“Box A or Box B?”: Celebrating an Extraordinary Commendation Day in an Extraordinary year

Written By: Jace Bong (20-E1), Leia Ong Rui En (20-U1), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5), Ng Teck Zhong (20-E5), Soh Iwin (20-E5)

Designed by: Leow Jia Wen Jolene (20-E1)

Photography by: EJC Media, Mr Marc Kenji Lim

With the extraordinary 2020 coming to a close, it serves that the J1s’ Commendation Day also be one like no other. 

Ask most of the students in their Fri-Yay attire, and they would tell you that Commendation Day is either just the day before the holidays, or another half-day for them to shout “KOBE!” as they shoot baskets. However, what really is Commendation Day (other than the Dean’s List awards and the Box A-Box B gastronomical dilemma)? 

FUN AND GAMES ( … AND FOOD)

The day commenced with the Class Representatives bustling around to collect Commendation Day Lunch Boxes to distribute to their classes. The subject of hot debate, the choice of Commendation Box A or B had the student body polarised for weeks.

Photo credit: Annabelle Tay

For those who are confused as to why so, the different main courses (pandan rice in Box A and mee goreng in Box B) and different desserts (agar-agar in Box A and almond longan beancurd in Box B) had the J1s racking their brains in regard to their last official school-catered meal of 2020. 

Photo credit: Annabelle Tay

However, as the food was eventually distributed, homerooms quietened as all eyes were directed to the screen at the front of the classroom. A collection of video montages portrayed a nostalgic review of this action-packed year. 

Photo credit: Annabelle Tay

This, Rachel Ong (20-U1) shared, was her favourite part of Commendation Day. “It allowed us to take a trip down memory lane,” Rachel enthused. 

Subsequently, the day proceeded to one of fun and games, as students participated in a cohort-wide Treasure Hunt painstakingly organised by the Student Council. 

Photo Credit: Kua Yi Xin

As class representatives battled fellow “pirates” while searching for the coveted chilli packets, the rest of us enjoyed ourselves thoroughly by pandering to the “cabin boys and girls” (shh…the Councillors) in the classroom. “My favourite part [of the Hunt] was trying to figure out what the hint was and racing against the other classes,” Joel Tan (20-O5) shared excitedly. Even without a “mass” game, the Hunt was a more-than-worthy alternative.

COMMENDING OUR PEERS

So why is Commendation Day so important? Let us hear from JC1 Dean Mr Ganison himself. “Commendation Day is a day where we want to affirm those who have done well, celebrate achievements of the whole cohort at the end of their JC1 year, and also for them to look forward to the next year with anticipation, as well as keeping their aspirations alive. As such, Commendation Day is a milestone event for the J1 students,” shared Mr Ganison.

The usual practice is a ceremony in the school hall, with J1s donning full school uniform for the formal event. “It’s one of the rare moments the J1s will get to wear their ties in two years,” Mr Ganison quipped. 

Photo credit: Yong Ee

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year’s event had to be adjusted to classroom-based celebrations with the Ceremony streamed in individual classes’ homerooms. Civic Tutors also personally presented the relevant awards in the homerooms to awardees in front of their classmates.

Photo credit: Rachel Tay

This year, the school is proud to have a total of 186 students being placed in the Dean’s List, of which nine students clinched awards for both the Dean’s list Academics and Character. As such, we also asked Mr Ganison on his thoughts about how the class of 2020 fared, in terms of our overall results. 

“This is one of the highest numbers we have seen across the years,” Mr Ganison mentioned. He credited Eunoians for the hard work and commitment they have put into their academics and service, despite the fact that many events had to be cancelled in view of the pandemic.

Not to mention, despite all that has happened, some of us still found time to serve the community in meaningful ways that they were passionate about. For Rowena Chia (20-A6), the leader of EJ Beautiful Minds and one of the 22 Dean’s List Character and Service awardees, Commendation Day was a day of many emotions. Rowena shared that when she initially found out that she received the award, she was in great disbelief. 

“I guess it’s my inherent nature to question myself, and in this context, particularly whether what I am doing thus far is really worth such a prestigious award,” Rowena confessed, in regard to her feelings when hearing about herself receiving the award for the first time. 

She added that this award was “definitely not a sole effort” and would like to show her appreciation to “[her] teachers and close friends who vouched for and supported [her] even when [she] could not move forward”.

Rowena’s greatest takeaway from EJ Beautiful Minds? “That it’s okay to share a part of myself with others,” Rowena said. She also shared that it was only till a point in her life where someone brought her solace in her journey and she saw how her story played out in theirs, did she find the courage to embark upon EJ Beautiful Minds. “I was once afraid of sneers and judgment [of my mental health] until I saw how my story played out in someone else’s,” said Rowena. “If having that bit of courage to share could impact even just one person, why not?”

Having had humbling and inspiring mutual sharings about mental health and mental awareness with diverse people, EJ Beautiful Minds gave Rowena “a chance to extend [her] influence and impact people who need that beacon of hope.” 

Photo credit: Mr Marc Kenji Lim 

Moving forward, Rowena also hopes to build upon her work this year and to “not let anyone else feel as alone as [she] once did, to feel loved and understood”. Rowena’s story highlights the significance of Commendation Day – to convey the significance of not only good grades but goodwill to others. 

POTENT, EXHILARATING, AND INDOMITABLE 

In lieu of a physical event, video montages made up this year’s e-investiture seeking to officially induct our peers from the different directorates. 

Titled 4ward With 4titude, the videos showed Councillors and students from the Class, House and CCA Directorates passing items significant to their organisation to each other in the spirit of collaborative fun. Besides the creative transitions, the passing of items also signified collaboration between the directorates. After all, be it competing in external competitions or planning internal events, aren’t all our directorates working together to bring EJ to greater heights?

When asked regarding the planning of this unprecedented event, Student Council President Lim Shi Pei (20-O4) responded, “Fulfilling. We tried things that were more ambitious [than previous investitures], but it all paid off in the end.”

Indeed, the videos not only showcased unique features of each leadership role, but displayed the vigour and unity with which the 4th Leadership Academy aspires to lead.

A DANCE, A STRIDE, THEN A LEAP

As the final chords to our college dance song “Yeah x3” rang out through the school and we came down from our post-college dance highs, reality hit us as we exited the school to make way for our A-Level-taking seniors. 

Photo credit: Gwen Lim

In spite of the difficulties we had faced this year, students and staff alike remain optimistic for the year to come. 

When asked about her hopes for 2021, Rachel exclaimed, “Definitely to make more memories with all my friends next year!” Rachel’s words ring true – JC life is eventful, tiring and hectic, yet short. Let us not forget to create meaningful memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives amidst our day-to-day hustle!

When asked about his hopes and wishes for the batch of 2021, Mr Ganison encouraged the JC1s to “assume the mantle of seniors who have gone through a very different experience” and “pass on these experiences to your juniors who are coming into the JC context”. 

“Stay healthy, not just in body but also in mind,” Mr Ganison also wished. “I’d like for everyone to keep supporting each other and keep growing as a cohort.” In light of this tumultuous year, his hopes for us reflect the beautiful thinking and resilience that is so important to a strong caring and supportive school community.

“I hope that we won’t let the unprecedented circumstances define our term, but push ourselves harder to leave our legacy,” Shi Pei added.

Ultimately, this year has been one of many obstacles, but many opportunities. Let’s celebrate the achievements of not just our peers but ourselves, and get some well-deserved rest during the holidays. #OnwardsAndUpwards!

Photo credit: Seow Xinning/Genevieve Khoo

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