If you had happened to wander into the school hall after lunch on Day 3 of Nexus 2016, you would be met with the powerful whoops and hollers of hundreds of insanely competitive, aggressively enthusiastic freshies looking to express their house pride by cheering their way to victory: to the extent of interrupting their house representatives on stage with the telltale cheering and clapping after every single sentence.

No, I’m not exaggerating. To all appearances, the houses are already extremely close-knit and bonded. One would never have guessed that they had found out their house and class just that morning.

It seems highly unlikely that within a few hours such a strong sense of solidarity would be forged. However, largely as a result of the iconic Bag Design Challenge, the unlikely has been made possible.

This challenge, where students are grouped together within their classes to design a bag for their civics tutor, served as an ideal icebreaker activity to tide over the initial awkwardness of meeting one’s new class: carried forward from Aeon 2015 to Nexus 2016.

Spanning over nearly 5 hours in total, it started with an interview with the CT so as to find out what kind of bag to design for them, which was a great way to get to know your CT. (Never underestimate how much you can learn about a person by solely looking at his bag.)


The apprehensive freshies met their classes for the first time that morning with much anticipation, understandably: these are the people who will follow you through your entire JC life. Would it be awkward? What is the girl to guy ratio like? (Some of the classes have as few as 4 guys out of 17 students. Guys, all the best.) The excitement and nervousness that one would inevitably feel cannot be understated.

As such, from observing the students’ interactions with each other, it was almost heartwarming to see the freshies step out of their shells to make new friends as they discussed: first reservedly, then animatedly.

After which, groups within the classes would create a bag using the many craft materials provided, including but not limited to: cardboard, cloth, raffia string, cellophane paper, markers and masking tape. The winning bag within the class would vy for the chance to represent their house during the house meeting, and the chosen ones would battle it out against the other houses to emerge as champions. (Spoiler alert: Draco won! Unfortunately there are no prizes- other than glory and bragging rights. Still, congratulations for bagging the top place! -Pun intended.)

Of course, enthusiasm alone can never measure success, (although it is a fairly decent indicator) so our reporters asked some of the juniors what they thought.

“Fun”, “Great for class bonding” and “Quite exciting” were recurring phrases, with all but one agreeing that they had enjoyed the activity- and even our sole naysayer had to agree that it gave a comfortable platform to bond with his new classmates who he said were “really cool”. So there you have it.

The secret to break the ice is out of the bag: get together, and make a bag.

(Editor’s note: Yes, all puns intended.)

Elizabeth Wan


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