'Prom' after 40 years

'Prom' after 40 years
All 10 members of the organising committee for the class reunion will be dressed in 1970s fashion.

Tonight, Mr Thomas Lim will be dressed to impress. Channelling the psychedelic funk of the 1970s, the 56-year-old retail salesman has put together a bright outfit comprising a rose-printed shirt and matching bell-bottoms.

The occasion? A reunion for the graduating class of 1974 of the former Hwi Yoh Secondary School in Jalan Hwi Yoh. It was merged with Parry Secondary School in 1984 and is now known as Peicai Secondary School.

Mr Lim says of the 1970s disco retro theme: "We want to remind people that this is what we went through in the 1970s."

He is among a 10-member alumni committee that has been organising yearly reunions for their cohort since 2012.

They started with a small barbecue dinner at an old schoolmate's house with 45 attendees. Last year, 72 people attended a dinner at Swatow Seafood Restaurant with a back-to-school theme, including a menu designed like a report card.

The reunion this year, to be held at Safra Toa Payoh, is the biggest yet and the organisers are giving the 115 guests a reason to dress up, 40 years after they left the school.

Mr Lim says: "In those days, there were no such things as proms. This is a gettogether to catch up."

Games, music and costumes are all part of the retro fun, but the organisers know not everyone will dress to the theme. "Knowing our age group, some of our classmates may not be so outgoing," Mr Lim says.

All 10 members of the alumni committee, however, will be decked out in vintage fashion. Financial services consultant Margaret Lam, 56, will sport an afro as the hairstyle "was very significant in the 1970s".

The organisers say their family members have been supportive. For example, Ms Lam's make-up will be done by her daughter.

Ms Irene Chua, 56, another committee member who is a supervisor in the financial sector, says with a laugh: "My son thinks it's cool."

Her 20-year-old son helped to pick her ensemble, which includes a fringe T-shirt, calf-high boots and a studded wristband, complete with hot pink shorts.

Only about 10 per cent of the cohort are in contact with one another and Ms Lam hopes that with each gathering, more of her old schoolmates will rekindle old ties.

She is looking forward to seeing people she has not met for 40 years.

Mr Lim quips: "Now, you see us walking and standing; the next time you see us, we may be in a wheelchair."

The committee members say they would enjoy the satisfaction of seeing old friends reunite after 40 years.

"That is our payment," Mr Lim says. "That they give us a pat and say, 'good job'."


This article was published on April 26 in The Straits Times.

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