May 24,  2003

Victoria School goes green
  School's new premises to have solar-powered rooms
  Canteen, hostel to use biodegradable crockery
  Students to get involved in recycling, reforestation
By Jane Lee

THERE will be no plastic bowls or plates at Victoria School when it moves to its new premises at Siglap Link next month.

Instead, its boys will be eating off biodegradable crockery made from rice husks and bamboo. These will eventually be crushed and used as compost in the school.

Going green both inside and outside, Victoria School's new Siglap Link premises come fitted with environmental features. -- JOYCE FANG

The scheme is one of many the school will be putting in place to go green after it moves from Geylang Bahru.

The autonomous institution also intends to power up to eight classrooms with solar energy, provided it can get sponsors to foot the $100,000 bill for installing solar panels.

Its students have a part, too, in its grand green plan. They are likely to work on reforestation, recycling and coastal projects.

Explaining the school's newfound mission, its principal Ang Pow Chew said: 'We want the boys to understand that resources are limited and that they need to protect the environment for their own future.'

The Singapore Environment Council believes Victoria is taking the correct first step.

Said Miss Uma Sachidhanandam, the council's projects manager: 'If students see that the school is creating a greener environment, then they'll also be aware of the possibilities of going green at home and in their lives.'

Mr Ang calls the new premises 'a school in the garden'.

The piece de resistance - a 150m-long stream and eco-garden that runs the length of the school - will feature palms, ferns, ginger and medicinal herbs, as well as tropical fish such as tilapia and koi.

The boys are expected to learn about the ecosystem from the garden.

The school, which is a five-minute walk from East Coast Park, cost $38 million and has been completed in less than two years. Spread over 3.5ha, it boasts a 500-seat auditorium and a three-storey library.

Students in the classrooms on the top floor of the seven-storey blocks will catch the sea breeze, while the school's 500 boarders will wake up to a view of the coast because the hostel is 11 storeys high.

President S R Nathan, a former student, will officially open the school on June 28.

Also, at the new premises, lessons will be conducted outside the classroom at least once a week - at the nearby beach to learn about coastal erosion, for instance. The boys, rather than the teachers, will move from room to room for their various classes.

Said Secondary 1 student Tajuddin Marhim, 13: 'I heard we can even have PE classes at East Coast Park!'

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