The wind carried muted cheers of the soccer match to the ears of the privileged students viewing from the treehouse. They had a bird’s-eye-view of the thrilling fight that our own soccer players were putting up, which was a wondrous sight to behold. Surrounding them, on the wooden planks of the treehouse, are hastily scribbled messages, proclamations of affection between lovers and class names carved into the wood, indeed a familiar sight to many students. However, most would agree that It is not just the immortalisation of batches and individuals that appeals to the school population, but also the charming, picturesque houses nestled comfortably within the branches, and the peaceful atmosphere, that attracts the many students who spend a lot of their time there…
The treehouse is often recognised as a trademark, part of our school identity, and is even publicised as an incentive to join VJ during the annual Open House. Every student has found their way to the treehouse at least once in their time spent in VJC. In fact, many automatically, almost instinctively, view it as an ideal spot for photo-taking. For one of the writers, the treehouse holds fond memories for her as the venue for her OG birthday celebrations, being an apt location situated (relatively) far away from the classroom block in order to not disrupt lessons in progress. Even Ms Ek has gone to the treehouse for a photoshoot in a ‘humansofvj’ snapshot.
The Victorian Press approached a few students to find out about their thoughts on VJ’s trademark. One student commented that “nothing beats having serious conversations in the treehouse, the atmosphere and privacy ‘high above’ makes it comfortable to share my personal thoughts with friends.” Indeed, the secluded houses provide some secrecy and solitude away from the crowded canteen, and does provide a quieter and more pleasant ambience for friends to engage in conversation. Many a time, groups of friends can be seen spending quality time up in the treehouse. Clearly, the treehouse is a great place for friends to hang out or catch up and build up their relationships.
Many students also mentioned that they have already enjoyed many fond memories in the treehouse, despite having only entered VJ this year. Koh Jun Hao from 15S62 brought up his best memory in the treehouse, “when [his] class went up to the treehouse during [their] dinner in school”. He fondly remembered that “it was about 8pm at night and [they] were playing cards and truth or dare”. It is rather heartwarming to know that even the juniors who have recently joined us have already warmed up to our treehouses, and have already created special memories in the treehouses that would ultimately form part of their vibrant school experience.
The treehouse is indeed an attractive place, such that it has even appealed to students who previously aspired to come to VJ and have now officially joined our Victorian family. It is indeed one of the more interesting draws that have convinced students to enter our college. A student expressed that her “best memory in the treehouse was [actually] made before she became a victorian. It was when she came with several of her friends for the VJC Open House 2015.” [They] stood there and she remembered that one of [them] commented that it would be nice to hang out in the treehouse after school together.” The student described the memory as a “fulfilling” one. This shows that the treehouse does appeal to students who wish to come to VJ and that the idea of spending time in the treehouses during school time has indeed been one of the reasons why students decide to come in to VJ.
On a more humorous note, a student related to us a funny incident that she experienced up on the treehouse. She told us that “ her friend had a fear of heights so she didn’t dare to go up” and “when she finally went up she didn’t dare to go down.” but “was forced to eventually when the bell rang”. Even students who are afraid of heights have also made their way up to the treehouse out of curiosity, despite their fears. Such interesting experiences do indeed spice up one’s memories of the treehouses, and serve to create lasting impressions among the students.
That aside, how the treehouses came about have also remained an elusive mystery to many VJ students. Many have speculated that it was actually built by a senior batch of ODAC members. However, according to Mr Seet, a teacher-in-charge of ODAC when the treehouses were built, it was actually not the club members that built the treehouses by themselves. Though he was unable to remember which batch of ODAC members were involved then, he recalled that they had “toyed with” the idea, and had spent time “examining the trees and talking and discussing how best to” build the treehouses, which they had initially wanted to build by themselves. However, the then principal was afraid that the treehouses that they wanted to build would not “meet safety standards” and therefore invited contractors to come build the treehouse instead. One interesting fact was that the “strongest wood in this part of the world, chengai wood, [was used to] make the houses.” This does contribute greatly to the strong and sturdy nature of the treehouses which has been greatly appreciated by students who often go up to there with their big groups of friends.
Mr. Seet added that “some alumni have come back and [taken] wedding pictures with the tree houses. Many have left their marks on the trees. Yes it is vandalism but it is also leaving behind a memory of college days.” Despite the fact that the treehouses were not personally built by the ODAC members, it is undeniable that they had played a pivotal role in suggesting the idea of the treehouses to the principal. Thus it would not come as a surprise to know that there are current ODAC members who feel proud to be juniors of those who contributed greatly to the building of the treehouses. A present J1 ODAC member, Ruixian from 15A11, wrapped it up nicely- “let’s face it- the school compound is not young, but hey, we are the only school in singapore with a treehouse…the treehouse is really one of the most defining physical features of VJ”; a sentiment i’m sure we all agree with.
The treehouse does indeed have a strong historical background and a lasting significance on the past, present and possibly future Victorians, and has proven itself to be a pivotal aspect of the Victorian experience for many.
Angela Ang 14A11
Fiona Lee 15A11
Hannah Fong 15S62