Sundown: Grad Night 2019

By Rachel Leong (20A01A), Mah Xiao Yu (20A01B), and Megan Soh (20A01B)
Photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society

The golden hour had finally descended upon the batch of 2019. As the sun set and dusk edged close, the stars of the night began to emerge, illuminating Orchard Hotel. Dressed in their Sunday best—complete with elaborate hairdos and flawless makeup looks—the Year 6s made their way to the Grand Ballroom, breathtakingly radiant (rivalling the sun itself!) with the post-A’s glow.

The Year 6s were dressed in all manner of resplendent dresses and sharp suits. Some of the ladies were dolled up in long, flowy ballgowns in soft hues of dusty pink, pastel blue or alabaster white, akin to princesses straight out of a fairytale. Others favoured bolder choices, like striking bodycon dresses in shades of dark red and black. The gentlemen were clad mainly in tuxedos, though we did see some trying to spice it up with unconventional colours like maroon. We even saw a senior dressed in a traditional baju melayu costume!

While waiting for the programme to officially begin, some seniors stopped by the flower booth to make mini bouquets for their friends while others headed straight for the photo booths, which were well-stocked with all sorts of funky props and set against a glittering backdrop. Many were pleasantly surprised by the gifts that greeted them at their tables: a personalised name card (all 700 hand-calligraphed by Celest Teng, 20S06I), and a sleek silver bracelet inscribed with the words “Raffles Batch of 2019”.

A personalised name card and a silver bracelet, just for the seniors.

On the screens around them, a video montage chronicled the Year 6s’ journey over the past two years, featuring highlights from events like Orientation and Batch Night to take them on a trip down memory lane. All the while, lively songs blasted from the speakers, setting the exuberant tone for the night.

Soon, the music came to a stop, making way for the opening performance by WILD2, a trio consisting of Evan Choo (19S03B), Sherwin Lam (19S060) and Ryan Ng (19S06N)—the vocalist, pianist and guitarist respectively. (Theodore Kuah (19A01B) is also a member, but was unfortunately unable to attend that night.) They started off Grad Night with a bang, performing rousing renditions of ‘10,000 Hours’ by Justin Bieber and the classic ‘You Belong With Me’ by Taylor Swift. It was a fantastic way to hype up the Year 6s for the memorable night ahead. 

Tables filling up with people and hearts filling up with anticipation.

Without delay, the event was officially commenced by the emcees Eric Xiong (19S03E), Sarah Bte Shahrin (20S03D), and Shivraaj Singh (19S03B), who comically introduced themselves as Eric, Erica and Indian Eric respectively. Jowell Ling (19S07B) then took the stage and performed two songs, both in Chinese: 《真的很在乎》(‘I Really? Care’) by 杨坤 and《追忆往事》(‘Reminiscing’), a song he wrote to the melody of Kim Sejeong’s ‘Flower Road’ . Singing out his own lyrics with utmost sincerity and a soothing voice, he set a delightful ambience for those treating themselves to appetisers and those queueing at the photo booths. His handwritten Chinese lyrics for his second performance were poetic, expressing regrets at a missed opportunity. “I felt that at a time like Grad Night, when we are filled with all the ‘离愁别绪’ (‘parting grief’), we [would] want time to rewind to the happiest time we had; or in the case of my lyrics, to the time before I had that particular regret.”

Following Jowell’s performance, the emcees announced the start of dinner-cum-song dedications. The doors of the ballroom opened up for the hungry attendees, leading them to the scrumptious buffet that had been prepared for them outside. Ranging from mouth-watering seafood to steaming hot pasta and sweet desserts, it was guaranteed that everyone would be able to eat to their hearts’ content that night. As everyone helped themselves to the generous portions of food eagerly, a few stepped up to the councillors’ song dedication booth. Song dedications mostly went out to friends, as a thanks for the great years spent together in Raffles and for sticking by one another through thick and thin.

Platters full of joy.

As everyone gorged themselves on their delicious dinner, Liang Hui (19S03A) performed an amazing cover of ‘Think Of Me’ from The Phantom of the Opera. Her powerful voice reverberated throughout the ballroom, spreading chills amongst everyone in the audience, and her mind-blowing high notes in particular incited rousing applause and hearty cheers. The long-awaited lucky draw also began shortly after, with 50 prizes to be given out. From Starbucks gift cards and Koi vouchers to studio wireless earphones and the coveted 1st-prize Universal Studios Singapore season passes, some lucky seniors were treated to a welcome bonus to the completion of their Raffles journey.

Just a peek at the mountain of prizes waiting to be won.

The stage was soon cleared to welcome Black and Yellow, a duo consisting of Srivibhav (19S06I)  and Guang Ping (19S06I). Their performance was not unlike others—featuring singing and beatboxing—but what set them apart was their incorporation of comedic banter into their songs (“I think it’s like this,” “eh no leh, I think it’s like this.”), resulting in raucous laughter from their audience. They ended their very entertaining performance with a remix of Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Black and Yellow’—of course—and though they remained humble with their ending remarks, they were met with a large round of applause.

Next up was Cadence, an acapella group comprised of Chorale seniors, who gifted the ballroom a hearty dose of nostalgia through beautiful renditions of songs. These included ‘Jumpstart’ by These Kids Wear Crowns, which was the finale song for their batch’s orientation dance, and ‘We’re All In This Together’ from the High School Musical movies, which also served as the characters’ graduation song. As meaningful as it was for the audience, the performance was also the group’s last chance to come together after their A’s to sing in a final reprisal of a Rafflesian student singer’s career, as Cavan Koh (19A01D) told us. Gabriel Song (19S05A), a fellow groupmate, agreed: “[I think] it’s a great moment to commemorate the memories that we’ve made over the past few years.”

Their sentiment was shared by many of the other Year 6s, including Chew Jay Hong (19A13A), who reminisced about the exciting and vibrant times he shared with his batchmates that passed them by in an instant. “Sometimes [it’s] too rushed to stop, take in the moment and enjoy,” he said bittersweetly. With a bright smile, he shared with us what he cherished deeply from his JC experience. “I was very inspired by a lot of people who did not journey with me in secondary school but offer a lot of perspectives [regarding] JC life, such as what it means to be maturing as an adult, as well as different attitudes towards academics and school life in general.” He also added that his friends were an important source of motivation for him. “Anyone can relate to it—JC is a really tough time and you need friends through the trials and tribulations. It’s through the tough periods that we cherish each other more.”

Friends make the journey special.

Finally, to conclude the night, Afterhours (the graduating Rock batch) took the stage. They delivered an amazing performance with a tracklist containing songs like ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, ‘Ain’t It Fun’ by Paramore and ‘Breaking Free’, also from the High School Musical soundtrack. With their vibrant performance, Grad Night ‘19 ended on a merry note, leaving everyone in high spirits, but beneath the laughter and smiles lingered a tinge of pathos that this was to be the Year 6s’ last school event.

It was truly a memorable night for everyone; not just for the Year 6s, but also for the Year 5s involved. Indeed, the councillors put forth their best effort to make Grad Night a huge success as one last farewell gift. “There were definitely a lot of challenges; you only see the glamourous part of everything put together,” said Ariel Kok (20S03L), overall liaison of Grad Night ’19. “A lot of things are not as simple as you think they [were]. We have to try and troubleshoot any problems along the way and our team had to try to solve them.” 

Finally, the sun is down and the stars are high up in the night sky, marking the conclusion of this chapter of the seniors’ lives. But we can only look forward to what the new day will bring for the batch of 2019; with the next sunrise, we wish our Year 6s bright days ahead as they move on to the next chapter of their lives!

The stars of the night—the Y6 performers who made the event even more memorable.
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