By Chiang Wenqi and Quek Hong Rui
In the beginning of February this year, history was made in River Valley High School as we held our first ever JC1 Orientation. On the 1st of February, we officially bid goodbye to Year 5 Initiation, and welcomed the birth of JC1 Orientation.
The name Trailblazer represents the new batch of J1s, blazing the trail for many years of J1 students to come. Having to lay down the foundation and set the benchmark, organising this camp was sure no easy feat. “We knew that whatever we wanted to exist in future orientations had to be implemented now,” chairperson of JC1 Orientation’19 Tristan Sim of 18J16 stated. Hence introducing, the 4-House system! Upgrading from mythical creatures like Gryphon and Pegasus in secondary school, the JC students now have mighty Greek gods and titans representing their houses.
The organising committee left no stone unturned in ensuring the success of Trailblazer. From differentiating and integrating to determine the area needed for mass display, and to hand-drawing designs for logistics, the various committees all put in their 110%. Planning started all the way back in June 2018, and was a work in progress up till Day 0 of Orientation.
One of the teachers-in-charge Ms Kai shares with us the key considerations in planning this event: “All activities were designed with the school's values in mind, and there was a strong focus on people-centricity in order to foster a strong collaborative spirit and to remind students of the importance of empathy.”
Without a doubt, the team sacrificed weeks and months in preparation for the camp. For anyone looking for a definite answer, the hours of sleep per night averaged out to a solid 4hrs.
Being the very first JC1 Orientation with no past documents to reference from, the organising process had to start from scratch. With a lack of experience with this new audience, Trailblazer faced its challenges in truly connecting with the J1s. With some students even claiming it was “like Y,LEAD 2.0”, it was clear our J1s were seeking for a little more autonomy, for they were after all moving on to a new phase of their academic lives. “It was only after the first day when we realised that the tone of the camp needs to be different - has to be different - if we want to appeal to the current audience of JC students,” Tristan explained.
Thus, reflecting as JC students, the Orientation committee sought deep within themselves to ask one seemingly simple question - what would we want? Words like “freedom” and “choice” came up during the debrief among OGLs. JC orientations are said to have a certain “feel” to them that brings about that sense of excitement. RV, being so used to organising camps for the secondary cohort, was lacking an element of spontaneity and wildness. We realised that the activities were a little too structured for a large group of 17-year-olds. Though a bit too little and a bit too late, an attempt was made to introduce more autonomy to the camp, allowing the J1s to take charge of what they do.
And greater autonomy, isn’t this what JC life entails? The leap from secondary to JC life is a big one (the change is definitely more than just the colour of shoes we’re allowed to wear) which ought to be reflected in the activities of JC1 Orientation. There is still much to be done, but we believe the next batch will continue on the path trailblazed for them.