By Loh Lin (19A01D) and Aaron Tan (19A10B)
Photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
It was 5.30pm on the dot when the first line of Year 6s streamed through the entrance, roses in hand, sharply dressed in flowing dresses and sleek tuxedos. After stopping to take the obligatory selfie, they headed down to the Flower Field Hall , most of the girls lamenting about their heels as they descended warily. Izaac Tay (19S05B) took this chance to immortalise their entrance in a video, making one girl in particular walk back up for a complete shot (she pulled it off effortlessly). Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the performers were tuning their guitars and vocal cords, preparing to take the stage later that night. Grad Night 2018 was about to begin.
The Year 6s mingled, finding their seats and helping their friends adjust their clothes, to the upbeat music that played in the background. Song dedications went out (“This song goes out to Kelly!”) as the conversation grew to a crescendo — the evening now began to cast its shadow on the Hall as more entered and took their seats. Orbs of light, glowing green, imbued the room with a certain otherworldly magic as they shimmered, starlike, in the fixtures above. Through the window, one could gaze upon the foliage of the Flower dome, a cornucopia of colour (and a choice photo backdrop – it appeared – as the Y6s lined up to get a snapshot of their special day).
Grad Night Playlist, thoughtfully curated by Council.
A little over an hour later, a wash of blue enveloped the ceiling orbs, casting aquatic ambience over the room. Sensing the anticipation in the air, the Y6s took this as their cue to return to their designated tables, squeezing in a few frantic pictures even as the emcees, Shaune Chow (18S03A) and Aravind Madabhushi (18S06H), took to the stage to commence the event proper. A customary video montage of memories was played, drawing bursts of embarrassed laughter as friends thumped one another on the back upon recognising each others’ faces on the screen. The collection of photos spanned over the past year and a half, bearing testament to just how far they had all come.
The opening video
The crowd grew silent as Ms Janissa Soh took the stage to deliver the opening address, waiting for the words that would undoubtedly take them on a trip down memory lane. As she mused how the faces looking at her were no longer “that of blur RI students”, Ms Soh also added a playful quip that “perhaps the hair and dressing make a difference”, after all. At this, sheepish chuckles rippled across the room, many exchanging wistful smiles and grimaces alike at the recollection of those awkward, early JC days.
And how far they had all come. From tentatively trying to carve out a place for themselves during Orientation to reveling in the glory of conquering their final exams, they were now in their final moments together as a batch, having left the turnstiles of RI for good. “You are now officially an old Rafflesian,” she concluded. “Congratulations. Go forth and make us proud. Seize the night.”
And just how do Rafflesians seize the night? Well, many made a beeline for the buffet with fervour, while others went straight for their friends, heading to the hall outside to take more pictures together. A subsequent meander through the crowd revealed many bold hair colours and unconventional outfits that immediately grabbed our attention.
One such stylistic choice included a Y6 dressed in a grey tank top – with a bowtie to top off the disarmingly casual look. When asked about his fashion decision, he grinned and claimed that he “didn’t get the dress code”. As for the girls — while undeniably stunning, their outfits posed them a slight challenge in their manoeuvres around the packed hall, with someone jokingly complaining that she couldn’t “whip in this dress” and at least six others narrowly missing a step as they headed down the stairs.
Raffles Press brings you exclusive footage of the event. Bring back any memories?
At various points throughout the night, performers from both batches graced the stage to entertain the graduates. Wild Squared kicked the night off with a pop hit — 2002 by Anne-Marie — and took everyone through a mashup of songs they probably grew up listening to. Up next, Sri let loose an impressive beatboxing solo which drew raucous applause from the crowd. Jings Without Jing, who took the stage later that evening, had quite the fan following — their performance saw many of their friends rushing to the front of the stage to cheer them on and sing along.
Earlier, Shaune had urged everyone to vote for their deserving batchmates for the Rafflesian Awards with the reminder that the results will, on this one occasion, “not be decided by bell curve”, but by every single person in the batch. The time had come for the graduating batch to decide their winners — the names of candidates for each category were flashed on the screen, after which everyone scrambled for their phone for thirty excruciating seconds before the respective winners were announced to a thunderous applause.
This next event — the Lucky Draw — garnered the most raucous cheers. Everyone swivelled around to watch the lottery generator scroll through several names, pointing eagerly and nudging one another in almost palpable anticipation. The excitement in the air was electric as many stood up and craned their necks to watch the random number generator plough through several names before slowing down and finally landing on one. Triumphant yells shot through the suspense, and before long, friends were jostling their peers to make their way to the stage to collect their prizes.
When a lucky Y6 won a pair of movie tickets, Shaune prompted him to share with the crowd who he would bring to watch the movie with, a question he hastily brushed off with a bemused “no comment”. Not to be fazed, however, Shaune quickly hit back with a conditional extension (“if you have to pick someone?”), and gleefully announced that he was “blushing already” from her onslaught of questions.
By the time Reuben Chan (19S03B) took to the stage for the last performance of the night, the lively buzz from the evening had faded to a soft lull, with friends huddling together not to take their last pictures of the night, but to sit in silence and pass the last few minutes with one another. The magic of the moment was imbued not just by the iridescent glow of the light bulbs above, but also by the sheer surrealness of these final moments in an education that had once felt timeless. As Mohammad Faisal (18A13A) confessed — “I can’t believe I graduated”. His sentiments were echoed, if emotional Instagram posts are anything to go by.
As the night finally drew to a close, many left in small groups, freeing themselves from the constraints of their tuxedos and heels the minute they left the hall. As the Y6s headed off into the night, never looking back, their silhouettes against the backdrop of the Christmas lights made for a mesmerising picture.
During her speech, hearkening back to days long past, Ms Soh had asked the crowd: “Do you remember the trepidation as you first walked through the turnstiles of RI?” This same trepidation will undoubtedly follow them as they embark on the next chapter of their lives beyond JC, but we are just as certain that they will make it through the same way they have emerged from their formative schooling years — holding each other close and laughing at the end of it all. After all, the only way is forward.
With that, Raffles Press wishes the graduating batch of 2018 the best of luck with their future endeavours, and we hope that adventures will await them no matter where they go.