Author: Raffles Press

CCA Previews ’19: Tennis

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Sean Yun and Francis Lawrence

In retrospect, 2018 was an extremely eventful year for Raffles Tennis, ranging from our ‘A’ Division campaign, our tennis camp, as well as numerous other gatherings and meals at various locations. These included potlucks, Thanksgiving celebrations, and postseason celebrations where we engaged in many activities such as swimming, foosball, and karaoke, amongst many others. During our ‘A’ Division season, we trained extremely hard and gave our best in all our matches against many different schools with varying playstyles. Our girls team emerged as champions, beating Anglo Chinese Junior College by a comfortable scoreline of 4-1 in the finals, while our boys team fought to the bitter end in a nail-biting 3-2 loss to Anglo Chinese School (Independent), emerging as 1st runners-up.

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How to Improve the Raffles Diploma

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Yeo Jia Qi (15S03H)

Page 4 of the Raffles Diploma booklet, issued to all Rafflesian students.

Ever since it was introduced, the Raffles Diploma has been received by students with a significant amount of cynicism. The RD has been dismissed as an attempt to copy a rival school, a tokenistic effort to polish our records even more, yet another chance for students to create a laundry list of achievements, and even a way to force us to achieve a minimum grade for Mother Tongue or attend Assembly programmes. I believe that such criticisms are short-sighted and ignore the RD’s inherent potential and genuine merits. However, the reality is that students have become disillusioned with the RD, taking issue with how the Diploma is designed, the perceived inflexibility in the way it is awarded, and its inability to motivate us. This makes the RD a wasted opportunity.

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With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibility: Interview with Presidential Elects 2015

Reading Time: 23 minutes

By Collin Teo Jun Kai (16S06Q) and Stella Soon Jia Yi (16A01C)
Photos from

For the past 34 years, Rafflesians have been voting almost religiously for Student Councillors of their choice into a position of power. 34 years on, however, many of us seem to have lost sight of what voting represents. To many of us, voting seems to be a necessary duty that otherwise lacks any significance. This therefore begs the question: why is voting important?

Voting serves as a system through which we indicate our preferences – it chooses the candidates we think are most suitable for the role of a Student Councillor, and also signals to the Student Council which initiatives we hold most in regard. At least, that is what voting ideally achieves. More often than not, we instead find that our votes simply signify how popular a candidate is, while failing to affirm their merit.

At Raffles Press, we believe that Student Councillors play a very crucial role in deciding what direction to take the school in, with the eventual aim of benefiting students. Therefore, it is imperative that students vote for Councillors that are the most sincere and capable, not the ones that can garner the most likes on Instagram. It is in this very spirit that we conducted an interview prior to the election with the 3 Presidential Elects this year – in the hope that this can provide the basis for a more informed choice on the students’ part.

From left to right: Freda Mah Cheng Yee (F), Tao Ming Hui (M), Edward Yao Jia Yun (E)
Press (P): Tell us more about the internal elections process.

E: The internal elections process was something that we carried out last Friday to determine the 3 candidates for presidency as well as 10 candidates for the Houses (2 each). It was a strict process where everyone had to have a secret ballot, and everyone was involved in it. It was very democratic, in a way. The votes were kept very confidential and we were not allowed to discuss with anyone – it was really a very personal choice without the influence of other people, so we had to make a judgement for ourselves.

P: Why did the three of you choose to run specifically for the Presidency, and not for the House Captaincy, or a Secretariat role?

E: There are 2 main reasons that motivated me to run for this position. Firstly, I think that our batch is a very motivated bunch. All of us have our own aspirations, and we want to do something for the school, but I figured that it’s important for us to know where we are going. I kind of have an idea of what I want Council to be like and I was interested in bringing this up to the rest and hopefully leading all of us to where I see us going. On the other hand it’s also for personal development. This is a very important leadership position. It’s sort of a challenge for me. On such a scale it would be challenging, but I believe it would also help me hone my leadership skills and my inter-personal skills as well, which I believe is very important.

F: I had 2 main reasons too. I believe very strongly in the student voice and what students can do for the school. I believe that being able to give direction and show students that their voice counts in the school, was something that I really wanted to bring to Council and the school population as well. I was given the privilege last year as the Vice-Head (of Raffles Girls Prefectorial Board) to run a few initiatives that let me see how much an active student voice could bring the school to greater heights. That was one of the main reasons why I ran. Secondly, my friends. I was actually quite touched because even when I joined Council, I realised that a lot of people had trust in me and they believed that I could help contribute to Council in greater ways, rather than just being a normal Council member. Being a very people person I guess, I talk a lot to my friends about what Council does and what they feel Council can improve on. I feel being in touch with the ground and hearing all their opinions on how Council can improve is one way I hope to contribute in Council, to give more direction as to what students want to see.

M: For me one major reason is that I really believe in our batch a lot. I have a lot of faith in them because I see that this year, our Council has a very huge diversity of people. They are not the kind that you would expect Councillors to be like. They are very different, and they bring many different things into Council and I think that this kind of diversity brings a lot of opportunities into this scene. I really want to work with them on a closer basis. Secondly it’s because there are certain things I want to do in Council and I think that Council can improve on to change. I think the role of the President makes it easier to see the big picture and to direct everyone in the direction that can make Council better.

P: What makes the three of you think that you are suitable for the Presidency?

M: For me I would count myself as a people person, but not in the sense that I am extremely extroverted, but in the sense that I take a lot of value in what other people tell me. I think in the role of the President, that is something that is really important and is something that I want to contribute to Council – to be someone who actually hears more than comments and synthesizes all this information into something that can be done.

F: I think for me, I am a person with a lot of energy and drive. I take energy from talking to people and understanding what my friends and concerned about and what they want to see in the school. In one way, I guess my belief in Council being able to shape the school culture is something that I can contribute as a President. Council really determines what type of culture you want to see in the school because we are the representatives of the student body and if there’s anything our batch wants to see, this is our time to make the change, to take ownership of the change that our batch wants to see.

E: I’m not a very detail oriented person, but rather a person that pays more attention to the big picture, and I see vast potential in a lot of the Councillors in our batch and they have very divided potentials, very divided abilities. But when united, I see that we have a greater potential to do better, and to exert a greater positive influence on people around us in school. And I see that in my batchmates in Council, and I think that it is important for us to do something about it. I don’t mind taking the initiative to do so, and I think it’s very important for a President to take the initiative when he sees the time is right and be able to see things on a greater scale.

P: Do you have any past experiences leading an organization?

M: Actually, both of us we were Vice-Heads. [gestures to Freda]

F: As Vice-Heads, our role was also very different. I guess all of us have very different leadership backgrounds. Even though Ming Hui and I were both Vice-Heads, we saw to the needs of different aspects of the school I guess, and the Prefectorial Board also. Mine was not bound very much by the duties of the Vice-Head, I was given the privilege to organize initiatives that were more directed to the student body as a whole, and to garner the support of other lead boards as well to see how we could work together to bring about change and positively impact the school population as a united front.

E: Last year I served in the CEC Council. It’s basically the organization made up of all the class monitors, assistant monitors in the school. While it may seem very ground-up, it actually forms a very large body of students, over 150 across 4 batches. We undergo a lot of vision setting in our term in the CEC Council and we also planned quite a few events, like Open House, Teachers’ Day, and Parent-Teacher Meeting. It was a very valuable experience and I developed a style of interacting with people and I believe that it’s very important for us to have personal relationships with those around us because I believe that’s the only way we can understand what people are going through. To understand somebody’s life is essentially the first step to making a difference to their lives, and a positive one.

M: I think with regards to these past experiences, all 3 of us might have had past experiences but I really hope that the school does not see us by our history because while we have grown, we have learnt a lot from our past experiences but what we want to do here may not exactly be the same as what we have done before. We don’t want people to have the mindset that the Council President must have had past leadership experiences. A lot of people in Council can lead very well too but it’s not through the position.

E: While it may seem that all of us have some kind of prior experience in terms of leadership, but I think that’s just something of the past, and it contributes to our experience in serving as student leaders and it’s something that we can share with all our Councillors in this batch. More importantly, we are also here to learn and I guess all of us believe that there’s more to leadership than what we have gone through and it’s important for us to learn and realise that there’s quite a lot for us to understand in terms of leadership. We are all here to learn and share our experiences.

F: Leading Council is really very different from the Prefectorial Board. It’s really a whole new experience for all of us, and even though we have experiences as leaders in our various lead boards, but I guess leading Council is something fresh and an eye-opener as well.

P (to M): Can you tell me more about your campaign’s focus?

M: I would like to summarise it into 3 words, which were also in my campaign video. They are  communication, relevance, and humility. I believe that communication and humility are linked because what Council can do and should do are focused on what we hear from the people and what they want us to do and we need to be humble Councillors. That’s the kind of spirit I want to promote in Council and that’s how I want people to open up more to us. In that sense it links to relevance because I want to make sure that everything that Council does and all the time that we spend is worth it and all the activities we plan are worth the students’ time.

P: On your point on relevance: you said in your campaign poster that service is an ongoing process and that Council always explores new areas of need. What new areas of need do you predict might arise in the term ahead?

M: Just to clarify, you want to find out what kind of needs I foresee arising in the school? Actually I hesitated just now [after a long pause] because this morning I had a conversation with my classmates about this entire campaign thing, about their needs, and I found out that some things that I perceived to be an area of need may not actually be their area of need. That was the main reason why I had to think twice as to how to answer this question. And I think this shows that what we feel may not be what the student feels either. Just to give an example, on the issue of how Council organizes events, to us it’s a major thing that Council does because each Councillor is assigned to a function to organize. These functions are usually school-wide and aim to really impact the student population, but how effective are these events in the engagement of students? I stress on the word engagement because some people may not feel that these events are as impactful as we wanted them to be, and they are not as engaged as we wanted them to be. I think these may be small areas within the events but they are very important areas to make people see what Council does as a whole. So this is also why I want to make sure that every single Councillor, not just the 3 of us [referring to the 3 President-elects], does this properly and collate the needs of the students by talking to them.

P: What does it mean to walk a ‘Tao-sand’ miles with someone?

M: This is figurative but it focuses on how we don’t want service to be an episodic thing. We want it to be a continuous thing. We don’t want them to see Council’s service through one event, and the next. We want them to see us in their daily lives, through communication with them on a constant basis. This ‘Tao-sand’ miles thing does not just refer to the student body, but also to how we impact the next few batches of Councillors. I know that we have very little time with them. But I also hope that we can do the best we can to make sure that the next batch of Councillors are well-trained, well-versed in what they are going to do for the school. So this applies to both the school and the Council.

P: I read from your campaign board that you wanted to make Councillors feel a sense of self-fulfilment and self-worth. How would you plan to ensure that all the Councillors can feel this way? I understand that there is a very heavy workload involved in Council and that some Councillors might burn out further on into their journey, thus not getting self-fulfilled.

M: Actually I see this as two different issues. I think over-commitment, self-worth and self-fulfillment can and should be addressed in two different ways, although I agree that there is a link to it. Of course, if you are burnt out, there is no self-fulfillment. For the self-worth and self-fulfillment part, I think it comes from being able to do what you initially wanted to come into Council and do, and being given the avenue to do so. That’s where the fulfillment comes in, being able to come in and fulfill your primary goal. I believe this differs for each and every Councillor. That’s the part about self-fulfillment. For the thing about over-commitment, I think we need to adjust the system in Council such that we do things more to the point and more efficiently, and I believe that there can be guidelines set to do so. This is how we can prevent them from burning out. And I think that when these two things combine, then we can have Councillors who serve with self-fulfillment and self-worth. I think this is very important because we come in with passion. But if we don’t fulfill our own goals that we set in Council, and instead fulfill goals we may not necessarily agree with, then it is a lot easier to lose that kind of passion, and it is something very scary to me because we only have this short term in Council. Losing that kind of passion halfway through would mean that Council would lose very important people. This is a very important part of my campaign.

P (to F): Can you tell me more about your campaign’s focus?

F: The general concept of my campaign was really about being a catalyst of action in the student body, getting students to know that as students they play a larger role than just studying, or being on the receiving end of Council’s events, or what the school organizes for them. I want to inspire them to see that they can do greater things and have that sense of ownership of the school culture and of the things that they want to see in school. So really empowering the student voice, and letting them be more involved in organizing school events, rather than just being passive receivers of what Council organizes for them.

P: How exactly will you ‘empower the student voice’?

F: I came up with my campaign because I had this general feel, in JC, hearing from my friends, that they have this sense that they can’t do much unless they are part of Council or they are CCALs, and I feel that it is something that is holding back a lot of students from stepping up doing things that will benefit the school as a whole. Empowering the student voice can come in many ways – one would be having more conversations with the student body and giving them an avenue to voice their opinions and suggestions for what they want to see in the school. Because as Council even though we can organize a lot of activities and events, how can we know that these events are what the students actually want to see? Getting this feedback is very important and it is the first step in showing that Council is actually listening out to the student body. Secondly, it’s really getting them involved in organizing things for their peers. For example, one of my initiatives is directed at CCAs. For Monday morning protected time, some people will have enrichments, but the majority of the student population are quite free during that time so I was hoping that this could be a time for CCAs to step up and organize mini-showcases for their friends or organize small games, mini-competitions for their friends who wish to take part in a particular sport, or performing art. This way the students will know that even though they are not part of a particular programme or CCA, they still have the opportunity to take part in what they enjoy.

P: You mentioned feedback channels, isn’t this already being done with Council?

F: I feel that feedback channels can be more active, there should be more presence of such channels. For example, it may be done online now, or through surveys and everything, but I think having a physical board, or something people can add on to physically is quite important as well. It shows that there is such a channel, as compared to just going online where people may not want to take part in that.

P: You also mentioned that you wanted different CCAs to organize showcases for the students. What’s holding them back from doing this now?

F: I think it’s just the general sense that they don’t have such a platform to do so or they are unaware that they are exactly able to step up to organize such things for their friends.

P: You said that there was already an online platform, and we know that there is an online platform for feedback on the Council website. What is done with this feedback?

F: The feedback collated is an initiative by the Communications Department and currently I admit I am not very sure how the feedback is managed after collating them but I believe that the feedback is considered by the next batch of Councillors organizing the same event. That’s one way the feedback is dealt with.

P: You mentioned in your poster that you want to listen to the ground sentiment, you want more face-to-face interaction and you want a warmer, more accepting and supportive school community. How will you achieve all these within your term?

F: I guess it’s really through the initiatives that I am hoping to start up during our term as Councillors. For example, the Monday morning initiative, I feel that by giving students this opportunity and allowing them to see that they play a bigger role in the school is one way of showing their support for their friends as well. Being able to pursue what they are interested in and engaging their friends in this sort of thing as well is one way they can create a more accepting and inclusive family in school.

P (to E): Can you tell me more about your campaign’s focus?

E: I think my campaign centres around creating a school experience that’s not just fun but more of meaningful. By meaningful, I mean that it’s both memorable in terms of the fun and the tough times because I think right now we are making an effort to make school life more enjoyable, but at the same time I think it is very important for us to instill that kind of culture where we treasure the times that are very difficult and we remember the people that helped us during this time. And to do so, I coined this term called the Rafcode. It is this sense of trust and confidence that Rafflesians feel, knowing that they will always have their backs watched by other Rafflesians. To cultivate this kind of culture in Raffles, it is very important for us to have a very personal and close and intimate relationship with the friends around us.

I see Council in this picture as a catalyst where we start off as seventy-odd people strong, and channel our passions into influencing our friends to believe in this way of interacting with our friends. And from there on we can have a greater sphere of influence and create this culture where people can trust each other and have faith in each other. I think this is very important because it is sort of part of being Rafflesian. It contributes back to the overall vision I have of Council creating this meaningful school experience for everyone.

P: You said that you wanted to create a ground-up and inclusive family for Raffles, but isn’t Council top-down by nature?

E: If you think about it, Councillors all start from the same point of being students. In fact many of us here lead a very ordinary student life, but we want to do something extraordinary out of the ordinary life that we lead, and have a purpose that transcends your individual purpose. It’s possible for the approach for Council to be more ground-up, even though we may be top-down in nature, through the execution and planning of events and the various duties that we carry out. But it’s very important for us to realize that ultimately we are students and we are given this position by our friends. So that’s how I see Council coming in, being motivated by welfare of our fellow Rafflesians and our friends.

And being more inclusive, like what Freda and Ming Hui mentioned, is to have a feedback channel. But even though this feedback channel exists, I wasn’t quite sure of how to understand the role of Council prior to joining it. I think it is more important for us to actively seek this kind of feedback, like conducting reviews after certain events or activities that we have organized or periodically collecting survey responses. We gather this feedback, reflect this to the internal system of Council and consider all the perspectives that we have gathered. I believe that’s how we can include more people as well. And I think it’s important to send out the message that we want to listen and while the online feedback channel is there, not everyone may be aware of it and not everyone may actually take the step to go online and complete the feedback form. Just having the feedback channel there isn’t enough to me because I think that it’s important that we reach out to the people as well.

P: You said you wanted to lead in serving, so what does it mean to “lead in serving and serve in leading”?

E: I think the focus of this phrase is not about leading, but it’s about serving. First we have to realize that being Councillors entails a very ‘servant leader’ kind of duty, and I see Councillors’ role as going beyond just handling managerial roles to handling leadership positions. So I believe in this interaction with Councillors and students, in a way that Councillors don’t just do things for the students — but at the same time we constantly upgrade ourselves and we share these skills with those around us so that everyone grows together. It’s like how I interpreted “Walking a Tao-sand miles with you” – instead of having one person going alone on this thousand miles to retrieve this thing for his friends who are waiting at the start, why not we walk together and during this journey all of us grow together. I believe in this sort of interaction and I think that it is very important for us to not just be mere managers who plan and execute events, but more of leaders who inspire people to grow with us as well.

P: Each of you has made unique promises as to how you can improve student welfare. But how can the student body guarantee that all three of you keep your promises?

E: I think in no way is it possible for us to achieve our destinations and completely believe that we will fulfill our promises. It’s very important for us to trust each other in this case, because some of them may not know us personally and it’s very difficult for them to judge who we are just based on the campaign materials that we have put up so far. I believe that it’s very important for us to trust each other in this case as this relationship that we share is founded and based upon trust, and I think it’s important for the student population to believe that we are genuinely interested in doing something for them. For all that they’ve given us in the years that we spent in Raffles, including the collective memories that we have shared, we sincerely believe that it’s important for us to do something in return, to thank them for their favor and express our gratitude. And I think it’s very important ultimately for them to believe that what we say is genuine and we will do what we said we would do. So this relationship that we share is ultimately based on trust; founded upon this confidence.

F: I think we really must have a clear purpose in mind when we step up to take on the helm of Council. Getting into Council and taking on a position in Council was never the end goal. You must always keep in mind why we joined Council in the first place. For me the true reason is really because I wanted to do something for my friends, and the school as well. In serving the school, you really need to keep your ears on the ground and listen out to what the students are actually saying. Having a very supportive group of friends who are not afraid to tell me when I am going off track or not fulfilling my promises is actually very helpful, because then in that way I will know whether I am truly fulfilling my original intentions of joining Council.

M: At the start of the year, one of my OG mates asked me a very interesting question. He asked me “how disillusioned are you?” I think he used a very interesting word as it symbolizes how the student body may feel, since Councillors, firstly, don’t have that much time in RJ — we only have less than a year. Secondly, that during this campaign process the school doesn’t have enough time to know us through three days, even though we try to reach out to them on many platforms. But still they feel that they cannot know us well as a person. In this case, I feel that it is very hard for us to guarantee that the student body will trust us in doing what we can, but at the same time we are here to make a promise to them freely and I think this promise also goes in our personal reflections throughout our journey in Council. So I hope that throughout this journey in Council, we constantly think about how much we have done and how much we can do better. And we repeat this process over and over again to make sure we are on the right track. We cannot guarantee that they will think like this now, but we hope that at the end of our term, they will think “yes, we have done something for the school”.

P: What do you think the Rafflesian spirit means, and what do you think the current state of the Rafflesian spirit is?

F: For me the first thought that came to mind when you said “Rafflesian spirit” was the part of Rafblood: “pride, passion, soul, and speed”. The Rafflesian spirit is an intangible thing that binds all of us, and to me it comes out more strongly when we are out there competing against other people and being bonded by this common sense that we are all Rafflesians. It truly shows when we are cheering for our friends and knowing that our friends are working hard for us, and in the same way we give back our support through cheering for them.

As for the state of our Rafflesian spirit, I feel that it is quite inconsistent. As a sportsperson, the strongest time that I feel the Rafflesian spirit is when I’m out there competing for my school. So I feel that it is something Council can really work on: to bring the Rafflesian spirit into our daily lives and to have this sense of family in our school more consistently.

E: I think the Rafflesian spirit is this common identity that all Rafflesians share. It binds us together and gives us a sense of pride in our school and our identity. I shall not repeat what I think because it’s very similar to what she said. To me, the Rafflesian spirit is currently very achievement-based. You see it exemplified most during match support and competitions when we cheer and support our batchmates who are out there fighting for Raffles. But I don’t think the Rafflesian spirit should just be confined to such achievements and competitive sporting events. I think it’s very important for the Rafflesian spirit to be cultivated in our everyday lives, like what Freda said, and this can be shown through support for our friends in anything that they do, or any efforts that they want to pursue. The Rafflesian spirit can also be built upon by common memories of harmony or sharing fun, or tough times together. It’s very important for us to realize that it doesn’t necessarily need to be competitive or sporting events, when we are competing against other schools, when we show this Rafflesian spirit off to the outside world.

The Rafflesian spirit should also exist within RI as an intrinsic feature; this thing that gives soul and life to our life in RI. So Council should focus more on what’s within the school, and at the same time build a bond up to establish the Rafflesian spirit that we demonstrate at the sporting events, as both are equally important.

M: I think once you mentioned the term “Rafflesian spirit”, plus currently it’s season time, many of us will start thinking of match support and all the rah-rah things. I hope that the state of Rafflesian spirit does not confine to just this time, but we also make sure that we have this kind of support and spirit for other communities in the school beyond sports, such as Performing arts, and those CCAs that participate in external competitions. They play a very big part in shaping how Raffles is like as a culture, and I just hope that this spirit can extend out to them also. Personally I believe that spirit comes from how you internally feel about the entire school. I remember when we first came to RJ, we were given a talk by the Principal, and he said one sentence that I really remember. It goes “how good a school is is not dependent on how other people view you, but it’s dependent on how much you feel you belong to the school” That to me is the kind of school spirit that we should be looking for in Raffles.

E: Adding on to what Ming Hui said, I think Mr Chan once said something that is very impactful: about how the school is not defined by our physical facilities, but defined by the people and the students who live and study in this place. And I think students are the greatest essence of RI because we are the ones who live life in this Institution and are the main contributors of Rafflesian spirit. Furthermore, I don’t think that the Rafflesian spirit should be confined to a temporal scale, in the sense that our identity as a Rafflesian should not be confined to this short 2 years that we spend in RI. It should transcend the school years that we have here, and the Rafflesian spirit should be something that sticks to us for a long time beyond our schooling years in RI. It should be something that we can identify with and represent us beyond graduation.

P: It is often said that every Rafflesian can be a leader. As the Presidents of the 35th Student’s Council, how will you ensure that every student can be a recognized leader in their own capacity?

M: We were discussing the Raffles Diploma in class, and people were questioning why there is a need for recognition in everything that we do. Why must it be recognized? I think that to be a leader, it depends on how you define your student leadership — whether you want to do it as something that you want to do be established in, and that is why you get recognized because you are in a position, or you want to do it in your own personal ways, when you yourself believe that you are already a leader in that specific way. I think that RI provides a lot of opportunities for people who are willing to advance and ready to stand up to that role, but I don’t think that it is the dream of every single Rafflesian to get recognized for leadership roles, as people have very different aspirations and not everyone desires to be recognized in their leadership role. It depends on how they want to define leadership in their own sense.

F: I agree a lot with what Ming Hui has said. Recognition shouldn’t be our main priority of being a leader, and I believe that there are in Raffles there are a lot of opportunities to be a leader other than being part of Student council or being a CCAL. You can be a CT Rep or your group leader in PW! All these little ways of being a leader are actually little ways of personal recognition; that you have this ability to step up. It really depends on whether you want to take on this responsibility of being a leader in your own capacity.

E: Regarding this question, I think that it is important for us to understand that leadership should not be confined to positions, and everyone can take up a leadership role in the everyday things that they do. It doesn’t have to be, say, you being a PW leader, as long as u take the initiative to do something and make a positive influence on the people around you and perhaps influence their decisions to do something great. For example, if you are walking with your friends along this road, and you see litter on the floor and you pick it up and someone picks another one up after you, then it shows that you have been successful in influencing the mindset of someone else and you can lead your peers in taking action to improve things around you.

P: Do you think all Councillors are altruistic?

F: I cannot guarantee that every Councillor is altruistic and there’s no way that we can actually determine or check whether every Councillor has pure intentions of joining Council to serve the student body. But looking at our batch and at our seniors, I believe that many of us, or rather majority of us in Council actually have that altruistic motive of serving the student body and this is really seen through the sacrifices that they make for the school. If you join Council just to get the position, it’s really going to be very tiring and it’s quite certain that you will burn out halfway. Being in Council is really a very demanding thing and I can see this even in the way that people are willing to sacrifice their own passions and second CCAs to serve Council wholeheartedly. This is something I really respect Councillors for.

P: So you are saying that if we didn’t recognize Councillors, all of you would still step up to serve?

F: I would like to believe that idea, but there’s no way that we can actually confirm that. I have faith in our batch, and that there are people in our batch who are truly genuine in their motives to join Council.

M: I know that whether all Councillors are altruistic is something that many people in the school wonder about and may be critical about in Council. Given such a large batch of 70 people, we cannot ensure that everyone has the ability to be altruistic throughout the entire Council term. But personally, I believe that throughout this journey, we will have a lot of opportunities to strengthen this kind of spirit through the interactions with other Councillors and through the seeing the potential successes that we have achieved. I know that many people in Council gain their confidence and sense of achievement through seeing the success of their work. While I really cannot guarantee that every single person in Council is altruistic in their means, what we can guarantee is that we will try to make sure that throughout our Council term, they will be given many opportunities to develop and hopefully this will stay with them throughout their Council term.

E: From what I have observed, my batch is generally genuine and really sincere about serving the school, but I can’t speak for the entire batch. I think that everyone has different needs. Some of them came into Council with a large vision in their minds to do something great or different for the school. Some of them just want to put a smile on their friends’ faces, and they gain that personal satisfaction from that. They feel that they’ve accomplished something by making the days of their friends; making them happier and enjoying school life.  I’m not saying that they exist, but we also can’t deny that some of our Council batchmates come into Council with the motive of having a leadership position, and I think what’s important is for those with the extra huge reserve of energy to infect them with this same passion. Councillors’ jobs are something that is based on passion. It’s very tedious, and it requires a lot of dedication. Without this passion, it’s very easy for us to lose faith and the motivation to continue down this journey. So I think for those who may not be that strong-willed in the sense of contribution to the school, it’s very important for those who are clear of our genuine motives of improving school life for our friends, to support and influence them. This way, they can also understand that we should be genuinely interested in serving our friends and be shown the real value of doing so beyond just this leadership position.

Raffles Press wishes the Student Council’s presidential candidates the best of luck, and encourages our readers to make an informed choice and vote wisely. Should you require further information, the individual campaigns for the 3 President Elects and the 10 House Captain Elects can be found at:


Continue reading “With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibility: Interview with Presidential Elects 2015”

Cat Café To Open in Raffles Institution

Reading Time: 3 minutes

by Wilson Chan (15A01C), Michelle Zhu (15A01B)

Good news for all cat lovers — Raffles Press has just received news from the Estate Department that the Manna Café will soon be replaced with a cat cafe opened by the owners behind the popular branch currently located at Boat Quay.


With Manna Café’s closing due to the expiry of its lease at the beginning of this year, the school has been seeking out a plausible replacement for the café, which is best known among students for its baked rice at relatively affordable prices. Explaining the rationale for seeking out a cat café rather than just a regular café, Mr Kang Xi Mao of the Estate Department tells us, “We’ve noticed that stress levels are considerably high in our students, and animals are a good way to relieve stress.” Indeed, this is backed up by considerable research, and after examining all other options, the school management has decided that opening a cat café was ideal for its purposes.

Although the owners of the new café revealed that there will still be an initial charge of $5 for the first hour to cover costs, the price is already heavily subsidised by the school and is highly competitive. Ms Ngoh Ma Nee from the Finance Department tells our reporters that “despite the amendments made to our school budget as of last year, we are still able to squeeze out sufficient funds to cover the additional cost”. Furthermore, if you are under the Financial Assistance Scheme, you just have to flash a special pass provided by the school to enjoy an 80% discount.

It is worth it though; after all, what better way is there to relax than sipping steamy coffee in the presence of these furry companions? Students also get to enjoy café staples such as sandwiches, pastries and wraps at highly affordable prices starting from $6. One particular favourite to look out for is the Tuna Wrap ($8), which the owners claim is the most popular food item. Do be careful though to not let the cats have a sip of your cappuccinos — caffeine can be highly dangerous to cats and may even cause organ damage.

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Our contact at the Estate Department explained that a cat café was particularly appropriate  because RJ already has quite a few school cats, most of which are quite friendly and allow students to pet them in exchange for food, reducing the cost of starting a cat café. For those wondering why many of the RJ cats have been seen around less frequently this year, he disclosed that the school cats have been sent for additional training in preparation for their role in the café.

Though some animal lovers have expressed their worries about the treatment of our cats in the café, reception from Rafflesians we have spoken to has been largely positive. Jennifer Chua (15A01D), a cat lover who knows all our cats by name, enthused that “I cannot wait for the cat café to open, so that we can finally feed ourselves and our cats in the same place”. Similarly, General Paper teacher Mr Caleb Liu, another known cat enthusiast,  tells us that “the café will be the ideal place to hold meetings with my CCA EXCO, especially since they are always so stressed”.

There are nevertheless reservations about this café, coming especially from dog lovers and those allergic to animal hair. Celeste Tan (15A01C) indignantly wondered, “Why can’t we have a poodle café instead?”, while a Year 5, who preferred to remain anonymous, was upset that he would have  “fewer food options”, just because those who are allergic to animal hair are a “minority” here.

Despite the potential issues that may crop up, Raffles Press eagerly looks forward to the opening of the new cafe in school, and we are sure that the café will achieve its original aims of helping our students reduce their stress from heavy workloads, in line with one of MOE’s goals. For cat lovers out there, the café will be open on the 26th of April for you to grab a cuppa between lessons while playing with our school cats.

A Level Coverage 2015: Noteworthy Rafflesians

Reading Time: 17 minutes

By Md Khairillah (16A01B), Ian Cheng (16S03M), Huang Jia Wen (16S06G), Kristal Ng (16S07C), Christine Saw (15A01A), Joyce Er (15A01A), Michelle Zhu (15A01B), Wilson Chan (15A01C), Valerie Chee (15S07B)

Photos by Nicholas Chang (16S03K), Crystal Wee (15S03O)


Let it never be said that all Rafflesians know how to do is study. Following the release of the A Level results last Monday, Raffles Press got the chance to speak to high achievers, each accomplished in their own right, from the batch of 2014. Besides excelling in their academics and demonstrating grit and dedication, these individuals also demonstrated passion in various other endeavours, be they athletic, artistic or altruistic, and displayed exemplary holistic development.

The Community Leaders

Abdul Rahim Asyraf B Abdul R

An Interactor with a burning passion to serve the community, Abdul Rahim Asyraf B Abdul R (14S03H) spent much time volunteering at various organizations in his JC days. He took on a leadership role in his CCA as a Service I/C for the Eagles Programme, working hand in hand with SINDA to mentor and tutor primary 5 pupils from low-income families. Aside from his wish to give back to the community that he had benefited from in his younger days, Asyraf’s desire to “help the children realise their potential” was his main motivation and he felt that the experience had given him a valuable opportunity to “interact with children from underprivileged backgrounds”. In addition to taking on the Eagles project, Asyraf also went on a Service Learning trip in July 2013 to Cambodia and regards the experience as one of the most memorable experiences he had had in Interact.

Feeling pressured by the competitive environment in RI is almost ineluctable, and Asyraf is no stranger to this. During his second year in JC, there were times when Asyraf felt overwhelmed, and he even recalls having a break down 2 weeks before the exam. However, with determination and the support of the people around him, Asyraf managed to change his outlook, taking the stress as “positive peer pressure” and finding comfort in the fact that “[he knew he] did [his] best”. He cited the support and advice that his civics tutor, Mdm Lee Shu Jia, gave to him as a great source of strength. “I really treasure her”, he added fondly.

Coming out of the battle with A levels stronger than before, some valuable tips Ayraf would like to share with the juniors is to “sleep early” and to always remember that there is more to life than purely academics. “Just being book smart, I don’t think you can go very far in life.”

Levinson Tan Yu Fan

Levinson (14S06C) is an exemplar when it comes to showing that JC life need not be all about the academics – an EXCO member of the Community Advocates (CA), Levinson started his own CIP project named Dare to Dream, a 6 month project where he worked with his friends to provide help for the physically disabled. Beyond that, Levinson has participated in many different service initiatives as an avid member of CA- from renovating a one room flat to holding a workshop in RI and RGS about global and local poverty.

When queried about what he would say to his juniors regarding JC life, Levinson remarks that the most important thing is to ‘just put your heart into’ what you’re doing. ‘Everyone will find their own balance… and only when you’re going through crisis do you realise how to prioritise.’ True to his word, Levinson had to balance between his studies, (especially PW he notes), his service work and most notably his attempt to get a flying license. Levinson eventually managed to acquire a flying license, after a lot of hard work and the realisation that ‘the more you’re pushed to your limits, the more ways you’ll find out to manage.’

Wee Jing Long

On top of being in RECAS and Raffles Reflects, Jing Long (14S07C) was a dedicated Interacter, volunteering regularly at Sunlove Home and Chen Su Lan Methodist Home, while giving tuition at Mendaki. He also co-founded the RI (Y5-6) chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a service learning group dedicated to cleaning the homes of financially disadvantaged people.

Surprisingly, he had little involvement in volunteering prior to Interact. Looking back on his service learning journey, Jing Long told us, “We started out big but realised that things in life have to start small, and three years later it’s grown into this thing that is still around. With volunteering you realise the journey is very difficult and you can only make small differences – but those small differences count, so just do something. Don’t stagnate, don’t go into stasis, and just keep exploring. I didn’t accomplish every one of my goals, but I think that’s life. RI is a magical place. You’ve got a lot of batchmates and so when you can find people who share your interests, that coming together is magical.”

An aspiring anthropology student, Jing Long is planning to study at a liberal arts university, and currently works with Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). When asked if he had any advice for this year’s A-Level candidates, he simply quipped, “Start making decisions for yourself.”

The Inventors

Kenneth Chow

For Kenneth Chow (14S06I), robotics has been his foremost priority. His journey has been a decorated one, from representing SIngapore internationally at the tender age of 12, to placing team second at the World Robocup in Y3 without guidance, to winning the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation Awards (SITF) with an original robotics development kit that allows children to teach themselves robotics up to a high level of competence. During his time in RI, he was also chairperson of Club Automatica and participated in the INVENT programme.

His achievements came at a price. It was customary for him to go without sleep three days consecutively and miss up to a week of lessons prior to competitions, and he participated in up to six competitions yearly, with each competition requiring 3-4 months of preparation, leaving him with very little time for anything else. The commitment was only logical for him: “Any kind of endeavour that you put yourself in and perform at a high level will take up a lot of your time.” He has no qualms about his heavy involvement in robotics. “It’s developed me into a much better thinker, and I’m able to solve problems critically instead of relying on fixed methods or model answers. The difference between robotics and whatever you’re doing in school is that there is no fixed solution and no boundaries. It’s not about chasing the correct solution, but rather about chasing the beautiful solution.”

Kenneth received a provisional scholarship from DSTA and foresees himself working with VSO.  Since graduating, he has also founded the Centre of Robotic Excellence (CoRE), a start-up dedicated to researching and developing educational kits and offering coaching sessions. Asked for A-Level preparation tips, he said, “Just take it easy! I mean, at the end of the day what does your grade quantify and show about you as a person? If you want to be successful in life in general, you should push yourself beyond the scope of what school pushes you to do. You have to do something special.”

The Artists

Ernest Chin

Many will remember Ernest Chin (14S06H) as the cheerful Orientation IC for Kaleidos 2014, but few know that, besides serving as secretary of the Student Council’s CCA Department, he studied the unconventional subject H2 Art, even offering it at H3 level, and intends to be an architect. After not offering O Level art and sorely regretting his decision, he took a leap of faith and struggled to catch up with those with more practice than he had.

Taking such a niche subject was a risk, but it also posed several lesser-known benefits. “An art degree makes you stand out. Anyway, when you take economics, odds are you don’t even know if you’ll like it. Economics is a safe choice, but taking art shows that you’re sure of where you’re going.”

Like everyone else, Ernest faced the problem of burnout in the leadup to his A-Levels, especially after his H2 Art coursework submission in September, but was galvanised into working harder after a disappointing set of Prelim grades. He expressed his gratitude to “everyone! It’s not a one man journey.” For all that his journey was tough, Ernest advised the current J2 batch, “Focus on studying but don’t leave out all the leisure stuff because life will become very meaningless. During J2 I think it’s the people who keep you going, but you won’t realise it because you’re so caught up in the heat of studying and stress of expectations. If you don’t give up what’s important to you during the A Level period, you’ll thank your past self. The road to A’s is bound to be tiring. But as long as you put in your best, you shouldn’t have any regrets.”

The Athletes

Daphne Theresa Chia

Famous for being part of the first rhythmic gymnastics team to represent Singapore at the Commonwealth Games just last year, Daphne Chia (14S03P) is a study in time management and a woman of many passions. Besides her gymnastics training, which took up four to five hours of her time six days a week, she also volunteered at an old folks’ activity centre twice a week after training, competed with the RI (Year 5-6) Cross Country team, offered H3 Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and miraculously found time to “plan welfare activities and organise birthday celebrations” as class representative.

Daphne made the difficult tradeoff between work and leisure by setting clear goals. “I sacrificed my sleep and social life, sure, but I knew what I wanted. For example making it to the Commonwealth games was something I was working for since I was very young. It was the endpoint that drove me to work hard and keep focused during the process.” Having juggled training and school for the majority of her academic life, A-Levels was almost a relief for her, as she had a full two to three months that she could devote solely to studying. “I’d recommend going to the school library, everyone’s studying there so there’s a lot of pressure!” she told us, laughing.

At the same time, Daphne advised the current batch of Y6s to “enjoy JC life, be thankful for the opportunities you’ve been given, study hard for A’s, and above all try not to screw up your sleep cycle.” Daphne received a conditional offer to study medicine at Cambridge, and will be retiring from gymnastics as there are no competition opportunities there. As with all other things, Daphne regards this new phase of her life as a welcome challenge. “It’s going to be a different environment with new friends, and I won’t be living with my parents. It scares me but in a good way.”

Maverick Lim Yong Chen

An avid sportsman, Maverick (14S03G) has been playing rugby since Secondary 1- having also made it to the national team in JC. About his rugby experience, which involved overseas trips to Taiwan and Malaysia, Maverick happily notes that ‘any experience with [his] team is a memorable one’, especially because it teaches him as a captain ‘how to organise everyone together for a common goal’. Being asked about whether he would continue to pursue rugby post-JC, Maverick states that he ‘can’t give rugby up’ because he ‘doesn’t like giving up things halfway’. But rather than a commitment, Maverick offers this perspective that rugby is instead a past time for him to enjoy and bond with his friends.

Having to balance sports and studies is often a very hard thing, as with any clash of commitments, but Maverick notes that this balance can be achieved with good time management and recognising the need for sacrifice. Having training sessions up to 5 times a week during rugby season, Maverick often had to sacrifice sleep time and opportunities to out with his friends in favour of studying and catching up with the syllabus. Maverick has this to offer to juniors with many commitments however- ‘treasure your friends. A Levels can make you sad and depressed, but your friends will inject happiness in your life.’

Grace Tan Su-En and Gayle Tan Su-Hui

Twins Grace Tan Su-En and Gayle Tan Su-Hui never expected to be in the same class (14S03H). Both competitive swimmers, this meant that they were together almost all of the time: at home, at the pool and now even in class. However, neither have ever felt bothered by this in any way. “Its just normal to be around each other, we’ve never known it any other way.” In fact, this made it more convenient for them because of their matching schedules.

The pool was a familiar sight to them since Primary 1, but it was not until an intra-school competition in Raffles Girls’ Primary School (RGPS) that pushed them to swim competitively from Primary 4. After securing the top two positions, both Grace and Gayle made it to the school team and have been swimming for their schools ever since. Despite cutting down on swimming in JC, they both admitted that time was still tight and spent “most of [their] time on studying and swimming”. In the second half of the year when commitments gradually died down, they still made an effort to keep exercising. “It actually energizes you and takes your mind off studies for a while,” Grace remarked.

Interestingly enough, the twins are part of the minority who survived JC without any tuition. Grace believes that tuition is not necessary for everyone, and “you should only take up tuition if you’re weaker in the subject and not coping well.” Instead, they kept to a routined study schedule leading up to the A levels. When asked about their pillars of support during this trying period, Gayle commented, “I think encouragement from friends really make a difference, I mean studying is tiring. And I think our Faith also helped us cope with the stress.”

The resounding message they have for those taking their A levels this year is very much in tangent with their active lifestyle: “Keep yourself physically healthy, eat healthy, sleep more, keep yourself fit.”


Kimberly Lim Min

Being a world-class national sailor, Kimberly Lim Min (14S06F) is no stranger to challenges. Yet, A-levels was no match to any other competition, Asian Games, Sea Games or otherwise. “I would say that A-levels much harder. Since the Asian games was just before, coming back from sailing and fun, the drastic change was really overwhelming because you really had to hunker down. Going to sea is so much freedom. But when you’re studying, you really have to sit down [and], its very confining.”

But in spite of missing lessons due to hectic training schedules and overseas competitions, she still revised and practised on her own by finding time to study at night in the hotel and on flights, maximizing every learning opportunity. How did she do it? She had a goal in mind – the 2016 Olympics. “One key reason not to defer A levels this year is because this year is crucial to transfer to a new boat and campaign for Olympics. It would be too late if I did A levels this year.”

Having started when she was 10 years old, sailing has literally taken half her life, and will continue to do so. When asked about her future plans, Kimberly remarked that she hopes to compete in the 2020 Olympics if all goes well. She also plans to take accountancy and study at a local University. “Since I would be travelling overseas to sail, it would be nice to have a base to come home to.”

The Musicians

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Tiara Valencia Saikin

For Tiara (14A01D), singing has been the backbone of her JC life. Having been awarded “The Best Performance of the Night” for her performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, her talent in singing is undoubted. Her own impressive achievements aside, Tiara is also a committed section leader in Raffles Chorale.

During her time in Raffles Chorale, Tiara would often have individual rehearsals after school with her section mates and got to know them “personally through music”. Praising her section mates as being “very musically inclined, achievement – oriented perfectionists”, she feels her section mates have changed her to be more driven.

With her heavy commitment to the CCA, Tiara learnt to manage by making the most out of limited free time and gradually cutting away at procrastination. To her, this consistent work made the preparation process for A Levels “smooth sailing” after a while. When asked for tips to cope with the A Levels, she advised students to refrain from comparing with others and instead “always have confidence in yourself and believe in the power of the mind”.

The Leaders


Kim Byung Heon Edward

Aside from being your Student’s Council President, Edward Kim (14A01C) also spent his time modelling for Raffles Runway and playing basketball. Juggling his many responsibilities was not easy, but Edward believes that it is “always about prioritizing”.  On whether he ever felt overwhelmed by the vast array of commitments he took on, Edward admits that at times it was challenging. “Physically you are very tired, and mentally you feel overworked sometimes. But I’ve never felt regret, I’ve also never felt like giving up at any point of time.”

A student in the Humanities Programme, Edward feels that what “changed [him] the most” was his teachers who were “always involved in [the student’s] lives beyond academics”. “Talking to them about their own personal lives, listening to their words of advice and encouragement… I think that was the most memorable thing for me in HP.”

Looking forward, Edward plans to study Political Science, possibly with a second major in East Asian studies in the US. As for how he is spending his free time now, Edward has been learning “a lot of cooking from [his] Mom” (which he claims he is not ready to demonstrate for anyone yet!), picking up some Chinese again and is also going to take up some drumming!

zuo min

Goh Zuo Min

Many of you may know and utilise NotesAcademy, an online platform for students to share their learning resources with one another, but perhaps you may not know its founder, Goh Zuo Min (14S06B).  Having experienced a highly competitive environment in RI, Zuo Min hoped that in setting up Notes Academy, the ability to “[share] with more people [would] make it more sustainable, uploading notes [would] make you part of something much bigger”.

Perhaps more recognisable as Vice President of the 33rd Student Council, he also shared his experience working with the other council heads – Edward and Kimberly: “They each provided very different perspective and brought different experiences to the table.  But we made significant efforts to try and understand each other… and learned to tap on each other’s strengths.”


Tengku Sharil

If Sharil’s (14S05B)  JC journey could be summarised in one word, it would be hectic. Besides being a band member, Sharil was a student councillor and a member of the Business Leaders Programme (BLP). From these numerous commitments, Sharil has amassed memorable experiences working in the communications department of the Student’s Council, where he learnt more about interpersonal interaction and found out more about people in general.

With so many obligations and responsibilities, Sharil knew his JC life “was going to be tough”. Recounting his Prelim period as a “very stressful period of JC life”, Sharil recounted having to go to schools for his economics exams and then run to the art room to continue with his A Level art coursework until 6pm, before returning home to study for 2 hours. Luckily, he had his friends and family as pillars of support.

Reflecting on his A Level journey, Sharil feels he could have been more consistent in his work, saying that “consistency comes in different ways. It comes from listening in class, regularly clarifying doubts”. From this whole process, he feels he has learnt how to value his priorities and be more resilient, traits that would surely serve him well in the road ahead as he embarks on becoming an architect. For Sharil, who took PCMA in JC, this feels like a perfect career as it blends both his love for physics and art into an occupation. As he puts it, “my subject combination bodes well for architecture”.

The All Rounders


I Vivek Kai Wen

The chairperson of Raffles Voices in Year 1-4 and subsequently taking the helm yet again in Year 5-6 as the chairperson of Raffles Chorale, I Vivek Kai Wen (14S05A) is an all-rounded individual who strives to do his best in everything that he takes on. On top of tremendous commitment to his CCA, Vivek also takes H3 Mathematics.

Choir has always had a special place in his heart and in his 6 years of singing with the CCA, Vivek claims that the “most meaningful and memorable times” for him were after trips or key competitions and concerts. “You look back through the journey and see how far you’ve pushed yourself, how far you’ve come from there and how far you’ve exceeded what you thought you could’ve done.”

Describing himself as one who is “self-motivated”, discipline and consistency were some things that Vivek took very seriously. “It has come a long way for me,” he adds.  Leading up to the A levels, he fondly recounts the times that he spent studying in the canteen some afternoons and evenings with his friends, namely his CCA batchmates from Chorale and classmates whom he cited as massive sources of support.

Vivek has currently been offered the Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship and plans to study History, Political Science, Economics, or possibly even a double degree in two of the aforementioned areas. If all goes as planned, he will be headed off to the US by August this year.  “Right now that seems to be the most meaningful path for me.”


Muhammad Sofian B Mohamed T 

A member of both the RI Frisbee team and the Malay Literary Drama Cultural Society (MLDCS), Muhammad Sofian B Mohamed T’s (14S03H) average day was definitely much busier than that of a normal JC student. However, he was able to juggle his commitments well. Besides taking on H3 Chemistry, he also made time to participate in school events such as Dancefeste. He feels that it is important for students to “involve themselves in activities they like” as they are “good opportunities [for him] to get to know more people”.

Frisbee was a big part of Sofian’s life and he forged many strong friendships during his time in this CCA. Even though he was part of the team that emerged victorious in the 2014 Inter-school Frisbee Competition, Sofian prefers not to focus on the end results. Instead, he claims that it is the “struggles his team went through” that have made the experience truly memorable and meaningful. “You should learn to take the most out of every experience, as there is a lesson to everything, just like how there is always a moral to a fable,” he adds.

Leading up to A levels, Sofian usually spent his days studying in school, which he believes offers a more conducive learning space as compared to his home. Although he agrees that it is important to study hard for A levels, he also advises juniors not to “throw away [their] opportunities to have fun”.


Daniel Boey

Daniel Boey (14S06B) shows his dedication to the community with his participation in the Operation Smile Chapter, where he organised events to raise funds and awareness for Operation Smile, a charitable organisation supporting people with facial deformities. He is also an instrumental player in the planning and execution of the Physics Tutoring Programme, a programme catered to help students on Financial Assistance Schemes with their academic work. He believes that “service is not what you do, but who you touch. Service is the legacy you leave behind, who you have helped. I want to know that the people I’ve helped, have they become someone I’m proud of, not just faces I recognise.”

Yet, as Captain of Track and Field, Daniel also knew what it meant to juggle between his commitments. His advice would be to “focus 110%, don’t spread out your attention. We might be good at multitasking, but it’s not wise. Don’t waste your time trying to do too many things… Segment your life – so that in every sphere, you can exert to the point you can improve.”


Oliver Chan Yuan Wei

Rafflesians take up many academic endeavours in their years here – some take H3s, some take RAs and others venture heavily into the musical domains. Oliver (14S06P) has done them all. Boasting a portfolio consisting of two H3s (H3 Math and H3 Chemistry), Chemistry and Physics RA, Knowledge and Inquiry (KI) as well as being a participant of the Government Civic Engagement Programme (GCEP), one is bound to wonder how Oliver is able to cope with all of this, if at all. On top of all that, Oliver is also musically inclined, having been a member of choir and an outside of school a cappella group, yet was able to maintain a social life with his many commitments.

Oliver quipped that he doesn’t think one ‘has to actively make the choice’ between academics and a social life. In fact, Oliver claimed that his studying method has always been fairly simple: pay attention during lessons, utilise lessons effectively and get lots of sleep at night. Rather, what often ‘consumed his time’ was actually singing with his acapella group that often performed at local events like Christmas concerts and the like. Ever inquistive, Oliver’s plans on the future incorporate both the sciences and the humanities: he plans to study in a liberal arts college to widen his options and deepen his understanding of the human condition.


Phuah Wei Yuan, Wei Ke and Wei Deng

Being triplets is one thing- being triplets in RI in the same class and the same CCA is another. Certainly, Wei Yuan, Wei Ke and Wei Dang (14S03T) cut a formidable picture, especially coupled with, as they jokingly say, the ability to ‘confound their opponents on the sports arena’ , a skill they put to great effect during their Ultimate Frisbee finals last year (everyone was laughing really badly, Wei Ke notes). Humble, bubbly and sincere, the trio offer us fascinating insights into their lives: that being triplets actually makes it easier for them to mingle with people and make friends- because having icebreakers with three identical people is sure to lighten the atmosphere!

Beyond that, the trio also display an affinity with community service that should inspire many Rafflesians. The three often worked with the Share-On Welfare organisation, where they would help provide food for the the needy living in the area. Wei Dang fondly recalls that they themselves were ‘recipients of [this] organisation’ and wanted very much to ‘give back to the organisation’.

The trio offer this tidbit of advice to their juniors: ‘start early’, but ‘still play’. If not, they cheekily comment, ‘you die early’. True to their humble nature, they also point out: ‘Don’t let your ego come in the way; be open to asking anyone you think can help you.’