Excited squeals broke through the strains of Lulu's To Sir With Love at the Orchid Room of the Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre on Saturday evening.
For the first time in 40 years, Mary E. Abishagam, 55, was meeting some of her classmates and teachers from Naval Base Secondary School (NBSS).
They were the Class of 1972 from the old campus at Bah Tan Road in Sembawang, when the school was literally in the old British naval base.
'When the British pulled out of Singapore in 1971, some of them followed their parents, who were British subjects, back to England. Others went to India. Then there were those who stayed in Singapore but we have lost touch with them too,' said Abishagam, who helped organize the reunion.
Many of them were not only schoolmates, but also childhood pals growing up within the British naval base. Their parents worked at the base.
The idea of a reunion came up after a small gathering of old school friends who had kept in touch. If it weren't for e-mails and Facebook, the reunion of more than 100 old boys and girls from different corners of the world might not have happened.
'Someone did suggest taking out an ad in several of the newspapers, but that would have been too expensive,' Abishagam said.
She and six other schoolmates - Y. K. Choy, G. Selveraj, D. Nedumaran, S. Mohan, R. Davarmani and Mok Oi Lye - formed an ad hoc organizing committee, and over seven months, searched and located 122 schoolmates and a handful of teachers.
There were a total of 440 graduates in the 1972 cohort. They quickly spread the word, made phone calls, sent out e-mails and reached out to friends on social media website Facebook.
Desperate, they also took to approaching anyone on the streets who looked familiar.
'I had to overcome my initial apprehension of approaching strangers at the MRT station, bus stop or shopping centre to ask them if they were previously from Naval Base Secondary School,' Abishagam said, adding that surprisingly that approach drew quite good results.
When word of the reunion spread, she found herself being approached by strangers, including a woman who sat next to her at a hair salon.
Selvaraj, 55, added: 'I worked with this woman in the office for the past 35 years and I only found out a few days ago she was my cohort in NBSS when she approached to ask about the reunion.'
Once the date was set, schoolmates overseas organized get-togethers with their family members here and medical check-ups around the reunion and flew in from the United States, Canada and Britain.
Invited as a special guest was prominent criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan.
From a cohort 10 years earlier, Anandan is and was 'a shining example of how a boy from a neighborhood school can make good of himself', Abishagam said.
Anandan, 65, said he was inspired by his teachers at NBSS, especially his form teacher, Oliver Seet.
'He used to pile us into his car, drive all the way to the then University of Singapore in Bukit Timah, stroll through the campus and tell us we too could walk through these halls if we put our minds to it,' said Anandan, who is also the legal adviser of the alumni.
One graduate who badly wanted to attend was John Thomas. Not having served national service here, the Singaporean who lives in Britain could not return.
Over 20 of his schoolmates are traveling in a private bus to Johor today for a small reunion with him.kristin cavallari|terrell owens|amanda knox|star wars the old republic|chupacabra