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School History

Not by Might, not by power but by my Spirit says the Lord – School Ethos

In 1947, the Presbyterian Synod mooted the idea of starting a Christian secondary school to provide education for students.  Despite the Synod’s enthusiasm for the idea, there was no land to build the school and no funds to draw on. However, the vision of a school, rooted in Christian values, and one that provided good education was imprinted in the hearts of the Synod members. This vision gave them the motivation to soldier on after many failed attempts at realising the school over the course of 18 years. Finally, in God’s good time, the efforts of the Synod started to bear fruit, and things started to fall in place.

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[Reverend Lee Huai Kwang]
Presbyterian High School would not have come into being if not for the dogged determination and faith of our founding father, Reverend Lee Huai Kwang. Reverend Lee firmly believed in the mission of education as a service to society. More importantly, he was convicted of the role mission schools play in inculcating students with Christian values.



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Reverend Lee was the pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church and principal of Ming Sin Primary School in 1961. His faith moved him to propose loaning the premises of Ming Sin Primary School to start Li Sun High School. At his word, Li Sun High School was founded and it opened its doors to the first batch of 150 students at its Jalan Lateh campus off Upper Serangoon Road in 1965. This was a milestone in the history of the school. Yet, it was only the beginning of an obstacles-filled journey of school building and development – one that bore testament to God’s providence, handiwork and steadfastness over the school. 


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Did you know?

Li Sun High School ( 礼逊中学 ) was named after Reverend Alan S. Moore Anderson, a missionary who had dedicated his life to church planting and school building in Asia. “Li Sun” was derived from the translation of Reverend Alan S. Moore Anderson’s Mandarin name, An Li Sun ( 安礼逊 ).


Mr Chou Chu Shen, Li Sun High School’s first principal, led the school for 12 years. Faced with limited facilities at the premises of Ming Sin Primary School’s campus, Mr Chou and his team went the extra mile to ensure that despite the limited resources, students were still given opportunities to develop holistically. Mr Lim Lak Ching took over as principal of the school after Mr Chou retired in 1977. However, in 1978, Mr Lim was posted overseas, and Mr Chen Ying Foo, a teacher at the school, took over the duties of leading the school as acting principal from April 1978 to the end of 1979. In July 1980, the Ministry of Education (MOE) proposed that Li Sun High School should either have development plans to set up an secondary school with its own campus or close the school. Reverend Lee, who was the Chairperson of the School Management Board at that time, worked tirelessly with the church and made several attempts to secure a campus for the school, but to no avail. However, he was very sure of one thing – Li Sun High School must go on. He had great faith in God’s timely providence and his prayer was answered in August 1980, when MOE offered the school a plot of land in Ang Mo Kio for campus building. While leading the team to oversee campus building, Reverend Lee also engaged in discussions with the school redevelopment committee to re-think the school’s name. The school was named Li Sun High School to reflect the bearing of Chinese-medium education in post-war Singapore. Given the changing educational landscape and English being officially recognised as the medium of instruction, the committee proposed that the name of the school be changed to “Presbyterian High School”. Besides clearly reflecting the Christian mission of the school, the proposed name also reflected the intent of the school moving ahead with times to embrace English-medium education. In 1981, the Presbyterian Synod officially endorsed the new school campus site at Ang Mo Kio, and officially renamed it “Presbyterian High School”. In 1983, the long-awaited and momentous move to enter the ‘Promised Land’ finally took place. 23 classes comprising 645 students and 37 teachers began their new school year at the brand new school building sitting on a 1.96-hectare plot of land along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6. At that time, the school co-located with Li Hua Primary School and Ang Mo Kio North Primary School.

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“Li Sun High School was not a child born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Rather, she was born into a poor family as a sickly infant, whose survival was made possible only by utmost care and repeated resuscitations. The efforts of the pioneers must not be forgotten.” (Mr Lian Sek Lin, PHS 50 th Anniversary Commemorative Publication – 50
 Years of God’s Providence, Handiwork and Steadfastness)

Helming the school during its process of transformation from Li Sun High School to Presbyterian High School was Mr Lian Sek Lin. He took over as principal of Li Sun High School (Jalan Lateh campus) in 1980, and together with Reverend Lee Huai Kwang, oversaw the transformation of a village school to a respected mission school of choice.  With the completion of the campus building at the Ang Mo Kio site, the founder of the school, Reverend Lee Huai Kwang stepped down as chairperson of the School Management Board in 1982. Mr Lian Sek Lin retired as Principal of Presbyterian High School (Ang Mo Kio campus) in 1989. 

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[Presbyterian High School campus at Ang Mo Kio Ave 6]

Did you know? The lyrics of the school song were originally written in Mandarin by Reverend Lee Huai Kwang and the melody was composed by Mr Lian Sek Lin to reflect the school’s Christian values and mission.

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The rebuilding project was more than mortar and bricks, dollars and cents; it was a miracle! The Spirit of God mobilised an entire school community to realise this dream .
(Mrs Serene Pang, PHS 50th Anniversary Commemorative Publication – 50 Years of God’s Providence, Handiwork and Steadfastness)

In 1999, under the leadership of Mrs Serene Pang, the school underwent expansion and re-building. The continuing development of the school and consequent new demands on the facilities necessitated expansion and rebuilding to some degree. The design of the school blocks was far from ideal. The hexagonal layout of the school blocks trapped noise, creating a less than optimal learning environment for students. The rebuilding of PHS was thus a bold but necessary endeavour.

 

A giant of faith, Mrs Pang was deeply convicted that expansion and total rebuilding was necessary for PHS to become an institution of distinction producing God’s people for the 21 st century.  She approached the School Planning Office of MOE to request for additional land to be used for the proposed school expansion. She mooted the idea of occupying the vacated premise of Ang Mo Kio North and Li Hua Primary Schools as holding schools during the period of reconstruction, since both schools were situated adjacent to PHS. Her suggestion was taken up by MOE, and this was God’s hand in making a start to secure more land for the expansion of PHS. (The school would eventually own the plot of land that originally belonged to Ang Mo Kio North and Li Hua Primary Schools.)

 

As a Government-aided school, the school had to raise funds for its re-building. Elder Yeh Shu Jen, who was the Vice-Chairperson of the School Management Board at that time, boldly chaired the Rebuilding Fund Committee. Mrs Pang was knew very well that the school did not have big cash reserves nor rich patrons or alumni, yet, she believed that what the school lacked in resources, it could be made up with faith. She boldly asked God for help to cross the ‘Red Sea’ and believed that God would honour His promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His Glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

Indeed, God’s steadfastness and provision for those who put their trust in Him was evident. MOE’s launch of the Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing schools (PRIME) cleared all the obstacles that previously stood in the way of rebuilding PHS. With a subsidy of up to 95% provided by MOE, financing the project became considerably easier than it would otherwise had been.


On 24 May 2002, Mrs Pang led PHS into the Promised Land a second time when the school moved into the new campus at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6. The new school building is built on a 3-hectare plot. It combines the original 1.96 hectares with another 1.04 hectares taken from the old common school field, and part of the land that originally belonged to Ang Mo Kio North and Li Hua Primary Schools. The new school building stands out with its distinctive Christian architecture. The new building incorporated a clock tower, stained glass and other elements that reflected the Christian character of the school.

 

To ensure that PHS was strongly identified as a mission school, Mrs Pang decided to name the various blocks in the school after well-known men and women in the Bible. The block housing the hall was named ‘Solomon’ with reference to King Solomon, and the school hall was named ‘Bethel Hall’ as it was Bethel Presbyterian Church that had sponsored its building. The administration block housing the General Office was named the ‘Esther’ block. The teaching blocks housing the classrooms and learning labs were given the names of other prominent Biblical personalities: Joshua, Moses, David, Daniel, Isaiah, Ruth and Noah.

 

To ensure Christian influence, Mrs Pang also named all the classes according to Christian virtues: Agape, Blessing, Compassion, Devotion, Endurance, Faith, Grace, Humility, Integrity and Joy. The naming of the classes serves as a constant reminder to the students of the virtues they are expected to live up as members of a Christian school.  


Did you know?The lyrics of the school song were originally written in Mandarin by Reverend Lee Huai Kwang and the melody was composed by Mr Lian Sek Lin to reflect the school’s Christian values and mission.

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Our history portrays the spirit of the PHS. An unseen yet powerful element, it is this same spirit that has enabled principals, teachers and students to brave overwhelming odds to start the school, and build it up into the school it is today. God’s hand has been manifested in every way throughout the school’s history. To God be the glory!