This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Agatha Sacha Lim Lee (16A01B), Secretary (Finance)
Photos by Raffles Photographic Society and 35th Students’ Council
Ever wanted to help your fellow Rafflesians – to cheer them on in their matches, to listen to their feedback about school, to brighten up their day or to keep their House spirit burning? Undeniably, any Rafflesian can choose to do these in their own capacity, but Council is one such avenue to serve our school community.
The Students’ Council is a school-based service co-curricular activity in which Councillors lead their peers and serve the school through initiatives, daily duties and interactions. Event organisation may seem to play a large role in Council, but the crux of Council’s role is leadership through service, and vice versa. Though concrete work helps us fulfil this, the role of Council in the school is not always tangible.
“Council is a kind of spirit – one that brings people together, bridges one batch of Rafflesians to the next, and reminds you constantly to be the change you wish to see.”
– Freda Mah, 35th Students’ Council President
So, how does one begin to explain what the past 35 batches of Councillors have aspired to do? As aptly put by our vision, we strive to “serve by leading, lead in serving”. Servant leadership is a timeless model for student leaders, but each batch of Rafflesians is different. The Council thus works together to contextualise this vision, ensuring that it is applicable to the student population. This is done through formulating a mission, as done by the 35th Students’ Council earlier in our term. In general, our batch has agreed on the importance of having a personal touch. This means that we endeavour to serve every single person in school while being less impersonal and detached, in order to make the individuals in our school community feel special.
To ensure that Council’s events are relevant to these needs, structures such as department and function initiatives are aligned to the mission that we craft.
Departments, House Directorates and Functions
Each Councillor is part of a House Directorate (House D) or department – CCA Department (CCAD), Communications (Commz’D), Welfare or Presidents and Secretaries (PresSecs). Councillors carry out specific initiatives that ultimately aim to make the school community a better place. Still, departments and House Directorates do not merely exist for functional purposes – in working and spending time together, we form camaraderie and bonds that will last beyond our days in Council.
Straight from the horse’s mouth: Describe your Department / House D in one sentence.
“Where we love each other” – Aaron Chee, BB House D
“Bwest bwuddies ever” – Lin Jiaying, BW House D
“Family.” – Shaun Heng, Welfare
Beyond working with fellow department members, cooperation with other student groups is key. For example, House Directorates work closely with their House Committees to ensure smooth running of House events. The House Committee is made up of about 12 individuals who work with the House Directorate, bringing house-related activities to their peers throughout the year. (If you are interested in playing a bigger role in House events during Orientation and Inter-House Championships (IHCs), the House Committee is a possible way for non-Councillors to do so!)
Functions are another opportunity for Councillors to serve the school’s staff, juniors and visitors alike. The 35ths have seven functions – Founders’ Day, National Day, Teachers’ Day, Graduation Night, Open House, Orientation and Council Camp. Functions are largely allocated based on preference, and Councillors are given the opportunity to choose the specific area to which they would like to contribute.
Straight from the horse’s mouth: Describe your Function in one sentence.
“Shifting the colours of Green, Black and White to the nationalistic tones of Red and White – this year and every year” – Keane Chua, National Day IC
There is an inexplicable joy in seeing functions being executed and the student population enjoying their time as plans coming to life, after many rounds of proposals and dry runs.
On top of department and function roles, Councillors are deployed during most events. Assigned opportunities aside, all Councillors are welcome to step up and propose their own initiatives under Project X. Some examples include JAE Heroes, a buddy programme for ‘O’ Level Students, and Council Room Revamp, for Council’s internal welfare.
Councillors are deployed for daily duties such as flag raising and running the Hodge Lodge after school. Though seemingly insignificant, these duties are yet another way to ensure smooth operation of processes in school. Every Councillor is assigned to a senior buddy, who mentors and guides their juniors on a personal capacity. As an inextricable tradition of the Council, buddy lines can be traced all the way back to the 15th Students’ Council!
Instead of weekly sessions, the whole Council gathers at monthly General Meetings (GMs). During GMs, we discuss pertinent issues to better understand areas of concern within the school, and ensure that every Councillor is kept updated.
With all these structures put in place, it is easy to believe that Council runs like seamless clockwork. Admittedly, the Students’ Council is not flawless. Miscommunication and errors are not wholly unfamiliar – these are some mistakes that contribute to the learning process. After all, we are students as much as we are Councillors. Likewise, the Council journey is not perfect. There are times when we are frustrated or when we may lose purpose. These are natural parts of the year-long term as a Councillor. As a heavy commitment, time management – balancing academic and Council work, on top of other commitments – is of great importance. Despite all the potential shortcomings and bouts of fatigue, being a Councillor is an extremely rewarding experience.
Before all this, Councillors must be elected through a rigorous process, which comprises nominations, interviews and campaigning. Nominations may be submitted by themselves, or by peers; following which, all nominees sit through an individual interview with a panel of seniors and teachers. Those who are selected from the interview round then move on to campaigning, where they are voted in by the student population to become Council elects. Elects then participate in the long-standing tradition of Council Camp. The Executive Committee and Function ICs are further selected through a round of internal elections before investiture. All Councillors then earn their title as as full-fledged Councillors at the Investiture.
Council elects do not need prior leadership experience, as the key to being a good Councillor is humility and a sincere desire to serve. The campaigning process or Council journey may seem daunting, but at the end of the day, the journey of service and leadership alongside 70-odd fellow Councillors will be a memorable, unforgettable and fulfilling part of JC life.
For more information about Students’ Council, feel free to read previous articles:
- CCA Previews: 2015, 2014, 2013
- PMTPG 2014: Departments and House Directorates
- Interview with 34th Presidents
- Interviews Transcripts: President Elects, PresSecs, Department Heads, House Captains
Feel free to talk to any 35th councillor to find out more on Council. Alternatively, find out more from us during Council Insight on 11th and 12th February at the Hodge Lodge. Self nominations will be open from 10th to 17th February, so do look out for our announcement for official instructions!