By Val Yeo (20S03O) and Jerome Tay (20S06Q)
Photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
Bleary-eyed students made their way to the parade square early in the morning of August the 8th, some still groggy from a whole night of intense mugging. Over the loudspeakers, National Day songs were playing, a distinct reminder of how the day was meant to celebrate Singapore’s growth as a nation.
To mark the start of the celebration, the principal, Mr Frederick Yeo, read the National Day address by the Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung. In his address, one of the things Mr Ong urged us to do was to remember the significance of our flag—what the different colours and symbols mean to our nation.
After the address, CT reps made their way to the SAC for free food. Like citizens queueing up for goodie bags on National Day, our beloved CT reps awaited their class’ portion of a free Old Chang Kee platter, consisting of the iconic curry puffs and several other fried delights, and coupons for ice cream and popcorn. Whilst they were doing so, patriotic students excitedly grabbed the temporary tattoos given to each class, where they had a choice between a tattoo of a Singapore flag and one that said “I ♥️ Singapore”.
Famished, the Year 5s made their way to the canteen to enjoy the National Day carnival. Vendors giving out popcorn and ice cream in exchange for coupons stood at the ready, prepared to take on the hordes of students. The latter, filled with excitement and anticipation for the activities that lay before them, made light-hearted conversation with each other while standing in the long queues leading to the stalls. Councillors walked around with trays of finger food, offering the peckish students queueing with something to abate their hunger pangs. Standing amongst the lively hustle and bustle of a sea of red, the National Day blackboard designed and chalk-drawn by the Visual Art Club was a show-stopper.
In the midst of admiring the masterpiece, one might hear music coming from the Amphitheater. Guest-starring Raffles’ very own math teacher and singer Ms Qian Kun, the Symphonic Band expertly performed a crowd favourite National Day songs—‘Home’ and ‘Where I Belong’. The crowd grew wild, shouting the chorus with gusto and bringing the patriotic spirit to life.
In the PAC, Chinese Orchestra performed 3 songs—‘Sunny Island’, ‘听见下雨的声音’ (Rhythm of the Rain), and ‘Home’. The atmosphere was warm and homely (pun unintended), everyone swaying together and screaming out fanchats to the songs.
In the meantime, the Year 6s made their way to class for a Civics lesson. Together with their civics tutors, they enjoyed the music video of this year’s NDP song ‘Our Singapore’, breaking down each scene to identify prominent figures. Amongst the many appearances were Tracy Huang, Kit Chan (alumnus!), JJ Lin, and fan-favourite ‘Wheelsmith’. The Year 6s got familiar with the various pioneers of Singaporean music, as well as recent, ground-breaking groups and individuals that seek to break free from the conventional.
By around 9am, the two cohorts swapped activities as the Year 5s made a beeline for their classes whilst the Year 6s swarmed into the canteen.
THE COMMUNITY SINGING
“We’re not going to begin until you guys stand up!”
In the MPH, Raffles Rock started off strongly from the moment they stepped on stage, dominating and hyping up the atmosphere immediately. The throngs of students moved forward, closer to the stage as the band began their performance, performing the past year NDP songs. When songs with a lively tempo like ‘Where I Belong’ was played, the students would jump along with the beat of the song. With slower songs like ‘In a Heartbeat’, students would sway along, arms encircling their friends as they sang as a cohort, voices combining to become one—just like our nation, coming together to form one Singapore.
Over at the ISH, the atmosphere was charged with emotion—a combination of excitement and sentimentality of the Year 6s’ last time doing community singing as a batch. As Jazz made their way onto the stage in front, the crowd broke into thunderous applause, setting the mood for the occasion. Wasting no time, Jazz performed ‘We Will Get There’, followed by ‘In A Heartbeat’, where the Y6s stood and sang, shoulder-to-shoulder. The next song, ‘Where I Belong’ got the hall shaking as the batch jumped to its uplifting beat. Wrapping up the day with the classic [‘Home’ by Dick Lee, Jazz was met with a chorus of “ENCORE!” and “One more song!”, to which they relented and performed ‘Where I Belong’ again.
Truly, the Y6s demonstrated that just as the song ‘Where I Belong’ aptly puts it, the community that they’ve found in RI is truly their “family”.
Although the celebration ended as quickly as it began, there was an underlying agreement and sense of pride instilled in us for our nation. Perhaps it was the songs, perhaps it was the stickers on our faces, or perhaps it was the people that made us feel that Singapore is our homeland— and we are proud of it.