.

Inscribed on the capsule cover are these words: -

With God’s blessing, may the experience represented in this collection be
a Light of Virtue and a Beacon of Truth
to inspire future students to live and thus prove to be
worthy St Gabriel’s boys

Once a Gabrielite; Always a Gabrielite.

The Old Cross - the Time Capsule and the statue of St Montfort at the school foyer.jpgThe Old Cross, the Time Capsule and the statue of St Montfort at the school foyer


Milestones

Year Key Event
1953 School was founded on 3rd June.
1959 School became a full school.
1960 School presented its first batch of students for the ‘O’ Level examination.
1969 School became two separate Primary and Secondary Schools. The Secondary School became single-session.
1992 School moved to new premises at Serangoon Avenue 1.
2003 School celebrated its Golden Jubilee.
2004 A large part of the Tien 天 building was torn down after the school moved into the new wing that was built above on the old school field. An astroturf field and a multi-purpose hall were built in place of the demolished wing of the school.
2015 The school held an SG50 dinner with invitees that include 2 of the 7 founding teachers of the school.
2016 Old school gate was demolished. A replica was built in the new campus to commemorate its heritage.
2018 The school sealed a Time Capsule which is to be opened in 2053. Old Cross rescued from the old gate was unveiled.


Principals
  • Reverend Brother Louis Gonzaga (1953, 1956–1957)
  • Reverend Brother Elzear (1954–1955)
  • Reverend Brother Raymond (1957–1958)
  • Reverend Brother Adolphus (1959–1960)
  • Reverend Brother Emmanuel (1961–1962, 1970–1974)
  • Reverend Brother Noel (1963–1969)
  • Reverend Brother Edmund James (1974–1983)
  • Mr John Teo (1984)
  • Mr Harold Mathieu (1985–1986)
  • Mr Andrew Ng (1987–1989)
  • Mrs Ng Peng Hock (1990–1996)
  • Mr Winston Hodge (1997–1998)
  • Mr Adolphus Tan (1999–2004)
  • Mr Marcel Lee (2005–2012)
  • Mr Stephen Chin (2013–present)