Shining Bright All Night: Helios 2021

Written by: Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4), Jace Bong (20-E1), Leia Ong Rui En (20-U1), Lim Zi Loong, Zexel (21-E2), Murugan Rakshita (21-E1), Ng Teck Zhong (20-E5) and Soh Iwin (20-E5)

Designed by: Leanne Soh Li En (21-E6)
Photography: EJC Media

For some J1s, the thought of JC Orientation brings tremendous excitement, going hand-in-hand with making many new friends and dancing their hearts out. For others, however, Orientation inflicts endless worry, especially for the few doubtful about their ability to fit into the new environment. However, all Eunoians will probably agree that Orientation is integral to their college experience — an experience that the Helios 2021 Orientation organising team set out to create from the very beginning. 

Crack of Dawn: The Orientation Preparation Phase

From dances to logistics to publicity and the programmes for the whole event, the Orientation team started their tireless hard work early since Term 3 and 4 of 2020. This included interviews of members of the different committees as well as coordinating the planned activities with the teachers!

“Our goal was to create a comfortable environment for the J1s to settle,” Lim Shi Pei and Joel Koh, the Overall-In-Charges of the event shared. They also stressed the importance of orientation programmes in providing the J1s an opportunity to make some of their greatest memories before the rigour of the JC academic syllabus kicks in. 

During the course of the preparation, the planning committee did face some challenges, including the safe-management measures that placed a lot of limitations. “The J1s could not see their batch as a whole for the Finale”, Shi Pei and Joel said with regret, stating how the committee adjusted for the policy by shifting their focus “from [fostering a] school culture to [one unique to each] class and house”, while “prioritising the morale and welfare of the J2 team” such that they could take good care of the J1s.

Photo credit: Alan Chan

When asked to describe the planning process in a word, Mr Alson Yong, Council teacher-in-charge, said: “Goosebumps. [It was] a journey spanning almost 8 months; a ride with almost 200 drivers. Can you imagine crafting an experience for those involved to bring them together, much less the 700 participants?”

However, there were still some areas for improvement, such as stricter adherence to Safe Management Measures (SMMs). Gerald, the Admin Overall-in-Charge of Orientation 2021, shared: “I think one of the most unique challenges that we [have] faced was definitely [the] SMMs, especially in planning programmes.” 

Regardless, the team of organisers still did their best in creating many fond memories for the J1s, with which they can “take on the identity of a Eunoian”. 

“In planning such events you see many failures, but you also see the triumph of human goodness,” Mr Yong declared.

Rising of the Sun: 4 Days of OG Orientation 

As the fateful day of Helios 2021 crept closer, the Orientation team sent a boat that they hoped would float. While some were worried about what an Orientation with SMM measures in place would look like, many felt excited about the prospect of their effort being translated into the exciting four days of Orientation Group (OG) Orientation. 

Photo credit: Annabelle Tay

“Orientation is a whole-school event, so it really creates a [thrilling] atmosphere,” mused Zachary Chan, a J1 from OG 4. Newly-minted J1s greeted the first day with nervousness and excitement, as they met and greeted many new faces. Icebreaker games like “Two-truths-one-lie”, “Splat” were among the many activities the J2 Orientation Group Leaders (OGLs) did with their juniors to help make them feel comfortable and adapt to the new environment. 

For many J1s, the week was also their first time stepping foot on the college grounds. “The rooftop stadium stood out [to me the most]… most schools don’t have that,” Poo Pei Yi from OG 23 fondly recalled, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

Over the subsequent four days, OGs engaged in various station games for fame, glory and points. Designed by the incredibly creative J2 station masters, those games had the J1s bouncing ping pong balls, solving puzzles and mimicking animal movements, among other fun and often silly activities. 

Photo credit: Sean Koh 

Additional Bingo challenges were also given to OGs and included tasks such as saying the alphabet backwards and performing specific dances, which many OGs tackled gallantly. For all of their effort toiling away for points, it turned out that the OGs with the highest points received snack hampers on the final day of OG Orientation!

Throughout the event, videos were screened to deliver the overarching narrative of Orientation — a fun and lighthearted story of the flamboyant character Helios, Greek god of the sun, the dramatic events surrounding his stolen chariot, and how the OGs’ efforts were related to tracking it down. 

“The Helios storyline kind of weaves together the whole Orientation experience… and makes it all the more interesting,” Pei Yi observed. 

Speaking of his titular role as Helios, Ethan Tan (20-I1) said, “I [felt] very honoured… it was also a very fun [experience].” Summing up the character in one line, he quipped, “This guy is just charming but dumb, but in a very endearing way.”

By the end of the OG orientation, it was not just the J1s who had fostered fond and precious memories, but also the J2 OGLs. 

“I think I’ve built a lot of friendships; they are very valuable,” Lin Junyang from OG 28 said of his experience as an OGL. Huang Siying, a fellow OGL from OG 28 added that she would never forget the special connection she had built with her OG!

High Noon: 2 Days of CG Orientation 

After the exciting OG Orientation, our new Eunoians began their CG Orientation, a fun-filled two day programme to help the J1s know the classmates from their Civic Groups (CG).

Sharing about meeting her CG for the very first time, Saanvi Madan (21-E2) reminisced that her CG was rather different from her OG. That didn’t affect her too much, nevertheless, as she did “manage to talk to people by finding something in common”. 

The J1s were also taught their signature house dance as part of their house induction. “The CGlings were initially not very enthusiastic about learning the dance and cheer because they still felt slightly awkward as a class,” commented Jun Xuan (20-E), one of the CGLs of Helios 2021, “[however], it got better as time passed and they became more open!”

Photo credit: Sean Koh

While the CGlings, as the J1s were affectionately known, faced some trouble learning the dances in the limited space of their homerooms, it was nonetheless a memorable experience for them. “We just got through it without knowing, and at the end of the day, it was quite fun to learn the dance,” remarked Elisa Tan from 21-E2. The J1s were also rewarded handsomely for their efforts with the various house collectibles, such as house shirts and bandanas.

As the J1s bustled and jostled to their newly-learned house dances, something exciting was in-store for them – the house walk-ins where the J1s enjoyed performances by the J2s from each house. Brandon Auyong (20-E), the 4th House Captain of Eder, remarked that “the most rewarding part was the sense of accomplishment and relief upon completing the walk-in 5 times.” It was also heartwarming for him to see the J1s enjoying their performances.

Photo credit: Celine Goh

Looking back at the dance preparation, Brandon found coordinating the dance moves challenging as he lacked dancing experience and had a busy schedule. Thankfully, all the house directorates worked their heads off to create their unique masterpieces. 

After the walk-in, the J1s began a series of thrilling house-based games such as physical games and water games. Elisa fondly recalled, “the water balloon game my CG played at the symposia, where we were asked to flip as many cones as possible, was absolutely my favourite!” Sanvi also added that in the process, her class “got to know one another better and worked together as a team.”

Pheobe, a Station Master, shared that “[the highlight of my role was] definitely the people! It was wonderful to work with my committee as well as to meet so many new people that were also putting in so much effort. It was really inspiring.” 

She also shared that she thought the time after the day was important because that is when she got a bit more free time to “reflect on the things that had happened” and “recharge for the next day”. She felt that “the quiet moments have made the experience much better.” 

The J1s’ CG Orientation culminated in a memorable House Induction organised by the House Directorate to get the J1s to know their houses better. As per Orientation tradition, everyone got up on their feet and began dancing as a house, forming collectively an extremely vibrant atmosphere. “Building a collective college identity starts with the Houses,” asserted Mr Alson Yong.

Photo credit: Gwen Lim

Astraeus méchri Aurora: Setting Sun

Within a few short days, we reached the final point of Orientation ‘21. It was the time for Helios to take its leave. Regardless of whether all of us really anticipated orientation, the course of the fun days has undoubtedly been enjoyable and exciting!

“The seventeenth or eighteenth year of your lives should not be given to just studying — nothing’s wrong with that, though,” quipped Mr Yong. “Orientation is always meant to create moments of magic: memories that will keep you warm, stick in your memory for many years to come and encourage you to play hard even as you study hard.” 

While everyone had different Orientation experiences, the commonality amongst them was that they would not have been possible without the efforts of the organising team. Contribution by the EXCO, Support-Comm and OGLs/CGls are certainly invaluable.

Their efforts have most certainly paid off; the success of the event is reflected in the bonds that have been forged during Orientation, which remain unbroken till this day!

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