Category: CCA Previews 2013

CCA Preview ’13: Cross Country

by Darrion Mohan

“My sport is your sport’s punishment” – Anonymous

When one hears the words “cross country”, images of sweat-drenched runners, gasping for breath and faces contorted with agony, immediately come to mind. Indeed, cross country is undoubtedly a very demanding sport, both physically and mentally. It is not uncommon for our friends to question why we willingly subject ourselves to what saner individuals would consider torture on an almost daily basis.

“I like cross country because I’m crazy…” – Mary-Lisa Chua (RGS 407 ’12)

“Why do you run?” This is the ultimate question and one that will be posed to every runner at least once in his or her lifetime. The legendary American distance runner, Steve Prefontaine, attributed his love for running to “self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement”. Furthermore, in a hectic, convoluted world, the sheer simplicity of running is a much-welcome breath of fresh air. Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run a sub-4 minute mile, mused that humans crave freedom and that “the more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom”. No one can tell you that you cannot run a bit faster or push a bit harder. Thus, in this regard, it can be said that running, at its most fundamental, is a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

“You should join cross country because you can get fit for NAPFA and push yourself to the limit, which can be satisfying.” – Captain Bryan Yong (13S07A)
“You should join cross country because you can get fit for NAPFA and push yourself to the limit, which can be satisfying.” – Captain Bryan Yong (13S07A)

That being said, Raffles Cross Country (RIXC) is about so much more than just running. Our coach, Mr Steven Quek, and teacher-in-charge, Mr Tay Meng Kiat, always try to build our characters by imparting values and life skills during training sessions. Contrary to what some believe, cross country is a team sport. When the going gets tough, we are secure in the knowledge that we can rely on our teammates for support. We go through so much together during training that it is perhaps inevitable that we are an extremely bonded CCA. To paraphrase Shakespeare in Henry V, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that runs alongside me shall be my brother.” Our seniors are also a perennial source of support and encouragement. RIXC has a massive alumni base and it is common for us to train at least once a week with our seniors, some of whom are now top local runners. At races, RIXC alumni turn up in droves and their exhortations help spur us on to dig deeper and run just that much faster.

Medals galore at the 53rd National Inter-school Cross Country Championships 2012. Our A Division Boys took home the Champion’s Shield while our A Girls emerged as 1st Runners-Up.
Medals galore at the 53rd National Inter-school Cross Country Championships 2012. Our A Division Boys took home the Champion’s Shield while our A Girls emerged as 1st Runners-Up.

While our training is hard, it is by no means overly demanding. We train 3 times a week at a plethora of diverse locations, ranging from the school track to MacRitchie Reservoir, with training sessions being carefully tailored to each individual’s fitness level. Soon after joining cross country, you will begin to see a marked improvement in your cardiovascular fitness. Seemingly insurmountable distances, which once invoked visceral fear, will eventually be scoffed at contemptuously. And of course, you’ll be the envy of your classmates whenever it’s time to run 2.4 km!

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

CCA Preview ’13: Chamber Ensemble

By Toh Hsin Pei (13S06R) and Wang Meng (13S06J)

Since its inception in 1986, Raffles Chamber Ensemble has been home to countless budding musicians with a deep passion for music-making, from Straits Times music critics to members of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of our musical director, Ms Marietta Ku, a distinguished violinist-violist with the SSO, along with the dedicated support of our teachers-in-charge, Ms Lee Mei Yin and Ms Tang Mui Kee, we have maintained an untarnished Gold (with Honours) record at the biennial SYF Central Judging – certainly no mean feat, and, surely, a testament of our dedication towards maintaining a high standard of musical performance.

This year, however, we will be going a little off the beaten path: despite our stellar track record at the SYF, the ensemble will be withdrawing from the SYF Arts Presentation. Instead, you can look forward to a fresh, unique experience with us in the inaugural Raffles Chamber Music Festival – a week of arts appreciation and high-level musical learning.

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Through the Festival, Chamber will have the rare privilege of attending masterclasses and collaborating with industry professionals in several exciting musical projects. This will culminate in a gala performance to allow members to showcase what they have learnt from the masters.

Ms Daphne Lim, Head of Aesthetics Department (Year 1-6), touts the Chamber Festival as a groundbreaking event promising to be an invaluable and meaningful learning opportunity for all. “I’m really looking forward to the Festival. It’s such a daring step away from the normal competitions that we participate in,” said member Valerie Foong (13S07A). Nonetheless, members need not worry about slackening standards, for they will be under the guidance of several renowned musicians, such as the T’ang Quartet. This would not only raise technical abilities and individual musicianship, but also widen our exposure to repertoire beyond a mere two pieces that would otherwise have been our sole focus for the SYF.

Beyond the Chamber Festival, you can also look forward to holding biennial concerts and participating in various self-initiated CIP service activities as a CCA. Last year, we spent an afternoon interacting with and playing for residents at Lions Home for the Elders. We also busked in quartets outside PoMo to raise funds for the Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which aims to support the arts education of the less privileged children at the Little Arts Academy. “I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to play music for my fellow Singaporeans that Saturday. We have been greatly heartened by the generosity of the public, and hope that the funds we raised with our love for music will benefit other young musicians,” said member Evelyn Gan (13S03P). Indeed, such initiatives enable us to contribute our musical abilities towards worthy causes, while enjoying ourselves at the same time.

Busking outside Pomo
Busking outside Pomo

So, what’s life like as a Chamber musician? Every week on Wednesdays, we practise for upcoming performances in our cozy Chamber Ensemble Room. Members are expected to put in due effort towards upholding our ensemble’s musical standards, but fear not: far from being dull, these sessions are leavened with witty comments from our musical director and friendly banter amongst members, who also get a say in the interpretation of pieces and choice of performance repertoire. (Contrary to popular belief, we don’t limit ourselves to the likes of Mendelssohn and Mozart; we frequently perform original arrangements and medleys of pop songs as well.) And, of course, in this small and tight-knit community, you’ll be able to form lasting bonds and share a common love for music with your fellow CCA mates. All in all, rehearsals are less a burdensome duty than a welcome respite from the everyday stresses of school.

As the great Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninov, once said, “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” What better then than to start now with Chamber Ensemble? We offer fun and friends, laughter and learning, and above all, good music – with no strings attached.

Interested in joining the Raffles Chamber family? Feel free to direct your queries to our chairperson Wang Meng (wangmeng_sg[at]hotmail.com), or any friendly Chamber member.

CCA Preview ’13: Squash

by William Leung (13S06F)

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It’s true: squash is one of the less well-known racquet sports. To be honest, few students know the location of RI’s well-hidden squash courts (they are behind the Albert Hong Hall at the Year 1-4 campus), and even fewer know the rules of the game. Most people prefer the graceful power of tennis swings or the rapid flicks of badminton smashes. But what about something in between? What about a sport that’s different from the ones that most people rush to join?

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Squash, a unique sport invented in Britain at some point in the 19th century, is played in an indoor court where the ball is free to bounce on all 4 walls, so long as it hits the front wall once. Unlike most other racquet sports, in which the ball’s trajectory does not change much, squash demands increased foresight in order to judge the small black ball’s final position. The fact that the sport is played indoors means that, rain or shine, training will go on. Players who have the privilege of playing for the school will even get to enjoy air-conditioned competition courts.

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With extremely fast-paced squash matches , and with the possibility of long matches lasting 5 sets, squash demands both speed and stamina This explains why almost half of our training sessions are devoted to sprints at the track, vertical runs around the school blocks or long-distance runs at Macritchie reservoir. Tough as they are, you’ll be thankful when you’re not panting up against a wall in the middle of a challenging game. Moreover, you can kill two birds with one stone by preparing for both the shuttle run and 2.4 kilometre run components of the NAPFA test.

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Squash may be an unusually demanding sport, in terms of physical ability, but all the training pays off when you see yourself finally able to consistently execute those dazzling shots that keep spectators off their seats. Much like the flourish of ultimate badminton smashes, skillful nick shots are the signature shots that supporters wait for They happen when players drive the ball into corners, sending opponents rushing towards it only to find it rolling out onto the floor, with absolutely no opportunity for retrieval. Of course, there are also the straight drives, which form the foundation of each match. The more you practice this basic shot, the tighter the execution becomes, and soon, you’ll find your opponents slamming their racquets into the court walls as they desperately try to retrieve your wall-hugging returns. Unless they are as good as you are, of course.

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For the past few years, RI has been able to produce some of the best squash players in Singapore This has taken extraordinary passion and perseverance  Our court training sessions have a basic structure. A typical session begins with warm-up drives before moving on to common drills and finally matches. Although we train roughly two or three times a week, including physical training sessions, players cannot depend on these sessions alone. It is often acknowledged that players improve most on their own, and this can be done in two ways. First, even playing by yourself is extremely easy. Just book a court and practice  Secondly, there are many external competitions organized by the Singapore Squash Racquets Association, as well as other organisations, that players are strongly encouraged to participate in. These tournaments will build a player with invaluable match experience.

But even though much of squash training depends on the individual, we always compete as a team. Here at RI squash, we don’t win matches, we win championships, and it is the team, not the player, which clinches the gold. So if you’re interested in signing up for this unique sport, come for the squash tryouts.

CCA Preview ’13: Modern Dance

Raffles Modern Dance is a tightly-knit CCA that never fails to inculcate the love for dancing in its members. It has a warm atmosphere with every dancer playing a vital role in the team.

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In Modern Dance, the dancers are exposed to the unique style of their resident instructor, Low Mei Yoke. Madam Low prepares the dancers for important events such as the biennial Singapore Youth Festival (SYF), as well as, major school events such as Raffles Rhapsody. Weekly trainings and self-improvisation classes constantly improve the technicality of the dancers. Furthermore, the dancers are given a chance to choreograph their own dance pieces during non-SYF performances. This allows them to explore their fullest potential and creativity.

There are numerous opportunities for Modern Dance to perform each year and these platforms serve as a great way for the dancers to improve their stage presence. One precious opportunity that we never fail to take up would be SYF. This event is usually held in March/April but preparations start by November the year before. Other performances include in-house events such as Open House and Take 5.

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During term time, Modern Dance meets twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday, for a total of about 6 hours. However, nearing the time of performances, trainings may increase to three or four times a week. During the holidays, trainings will be conducted during the earlier half of the holiday.

Modern Dance requires auditions and the selection process consists of two stages. The first stage requires participants to learn a set of choreography and the second stage to improvise according to any music played. However, participants may be asked to prepare a short routine as well. Selection into Modern Dance is based on the participants’ ability to learn quickly and their overall performance.

Apart from gaining performing experiences, the dancers will learn an important element in Modern Dance – chemistry. Modern Dance comprises movements that are interdependent between dancers. It focuses on expression and emotion.

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As Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul”, Raffles Modern Dance is truly a CCA that allows its dancers to push beyond their limits and mature into even greater dancers.

CCA Preview ’13: One Earth

By Arunima Gupta (13S03D) & Tharun Ragupathi (13S03N)

Let’s be honest. Our world isn’t perfect, and while we may talk about worsening environmental conditions, are we really doing anything at all?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably 16 or 17 years old. You live in a country that boasts itself a garden city. Trees line our streets, and we’ve established several laudatory environmental policies. We’re safe from climate change then, aren’t we? There’s nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong.

Given that global temperature increases every year, it is highly likely that the entire Greenland ice sheet could melt, resulting in a rise in global sea levels by seven metres before 2100, a deadly increase given Singapore’s low-lying nature. Both our Central Business District and airport would be submerged by the time your grandchildren are your age today, cutting off two vital sources of revenue to our country.

But this doesn’t have to be a reality. The world can change. We can change. Most importantly, though, you can change. Change begins within, and One Earth’s activities reflect just that. Our club tries to bring about change from within individuals, within our school and within our community.

Club meetings usually consist of environment-related service activities, planning sessions and occasional outdoor trips, though we do visit other schools and institutions to spread the green message. Not only does this allow us to positively impact society, but also learn about our strengths and flaws as well. Since members are encouraged to embark on their own service projects, they benefit both tangibly and intangibly from the One Earth experience.

Mangrove Salvaging
Mangrove Salvaging

Our club’s activities provide opportunities for unconventional service activities such as mangrove salvaging and rescuing horseshoe crabs, as well as opportunities to go outdoors and visit local nature spots. Club sessions are also a means of interacting with like-minded individuals from school. From a more practical perspective, it presents a chance to do lots of service and carry out projects of one’s own design, which receive due recognition from the school.

Birdwatching at Kranji Marshes
Birdwatching at Kranji Marshes

Highlights for this year include the National Environmental Workshop, Inter-house Competitions, J1 Camp, as well as numerous Outdoor Trips and Service Activities (Mangrove Salvaging, Horseshoe Crab Rescue, Book-reading at NLB, Beach Clean-up, Birdwatching and many more!). Members will also get to attend environmental conferences, and will work on group social service projects which explore various aspects of environmental conservation in Singapore. Activities differ from year to year, depending largely on the batch’s interests. For instance, the 2012 batch organised an Earth Hour Concert where profits were donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

2012 Earth Hour Concert  (Credits to Raffles Photographic Society)
2012 Earth Hour Concert (Credits to Raffles Photographic Society)

Another interesting aspect about One Earth is the community. Since environmental issues are pretty much universal, our club attracts a wide range of people from different backgrounds in terms of interests, subject combinations and working styles. This entails a fun and diverse club committed to a common goal. “This helps especially when we come up with unique ways of planning events and each person is also able to contribute in their own way,” said member, Arunima (13S03D).

Outdoor Trip to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Outdoor Trip to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Club sessions are once a week on Fridays from 4-6 pm. The selection process is just a short interview. Not to worry, being a hardcore environmental enthusiast or having done environment-related service projects is not a prerequisite. As long as you are interested and want to make a difference, do sign up!