Soleil 2017: Orientation Part I

By Carman Chew (17A01D), Deborah Lee (17A01D), Joan Ang (17A01B), and Lee Yun Ning (17A01E)

Photos by Matthew Toh (17S06H), Jennifer Shen (17S06L), Esther Chin (17S06D), and Amelia Chong (17S07A) of Raffles Photographic Society

Just as each new day begins with the rising of the sun, the journey of every new Year 5 batch begins with Orientation, which took place this year on 3rd February. In line with this year’s theme of Soleil, the walls of the Multi-Purpose Hall were decorated with glittering sun cutouts and bright gold letters, cheerfully greeting the crowds of new students nervous for their first day of Orientation.

Perhaps the most heartwarming sight was the crowd of OGLs that stood at the walkway to the entrance of the hall, enthusiastically applauding and cheering for the JAE students who were streaming in. It was with such warmth that the incoming batch of 2018 began their Rafflesian journey, ready to make new friends and to take on whatever lay ahead of them.

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Awkward OGings taking their first steps into a brave new world

The traditional arsenal of icebreakers were then launched into action, the hall filling with excited shouts and delighted laughter as well-loved games such as all-time favourite Whacko were played to encourage OGlings to remember the names of their new friends.

After the icebreakers, the OGlings were introduced to Soleil 2017 by the Orientation I/Cs Ho Wei En (17S03G) and Cassandra Yee (17S03G). Highlights for the programme included various station and war games, specially choreographed dances, performances, as well as the highly anticipated closing event, O’Nite.

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Orientation I/Cs Cassandra Yee (left) and Ho Wei En (right)

Station Games

To help OGs bond and work together as a team, station games were held at various locations around the school, with classrooms being converted into battlefields, runways, and escape rooms. OGlings were tasked to complete a range of missions such as having to transport hula hoops down a line of OGlings while their arms remained linked and a modified version of musical chairs.

One of the favourite stations was the ‘Fashion Disaster’ station, where OGlings got to style the most shameless of their OG mates in as ridiculous a look as possible, creating a humorous yet memorable experience for most of the groups.

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Fashion parade

Other notable stations include  the ‘Battle on the Titanic’ station, a dodgeball equivalent of battleships (one “legend” from BW12 reportedly managed to dodge 3 balls at once), and the ‘Headphones’ station, where OGlings had put their lip reading skills (and maybe hollering skills) to the test.

War Games

Apart from the station games that promoted intra-house bonding, there were also a range of war games that pitted houses against one another, fostering house pride among its members. In the ISH, impassioned cries reverberated off the walls and stomps shook the floor as houses cheered for their houses even when off the court.

Back by popular demand, we saw the return of the Jedi during Star Wars, where OGlings swarmed around to protect an appointed Jedi master from speedy plastic balls while still trying to claim a hula hoop to stay in the game. It was indeed amusing to see the game master wearing a Darth Vader mask and walking around calmly with a red pool noodle, while the players were scrambling around frantically in contrast. In addition, Team Fortress 3 and the Clash of the Centipedes were also brought back.

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Enthusiastic clash

Amidst the frenzy, a few unfortunate souls had to perform a plethora of forfeits. The game masters got creative this year, with their line-up of forfeits including ‘baa’-ing their way through Mary Had A Little Lamb, doing jumping jacks while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and even having to spin around and exclaim “I’m a sushi roll” repeatedly.

A new addition to this year’s war games was the muggle equivalent of Quidditch, a collegiate sport adapted from the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Houses earned points by throwing balls into hoops and shuttlecocks into buckets. Instead of flying around on brooms, OGlings had to whisk around in pairs. The most exhilarating portion of the game was when the ‘Circus Lion’ escaped, with the winning House that captures it being awarded 20 points. The ‘Circus Lion’ on each occasion managed to deftly dodge incoming hordes of OGlings, sprinting nimbly around the hall, but eventually always succumbed to the crazed waves of OGlings hungry for the reward.

House Hour

No Raffles Orientation, however, would be complete without House Hour. The House system is a proud tradition in Raffles and one of the oldest in Singapore. Within Orientation, the various OGs, as well as the overall points system itself were organised by House. During this segment of the programme, OGlings were separated by houses, and each House Committee took charge.

The Year 5s were introduced to the members of their House Committees, most notably their House Captains, who wore their House flags as capes and painted their faces in house colours. The Captains introduced the House programmes for the year, including highlights such as Inter-House Challenges. Social media links of each house were also promoted for OGlings to have a platform to keep up with House-related updates and events.

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MRians learning their House cheers

Another outstanding feature of House Hour was the cheer section, with each House’s unique cheer being taught to their new members. These cheers were to be well-used during the rest of the four-day programme, with OGlings clapping and stomping to the beat, and cheering at the top of their lungs for their House during the various games segments.

Cheer Hour

Without a doubt, an intrinsic part of the Rafflesian identity would definitely be the school cheers. Carried out by the CCA Department of council, cheer hours helped in passing on tradition and building school spirit.

During one of the sessions, sportsperson Tricia Koh (17S03L) shared about the importance of cheers during competitions, saying: “[It’s] not just cheering for their effort on the court, but it’s also about all the months of practice and struggles. When we hear the cheers, we run harder and fight harder, because we know that we’re not just on the court for ourselves, but we’re on the court for the school and for the supporters who believe in us every step of the way.”

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OGLs modelling cheers

Although the cheers started off slow, when it came to Unite, the hall was definitely bursting with school pride as everyone fervently slapped their thighs to the beat. One girl had been so vehement during the cheer that she even required icing afterwards.

Dances

Specially choreographed every year by the Dance Committee, this year’s Batch Dance saw the OGlings dancing to a mashup of four songs, from the soft tunes of “All About Us” by He Is We to the upbeat groove of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”. While the OGlings may have initially been apprehensive of learning the dance, their fears were soon alleviated as the animated Dance Committee members took the stage and taught them the steps thoroughly and patiently.

“We hope y’all let loose and have fun and take it as a new experience!” – Bryan Lam, Dance IC

Challenging steps, as well as intimate actions such as holding hands and forming hearts, resulted in the occasional awkward laughter from the floor, yet smiles ensued as the OGlings slowly warmed up and learnt the dance routine together, cheering and hi-fiving their partners after completing each part successfully. Some OGLs even joined in and learnt the dance alongside their OGlings, encouraging their OGlings to approach this new and perhaps daunting experience with an open mind!

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Dance partners

Other than the Batch Dance, which has a unique soundtrack and choreography every year, the Legacy Dance was introduced in 2016 as a common routine to be taught to every subsequent batch, hence the name. As aptly put by Sandra Ng (17S02A), “Last year when our batch first did the dance, it didn’t feel like a particularly meaningful activity. But seeing the juniors do it this year, I think it’s another article of shared identity, much like what our school cheers and song do for us. And as this passes down a few more batches, it’s sure to become even more meaningful.

Set to the upbeat Mambo No. 5, the Legacy Dance drew excitement from the OGlings as it was a refreshing departure from the more serious partner work that the Batch Dance demanded. Although the steps required an impressive amount of coordination and quick movements, the OGlings took to the challenge with tremendous zeal, chatter and buzz filling the hall after each particularly difficult or exciting move.

Batch Song – Time of Our Lives

This year, Song Committee channelled their wealth of experience in JC into a hopeful batch song that serves to remind the incoming batch to seize the day. Taken from the perspective of the Year 5s, the batch song focuses on the road ahead, and the challenges that they may face, and reminds them to stick with each other through tough times they may encounter in JC.

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Thrilled OGlings dancing to their batch song

While the Year 5s were initially unsure of the lyrics and melody, their unfamiliarity quickly faded over the course of the four days, and by the last day, OGlings were jumping and singing along with fervour to the music. One OGL, Nicole Doyle (17A01A), even described the batch song as “lit”. More cynical Year 6s may argue (as always) that the batch song is a “ripoff” of the previous batch’s, and that it lacked “hype value”: the Year 5s, however, seem content enough to sing to their heart’s content, even forming conga lines that snaked across the MPH floor to the beat of the music.

Storyline

Within Orientation itself, Storyline serves to act as a form of continuity between events which would otherwise be isolated, tying the entirety of Orientation together as one cohesive whole. This year’s Storyline featured five new recruits for the Circus of the Sun (MoneT, BaileyWang, BigBen, MiRanda and HumpHrey), as they prepared themselves for their opening performances as members of the Circus. This was, however, not without trials along the way, which coincided with the various activities that OGlings were to partake in over the course of Orientation.

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A passionate performance by Duncan, who played the role of “Big” Ben

Perhaps one of the most notable features of Storyline each year is that it is a full-fledged musical, with an original script produced by and a live band composed of the OGLs. As a full-scale production, including areas such as lights, sounds and props, Storyline had to invest hours of hard work over the December holidays to learn their lines and practice their songs. “We started out thinking so many sub-sub-comms […] would not be able to come together to make one production but we did! And I’m proud of how far we’ve come!” commented Storyline I/C, Celesse Tan (17S03J).

While the performances were not perfect — actors occasionally sang off key, lines and cues were forgotten — the committee’s pure passion and dedication was incredibly admirable. This was most visible at the end of Storyline’s final performance, where a token of appreciation was presented to Goh Xin Hui (17S03G), the director of Storyline, for her hard work and ardour towards the entire production. Many of the actors praised her as being the ‘most selfless person’ and that they had ‘never seen anyone who’s put in so much as effort into something’. The team’s efforts paid off: each time they exited the stage, it was to the sound of thunderous applause.

Orientation definitely kickstarted the J1s’ journey into the school on a high note. After the first three days, friends were made, and memories and laughter shared. Yet, one of the biggest events marking the end of orientation had yet to come…

Stay tuned for Part II of Soleil 2017 coverage.

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