Author: Regina Marie Lee

How to Spend your Monday Mornings

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Rachel Tan (13S06D)
In this installment of Please Mind the Platform Gap, we guide you through the buffet of enrichment programmes that will last you through Year 5.

Monday Mornings.002

If you enjoy seeing your labour bear fruit, service enrichment programmes might be your thing. Whether your ideal type of service is meeting the needs of the environment or that of people, both the International Service Learning Experience (ISLE) and EcoLit are excellent platforms for you to reach out to the community. But Y5s considering ISLE, take heed. Overseas volunteer work often involves exiting your comfort zone in order to step into the living spaces of people who survive below the poverty line. That includes fetching water from wells, sleeping in cramped quarters, cooking all your meals and subsisting on a few scoops of water for your daily bath, just to mention a few inconveniences. Those eager to serve the community should also be eager to expand their comfort zone at the same time.

“Give me liberty or give me death!” Rings a bell, anyone? The Raffles Public Policy Programme (RPPP) and the Governance and Civics Engagement Programme (GCEP) are the only 2 enrichment programmes that deal with politics and policy-making. Sessions often involve discussions that examine the thinking behind formulation of policies and factors that influence a nation’s political course, such as history and demographics. Although both programmes may sound similar, there are slight differences – while RPPP tends to focus on local issues, GCEP often involves extensions into other contexts. Moreover, both programmes offer divergent activities during the December holidays. Students in RPPP will experience an internship in a government ministry of choice, whereas GCEP pupils stand a chance to go overseas to observe different political structures in real life.

Not a councillor or an EXCO member? Well, leadership doesn’t have to be limited to your CCA. Adventure Leadership Programme (ALPS), Leaders for a Better Age (LBA) and Leadership Through The Ages (LTTA) are programmes whereby different dimensions of leadership are thoroughly discussed and explored. For example, in ALPs, theory is put into practice and members have to endure a gruelling 2 week hike overseas. As Varun Moorthy (13S06D) puts it, “team building, taking initiative, being a role model…are all put to the test” as members live alongside each other.

Culture and Philosophy
If learning about the lives of people outside Singapore is your thing, you might want to consider Raffles Reflects, the Bicultural China Programme (BCP), Bicultural India Programme (BIP) or the Raffles Middle East Programme (RMEP). Raffles Reflects is the successor of the previous Raffles Renaissance Programme, and will cover the main areas of philosophy through articles and discussions. The latter two focus more on studying the political, economic and social factors that carve the lives of people, and offer trips to their respective countries. Be not mistaken, culture is definitely not all about history. Overseas trips promise an immersion into the current culture of the country in question as well as opportunities to interact with local governmental organisations and expatriate Singaporeans.

Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics may simply be subjects. But if they arouse passion in you, preparing for Olympiads may be how you want to spend your Monday mornings – that is, assuming that lectures within the normal curriculum aren’t sleep-inducing to begin with, and you are truly fascinated with how to classify cysteine residue reactions or the mating systems of Humboldt penguins. On a side note, Olympiad medals do add a whole lot of bling in that curriculum vitae you’re intending to send to Harvard.

Not too interested in the above options? Specialised programmes are available to cater to interests, such as technology at Raffles INVENT, which partners with IDA Singapore to allow students to design and build their own technology product. Those interested in sports science can also do research with the E.W.Barker Institute of Sports Science Research Programme. Aspiring entrepreneurs can join the Business Leaders Programme (BLP), where they will be gain from workshops, visits to corporate offices, and an internship in a start-up during the June holidays.

Your bed
Of course, there will always be those of us who feel that spending less time with your bed after a late night’s worth of hard partying is far too great a sacrifice. If so, perhaps more hours allotted to self-discovery while deciphering the meaning of your dreams would work best.

Boon Lay Youth Club to Become an SIG

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Regina Marie Lee (13A01B)

2013-02-06 14.23.28

After 10 years of activity, Boon Lay Youth Club (BLYC) was closed down as a CCA this year to become an SIG (Student Interest Group).

BLYC is perhaps best known for the annual New Year Countdown it has organised since 2003. It was started in May that year by a group of 5 Raffles Junior College students, after talking to Madam Ho Geok Choo, then the Member of Parliament for Boon Lay. One of the founders was Madam Ho’s son. Because the school was located in Ghim Moh, the group picked Boon Lay as it was a poorer constituency.

Since then, the club has been involved in grassroots activities there. They initiate, plan and execute events together with grassroot leaders. For its contributions to the community, the club won the Most Active Grassroots Organisation Award at the Boon Lay National Day Local Awards in 2009.

When asked about the decision to make the club an SIG, Mr Eng Han Seng, Dean of CCAs and PE said: “The key reason is that the workload of students is becoming heavier. Meetings and preparation for events sometimes go on very late at night, and because of the distance I think the students face a challenge (in this respect). Activities can end very late, past 11PM.” This sentiment is echoed by BLYC Chairperson Keith Yong. “RI was located in Ghim Moh when BLYC was started, and because Boon Lay was near, the travelling time was quite short.”

Where Boon Lay is located, as compared to the old campus at Ghim Moh and our current campus
Where Boon Lay is located, as compared to the old campus at Ghim Moh and our current campus

Instead, the school now wants to focus on the local community. “It’s better for us to try to work within our community in Bishan and Toa Payoh,” said Mr Eng. Plans for a new avenue to work with grassroots in Bishan are underway, helmed by the Raffles Leadership Institute (formerly Raffles Institute for Experiential Learning). “RLI will look into forming a new CCA serving Toa Payoh and Bishan, and explore whether there is a need to start a new CCA or if it could be on other platforms.”

Could the public criticism that BLYC received from former Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong, an Old Boy himself, have played a role in the decision? In 2011, in a commentary published in Today newspaper, Mr Siew called BLYC’s CCA status into question, and asked if it was “inappropriate for Ministry of Education and RI(JC) to officially sanction and endorse activities that directly or indirectly support any specific political party or politician”. Whether this assertion is valid or not, BLYC Chair Keith insists that this is “not a problem”. “All this while, we have been working with grassroot leaders and our stand is very clear that we are not involved in any political activities,” he said.

The decision to demote the CCA to SIG status was only communicated to the club in December 2012. When asked why the decision was made now, since the former RJC has been in the Bishan campus since 2005, Mr Eng explained, “(the school had) deliberated for some time…we found that maybe it’s time for us to move out of Boon Lay.” Instead of entirely shutting down the CCA, the school is “trying to transit slowly and also give Boon Lay constituency time for this transition”. Mr Eng also admitted that the school is “opening it as an SIG for students who stay near Boon Lay (where) it is meaningful for them to serve in the West. If there are still interested students and they want to continue serving in Boon Lay, then it is up to a year to year review (to continue as an SIG).”

Miranda Yeo, BLYC Vice-President from the Class of 2011, said: “I am personally very saddened by this decision because BLYC has been a wonderful training ground not only for me, but also for the batches of seniors who went before me. It was an avenue for us students to work alongside capable adult leaders and analyse problems at the municipal level.”

Fortunately, the leadership of BLYC have not given up, and still intend to allow new students to experience the benefits of grassroots service in Boon Lay. With 22 Year 6s currently, BLYC is hoping to recruit 20-30 Year 5s. Activities will be recognised through the CE-01 Community Education platform as a student-initiated service project. “There won’t be any CCA records or requirements to meet, and we will give opportunity for students interested to organise their own CE-01 project in Boon Lay based on their interest.” For example, BLYC recently organised Arts For Us, which brought various art forms to the community through performances and arts activities. “(This was) completely based on members’ interests and grassroot leaders helped them to achieve that,” said Keith. Instead of merely setting up a CE-01 project independently, Keith explains that “BLYC [has] the contacts of grassroot leaders who can help us and provide us with a lot of resources, such as financial resources when we tie up with organisations to fund our activities.”

Members at BLYC's booth during CCA Feste
Members at BLYC’s booth during CCA Feste

Having said that, Mr Eng remarks, “Batches of students (in BLYC) have been impacted positively, are more service-oriented and grew to have the desire and passion to serve the community. We want to continue that spirit. However, in terms of the structure, platform and location, we want to move it to a vicinity that is more meaningful and in our local community.”

Interested to join Boon Lay Youth Club? Find out more about the club at their website, and sign up here. Read the event coverage on Countdown @ Boon Lay here.

CCA Preview ’13: Soccer Girls

Reading Time: 3 minutes

by Choo Yun Ting and Kimberley Yeo
Do you dream of playing in the largest football stadium in Singapore under the floodlights and an expanse of AstroTurf under your feet? Jalan Besar Stadium has been one of the greatest motivations that Raffles Soccer Girls has drawn on since we’ve come into some prominence – much like an amateur club turning professional. We’re coming off our first National Schools title, and trying to create a legacy (and knocking some stalwarts off in the process).


Soccer is a game usually associated with our male counterparts, and most of us come into the CCA barely having kicked a ball in our lives outside of PE lessons. But perhaps it is this new environment for all of us that brings us together. That, and having the best CCA teachers-in-charge, who always have food in arms – Mr Leong’s famous tins of biscuits! Raffles Soccer Girls has come a long way from our humble beginnings, from training irregularly in various unlikely areas of the school, to being one of the guardians of the main field.

We train thrice a week, one physical and two ball trainings at the field. As Mr Leong always says, the best bonding is done through PT. Requirements to join Soccer Girls are pretty fair – basic coordination skills, a good attitude towards training and soccer in general, and some sense with the ball. But really, all we are looking for are passionate girls! Many of us started out with zero experience and as one team, we continue to learn new skills.


Kicking a ball may seem counter-intuitive, but that’s the challenge! Come push yourself & do things you never thought you could. Dribble, trap, shoot – discover your affinity with the soccer ball. And, of course, soccer is the place to do it where we learn, make mistakes and perfect our skills together, all under the patient guidance of our coaches Mr Leong and Mr Man.

Above all, soccer is a team game. Individual skill can only get you so far – it is in the team spirit that brings out the beautiful game. Every ball training ends with a scaled down match where we learn to trust each other. We then progress on to friendlies on the full field which provides invaluable experience for the ultimate test, the National Schools Championships. Though our time together is short, the shared memories will stay in our hearts much longer.

Come join us! As our defender Wan Qi says, “I love soccer because balls are meant to be kicked!”, soccer isn’t all serious trainings and nothing else. As many of our players can vouch for it, soccer will be the best thing that happened to you here in RI.


Read our match report about how Soccer Girls won champions for the first time, at Jalan Besar Stadium last year.

The Smile Challenge – 3 Weeks On

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Zara Nicole Toh (13A01B) and Cara Leong (13A01B)

So you’re walking down the hallway to your next class, just minding your own business… when out of the blue a brilliant flash of white catches your attention. Is it a reflective surface on which you can check your hair? Or a Sec 1 boy in his clean new uniform?

These days, it could very well be a perfect stranger baring his pearly whites at you. How do you react? Do you wave? Do you smile back? What if a person who looks vaguely familiar smiles at you? If you smile back, she might feel obliged to strike up a conversation, which you obviously do not welcome, since you cannot remember her name.

Three weeks on, we wonder if anyone is still actively smiling at strangers (or if anyone even remembers the challenge issued by our dear Council President Ashlynna) – but if you’re one of the few people still embracing the challenge wholeheartedly, we applaud you! To put a more realistic spin on this article, we decided to undertake the Smile Challenge ourselves. Here are some of the strange, silly and sometimes surprisingly smiley responses we got!

We undertook the Smile Challenge, smiling at strangers from 21st to 25th January 2013. Here’s a compilation of how our test subjects reacted to scenarios when they found themselves being smiled at! What would you do if someone smiled at you?

Scenario 1
A person who may be in your Math lecture – or was it your Bio lecture? – smiles at you. You’re unsure of how to respond, as you’ve never even spoken to him before!

Response: You give a confused and awkward half-smile as you don’t want to appear unfriendly, but you’re also unsure of whether to smile back or not.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Scenario 2
A stranger smiles at you, and you smile back just because you’re feeling happy, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, you ate prata for lunch…or maybe because you’re generally a happy and friendly person.

Response: A wide smile spreads across your face as you bear those pearly whites. A wave of the hand is optional.

Smile Challenge: Success

Scenario 3
A person whom you find really annoying or you do not even know smiles at you. You are immediately suspicious and question his/her motives behind smiling. You also do not feel like smiling back.

Response: A questioning look appears on your face as you notice the person, but you quickly avert your gaze and pretend to be captivated by something in the opposite direction. In other words, you complete “dao” the person smiling at you.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Scenario 4
It’s 7am in the morning and you’ve just gotten to school. On the way to the canteen, someone smiles at you. Your facial muscles are still cramped up from lack of sleep, so you have entirely no control over them.

Response: A blank look. Probably followed by a yawn.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Our mini social experiment has confirmed the hard truth: you are highly unlikely to get a smile in return if you smile at a complete stranger. Most people simply don’t go out of their way to smile, preferring to continue talking with their friends while walking in between lectures. The rare times that we got a smile in return while conducting this social experiment were boosts of confidence for us, as we were reminded that people in this school remember the nicety of smiling.

Ashlynna, our Council President, hopes that this article will be a timely reminder for everyone to continue smiling and spreading cheer especially at a time when work is piling up and CCA training is intensifying. On a day when you are feeling down and blue, it’s amazing what wonders a friendly smile can do to perk you up.

“When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you”
– Smile by Nat King Cole

Countdown @ Boon Lay once again organised by RI students

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Phang Ying Cheng (13S03F), Deepa Selvaraj (13S03O) and Chang Cui Qin (13S03R)

31 December 2012 saw the successful culmination of Countdown @ Boon Lay 2013, a journey that will remain unforgettable for the organizers from Youth Club @ Boon Lay. On that day, Boon Lay residents welcomed the new year together with much fanfare.


This year, Countdown @ Boon Lay received immense media attention due to the emphasis on performances by local talents. The event was featured in the Straits Times, Lianhe Zao Bao, Capital 95.8FM and 早安您好. A publicity booth was also set up at Jurong Point, where club members and volunteers encouraged shoppers to write down their wishes on origami paper, which they later folded into paper cranes.

Online version of the front page Straits Time article featuring Countdown @Boon Lay 2013
Online version of the front page Straits Time article featuring Countdown @Boon Lay 2013

Preparations for the event began early in the day, with volunteers arriving at the community centre to help transport goodie bags, game equipments and décor over to Jurong Central Park. Meanwhile, at Jurong Central Park, stage performers had already begun their sound and technical runs to ensure flawless performances later in the night. Throughout the afternoon, the Countdown committee together with volunteers worked tirelessly to set up the necessary logistics for the event.

However, the weather that day did not seem to share the jubilation many had towards the event. In the midst of preparations, a heavy downpour ensued, stalling many of the ongoing plans. At that juncture, the only thought in the minds of everyone was for the rain to stop as soon as possible.

Thankfully, our wishes were answered when the skies began to clear later in the evening, and Countdown @ Boon Lay 2013 proceeded in full force. Fortunately, the light drizzle did not dampen the festive spirit of Boon Lay residents as many of them gathered at Jurong Central Park to enthusiastically participate in the carnival booths and watch the show put up for them. Over at the games stall area, volunteers helped to distribute free popcorn to residents and also manned game stall booths, such as Life-Sized Jenga, Floorball Frenzy and Basketball Bash. At around 10pm, professional fire performers entertained the crowd gathered at the field near the games stalls. They ended off with a breath-taking performance to the song Gangnam Style.

Yuki and friends performing to Gangnam Style
Yuki and friends performing to Gangnam Style
An estimated crowd of 30 000 turned up at Jurong Central Park to celebrate the New Year
An estimated crowd of 30 000 turned up at Jurong Central Park to celebrate the New Year

At the stage area, residents were treated to a visual spectacle of performances that featured many talented local performers. These included RI Chinese Dance, Chanel and Dancers, Raffles Jazz and SWAT – the winner of Boon Lay’s Got Talent 2012. The range of performances did not fail to entertain and many residents were impressed by the quality of local performances.

Chanel and Dancers dancing to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Candyman’
Chanel and Dancers dancing to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Candyman’
RI Chinese Dance wowing the audience with their graceful moves
RI Chinese Dance wowing the audience with their graceful moves

The highlight of Countdown @ Boon Lay 2013 was bandWave – a band competition that saw three youth bands (Au Revoir SG, Emerald Street & Obviously We!) pit their musical talents against each other. The three youth bands had undergone a fully sponsored training camp earlier that month at the Academy of Rock – Singapore’s pioneer rock and pop music school. To kick-start the competition, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Senior Minister of State (Ministry of Communications and Information) and MP for West Coast GRC (Boon Lay Division) Mr. Lawrence Wong, roused the crowd by performing the song Wake Me Up When September Ends on the electric guitar with youth band Fancy This Progression.


Audiences were wowed by the immense musicality displayed by each band and the judges had a difficult time deciding who was to be the eventual champion. After much deliberation, it was an ecstatic moment for Emerald Street when they emerged as the champions. It is truly heartening to see the emergence of platforms such as bandWave which allow youths to take their passion for music to greater heights.
Soon after, the countdown to 12:00 AM began. Everyone could not wait for the New Year to arrive and it was truly exhilarating as the moment inched closer. Finally, at the turn of midnight, the fireworks went off, and cheers filled Jurong Central Park as people wished each other a happy new year. Emerald Street then treated the crowd with one last performance, ending the night on a high note.


Countdown @ Boon Lay continues to be one of the biggest countdown parties in the heartland – and YOU can get to be a part of this incredible and memorable experience – just join the Youth Club @ Boon Lay, a popular Student Interest Group (SIG). The opportunity to organise an event of such a scale is truly amazing and the experience will definitely be an enriching one.
Find out more about our club at our website, and join us with this link.