By Elizabeth Paulyn Gostelow (21A01B) and Rachel Ho (21A01B)
Few schools celebrate the beginning of an A-level year, much less christen it with a name that connotes ceremonious joy and the pinnacle of American high school culture.
Rafflesians danced to our own tune: we deck out the first week in performances, giveaways, game shows and mobile furry animals to the fanfare of Homecoming Playlist. We do the rolled-out red carpet, the flashing lights, and the confetti all at once, or at least their equivalent under safe distancing regulations.
So here’s a recap of how the stars of the show—the beloved Year 6s—waltzed into their senior year this Homecoming.
Day 1 (11 January)
Welcome address by Mr Frederick Yeo and Student Council
On the morning of 11th January, the school was abuzz with the animated voices of Year 6s as they shared with one another their end-of-year holidays and caught up with friends. The fun was soon to begin.
After the students settled down in their classrooms, Mr Frederick Yeo delivered an enlivening welcome address through video. Reflecting on 2020 being a rough year due to COVID-19, he earnestly urged students to celebrate what is to come and make the best out of our final year in Raffles Institution. Truly words to live by!
Handing over the time over to Student Council, a series of witty banter and invigorating school cheers followed to officially mark the start of Homecoming 2021. Many games, activities and performances were lined up, much to the students’ anticipation.
But wait a second—on the teacher’s table of every class sat a small, compelling mystery box. What could be inside?
Upon opening the box, students were pleasantly greeted with custom-designed wooden class signs, a colourful pamphlet of fun group games to play and a monochrome pool of cut-out alphabetical letters!
The alphabetical letters were then revealed to be part of a large batch game: Wax Lyrical. Classes pieced together letters to form lyrics from songs such as “Way Back Home” by SHAUN feat. Conor Maynard, providing students a perfect way to bond over familiar tunes.
Next came a scene straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—it was revealed that a golden ticket was snugly nestled under a lucky student’s chair in every classroom. The surprise gift was a charming kendama—perfect for playing with and relieving stress!
As if this welcome back to school couldn’t get any better, Hope21 FM was announced! What better way to share one’s hopes for the new year than through meaningful song dedications? Gorgeous, customised acrylic song boards were also given out to the ten most meaningful song dedications as tokens to remember the dedicators’ affections by.
Day 2 (12 January)
Kicking off Homecoming’s morning performances was none other than Raffles Rock!
The performance of “Everglow” by Coldplay was a real musical treat to the ears with its rich, pensive melody. The catchy beats of songs like “Make You Mine” by Public and “Lover Boy” by Phum Viphurit pulsated in the air, drawing excited crowds to the canteen and dispelling morning blues instantly.
Raffles Rock definitely wowed the audience with their talent, and left us in eager anticipation for their Thursday performance!
Meanwhile in the amphitheatre, the air was suffused with the familiar pop rock tune of “In My Life” by the Beatles. The three musicians then further stunned the audience with their originals “One Day”, “Untitled” and “Daydream”. With steady, mellow beats, they delivered a bewitching performance.
Unsurprisingly, the performance was very well received by the audience. “I think the country music vibes made me nostalgic,” shared Russell Choy (21A01B). “Their banter in between set items was hilarious! They’re like a modern day Jane Austen.” We are all excited to see where this close-knit group will venture in the future.
Food for Gratitude
What is the Rafflesian community grateful for?
“The existence of popcorn.”
“My friends! I love you all.”
Evidently, a lot! With a myriad of colourful post-its, students’ notes of gratitude adorned blackboards in the amphitheatre. The outpouring of sincerity was heartening to see as students doodled and penned down their honest feelings.
Of course, the occasion wasn’t complete without a certain something—free churros! Who could say no to delicious, golden fried-dough pastry? However, their crunchiness was not for the faint-hearted. One student humorously quipped to her friend that she might have chipped a tooth.
Nevertheless, Food for Gratitude was a splendid way for students to fill their hearts (and stomachs) with joy. The event was sure to make a welcome comeback on Thursday.
Day 3 (13 January)
Contrary to expectations, our first Gap Day did not dampen the Homecoming hype as Council had prepared a slew of fun challenges for students to participate online through our school’s Instagram account @teamraffles. Students stood chances to win ukuleles, exclusive Zoomoov tickets, and even the highly-coveted Beats headphones!
Another eagerly awaited event was the song dedication booth, which in particular prompted some introspection among participants; students had to submit a song that articulated their aspirations for the new year along with a meaningful rationale, and winners were to receive an acrylic song board with their song dedication engraved on it. It’s a lovely way of starting the year off on a bright note!
Day 4 (14 January)
Raffles Chamber Ensemble
The charming melodies of Joe Hisashi welcomed us back from our first Gap Day. Deeply immersed in their music, the members of Chamber Ensemble worked to emulate the magical quality of Studio Ghibli’s timeless soundtracks. Among them were a few fan-favourites such as the themes of Howl’s Moving Castle (“Merry Go Round of Life”) and Princess Mononoke (“Legend of Ashitaka”). One Ghibli fan in particular was not let down. “Their skills and coordination were pretty impressive. I was happy to listen to this in the morning!” praised Angelina Lim (21S05A).
Even passers-by who chanced upon the performance were pleasantly surprised: “Well to be frank I did not know what the performance was going to be about,” confessed Hoang Tuan Minh (21S05A), “I was half-expecting classical or pop music so when the Ghibli songs came on I was kind of confused, but I enjoyed them a lot. They were rather ‘natural’ in a weird but good way.”
Day 5 (15 January)
This isn’t a performance, was my initial thought when I saw the Raffles Jazz members on-stage, They’re too relaxed, too absorbed in the music; they just seem to be… vibing. The pianists glided through runs and riffs with rhythmic ease which the guitarist harmonised effortlessly with—the jazz guitar produced warm, mellow, almost autumnal tones.
Being a first-time listener of Raffles Jazz, Lim Xinyi (21A13A) was similarly awed. She had been invited to the performance by her classmates in Jazz and was “hearten[ed] to see their efforts pay off and how [much] they were enjoying themselves.”
Adding on, she commented that “the atmosphere [of] the canteen while all of us jammed to the music together really showcased the true spirit of Homecoming, especially after the long holiday break! As I am not very frequently exposed to jazz music, this was an eye opener that allowed me to appreciate the more relaxed rhythm and energy of jazz music, and I believe I will continue to listen to more after the performance!”
It seems that Jazz has earned a few fans from Homecoming, including myself.
Raffles Got Talent Dance
With graceful fluidity and synchronised movements, Raffles Got Talent (RGT) dance’s performance was quite a spectacle! The group, which participated in the 2020 RGT competition, wowed the audience once again.
“I enjoyed the variety in Jasmine’s and Faith’s performance,” Noelle Leow (21A01B) commented. “They danced to a medley of songs—around 3 or 4 I think. The transitions were quite smooth and the dance moves well executed. A number of their Raffles Street Dance batchmates also came down to support them, which was also heartening to see!”
Indian Cultural Society
The performance by the Indian Cultural Society was yet another highlight of the morning as the audience was treated to the creative infusion of Indian dance in hip-hop.
“It was so exciting seeing a side of my friends that I’ve never seen before,” shared Ashleigh Png (21S03B). “Their performance was such a beautiful blend of Indian culture and hip-hop, and I can’t wait to watch them perform again!”
“Were you tooooooo fast?”
Kicking off the civics and assembly periods was a Kahoot quiz, where classes competed neck to neck to answer trivia. Students clamoured over naming Mr Yeo’s favourite breakfast foods and identifying areas around school, calling out assorted colours and shapes to answer fervently.
Based on the results of the Kahoot quiz, the top 20 classes were then selected to participate in an invigorating game show, where a representative from each class completed an obstacle course wearing an inflatable suit.
It was no easy feat—balancing Poke-balls on ping-pong paddles and diving gracefully through hula hoops were just a few components of the obstacle course.
“The most challenging part of the obstacle course was where you had to put on your shoes after jumping over the table. The suit was so fat I couldn’t see my feet,” remarked Bryon Lim (21A01B). “The other team didn’t have to worry about their shoes so they were faster at first. Other than that, it was pretty easy. It was a fun and unique experience!”
Next up, participants threw and kicked beach balls at a gigantic inflatable dartboard. Cheers erupted at bullseyes and as students egged their class representatives on.
The fun was over in the blink of an eye. The ecstatic representatives from the winning ‘alien’ and ‘sumo wrestler’ teams heroically made their way back to their classrooms with the assorted snacks they won for their peers to feast on. What a way to end the school week!
But wait, there were more activities—adorable, fuzzy and brightly multicoloured animals roamed around the school grounds in the afternoon. This was not a catastrophic zoo outbreak—it was no other than Zoomoov! Students and teachers alike travelled around school merrily on rainbow-coloured unicorns and feisty red foxes, with ambient music accompanying their sweet rides.
Zoomoov was “a good chance to indulge my inner kindergartener self”, shared Charlotte Lian (21A01B), “the effort poured into Homecoming really shined—major props to the Student Council!” In the same vein, Rex Heng (21A01B) commented, “I think I really enjoyed the fact that Zoomoov unleashed some kind of inner child in me.”
And with that, Homecoming 2021 came to an end. What a blast! It is hard to recall another time that school was packed with such liveliness and exuberant energy. On behalf of the Year 6 batch of 2021, we would like to say a major thank you to the 40th Student Council for their hard work in organising Homecoming for us to enjoy.
We look forward to the fun surprises in store for Homecoming 2022!