Saturday, 29 August 2009
An impressive 487 awards and scholarships that ran the gamut of fields, from the academic to the co-curricular, were given out to current and former RGS girls on Speech Day 2009. The annual event recognises the achievements of RGS students and staff, reports the school’s major developments and announces its plans for the near future.
Held in the Evelyn Norris Hall, the event was attended by award winners and their parents, members of the RGS Board of Governors, former RGS Principals, and RGS staff. This year, one of the guests included Joe Hadley, the grand nephew of Miss M M Hadley, who helmed RGS from 1946 to 1950.
Principal Mrs Julie Hoo highlighted not only the panoply of accomplishments of the students in school as well as the national and international scenes, but also their efforts in advocacy and social responsibility that stretch beyond Singapore’s shores, and contribute to character building. Her report covered the progress of the Raffles Programme, the RGS Community and their fund-raising efforts, and staff development and well-being. All of these come together for a large and meaningful purpose.
‘We do our work so that Rafflesians graduate from RGS knowing they belong to something greater than themselves, a legacy which they are inextricably a part and custodian of,’ Mrs Hoo said. ‘So that they are equipped not only with the best academic credentials, but also with the ability to take on a world that increasingly challenges humanity in many ways. So that they have the moral imagination to distinguish the repercussions of their actions, the ethical reasoning to empathise with those whose views differ from theirs, and the social action to advocate causes they believe in. So that they develop an intolerance for personal mediocrity, and a high tolerance for productive failure. So that they are able to challenge the status quo, and fiercely protect what should be preserved.
Guest of Honour for this occasion was Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Transport, who complemented the school for its pioneering spirit. ‘RGS is, and has always been, at the forefront of our efforts to refine and develop our education system, blazing the trail in the local education scene, from being pioneer for the Gifted Education Programme to being one fo the earliest schools to gain independent status and to introducing the integrated programme.’ Even as she lauded the achievements of the school, she underscored the importance of local talents rendering their services to the country. ‘As Singapore prepares to participate more in an increasingly globalised and competitive world, even more home-grown talents will be needed. This is where RGS can play a role. RGS is well placed to develop a pool of diverse talents for Singapore. But it is important not just to cultivate young women with high intelligence, business acumen, sporting prowess and artistic flair, but also to inculcate in them a passion to serve the nation and the community as a whole.’
Mrs Lim also advised the girls against being overly cautious. ’The more you know, the more risk-averse you will become. Don’t spend too much time analyzing the different scenarios. Neither should you shy away from taking a stand. As the Nike ad says it so well, “Just do it.”
Following Mrs Lim’s speech was the award presentation ceremony. This year, the Rafflesian Award, described as ‘the most prestigious award given to a student of the RGS family who epitomizes the values and ideals that define the ethos of the school’, went to Sharon Chan Zi Yin, 411 (2008). In her valedictory speech, Sharon expressed her gratitude to the school for its impact on her. ‘It’s not just the mass cheers and leadership programmes and Raffles Academies classes; it was all that time others spent investing in my life that made such a difference to me.’ Regretting that she had not dreamt enough, she urged her juniors to do just that. ‘Don’t just dream big. Dream bigger. If you have never thought of building castles in the air, then you will never build castles anywhere. So don’t make the same mistake as I have – dream.’
Deputy Principal, Organisational Development and Outreach, Ms Chin Jen Fu, was a recipient of the 2009 National Day Commendation Award. 10 staff members received the RGS Long Service Award 2009, 4 the MOE Long Service Award 2009 and 2 the 2009 National Day Long Service Medal.
Fine performances by Dance International, which won Gold with Honours at the Singapore Youth Festival 2009 and the School Choir brought to a close this day of pride, with many a young mind leaving the hall inspired to dream. Bigger.