VJC’s college bash can be described as an amalgamation of efforts of the teachers, staff and student leaders to celebrate the litany of achievements and dedication of past and current Victorians throughout the course of the past year. College Day on Saturday, 25th July represented a recognition of excellence compacted into a ceremony lasting less than 3 hours. For the typical batch of students, attending a 3-hour long prize-giving ceremony on a Saturday morning appeared like an insufferable prospect we’d have to endure. But on Saturday morning, some of us may have come away awed by the successes of the graduates, perhaps even feeling inspired to reach the level of distinction set by graduating batches.
College day serves to commemorate the milestones made in 2014, and allow Victorians, past and present, to honour and reflect upon the myriad of accomplishments over the course of the past year. The annual event was steeped in grandeur and eminence. All lessons had ended at 1220 the day before, for the rehearsal and preparation of College Day. The event may have been a novelty for some, where many J1s saw the typically bare school polished and dressed to its finest-embellished with lush greenery, and the doors of the hall draped in maroon curtains.
The event started with an address by the principal, Ms Ek on the College Report, noting academic and CCA achievements by both students and staff, celebrating the contributions of outstanding Victorians to the school. The guest of Honour, a former Victorian-Mr Ng Cher Poh and also the CEO of the Workforce Development Agency, then proceeded with a memorial of his two years in the school, providing reservoirs of wisdom and experience in his speech. The attributes he mentioned that were paramount to him included humility, passion, hard work and incidentally, sheer luck, encouraging students to live with both breadth and depth in the school.
The bulk of the ceremony, however, was taken up by the presentation of a series of school awards with rather posh-sounding names. Noteworthy Victorians included the likes of Sarah Tay, Liau Wen Rui. The Wong Hung Khim Trophy for the Student of the Year, certainly the most prestigious school-based award one can receive in his/her time in VJC, was handed out to Liau Wen Rui, for his all-around achievements in embodying the spirit of a Victorian.
During our interview with Wen Rui, when asked about his intrinsic motivation in achieving his commendable results, he shared that during his preparation for the A levels, he ‘didn’t want to be caught in the position’ where he could not chase his dreams because his grades didn’t make the cut. In fact, he quoted Mr. Goh, stating that ‘at the end of the day, the examinations were just a gateway for you for greater opportunities’. This reminder remained etched in his mind, pushing him to work hard to study the course of his choice in university-electrical engineering. Given that Wen Rui had found his passion early on, at only 15, we asked him to provide some words of wisdom to the current batch of Victorians. For the J1s, he encouraged those who were unsure of their passion to ‘sign up for everything’ to make full use of the innumerable opportunities available in JC, adding that ‘It may feel frustrating but after every busy period you’ll probably look back and reminisce on it and you’ll probably have very good memories on it.’ For the J2s facing the looming A levels, he urged them to ‘study for the examinations first’, emphasising the significance of good grades in enabling them to open more windows of opportunities. Wen Rui has accepted a Public Service Commission scholarship and hopes to study electrical engineering in the USA.
Wen Rui was also given the honour of being Valedictorian, gracing the event by imparting his words of wisdom to current Victorians, installing the spirit of leaving a trail of positivity behind.
The President of the 30th Students’ Council Special Service Award and the Dr Ong Chit Chung Trophy for Outstanding Service To The College was awarded to Koh Jia Sheng, Zachary, whose father received the award on behalf of him. Zachary was an exemplary leader in his term in VJC, adopting a “people-centred approach” and recognising “teamwork” to be the crucial facets that drove the 30th Students’ Council to live up to its legacy of excellence. Another preeminent award was the The Arts Alumni Humanities Excellence Award was given to Tay King Sing, Sarah, for her academic excellence and distinction in her pursuits. Despite having attained a brilliant track record in both her academic and leadership ventures, Sarah remained grounded and humble, crediting her achievements to the teachers in school.
We also had the opportunity to interview Sarah after the morning proceedings. She listed the factors that drove her to perform well academically, specifically, her deep interest in the subjects she was studying, her supportive teachers as well as the competitive class environment that enabled her to thrive. In addition, she gave special mention to three of her teachers, Ms. Fatma, Ms. Teo and Ms. Goh for their guidance and support, attributing her success in scholarship interviews to the ‘random discussions on current affairs’ they had in Ms. Goh’s lessons. On her words of wisdom, Sarah simply advised students not to ‘fall asleep during lectures’ because ‘you’ll miss important things’, ‘pay attention to your tutorials’, ultimately encouraging students to ‘believe in yourself’. Sarah is headed to the London School of Economics to pursue an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations. She is also keen to ‘try new things [she] had never gotten the chance or time to try in Singapore’.
She and Zachary were also awarded the OVA Gold Medal for Outstanding Students.
The concert performances were a refreshing scene. The string ensemble was represented by a quartet who performed a beautiful, flawless piece recognized by its popular tune. The lilting harmonies gave the piece it’s flavour and depth, making it a unique pleasure to listen to.
VJC’s Dance Club was greeted with resounding applause and enthusiasm by students, showcasing an impressive display of complex dance techniques in tandem with fluidity of movement and grace.
Finally, the choir arranged a rendition of ‘Home’, aptly performed in conjunction with the upcoming SG50 celebrations, ending the event on a poignant note by welcoming the J3s back to ‘home’ in VJC.
While the remarkable accolades by Victorians left students and parents alike quietly impressed by what students are capable of doing, it was the familiarity of the school song that was played to signal the closure of the ceremony that instilled a sense of pride in Victorians, allowing us a brief moment to soak up the camaraderie in the unique school cheer as a VJC community.
Perhaps that is what College Day serves to do. To celebrate the achievements, honour and reflect on the past and take on the hurdles of tomorrow to strive to bring greater promise to the future.
Nil Sine Labore!