Tanjong Katong Secondary School

Infobox Singapore School
name = Tanjong Katong Secondary School
丹绒加东中学 (Dānróng Jiādōng Zhōngxué)

motto = Diligentia, Ingenium, Dexteritas
established = 1956
type = Automonous, Co-Educational
session = Single
principal = Lee Yan Kheng
city/town = Katong
school code = 3512
enrollment = About 1500
colours = Green
homepage = [http://www.tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg Link]

Tanjong Katong Secondary School, or known affectionately as TK, is an Autonomous co-ed school in Katong. With an emphasis on an 'all-round' education system and having accomplished all-round excellence in both academic and non-academic fields, the school snags the coveted School Excellence Award in 2007. This is the highest award accorded to secondary schools in Singapore. In the past, TK was the only non-Independent and non-Autonomous secondary school in Singapore offering solely the Express stream. This ceased when TK was granted Autonomous status. Before that, it was frequently named 'The Best non-Independent and non-Autonomous Secondary School' by MOE. TK celebrated her Golden Jubilee - 50 years of establishment, in December 2006 with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as the Guest-of-Honour.

School History and Background

The school was founded in 1956 as Tanjong Katong Technical School, enrolling only male students. Its early humble beginning saw it inhibiting a plot of swampy mash next to the river Tanjong Katong. The old address of 369 Tanjong Katong Road situated it along a belt of upper-middle suburban housing and old Joo Chiat and Katong shophouse nearby. Its early years were rocky as there was a common misconception about technical schools that only less-academically inclined boys attended. However, with Singapore's changing economic focus then, many people started to turn to technical schools. Many students chose TK as it was then regarded as the Top Technical School. This caused a minor outcry from many school principals as they were losing their best students to technical schools. In 1969, the school became a co-ed school.

The added competition of new neighbouring secondary schools in the Katong area also meant that TK had to fare better academically as most families had originally automatically sent their children to the nearest school in the area. The added option of having Pre-U classes help in this area and the school population soared to an all time high of 5000 in 1979.

For some years before 1993 the school was called Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School and in 1993, the school was renamed Tanjong Katong Secondary School. This was because the school was losing its technical focus and was already focusing on offering mainstream curriculum like Humanities and Science. The name change sparked a minor outcry from TK alumnus then. In 1995, the school achieved a coup de grace, of sorts. It took over the school premises of the neighbouring Tanjong Katong Girls' School and began operating single-session. The added area made previously cramped study surroundings more expansive and conducive for after school activities, CCA and other remedial classes. The old world charm of swaying palm trees, late after breezes and surrounding pre 70 buildings and shophouses made TK one of the more sought after PSLE graduates' destination then. The school had also by then became an oddity, in that it keep appearing in the Top 25 Schools ranked in Singapore before auxiliary considerations like Value Added were implemented and based solely on the Mean Subject Grade of O Levels takers.

In 1997, the school took an even better turn. GCE 'O' Levels results peaked at a Mean Subject Grade of 2.82, the best in 8 years, and this was used as a benchmark for the school community. Today, the school has already achieved a mean subject grade of slightly lower than 2.30.

In 1998, the school moved to her new premises at 130 Haig Road. Although the size of the new campus was slightly smaller than the old one, it was fully equipped with up-to-edge facilities. For example, it was one of the few government schools then to have an in-built 400-seater auditorium. The design and architecture of the new campus was carefully concepturised over the years by renowed architects. The following year, TK was one of the pioneering schools to be awarded the Sustained Achievement Award when the award was first introduced. The Opening Ceremony of the new campus was held in 2000. The school continued to do well in the GCE 'O' Level examinations year by year and became one of the Top 20 Value-Added schools in 2001. In 2003, it was presented with the Sustained Achievement Award for Value-Added. In 2004, the school attained a breakthrough and came into limelight when her graduating cohort of students achieved a 98% distinction rate for the subject of Chemistry in the GCE 'O' Level examinations, the highest ever in Singapore.

2004 proved to be the harvest year for TK as it received a slew of prestigious awards. The school was accorded Autonomous status after its fine tradition of excellence performance. This did not came as late for the school as the then principal, Miss Esther Lai, assured that the school was only ready to be 'Autonomous' then and hence did not apply to be one in the early years. Following the new status was the awardee of School Distinction Award. TK was one of the pioneer 12 schools to be given the award and this was commendable, considering the other awardees were brand-name schools like RI, RGS, ACS(I), NYGH and etc. Yet another addition that year was the presentation of Singapore Quality Class status given the excellent and efficient organisation of the school. The academia curriculum in the school was also recognised when it bagged the Best Practice Award for Teaching & Learning. Other areas were also recognised with the achievements of Sustained Achievement Awards for Physical Fitness, Uniformed Groups and Value-Added respectively.

In 2006, the school celebrated her Golden Jubilee - 50 years of establishemnt. Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong joined in the celebration as the Guest-of-Honour. The event was broadcasted on local news that same day. As an early gift, it was presented the Sustained Achievement Award for Aesthetics and Best Practice Award for Student All-Round Development, two highly-acclaimed award presented to very few schools. This is not in dismay as TK is particularly strong in the Aesthetics scene and the school takes painstaking effort to groom her students in all areas. Not only that, the renowned school band, Tanjong Katong Band, also bagged the 'Best Display Band of The Year' award for 10 years running, a feat no other secondary school in Singapore has ever achieved.

In recognition of her achievements and excellent performance in all areas of the education processes and outcomes, TK snags the coveted School Excellence Award in 2007. It will be the 8th secondary school to be accorded the title following ACS(I) (2004), RI (2004), River Valley High (2004), Dunman High (2005), Xinmin Secondary (2005), RGS (2006) and Cedar Girls' (2006). This achievement made the school appeared in several local newspapers special reports as the school clinched the award before many other brand-name top schools.

School Crest

The bearded man on the school crest is Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous artist, inventor and philosopher - arguably one of the most versatile geniuses of modern times.. He represents the school's aspiration to produce pupils of similar talents and abilities. In the crest embossed around with the school's mottos is a diorama of da Vinci studying the flight of a white dove with a weighted plum tied to one of its leg. The icons of "flight" in the school's emblem, the bird and the flying machine, instills in the students the desire to go beyond the realms of ordinary imagination and to achieve goals which were never envisioned.

School Motto

"Diligencia": Diligence

"Ingenium": Ingenuity

"Dexteritas": Dexterity

School Song

The School Song was composed in 1960 with lyrics by Mr N. Vaithinathan, TK's first principal and rhythm by English Literature teacher, Mr A.V Miles. It is sung every Monday during morning assembly and at the end of special events (Sports Day, Road Run, Speech Day e.t.c)


On the sea shore of the endless worlds

With the mind and with the body

We'll work together

And we'll play

It's one for all and all for one

We'll seek and find

We'll make and Mind

However hard

We'll strive to reach the goal

Oh Rutherford, Da Vinci

Tagore and Albert Einstein

We hope we have rightly invoked

Your aspirations and your fame

We'll seek and find

We'll make and Mind

However hard

We'll strive to reach the goal


- SCHOOL EXCELLENCE AWARD (Awarded in 2007, this is the highest and most prestigious award in the Ministry of Education Masterplan of Awards)

- Singapore Quality Class

- Autonomous status

- School Distinction Award

- Best Practice Award (Student All-Round Development)

- Best Practice Award (Teaching & Learning)

- Sustained Achievement Award (Academic Value-Added)

- Sustained Achievement Award (Arts)

- Sustained Achievement Award (Physical Fitness)

- Sustained Achievement Award (Uniformed Group)

- Outstanding Development Award (Character Development)

- Achievement Award (Academic Value-added) (Special/Express) - GOLD


- Development Award (National Education)

- Development Award (Character Development)

- Trim-and-Fit (TAF) Award - GOLD

- Thinking Culture Award - Best School (Zonal)

- Schools' Green Audit Award

- Outstanding Partners Award


Male students wear white short-sleeved shirt of fairly thick material. The school badge is worn on the top left corner of pocket.Lower Secondary boys wear white shorts and do not need to wear belts.Upper Secondary boys wear white pants with black buckled belts which can be purchased from school.

Female students wear short sleeved blouse of fairly thick material with the school badge on the left at the front of the uniform. The sleeves of the blouse are folded until a distance of 3-fingers from the elbow. This is done to differentiate TK girls from other schools that have a similar uniform. The skirt is jade-green in colour with box pleats.It is interesting to note that the TK's girl's uniform was designed by one of its first female students, Ms Lim Soo Lan.

The School Tie is to be worn every Monday from morning assembly until the first recess.

PE Uniform

The traditional TK PE uniform(1956-2002) consists of a white coloured T-shirt which has the school crest printed on the left and the full school name printed on the back. Students started off wearing olive-green shorts before a new brighter green shorts was introduced.

The (2003-2005) version is a minor alternation to the original shirt. The crest is embeded and the shirt includes buttons at the neck.

The later version of the uniform(2006-2008) consists of a white T-shirt with a green stripe on the left and right of the shirt. The school crest is embedded on the left. Green shorts have been replaced with new TK Black shorts.

The even latest version of the uniform(since 2008) has the four House colours on them, with the school crest embedded on the centre of the shirt and each house's name( Rutherford, Da Vinci,Tagore and Einstein) at the back.

Class/CCA T-shirts

The school has a tradition of allowing each class to produce their own Class T-shirts and these shirts can be worn during PE lessons and on Saturdays. Class T-shirts come in many varieties and are designed by each of the respective classes. Design is submitted to the school management for approval during the first term. All designs are required to have the name of the school for identification purposes. CCA T-shirts cannot be worn during PE lessons and can only be worn during CCA sessions/meetings and on Saturdays.

50th Anniversary T-shirt(2006)This is a special school Polo T-shirt that is made for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2006. They are distributed to the 2006 batch of students. The shirt can be worn at most informal occasions and 50th anniversary events. There is also a teachers' version of the shirt which has a more mature design.

Co-Curricular Activities (CCA)

Tanjong Katong Band

The school band, Tanjong Katong Band (TK Band), as representation, is the pride and joy of the school. The TK Band has its roots in the school bands of former Tanjong Katong Technical School (now Tanjong Katong Secondary School) and Tanjong Katong Girls' School. The bands started separately in 1965 with only 26 members. In 1967, the two bands came together for a combined performance that marked the beginning of their long and close relationship. The combined band known as The TK Brass Band achieved a critical mass in terms of membership, and was able to take on more challenging music and more ambitious outdoor displays. Under the leadership of their first Bandmistress, Miss Irene Joseph, the band grew by leaps and bounds. By 1972, it won its first "Mace of Honour", an award given only to the top three school bands each year. The Band's versitality has been proven over the years as it has also done well on the concert stage and in many indoor competitions.

When the band split in 1989, with TKGS going its own way, Miss Irene Joseph continued to lead the TK Band until she retired in 1992. The band continued to achieve top honours under her tenture. However, the winning streak came only in 1998 and it was also the same year that TK Band changed its uniforms. TK Band made history by winning the same award in 2000, the first (and so far only) band to do so. Achieving the "Display Band of the Year" award in 1998 and 2000, the band created headlines again in 2002 when it became the first band to walk away with not only one, but two top honours awards in outdoor band competitions with both the "Display Band of the Year" and "Best Drum Major" awards, the first band to do so. The band received the award for the fifth consecutive time in 2006 (the competition is held every alternate year), a feat no other secondary school bands have ever achieved in Singapore. The TK Band is now the only secondary school band taking part in the Outdoor and Indoor competitions and achieving at least the Gold Award for both. In December 2006, the TK Band alumni started the Irene Joseph Award in honour of their first Bandmistress, Miss Irene Joseph. The band failed to clinch the coveted "Display Band of the Year" award in the 2008 SYF Central Judging of Display Bands to strong rivals, Deyi Secondary School. Nonetheless, TK Band managed to clinch one of the only two "Gold With Honours" Award again, and still retaining its status as the only school in Singapore winning the "Display Band of the Year" award 5 times over 10 years.

The presence of the Tanjong Katong Band can also be felt outside the school band scene. Since established, it has represented the republic in several overseas events and International Bands' festivals. At home, the band has also been invited to several major events. In 1998, the band was invited to put up a solo performance in the National Day Parade (NDP), the first ever for any school band. It also appeared on National Day Parades 2002 and 2004 (during the pre-parade segments in both years), Chingay Parades etc, in solo performances.

Tanjong Katong Choir

The Tanjong Katong Choir (TK Choir) is another jewel of the school. It is currently one of the few secondary school Choral-Excellence Choirs in Singapore. Formed in 1992 and within a short timespan of just 7 years, it awed its more established competitors and triumphed its way through to be crowned the 'Top Secondary School Choir' in the 1999 SYF Competition. The TK Choir has also represented Singapore in various International Choral Competitions, bringing home Gold Awards to its name. The Choir has constantly been selected as the recording choir for major events and parades in Singapore. It won a Gold with Honours award in the 2005 SYF and proved itself again at the 2007 SYF by clinching the title yet again.

In July 2007, the TK Choir went to 'The Voyage of Songs' in Pattaya, Thailand, participanting in the 'Open Mix' and the 'Children's Choir' categories. In the Open Mix, TK Choir got 4th place, beating arch rivals Catholic High, and in the Children's Choir, TK Choir was crowned champions. TK choir ended up being the 2nd Best Singaporean Choir next to Victoria Junior College Choir, even beating other Junior College Choirs.

The recent competition that they participated was the 'Grand Prix' held in Saint-Petersburg, Russia from 17th June to 23rd June 2008, participating in the 'Under 19 Choirs' and 'Folklore' categories. TK Choir managed to clinch high golds for the two caregories that they took part in. One category, namely 'Under 19 Choirs', even attained full marks with the conductor, Mr Nelson Kwei, and was 2nd only to the National University of Singapore.

Both the TK Band and TK Choir are presently the 'Gold with Honours' awardees.

Uniformed Groups

The Uniformed Groups (UG) is the main component of TK's CCAs. TK is one of the pioneer schools to be awarded the Sustained Achievement Award for Uniformed Groups in 1999 and has since been awarded the award every year. The school received the award for the 10th consecutive time in 2008. Each UG has won top awards through the years, with the NCC (Land), NCC (Sea), NPCC, Seladang Scouts and Red Cross Youth being Gold Units.

Not only being one of the Gold Units, both the NCC (Land) and NCC (Sea) units have been named the Overall Best Unit for a number of times since 1995. Out of all the units in Singapore, the NCC (Sea) unit also has the honour of being one of the only two Gold units. In 2008, the NCC (Sea) unit won the Best Unit Award for a 6th consecutive year, a feat which no other school in Singapore has achieved so far.

The NPCC Campcraft Teams for 2008 have also won the Champion for Girls and 5th for Boys Teams respectively, being the only mixed school to win in both categories, amidst 100 over schools. The Red Cross Youth has also done the school proud by winning the Red Cross Excellent Units Award 2007 – Gold, the Red Cross Community Service Award 2007– Gold and the East District Footdrill Competition 2008 - Champion.


The Sports Group has its fair share of awards. On the lead, the Sailing group has constantly be awarded the National Schools Colours and East Zone Schools Colours Awards. The Soccer and Netball teams are in the top positions in the East Zone, with the 'C' Division (Ages 13-14) Netball girls winning the Finals of the East Zone Championship 2008.

Clubs & Societies

Other worthy mentions are the Art Club and Drama Club, which have SYF Gold Awards under their name and a slew of awards. The school's Computer Club has also been recently ranked National 3rd, only losing to Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong Institution, in the National Infocomm Competition 2007, a prestigious series of different varieties of IT Competitions.

Student Council

The TK Student Council was formed in 2002 from the TK Prefectorial Board. The Council Crest was designed by the pioneer batch of councillors. It is the pinnacle of student leadership in the school and is in-charge of various student affairs. They are also in charged of organizing certain school events such as Teacher's Day celebrations as well as ad-hoc events that vary from year to year. Councillors are selected by interviews and the President is selected by yearly elections.

House System

In mid-2007, the subject of the re-implementation of a house system for TK was brought up during the student-student councillors conference. After consideration by the school committee, the principal, Mr Lee, announced the re-implementation of the house system. By October 2007, all students from Secondary 1 to Secondary 3 were sorted into 4 houses:

1. Da Vinci

2. Einstein

3. Rutherford

4. Tagore

The purpose of the house system is to instill a sense of loyalty and team spirit amongst house members. Each house is headed by 8 house captains, representing different levels. Each house is also headed by a house manager and an assistant house manager.

Most of the school events have become inter-house from 2008 onwards.

In the past there was a 5th house, Aristotle.

Notable Alumni

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of The Environment and Water Resources

Dr Kirpal Singh, Associate Professor, Singapore Management University

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Mr Shakil Hussain, Senior Boeing Engineering Consultant

Mr James Sim, Senior Vice-President, Hong Leong Finance Jack Neo, MediaCorp Artiste, Director, Comedian, Writer

Kym Ng, MediaCorp Artiste

Bryan Wong, MediaCorp Artiste

Lim Tong Hai, National Football Coach, Ex-National Footballer

Race Wong, pop group singer, 2R

Rosanne Wong, pop group singer, 2R

External links

* [http://www.tanjongkatongsec.moe.edu.sg School Website]
* [http://www.tk-band.com TK Band Website]

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