Spirit Week 2019: Spirited Away

By Megan Soh (20A01B), Jerome Tay (20S06Q), Rachel Leong (20A01E), and Huang Beihua (20A03A)
Photographs courtesy of Brian Choon (20S06D), Huang Beihua (20A03A), and the Raffles Photographic Society

It was clear from the Friday before that this was about to be a week like no other. Straying away from the traditional skit and reviving every Rafflesian from their sleepy stupor, live drums from Block D reverberated across the parade square as councillors stepped forth to declare what was in store. (Indeed, spirited announcements would be made throughout the week, but in case you missed them, here’s a refresher.)

Then Monday came, with all its jubilant decorations. Strung across the arterial walkway along the biodiversity pond were pennant flags that fluttered and flew in the wind, ready to brighten the bluest of Monday mornings with their vibrant hues. Streamers sparkled even under the perpetual darkness of Block H, while balloons proudly donning their green-black-white were a regular feature throughout the campus. What the ornaments accompanied was a smorgasbord of special treats lined up across the next five days. Centred around a different aspect of the Rafflesian experience each day, special activities promised to pepper the week with relish.

Welcome to Spirit Week!

Day One: Class Day

The excitement started even before the day itself. A class bingo checklist was prepared and disseminated by the Students’ Council, encouraging classes to engage in activities that ranged from the ordinary but heartwarming (like complimenting a canteen stall owner) to the unusual and adventurous (such as a Fortnite dance!)

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The Class Bingo sheet. (Source: @teamraffles on Instagram)

It was a pity, then, that a majority of those we spoke to could not complete the bingo game. “There was just no time,” Mark Sim (20S03O) explained. Meanwhile, the writers’ own classes eventually all decided that some of the activities were just too awkward to attempt. (If you did finish the game, though, good job! Hope you and your class had fun together.)

Be not mistaken, however: class spirit was definitely flourishing. What the day lacked in killer dance moves, it made up for with a delightfully animated buzz in the canteen as classmates gathered around long tables to enjoy some precious time together that didn’t involve dot products or ceteris paribus. While some talked and teased, others took the opportunity to snap ‘unglam’ shots of one another, and yet more chose to focus on their food or their phones, simply appreciating the company of their class. Council candidates, shuttling from table to table in their campaign groups, further added to this jovial atmosphere with their passionate initiatives.

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Campaign group MT02, posing proudly with their finished product.

Think not, however, that the class lunch is a singular event upon which the class spirit entirely rests. As Jesper Loo (20S03N) shared, it is but one of the many daily delights that altogether coalesce to define a class as an inseparable community. “I love being with my class,” he enthused in the feigned mockery that is only possible with familiarity and affection, “there are some really weird and crazy people who are really enthusiastic to volunteer other people”(to answer questions in their own place — something to which many of us can surely attest!)

Maybe that isn’t much, but maybe that is all a class really needs to be: a community of people who joke with one another, perhaps sabo one another, yet stand ready to support one another in times of need (as many can surely testify), and most of all, bring joy into the lives of one another. The class bingo, for all its creative suggestions, is still fundamentally a starting point, as the Council describes on their Instagram page, to help develop that sense of community.

Indeed, as Jesper commented with unembellished sincerity, “they are my source of happiness.”

Day Two: Orientation Day

For some, Day 2 of spirit week was the much-appreciated excuse for old OGs to reconnect. For others, however, the notion of breaking the OG WhatsApp chat’s long silence asking to meet up was too fearsome to consider. Regardless, Orientation Day was a breath of fresh air from the normal routine.

From as early as 7am, OGlings were already seen frantically “chope”-ing seats in the canteen, hoping to secure the best views in the house. A sea of enthusiasts sporting white “Fjäll” and “Capriccio” shirts filled the area well before 7:20am in anticipation of the event about to take place: Batch Dance Flashmob. Starting with the Year 6s’ showcase, the affair was kickstarted with the quirky “La Da Dee”, followed by the intimate tango of “Two is Better than One”. The third song, “Sing”, provided a drastic change in ambience, as excited pairs owned the floor with powerful moves. The Year 6 showcase came to a thunderous conclusion with “Jumpstart”, as dancers (trying their best) ended with a synchronised jump and were answered with warm applause.

Shortly after, the canteen became livelier as more Rafflesians streamed in, curious to make sense of the commotion. Within a few short minutes, the Y5s performed their own batch dance, with a burning passion that rivalled that of the Y6s. It began with the nostalgia-laden “2002” and transitioned into the bold youthfulness of “Rewrite the Stars”, before coming to “When Can I See You Again?”, filling the audience with longing. There was no shortage of OGlings looking yearningly at their OG and indeed thinking, “When next would I see you again?” To wrap up, the dance crew gave their utmost in the delivery of “Lucky Strike”, and finished the morning’s event with exuberant cheers across the canteen.

Day Three: House Day

Wednesday was a day of colours. As is tradition, the school was enlivened by a mosaic of bright colours as Rafflesians streamed in in their house shirts. This day, though, there was something different —— helium balloons, too wearing house colours, floated and flew, effervescing an air of lively lightness to a school burdened by heavy, earthly bags.

Indeed, those little spheres of joy—write a note about why you love your house, and they are yours—seemed to be the highlight of the day. By lunchtime, there was not one corner in the school where you would not spot a lone balloon without its human. “The balloons are quite cool,” one Rafflesian in queue for them, Alex Han (20S06H), commented, “they stand out well, and are not something you see everyday.”

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Bayley-Waddle’s high-flying ambitions.

And that was very much mission accomplished. As Amy Lin (19A01B), who helped organise House Day, explained, the objective of the day’s activities was simply to “cultivate house spirit, and to add liveliness to a mundane school life”. The blackboard carrying the notes of balloon-seekers, while humbler in comparison, no doubt splashed bits of joy on anyone approaching, with notes ranging from the sweet (”I love BB because of the people <33”), to the spirited (“WOLF PACK – ONE CALL!”), to the simply amusing (“I love my house cos it’s a comfy place to rest :D”).

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Interesting responses galore.

It is of little surprise, then, that Loh Yih Hang (19S06B), a fellow organiser of the event, was elated at the success of the initiative. “It’s a very nice feeling,” he told us,  “[to come] out of the council room in the morning to see a canteen already full of balloons”.

Day Four: CCA Day

Participants in previous Spirit Weeks would recall a much different theme. Whereas previous years focused on CCAs alone (one could only sign up for Team Raffles Night with their CCAs), the newest edition of the Week is meant to celebrate every aspect of the Rafflesian experience, from the class, to the house, and more.

That being said, CCAs are still a cornerstone of almost every version of the Rafflesian experience, and by that spirit, the fourth day of Spirit Week was set apart for Rafflesians to spend time together with their CCA mates, and in the process flaunt their flair for karaoke.

Indeed, the Hodge Lodge took centre stage on the day, as at least four CCAs immersed the lounge with stirring renditions of pop hits. Amidst their busy duties coordinating the activity, two anonymous councillors shared “it was great” to see the Rafflesian community’s eager participation, adding that, as was expected, “[Council] put a lot of effort into it.”

Rafflesians were also encouraged to send in CCA vlogs or appreciative messages to the Team Raffles instagram page, in exchange for Level 1 tokens. (The authors didn’t send anything in, unfortunately, choosing to blame their insurmountable workload). Such a wholesome activity lends itself to this year’s focus: to foster a stronger Rafflesian spirit.

“We really hoped to brighten everyone’s mood and create more school spirit through the activities”, said the councillors. While the results were “quite early to say” from their perspective, who could say the activities did not spark joy at least a little bit?

Rikki Hunt

But how can we talk about Spirit Week without mentioning the crown jewel of all its activities? For Brian Choon (20S06D) and Khor Eng Yeow (19S06E), the main architects behind their classes’ quests towards Rikki, it was as much a story of personal friendship as it was one of class co-operation.

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20S06D, with Brian holding Rikki

Connected by mutual adventures that accrued ever since their secondary school days in the same CCA, the veterans from the viral Sqkii hunt were natural partners from the offset. Dissecting each hint with expert precision, they quickly ascertained that the mouse must be hiding somewhere among the (blue) MR (near a toilet, away from the sun and staircases) lockers in Block C (far away from food), behind LT1 (on the other side of a projector/lecture theatre).

Then came Thursday. A hint from the previous night sparked a 6.30AM dash to the lockers by the pair, who decided the prize must be waiting inside either locker MR321 or MR210, the only two locked ones of consecutive digits in decreasing order. Even the lock itself proved to be no match for the pair: the password (an odd number) was quickly deduced, and the vaunted Level 5 token rightfully earned — all before morning assembly.

Needless to say, they were “just [so] thrilled”. “We spent almost an hour at the lockers,” Brian recounted, “it’s like our hard work paid off!” For the pair who “are full of ideas,” as Brian described, and “would do anything to go for this reward”, the achievement certainly and deeply “reaffirmed [their] working relationship”.

Team Raffles Night

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Rafflesians chilling out at Team Raffles Night

Team Raffles Night— a highly anticipated event and a fitting conclusion to Spirit Week. Before its commencement, the Innovation Centre was filled with student councillors bustling around, making the final preparations, looking somewhat frazzled but surely in high spirits (ha!). Around fifteen minutes later, hordes of students streamed in, the atmosphere began to heat up and by 6pm, the place was packed with Rafflesians looking for a way to de-stress after a tiring week of school.

Upon entering the Innovation Centre, one could smell the tantalizing aroma of food wafting through the room (it was later discovered that the blessed fragrance came from trays of flavourful yakitori), hear pop music blaring through the speakers and see Rafflesians milling about trying their hand at the variety of games available such as Dizzy Bowling, Ping Pong Pong, Pyramid Toss and Rebound. Fairy lights coupled with helium-filled balloons (in green, black and white, no less) adorned the walls and ceilings while the dimmed lights helped set the cozy ambience right.

Many had come after an exhausting session of CCA and hordes of students, still clad in exercise gear, took the opportunity to bond with their peers by playing games as a team. Some even snuck out from CCA camp; it was hilarious to hear the councillors have to make an announcement: “fencing team, fencing team, please go back to camp now.”

At the far end of the room, students were settled in the ‘cosy corner’, laid out on soft bean bags and picnic mats. Away from the rambunctious activity of the game stations, they were able to engage in heart-to-heart talks, play board games and enjoy the spread of snacks available. To top it all off, a photo booth situated at the entrance of the Innovation Centre served as a popular spot for students to take insta-worthy shots as a lovely momento.

Needless to say, the games were the heart of the event. From watching people fall over their own feet in Dizzy Bowling, struggling to regain their balance, to seeing tennis balls ricochet off tennis tables and into cardboard boxes in Rebound, and to breaking out into pseudo-outraged barks of laughter when you realize your friend doesn’t know you as well as you thought he/she did in Friendship Trivia, it was evident that everyone was having a whale of a time. Merriment and good cheer filled the room as everyone eased into the enjoyable momentum of the night.

Councillors also amped up the excitement with special activities held frequently at the centre of the room, consisting of human bingo, physical challenges such as a push-up competition (yes, water polo boys, we’re looking at you) and house cheer contests. Undoubtedly, the most engaging activity of all was the batch dance challenge, where songs from both Y5 and Y6 orientations, Fjall 2018 and Capriccio 2019, reverberated through the room and couples performed the various batch dances with gusto, much to the excitement of the audience. It certainly rekindled heartwarming orientation memories and brought back much nostalgia for both batches (albeit sparking a sense of wistfulness from those who had long forgotten the dance).

Many were also queuing up for free prizes that they could claim with their tokens, including wristbands, box files, Griffles plushies and water bottles. Temporary tattoos were also available for those who wanted to show their love to the school and were given out as prizes too – nothing screams Rafflesian pride more than an “I Love RI” sticker on your cheek, after all. Lucky draw winners also stood to win three KOI gift cards (worth $10 each), two Starbucks gift cards (worth $20 each) and Zebra highlighters.

Though not everyone won prizes, the greatest reward of the night was being able to enjoy a fun-filled evening with one’s friends and schoolmates. Under the neon disco lights (flashing from a 10-hour long YouTube video playing on the computer screen because we are cost-conscious) and the latest pop hits (faux-clubbing of some sort?), Rafflesians built up firm friendships and solidified strong bonds. With every failed attempt at a game and every bout of raucous laughter, friends grew a little closer and the Rafflesian spirit a little stronger.

Special thanks to the Student Councillors for organizing this memorable event! Team Raffles Night was truly a night to remember, as well as a great way to end off Spirit Week. We hope that everyone left with hearts full and spirits high, revitalized and recharged for the reality of school life that we (sadly) have to return to.

***

Hopefully, this fun-filled week has left everyone with a deeper sense of belonging to the family that we call Raffles. With every day dedicated to an important aspect of our JC life, Spirit Week serves to remind us of our Rafflesian identity, as well as foster deeper relationships with the people all around us who are part of our own stories. Let us endeavour to keep the spirit of Team Raffles soaring high even beyond this initiative, so that we can all foster stronger bonds and “keep our colours flying”!

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