“Welcome to VJ!” chimed the OGLs as they welcomed the new batch of Victorians to their new home. Now, with these new Victorians already having spent 2 months in the school, one can barely distinguish between the ‘freshies’ and the seniors, with both batches of students having the Victorian spirit instilled into them.

When we think about a massive event that really sums up the Victorian spirit, JC1 orientation will probably come to mind. Most of us know of the backbreaking planning that goes into making JCO a success, but we try not to think about it. After all, we all have other sources of stress in our lives, be it our plummeting grades, our friendships or our health. But there is a group of people who chose to stress about JCO day in and day out. No matter how difficult it got to keep progressing on the planning of JCO, this group of people kept going. They are the JCO ad hoc committee for Atlas 2018. The process that led up to JCO was difficult yet fruitful. It was after months of planning and rejections until the final programme for JCO was created. However, the pain was all worth it as “Atlas” was indeed a major success.

The first hurdle came in the form of the selection of the theme. The orientation that welcomed current J2s revolved around the theme “Veritas”. Veritas means ‘truth’ in Latin. As we near adulthood and try to find our place in this world, we need to discover our individual truths. JCO themes have always symbolised something that means a lot in the current phase of our lives. It is easy to see how the brainstorming for such a theme that encompasses the entire event would be mind-bogglingly difficult.

Tricia Chin, President of the Students’ Council, as well as one of the ad hoc heads of JCO, echoes this. She says, “For our theme, we took a super long time to figure it out cause we really wanted it to center around a purpose. So we had to find what our purpose was first, which was to orientate our freshies. We moved on from there to think about what represented that and the idea of maps just came out and exploration to find their place in VJ and so Atlas was born.” Shubhangam Prasad, the other ad hoc head of JCO, said, “The use of atlas came from us trying to look for a name which fit the theme of exploration and at the same time something which symbolised orientation which was essentially to help our freshies navigate through the first week of JC.”

The second hurdle would be the planning of the flow of events. When you are planning a six-day long event, a small problem can easily snowball into a big issue that can affect the success of the event itself. Hence, it becomes imperative to plan for every detail in the flow of events.

In a more detailed explanation, Shubham posits “We considered the following things-

    1. Would the freshies be tired from the way that orientation was programmed?
    2. Would they be able to establish a sense of identity with their OGs/houses/school?
    3. We ensured that the orientation flow built up such that they would realise that they are part of something bigger and bigger. From a sub og to an og to an entire school, that was how we wanted to build up the spirit of the freshies”

One major challenge faced in the planning of Atlas 2018 was coming up with creative ways to engage and orientate the J1s into the new school environment. Not wanting to simply repeat tried-and-tested games, the planning committee was faced with the task of coming up with interesting ideas. And even when a new game or event surfaced, it had to go through a process of continuous updating and improvement before it was given the green light to be part of the programme.

Atlas 2018 was also a way for the Students’ Council to recognise the problems faced during Veritas and solve them. Tricia brought up a clear example where she said, “ Our seniors were always telling us about certain things that cropped up in their orientation that we could solve in ours. For example, the problem of lunch. Their lunch dissemination was quite hectic and we made the system more organised. There are many more other issues that they raised up and that really helped to improve our orientation.”

Besides the ad hoc and planning committee, a huge group of students who made JCO what it was were the OGLs (orientation group leaders). Choosing these leaders was a hard task for the committee in SC, as they had to “[find] the best way to select the best group of OGLs to establish strong bonds and a sense of mutual trust between the ad hoc and the OGLs”, as Shubham commented. However, the ad hoc can say with confidence that the 152 students they picked did were indeed fit for the role of OGL, doing their best to make the freshies’ JCO experience an amazing one.

This was not an easy task, as OGLs had to put in their blood, sweat and tears into preparing for JCO in the months leading up to the event. From coming up with the OG names, painting the banner, practising the dance and making the props from scratch, OGLs spent countless hours pouring over these things. But this was not in vain. Besides giving Atlas its atmosphere, these tasks also allowed OGLs to bond with one another within their OGs of 24-26 OGLs, and gave each OG a sense of identity and belonging.

One difference that everyone noticed during Atlas 2018 was the absence of Fired Up night. As J2s, we all really enjoyed Fired Up night and it was a bit iffy for us to see it get scrapped. However, the motivation behind this decision really makes sense. Shubham summarised it well and said, “Fired up night was meant as an avenue for Victorians to let loose and party however we felt that although fun, it could be brought to greater heights and it could be tied better to the Orientation theme and the purpose of Orientation. We felt that Fired Up night could instead be revamped and made into something that not just concluded the OG segment of Orientation but also brought out the school spirit in each and every Victorian. As such, what we chose to do instead, was to tie in the OG performances to showcase the might of each OGand really drive home the brightness of the Victorian Spirit.”

The enormity of Atlas 2018 meant that it could never be a one-man show. Behind the success of JCO, there was a large team of dedicated and hardworking people. Tricia and Shubham would like to thank everyone who was a part of Orientation. Firstly, to their ad hoc and all other members of Students’ Council who pushed themselves beyond their limits and worked very hard for countless months to make JCO a success. They would like to thank all OGLs who showed their passion, who pushed themselves, who were willing to learn and improve just to make sure that they could leave a positive impact on their freshies and the school. They would like to thank the J1s for being extremely enthusiastic and participative throughout orientation. They’d like to thank all the CCAs that helped them behind the scenes and helped to ensure that Orientation ran smoothly. They’d also like to thank their families and friends for supporting them and providing them with the courage and resilience to keep pushing on. Lastly, they’d like to thank their Teacher ICs – Ms Teo Sze Ying, Mr Yap Zong Xiang, and Ms Lee Shi Min for guiding them, pushing them and believing in them. Their wisdom and guidance helped them tremendously along the way.

Article by:
Niyanta Chowdhury, 17S46
Caitlyn Ann Teo Yi Chen, 17S43
Danish Uzair B Abdul Hamid K S, 17S44
Benedict Chang Yew Kit, 18A13
Lakshminarayanan Shreya, 18A11

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