Sarikei St. Clement's Kindergarten probably started in 1967 (can anyone confirm?). This was the year that the primary school of St. Anthony's School was relocated, leading to the beginning of St Anne's Primary School.
High pitch wailing pierced the air on the first day of school. You saw all these unfamiliar faces of the kids. You knew that your parent was going to leave you in the hands of these unfamiliar teachers and that lady in white (whom you later got to know as a nun). So you yelled even louder and rolled on the floor. Some parents decided to stand outside the window for the whole school day for the first few days to transition the kids into uncharted territory.
Next to the kindergarten classrooms was this field where kids played "What is the time, Mr. Tiger?" If the "tiger" replied, "It's time to go home!", you better run for your life while the "tiger" tried to catch a kid to be the next "tiger". The field had a gardener's shed ("haunted house") which the kids didn't dare to go near. Now the field has a new block of classrooms to cater to the growing population.
Next to the kindergarten is the living quarters and gardens of the Catholic nuns and caretakers. Alastian dogs (German Shepard dogs) patrolled the grounds after office hours. Next to the convent was a small path with slabs of cement leading to St. Anne's Primary School. If you were not careful and ran into the gaps between the cement slabs, your small legs would be seriously bruised. Like mine which happened several times.
I peeped into the classroom. Some of the original boxes that were used as stools were still around. The polygon shaped tables were still around but re-surfaced. I recall learning pattern drawing on lined exercise book. Up down, up down... I remember my first Chinese book with one character in huge font and a picture per page. The rote learning had embedded these characters inside my head 人, 口, 手, 衣, 山, 田, 水, .... (the exact sequence in the pages).
There were new plastic chairs and tables.
There's a new classroom at the back of the original two classes. Inside was a toilet. In the old days, the toilet was outside with a zinc roof. The boys would circle around a bucket and pee inside. The bucket of by products was probably used to fertilise the gardens.
Behind the original block was a newer block used as a day care centre for those parents with busy schedules. This probably started around 1980 because there was an advertisement in the 1981 Anthonian magazine.
For those who had parents standing outside the kindergarten window for the whole day during your first few days at school, probably you did the same for your kids wherever you may be now. The irony was that the window partition was really caging the parents, not the kids.
To join St Clement's Kindergarten facebook group, click here.