Angsana Tree, School of the Arts

Angsana Tree, School of the ArtsRebecca Chew, 51, principal of STAR AcademyMany students in the School of the Arts (SOTA) in Dhoby Ghaut would be familiar with the big tree thatprotrudes out of their stone steps, with its branches reaching up to the fifth storey of the school building.The angsana tree, estimated to be more than 60 years old, was spared alongside a bodhi tree when thearea was cleared to make way for the new school. The angsana was one of the big trees that toweredabove the old shophouses that were there before the school.Today, the tree’s extensive network of roots run under the steps, which are kept hollow. Formerprincipal Mrs Chew had proposed to keep the tree to preserve some greenery for SOTA, which, being aschool in the city centre, had no field. Now the tree is an important fixture in some of the students’ lives.Former theatre student Aleesha Khan remembers resting under the tree with her friends almosteveryday. Once, during a panic attack before a performance, her friends took her to lie down under thetree. “We looked up at it and I did my anxiety breaths. I was fine after a while.”The most dramatic thing that happened at the tree took place one rainy morning, recalls Ms Chew. A branch felloff but didn’t injure anyone besides startling a passerby. Nonetheless a fire engine started to make its way to theschool, stopping just in front of the tree. Problem was, the new road couldn’t take the weight of the fire engine,and the vehicle ended up sinking into the ground.One line at the back of postcard:No.14SOTA Tree, c. 1950s