For the first time in quite a while, a combined assembly was held in the hall. However, the atmosphere in the hall was different. This was the last assembly for the J2s, the last mass gathering before the inevitable final battle; the A Levels. The J2s flocked into the hall, most of them wearing their house T-shirts, most probably to promote the spirit of the 6 houses they have been part of over the past 2 years in the college. They had just come in from a special final CT session as well as a series of fun activities held in the sheltered court behind the hall.

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Now, it was time for the farewell assembly. The atmosphere was vibrant, with many of the seniors grooving to the beat of the songs being blasted across the speakers by the PA crew. Not only that, many of them were taking group selfies together with their classmates. A memory of this special occasion perhaps, their last assembly together as a class?

The ceremony began soon after the congregation settled down with a speech by Vincent Chan, the Vice President of the Old Victorians Association (OVA), an organisation made up of former students of Victoria School and VJC, to bring together former members of the Victorian family It was Mr Chan’s hope that the J2s would sign up to join the OVA after their further studies.

The next segment was a speech by our Principal, Ms Ek Soo Ben. To the amusement of the audience, she corrected the emcees that she what she had was not a few words, but 12 pages. Ms Ek described the occasion to be a special day for the J2s as it marks the end of their JC journey, at the same time, describing them as eager and friendly freshmen just over a year ago. Whilst wishing them the best for their futures, Ms Ek also unveiled the theme for this year’s event: VJC Go!, unsurprising considering the hype for Pokemon Go just a few months earlier. Keeping to the Pokemon theme, Ms Ek also introduced a few particularly outstanding J2 students who had accomplished impressive feats, visualised as Pokemons. Of course, she mentioned the founders of The Victorian Press — Ajay Nair and Sean Tan — who have created “what is now very much a part of VJC life”. The most important takeaway, however, was a point made at the end of the speech: “It is not about saying goodbye, it is about when we meet again.” Indeed, we are all united in the Victorian Family despite our different backgrounds and houses, and VJC will first and foremost remain an indispensable part of our lives.

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Speaking of Annina Zhang, she later took to the stage to give her final speech and sharing in front of the whole school. Zhang described her experience in VJC as ‘surreal’, as if the year just started a few weeks ago. More importantly, however, the Victorian spirit embedded within every one of us was the lasting impression on her life in VJC. Without doubt, it has been an integral part of the VJC experience as it promotes a sense of belonging not seen anywhere else. It is what  makes us proud to be Victorians.

Following the speech, the school was treated to a video montage of the J2s’ life, from the start of their own orientation from last year, to the 2015 Victorian Affair, and eventually this year’s orientation. Whilst cheering at the sight of their friends making cameos on the screen, the students in the crowd also got to appreciate the timeline of the J2s journey in VJ, after all it is a journey we will all undertake, one full of fun, laughter but most importantly, friendship and growth.

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The J1 house captains, having made regular cameos in the past during main school events such as Racial Harmony Day, put up a short skit summarising some common events and sights all students may (or will encounter) in their years in VJ. The audience was left in stitches as the skit featured and satirised elements of VJ life (3rd period PE, for one) as well as horrible yet funny pick-up lines (“can I have your eight significant figures”) as well as the sick burns that ensued (“I only give my number to guys with 2-digit rank points”). Hits home indeed. There was even a short cameo by a rather bemused-looking Mr Seet Kok Wah, attempting to re-enact the popular “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” video!

The VJ Dance Crew then took the stage, performing to the tune of The Ocean by Mike Perry. Although the PA system appeared to fail halfway — this is worryingly becoming something of a trend these days — the dancers made an impeccable recovery, continuing to dance at first sans the musical cues, yet elegantly returning to their start positions to begin again when the audio was fixed, with no signs of confusion throughout.

VJ’s own J1 guitar band, HD Quality, who previously performed at MusicFest, then came on to perform. Strumming rapidly on their guitars, Minh Huy and David performed an upbeat and slightly familiar melody. When the signature eight notes were strummed in quick succession, we recognised it as the meme-worthy PPAP.

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Mr Seet, clad in his signature blue T-shirt, once again made an appearance to the audience’s delight, miming the actions from the viral video. We later asked Mr Seet why and how he agreed to perform this amusing number on stage, and he replied, “For the J2s!” We also asked HD Quality themselves about the song choice, and they said it was “just random”!

While the stage was prepared for the next performance, a video montage put up by the teachers was played on the projector screen. Possibly one of, if not the most moving moments of the entire ceremony, the video showed a collection of well wishes from the teachers to their subject classes and CCAs, across all subjects, from Biology to Literature, to even Mother Tongue and Project Work, possibly targeted to the J1s who will be submitting their Written Reports around the time this article is published. Amidst the cheering at the sight of their favourite teachers appearing, the message was still the same; all teachers, regardless of what subject they teach, are behind us no matter what we do, both physically and mentally, something no one in VJC should forget amidst the high stress levels of examination preparation. The whole school was even treated to a rousing encouragement in dialect by Mr Tan Yew Hwee nearing the end of the video (Ai pia cia eh ya, or “you must fight to win”), much to the amusement of the students and teachers alike.

After that, we were treated to the second dance performance of the day. This one was accompanied by The Piano Guys’ rendition of Sky Full of Stars, and was laden with imagery due to the instrumental backing track. Once again, we got to enjoy an aesthetically charged performance from the dance crew, now clad in shades of brown — but this time the sound track worked all the way!

The next item was one where the emcees invited or “sabo-ed” three J2s to go on stage, one of whom was The Victorian Press founder Ajay Nair. The emcees and J2s traded banter on stage as the J2s were challenged to name the first thing that came to mind upon hearing a prompt — for example, Ajay replied “Not fun when it rains” when prompted “Treehouse”!

As the J2s walked off stage, another performance began, also by participants of MusicFest 2016 — 16A11’s Alyssia and Nicole. They serenaded the audience with a lovely arrangement of Elvis’ hit Can’t Help Falling In Love, bringing back a more carefree and simple time. Their performance may not have been the flashiest of the day, but they more than made up for it with their soothing voices which dealt a reassuring hand to the apprehensive J2s.

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Now, we reached the highlight of the assembly. Alyssia and Nicole walked out to the centre of the hall as the Farewell Assembly ad-hoc joined them and stood in a line. Then, as Jia Rong shouted, “J1s, you know what to do!”, the entire J1 cohort stood up to deliver a rousing rendition of Jessie J’s Flashlight. Thousands of voices joined as one — it was a heartwarming sight to behold. As the J2s turned around to face the back of the hall, their appreciation was palpable and by the smiles and grins on their faces, they were impressed. It would appear that the performance had done well to lift the subdued pre-A-level mood that the J2s had while entering the hall earlier. As the performance came to a climax, the ad-hoc lifted up huge boards, on which was written the same thing that the J1s shouted in unison — “We Love You J2s!”

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For the final student performance, we welcomed on stage a crowd favourite — the Burmese Bombshells! The crowd cheered wildly as the Bombshells performed two popular songs, Lost Stars and I Wan’na Be Like You, in tribute to the J2s. Red and yellow balloons, in the colours of the College, were also released from the upper balcony, and the atmosphere became that of a concert with balloons bouncing all over the audience, indeed appropriate to the vocal abilities of the Bombshells. Indeed, one thing that the audience may not have realised was that the sound system had been turned off during Flashlight and had not been turned back on afterwards. This meant that all the music we heard from the Bombshells was only coming from the small speaker in front as well as the instruments themselves and the natural voice of Meg-Mel, making the feat much more impressive than we already thought!

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Finally, a teacher band took to the stage, fronted by Mr Najib. They performed another two hit pop songs — Can’t Stop The Feeling and History (the irony of Mr Najib being a geography teacher was not lost on us), while two huge Pokéballs were released from the upper balcony and bounced around the hall. The J2s  clustered at the front of the hall and raved for Can’t Stop The Feeling and linked arms for History, loudly singing as a cohort. It was really very emotional. As the performance came to a climax, more and more teachers joined the band onstage. Finally, Ms Ek strode on stage and did something we had not expected: a selfie with the school!

The day ended off with two mass dances led by the 33rd MADICs — the classics I Want You and Neutron Dance. As the assembly came to an end, all that remained of the J2s’ apprehension and stress melted away as the 16 and 17 batch all danced together as a college for the last time.

Looking back, the J2s found the farewell assembly very good. All the J2s interviewed left glowing reviews. In particular, they found the assembly very relevant to them and tailored to their cohort particularly well. “They really put in effort into making something that we would enjoy; the jokes are all funny to us,” said Carey Lai. Having witnessed the farewell assembly for the batch above them, they also felt that this one was impressive in comparison. “It was definitely better than last year,” declared MADIC Shameer Shiraj. This sentiment was echoed by most of the J2s. Meanwhile, the J1s were also well and truly impressed.

The organisers of next year’s Farewell Assembly are going to have big shoes to fill.

Article by:

Paul Sim, 16A13

Jarod Zulkifly Yikai, 16A11

Pictures by:

Ryan Ch’ng, 16S47

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