By Ng Hong Xun Nigel (21S06C) and Conrad Xheng Thinagaran (21S07B), Secretaries of the 40th Students’ Council
The words “Students’ Council” might call to mind big ideals like “enacting change in the school community” and images of Councillors working overtime on preparation work for school events. The truth is, Council is both of them—and much, much more. We hope to offer you a candid reflection of our experience as 40ths, and what your Council journey might look like.
But first, here is a quick introduction of Council: Council, led by the Presidents and Secretaries, comprises 3 Departments, 5 House Directorates and 6 Functions. Each Councillor fulfills 2 primary roles, one as a member of a Department or House Dee and the other as a member of a Function.
The 3 Departments are Welfare, which is responsible for creating a conducive, homely environment for Rafflesians; the CCA Department (CCAD), which builds school spirit through collaboration with CCAs; and the Communications Department (Commz’D), which serves as a bridge between Council and the school through its various publicity platforms. The 5 House Directorates foster house spirit through events like Team Raffles Games, and play a significant part in Orientation and House Days.
The 6 Functions are National Day, Teachers’ Day, Graduation Night, Open House, Orientation and Council Camp, which bar the latter are all major fixtures on the school calendar. In particular, for a team of just two dozen Councillors to plan four days of Orientation for more than a thousand Y5s is no mean feat, and Function work thus constitutes a major part of Council work.
Besides these, Councillors also have the opportunity to start timely initiatives called Project Xs, which any passionate Councillor can initiate to contribute to a more inclusive Raffles. One prominent example of this was RafflesforSG — a social movement to galvanise Rafflesians to give back and serve at the height of the pandemic last August.
But beyond the mundane structural side of Council exists the dynamic human element of the work we do. As One Council, we are driven by one goal: to create the best possible school environment for our fellow students. After all, we are the Students’ Council—we serve by leading, and lead in serving.
It is, however, not as simple as asserting your calling to “improving the school”. There will be last-minute troubleshooting, special circumstances that put a dent in your plans, and rushing to meet non-negotiable deadlines. Across the years, the phrase “perennially sleep-deprived” has been used frequently to describe the experiences of Councillors. In fact, this year was especially tough for us given the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.
Will it be daunting? Yes. It was daunting for us, for the batch before us, and the batch before them. But you won’t be going through this journey alone. None of us are perfect in what we do, and where we may be lacking, our fellow Councillors can and will cover our backs. You’ll work with many different types of people with differing strengths, weaknesses, values and perspectives, and these experiences will play an important role in defining your Council journey.
Council is also a place for you to learn and grow. We are, after all, a student leadership development body. Not everyone has to be the most experienced event-organiser or the most eloquent orator—we’re in this journey to support each other and grow along the way. As long as you’re passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of your peers, Council is a path you should consider taking.
Ultimately, the Council journey will not be easy, but it will be meaningful. You’ll meet challenges and obstacles along the way, and lose a whole lot of sleep too, but you’ll emerge from Council a stronger person and with lessons and deep friendships that will last long past JC.
We hope that this short preview has given you some insight into what your Council journey may look like. What will you experience as a 41st? That’s up to you to decide.