By Chung Thong En (22S06N)
One week before National Day, Raffles Institution was already in a festive mood. Bright red and white streamers and balloons lined the walkways, as small Singapore flags fluttered in the wind. The blackboards at the canteen were filled with colourful illustrations, as well as the programme for the coming National Day celebration.
When the day finally rolled around, it was to high spirits, starting off on a high note with gifts distributed to every class. Soon after, the first event – the observance ceremony, in the form of a video on Ivy – kicked off. A downsized “parade” with the leaders of the uniformed groups of RI and the standard Flag-Raising ceremony was followed by the National Day Address by Minister of Education Mr Chan Chun Sing.
After that was the Civics programme, where classes discussed how Singaporeans adapted to Covid-19, and future aspirations for Singapore. There was also a class Kahoot about Singapore trivia, with classmates enthusiastically throwing out varying answers to every question.
Whatever excitement the class Kahoot had generated paled, however, to the generally-agreed highlight of the day: the Raffles Games video.
First up, the house captains of Hadley-Hullet and Buckle-Buckley, Benjamin and Alexis participated in a contest where they had to guess NDP songs by ear before the other did. It seems simple, until the songs are played at 5x speed. Or backwards. Or 3 at once. In the end, Alexis triumphed over Benjamin, 4-1.
Next, two batchmates, Rahul and Boon Bing, guessed traditional Singaporean snacks by taste while blindfolded. Viewers were brought back to their childhood as they saw the familiar sweets, such as Haw Flakes and White Rabbit.
Finally, there was a trivia quiz segment, where some students were challenged to answer questions about Singapore. Did you know that there are two Singapores in the world? (One of them is a city in Tennessee, USA.) Or that Singapore’s first elected president was Ong Teng Cheong? (Apparently none of the contestants did.) Or that Singapore as a country comprises 64 islands? (At best, those unfamiliar with Singapore’s geography could potentially name 10-11 of them – a measly 1/6.) Well, now we do! The quiz certainly stumped contestants and viewers alike.
The celebrations ended with a compilation of many different students coming together to sing two perennially popular NDP songs, Home (1998) and In a Heartbeat (2012).
Across the board, students thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations. “The game sessions and singing sessions shown were really engaging and my whole class loved it!” said Mahalakshmi Perumal, chairperson of Class 22S03G.
In addition, rather than merely revelling in the festivities, Raffles Institution also made its own contribution to the community as well, by packing goodie bags for frontline workers for the fight against COVID-19. Aside from the pre-packed items that were placed into the goodie bags, students also added their own items into the bags to be given out later. These items included written cards and hand sanitiser, among other things. For example, Mahalakshmi’s class went the extra mile to write thank you in each of the different languages on the cards.
Unlike other years, this National Day was celebrated under restrictions limiting social interaction, which includes limiting group sizes and people to mingle with. However, it was also the necessity of shifting celebrations online because of Covid-19 that led to greater creativity in the planning of the celebration by Council’s National Day committee. Online elements meant hilariously edited video clips instead of previous years’ few hours passed in the parade square or school hall, before the festive mood faded to make way for exam preparation.
While like other years, exams come not long after the break, the memory of National Day this year is sure to be more than just a passing thought.