St. Gabriel's Secondary School

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St. Gabriel's Secondary School
Sekolah Menengah St. Gabriel
Opened 3rd June 1953
Address 24 Serangoon Avenue 1, Singapore 556140
Principal Mr Stephen Chin
Vice Principal Ms Jackie Cheng
Mr Aaron Chia
Abbreviation SGSS
Vision The Gabrielite...
  • Servant Leader
  • Lifelong Learner
  • Gracious Citizen
Mission Shaping Lives for Service to God and Nation.
Motto Labor Omnia Vincit
(Labour Conquers All Things)

St. Gabriel's Secondary School is an all-boys government-aided Roman Catholic secondary school at 24 Serangoon Avenue in Serangoon, Singapore. The school is affiliated to St. Gabriel's Primary School and Catholic Junior College and is one of 7 Gabrielite schools in Singapore.[1] Classes are provided in the Express, Normal Academic and Normal Technical streams.

The nearest MRT station is Serangoon.


St Gabriel's School opened on 3 June 1953 (costing $175,000 with a government contribution of $71,000) at the junction of Hillside Drive and Upper Serangoon Road. Under the supervision of Rev Bro Louis Gonzaga (Founder) and seven pioneer teachers, the school accepted 212 pupils for its first intake, consisting of only five classes: two of Primary 1, one each of Pri­mary 2, Standard 1 and Standard 2. The school was officially declared open on 13 December 1953 by the then Bishop of the Diocese of Singapore and Malacca, Mgr Michael Olcomendy. In 1954, Brother Elzear became the school's first full-time director (Principal).

Brother Louis Gonzaga took over as director in 1955 and Brother Elzear left to take over management of Parish School in Johore Bahru, Malaysia. In 1958, under the supervision of Brother Camillus, the afternoon session began functioning on its own. Brother Raymond was made director. This year also marks the publication of the first St. Gabriel's School Annual (Magazine).

In 1959, the school had its first Secondary Four class, thus attaining the status of a full school. Under the leadership of Brother Adolphus, the class sat for the Overseas School Certificate Examinations (Cambridge) and achieved a high passing rate of 90%.

Brother Emmanuel took over the reins in 1961. Mr Leo Remedios and Mr Paul Lee became first two senior assistants of the school. 1961 also marked the formation of St. Gabriel's Old Boys' Association. Brother Noel became director in 1963.

By 1968, St. Gabriel's School had a total of 47 classes for both the morning and afternoon sessions, with an enrolment of 2,000 students. The school was reaching its available capacity. To solve this problem, the primary section of the school was relocated to a new building on Highland Road on 2 January 1969 and officially declared open on 12 July 1969, hence the creation of two separate schools, St. Gabriel's Primary School and St. Gabriel's Secondary School.

With the establishment of the Primary School, the Secondary School was reorganised, with a shift in emphasis towards technical education. Some premises were converted into machine and electrical workshops to cater to the needs of pupils of SGSS and three neighbouring schools. Brother Emmanuel took over the reins again in 1969 following the sudden death of Brother Noel. Leadership was passed on to Brother Edmund James in 1974 and Mr Peter Tan was appointed Senior Assistant of the school.

The Brothers of St. Gabriel's were at the helm of the school for 30 years (1953–1983) before the leadership was passed on to lay principals in 1984. In line with Ministry of Education's guidelines, the school went single-session in 1986. The school had its first and only female principal, Mrs Ng Peng Hock, in 1990.

In May 1992, St. Gabriel's moved to its current premises at Serangoon Ave 1 and was officially opened in August 1993. At present, the school teaches the default GCE 'O' and 'N' Level syllabus as outlined by the Ministry of Education.

The school song
In white and blue, boys full of mirth and life
From early morn, we flood the green playground
In every hall, soon starts the daily strife
Of school routine, lessons and work all round
With spirits bright, our will we'll gladly bracing
From teachers kind we learn what's good and right
We thus do hope to attain with God's blessing
Virtue and Truth, Virtue and Truth
Of life's true beacon light
Saint Gabriel's School Dear
Here willing hearts behold
When duty's call rings clear
Mid sorrows as through joys
For Singapore and God
For justice to uphold
Let us live and thus prove
Saint Gabriel's boys

Academic achievements[edit]

An early example of academic success for St Gabriel's came in 1970 when the school attained 71% passes in the Senior Cambridge examination results.[2]

St. Gabriel's School produced its first President's Scholar in 1978 (Dr. Ramani, graduated 1975). The school had its second President's Scholar, Francis Chong, in 1989.[3]

In the 2009 National Secondary School Rankings, St. Gabriel's Secondary School was ranked a Band 3 and 8 (Normal and Express respectively). The school was also awarded the Achievement Award for Academic Value-Added in years 2007-2009[4] and Sustained Achievement Award for Uniformed Group, Aesthetics and Sports in years 2008-2009.[5]

The school has also met the requirements for the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) for business excellence with effect from 31 January 2008.

Since 1998, St. Gabriel's has achieved the Academic Value-Added Award for the O-Level Examinations. It has also received the Sustained Achievement Awards for Uniformed Groups since 2002.


The school has been noted for its band (now called the Concert Band), which was giving public performances as long ago as 1969.[6] In 1971 the band was one of three from Singapore to win a competition to perform in Kuala Lumpur to promote goodwill between Singapore and Malaysia.[7][8] It undertook another tour of Malaysia in 1981.[9]

The band won a Gold at the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) in 1999, 2007 and 2009.[10]

The school choir won a Gold in the SYF in 2011.[11]

Uniform and discipline[edit]

St. Gabriel's students wear white shirts, with dark blue short trousers in Secondary 1 and 2, and dark blue long trousers in Secondary 3, 4 and 5. School ties must be worn on Mondays.

For significant breaches of school discipline, the standard consequence is corporal punishment, which is normally preferred to suspension. Students receive caning; this is preceded and followed by counselling, so that although the actual caning takes only a minute, the punishment session as a whole can take an hour or more. Parents are informed.[12]

To encourage punctuality, upper secondary students who arrive late to school for a sixth time in one term are automatically given two strokes of the cane.[13] Students are also caned for truancy, fighting, skipping class, smoking and disrespect. Most recipients of the cane are upper secondary students, typically aged 15 or 16.

An upper secondary St Gabriel's student demonstrates the posture to be adopted when receiving a caning.

The strokes are administered across the seat of the offender's trousers; normally the punishment is meted out privately in the school office, but sometimes it is given in front of the offender's classmates. In very rare serious cases students may be disciplined in this way in front of the whole school ("public caning"), as on 2 March 2012, when some students were publicly caned for assault and bullying, which had brought the school into public disrepute via The Straits Times youth website STOMP the previous day.[14]

Usually, two hard strokes will be sufficient to provide a salutary lesson, but there may be more if necessary (the legal maximum is six). After emptying his back pocket, the offender bends over at about 90 degrees with his hands holding on to the seat of a chair, with his feet wide apart for stability, so that his buttocks are suitably presented for safe punishment with the trouser cloth smoothed across the target area.

Caning is carried out by a member of staff who is experienced in applying the cane hard and accurately, often the Operations Manager. In the past this also included the Discipline Master but the present holder of that post is a lady, who does not administer corporal punishment herself. Sometimes it may be given by the Principal, Mr Marcel Lee. A 4ft long rattan is used.

Brother Emmanuel, principal of St Gabriel's from 1961 to 1963 and again from 1969 to 1974, has been described by the Catholic News as "a disciplinarian whose cane has graced the backsides of many boys". He is quoted as saying that many of those he caned have told him that they needed the discipline they received from him. In his view, the punishment must be a careful, considered ceremony: "No one should ever cane a boy on impulse", he said.[15] As of 2012, at age 78, Bro. Emmanuel is still on the school's Management Committee as Supervisor.[16]

In 1970, seven or eight boys were found to be smoking ganga (cannabis), but the problem was stamped out with counselling, guidance and warnings, according to the then principal.[17]


Although the school does not have an annual sports day, it states that sports facilities and equipment are readily available to students. Badminton nets are set up at the parade square, and the indoor sports hall is available for students wishing to play futsal. There is an inter-class soccer tournament for Secondary 3, and the possibility of expanding this idea to other levels and sports was under consideration at the end of 2011.

At national level, St. Gabriel's won first in table tennis in 2009 and again in 2011. In past years it has won 2nd in golf and 3rd in judo.

In 2009 it attracted attention because five of its table tennis team's seven members were from China.

In March 2012 the school won its first Schools National B Boys' judo title. It defeated Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution and St Joseph's Institution to gain the title. Having prevailed by a tie-breaker in the contest against HCI, St Gabriel's ensured there would be no need for one against RI, drawing the first two matches and winning the next three for a comprehensive 3-0 margin in the best-of-five series. The title win was a resounding affirmation for St Gabriel's judo programme, which was started in 2005.[18]

School Crest & Motto[edit]

The school crest was introduced in 2007 to replace the school badge (1953–2007) and is now used by all Gabrielite institutions. This is in line with the St. Gabriel's Foundation's aim to forge a common identity for all Gabrielite institutions in the SE-Asia Region. Components of the School Crest are as follows:

  • A.M. with the lily flower: "A.M." is an abbreviation for "Ave Maria". It represents the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. It also shows the Patron Saint St. Louis de Monfort's strong devotion to Our Lady.
  • D+S with a cross: D.S. comes from the French words "Dieu Seul", which can be translated as "God alone". God Alone is the all-motivating force in the life of St. Louis Marie de Montfort.

Sailboat at sea: represents the hardships we experience through life. Just like the sailors at sea, if we are able to face hardship and overcome difficulties, we will come out being better people. Star and the man in the boat: symbolizes the Star of the sea, where seamen navigate to their destination in the vast ocean. If we are focused on the essential values of life, we shall reach our ultimate destiny in life. The Star of the sea shall be the guiding light that lights up the way in our life.

  • Olive branches: symbolizes peace and prosperity. It is thus the duty of each one to promote peace in the world, a peace that will last. Coupled with peace is prosperity, which connotes not only the generation of wealth but also the integral development of human society.
  • Labor Omnia Vincit: which stands for "Labour conquers all things". Hard work embodied in diligence and perseverance leads one to achieve greater things in life.

Subjects offered[edit]

The following subjects are offered by the school:

Maths and Sciences Languages & Humanities Others
  • Elementary Mathematics
  • Additional Mathematics
  • Science (General)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Principles of Accounting
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Chinese Language
  • Malay Language
  • Tamil Language
  • History
  • Geography
  • Combined Humanities
  • Art
  • Music
  • Civics and Moral education
  • Design and technology
  • Home economics
  • Computer applications
  • Physical education


The school offers a range of extra-curricular activities:

Sports Uniformed groups Clubs & Societies
  • Badminton
  • Floorball
  • Golf
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Table tennis
  • National Cadet Corps (Air)
  • National Cadet Corps (Land)
  • National Police Cadet Corps
  • Red Cross Youth
  • Boy Scouts
  • Performing Arts
  • Guitar ensemble
  • Symphonic band
  • Vocal ensemble
  • Aesthetics Recreation Club
  • Art and Craft Club
  • Infocomm Club
  • Library
  • Tamil Language Drama and Dance Society


  1. "Dinner for St Gabriel's half century", The Straits Times, 2 May 1987, p.14.
  2. "It's ladies first at the top of the School Cert list", The Straits Times, 21 March 1970, p.9.
  3. Chua Chong Jin, "6 of the best", The Straits Times, 25 August 1989, p.29.
  4. "School Awards", St. Gabriel's Secondary School.
  5. "Non-Academic Acehivements", St. Gabriel's Secondary School.
  6. "School band", The Straits Times, 29 June 1969, p.8.
  7. "20 school bands in youth festival tournament", The Straits Times, 24 May 1971, p.24.
  8. "Singapore school bands to play in K.L.", The Straits Times, 14 December 1971, p.10.M.
  9. "Band strikes a note of friendship", The Straits Times, 28 December 1981, p.35.
  10. "Performing Groups", St. Gabriel's Secondary School.
  11. "Central judging of choirs", Singapore Youth Festival 2011.
  12. Important Updates, St Gabriel's Secondary School, p.7.
  13. Important Updates, St Gabriel's Secondary School, p.8.
  14. "13-year-old son ambushed by 5 teens -- 2 of them girls", STOMP, 1 March 2012.
  15. "Brothers Of St. Gabriel: A caring disciplinarian", Catholic News (Singapore), June 2006.
  16. School Management Committee, St Gariel's Secondary School.
  17. "Counselling by teachers pays off in war against drug taking", The Straits Times, 22 September 1970, p.6.
  18. Lester Wong, "St Gabriel's Secondary School win first National B Boys' judo title", The Straits Times, 30 March 2012.