The Threat Facing More Than 70% Of Our Pale Blue Dot

Written By: Megan Tay Jia-Xin (2MD2), Lee Shek Wayne, Samuel (1SC4)

Oceans, the solution to the riddle of ‘what has no beginning, middle, or end? You may have stumbled upon the fact that oceans cover more than 70% of the earth countless times before, thus, it is safe to say they are rather significant to this earth. After all, it is home to 228450 known species and as many as 2 million more that remain a mystery to us. May I digress for a sentence: We have been considering the mystery of aliens since space travel has been possible; However, the real aliens are quite literally under our noses in the sea. 

Unfortunately, Oceans, like most other natural environments, follow the trend of being affected by pollution as human activity increases. From sewage dumping to oil spills, the damage caused by these activities is very considerable. One of the more pressing examples of ocean pollution would be none other than plastics. Every year, 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into oceans, plaguing its inhabitants with an everlasting curse due to the material’s nature of being non-biodegradable. Non-biodegradable, meaning that they can neither be decomposed nor degraded no matter the period of time, resulting in them remaining ever present in that environment.

“What’s so bad about plastics? They are just there, it’s not like it’s a huge threat.“

Well, there is no statement more wrong than the one above, there are so many ways that plastics can make life worse for all living creatures. Let’s start with marine life.

Where else do I start other than the infamous argument of the ingestion of plastics by marine sea life? Plastic debris such as bottles, bags, and other plastic waste can be mistaken for prey for such hungry creatures in the wild. In an attempt to satiate their hunger, they will try ingesting the plastic but it will backfire horribly with nothing good resulting from it. They can easily die from many causes once the ingestion of plastic occurs. Examples of which include suffocation, starvation, or other internal injuries. All of which are absolutely horrible fates for these defenceless sea creatures.

Next up, entanglement. In the wild, it is priority number 1 to be able to survive by avoiding predators and finding prey. It would be disastrous if their movement ability was severely restricted. However this is already a reality for many poor animals as the usual plastics like nets and bags had already entangled them. It would already be a near death sentence when entangled, with the only remaining being a massive human intervention. Though, it is rather unlikely that the freeing of these animals will be effective as the time goes by. Especially so since there are many immediate effects of entanglement which include drowning, suffering lethal cuts, and much more ; but to sum it all up, entanglement in plastic would not be any good to the animals.

Onto a much lesser known evil of plastics which would be chemical leaching of plastics. Certain plastics contain chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), which can interfere with the hormone systems of animals. In layman terms, this would absolutely mess up one of the ways that the body can regulate itself. Once affected, you can expect to see a delay or complete stop to the growth and development of the wildlife from maturing. And with this, we can say goodbye to possible future generations of that marine life.

Though the impact of ocean pollution on marine life is devastating, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention the other group of living creatures that ocean pollution harms. 

Ignorance is bliss. As humans, we hold ourselves at an arm’s length from the impacts of ocean pollution. We fall back on the excuse: it doesn’t affect us. After all, we’re not the animals that are physically inhibited by oil spills, or suffocated by plastic waste. The ocean is not man’s domain. 

However, man’s ocean pollution is karmic. It affects us more than we think. The plastic that we throw in the ocean with a laissez-faire attitude comes back to harm us. 

In the ocean, most plastics break up into miniscule particles. Or, microbeads, which are plastics intentionally designed to be small for use in beauty products, are thrown into the ocean. These are microplastics, which, thanks to our consumerist culture, have become highly concentrated in ocean water. Aquatic animals mistake these for food. These are the same aquatic animals that we fish and consume. We are literally eating them along with the microplastics present in their bodies. Some scientists have estimated that we consume around a credit card’s worth of plastic a week. 

Photo of microplastics. Photo Credit: User pcess609, Getty Images 

So, why is this a problem? So what if I guzzle down an American Express or Visa every week? The consumption of microplastics have been linked with cancer, reduced fertility, psychological illnesses and birth defects as a result of the multitude of toxic chemicals, such as neurotoxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. 

It doesn’t stop at microplastics. There’s mercury pollution, as a result of coal combustion, as well as manufactured chemicals that are thrown into the sea, contaminating the fish we eat, resulting in negative health effects such as heart disease, dementia and metabolic disease. 

According to Phillip Landrigan M.D., the Director at the Boston College Global Observatory on Pollution and Health, “Its (ocean pollutions) impacts fall most heavily on low-income countries, coastal fishing communities, people on small island nations, indigenous populations, and people in the high Arctic – groups that for the most part produce very little pollution themselves. These populations rely on the oceans for food.” 

It’s not just aquatic animals we’re harming. We’re actively hurting ourselves, and more selfishly, we’re apathetic in how our actions hurt our fellow man, whose, as Professor Landrigan said, “survival depends on the health of the seas.”

Enough with the negativity, it is also required of us to know both the good and bad before making any judgement. Obviously, there is nothing good about ocean pollution, so the good thing that we will write about would be what is done against it.

Solving ocean pollution seems like an insurmountable task. After years of damage, and at such a large scale, how could we possibly make a dent in this pressing issue? 

Organisations which include governments, companies, and environmental groups are absolutely necessary for the pushback on ocean pollution. After all, the ocean has a really large area to cover. 

One such organisation that caught my attention has a rather unique solution compared to the other organisations in their efforts of combatting ocean pollution. Give it up for the “manta boats” created by the organisation “the sea cleaners”. The real trailblazer in the sector of ships designed specifically for the collection, treatment, and repurposing of plastic debris in water bodies. Collecting a staggering 1-3 tonnes of plastic an hour, combined with the fact it only needs to rest for a short 4 hours daily, the ship could possibly clean up to 21900 tonnes of plastic a year, assuming maximum efficiency. 400 of these boats would easily be enough to be in the green for reducing ocean pollution. But alas, it is still in development, only approved in Principle with Bureau Veritas in 2022. However, I believe that my point still stands as time and patience are often key ingredients to make something so magnificent. Just you wait, it is only a matter of time until we reach the launch date of the Manta.

Photo of a manta boat. Photo credit:×0-c-default.jpg

Besides the help of organisations, we as individuals can do our part. 

One way is to become wiser consumers. We need to be more cognizant of the types of products we consume. It’s important to buy and use less plastics, and do research on our purchases. Non-biodegradable plastics seem to be in everything, from face masks to footwear. However, staying well informed and choosing to make more sustainable shopping choices can help make a difference. 

Show support for legislation that aims to reduce plastic production and waste. Take action, take part in or even help to organise beach cleanups, and pick up trash before it gets swept into the sea. Support and donate to organisations such as Greenpeace and the Oceanic Society, which are spearheading activist movements against ocean pollution. Reduce waste by cutting down on the amount you throw away. This goes hand in hand with being a wise consumer. Try to purchase products that are reusable, and will have longevity, and buy less unnecessary products. 

The ocean covers over 70% of the surface of our planet. It’s a rich, diverse ecosystem in itself, one that we rely on heavily for our survival. It is imperative that we take care of it. We must learn to protect our ocean instead of harming it.

All The World’s A Stage: An Evening At The Theatre (ACSian Theatre’s As You Like It) 

Writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin (2MD2)

William Shakespeare’s legacy has endured for years since his heyday. Often dubbed the ‘Greatest Playwright Of All Time’, his plays have been read, and performed over and over again. This year, ACSian theatre took on the task of adapting his pastoral comedy, ‘As You Like It’, but with a 1950s twist that brought a fresh, unique element to their take on the play. 

‘As You Like It’ is a tale of love, family ties and comedic mischief, kicking off when Rosalind and her cousin escape to Arden, an idyllic forest, to dwell amongst the shepherds. Orlando, Rosalind’s love, runs away to Arden too, and soon they meet, but with Rosalind disguised as a boy shepherd. Under this guise, she has Orlando woo her in order to “cure” him of his lovesick state. ACSian Theatre takes on this rich play in their adaptation, replete with song and dance, all to the soundtrack of 1950s classics. 

The line that started at the theatre’s doors seemed to stretch on for miles, snaking down the stairs. The air was buzzing with excitement, members of the crowd holding bouquets and gifts for their friends, who would be performing for us and helping everything run smoothly backstage. We were itching to get into the theatre and watch the play. 

Finally, the doors opened, and amongst the rush of movement to get inside, we could hear the noise of doo-wop and classic Rock and Roll blaring from the speakers, immediately immersing us in the world of the play. It wasn’t long after we settled into our seats that the lights dimmed, and a hum of anticipated chatter rose into the air. The curtains opened, revealing the entire cast. 

The choreographed number that followed was reminiscent of the fast-paced, intricate group dance scenes of musicals like West Side Story. I am always impressed by the dance numbers that ACSian Theatre puts on. The blood sweat and tears put into rehearsing were palpable in every dance number that was featured in this production. The accuracy and zeal with which every move was performed brought a unique vigour to the play which I greatly enjoyed. 

This lively energy was further bolstered by the songs that were performed. Throughout the course of the play, there were a couple scenes which featured live singing. These were adapted from Shakespeare’s original lyrics that were written in the play, but were cleverly sung to the tune of the classics ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’, ‘à la Grease ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, to remain true to the production’s 1950s theme while giving the audience a taste of these familiar hits. I thoroughly enjoyed these performances, and thought the performers did an extraordinary job. Their voice were melodious and polished, a testament to all the gruelling rehearsals leading up to the performance. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb acting of the cast. The actors managed to capture the emotions of the characters in a captivating manner. The frustration and barely repressed rage that Orlando had towards his brother in the first act was electrifying, and his nervous manner around Rosalind, his love, was delivered in a perfect balance of raw emotion and comedic energy. Rosalind and Celia’s portrayal of a strong, but playful friendship was realistic, a performance that evokes memories of the ones we love most. Touchstone and Audrey’s comedic timing was superb, as was Oliver’s sinister introduction and his subsequent redemption. There were many more great performances that I have yet to mention. Every actor on the stage truly shone. 

Of course, we cannot just laude the achievements of the cast. The crew’s work really stood out throughout the production. The transitions from one scene to another were effortlessly smooth. The lights and sound departments did a fantastic job, the masterful lighting and curated soundtrack creating an immersive atmosphere. 

The costumes were another highlight of the play. Hoop skirts, bobby socks, blue jeans, bandanas… details like these enhanced the charm of 1950s Americana that the play was going for, and was yet another element that immersed us in the world that ACSian Theatre built. 

The sets were particularly interesting to me. Duke’s Diner, with its jukebox and sign, placed its characters in a retro diner, which was an interesting twist on the play and its setting. Even better was the transition into Arden, the idyllic pastoral forest so starkly contrasted with the diner. The hard work and effort put in by the crew was greatly appreciated by all the spectators. 

Finally, the play began to draw to a close. Curtain call was met with thunderous applause from the audience, and the short speech given by ACSian Theatre’s President was heartwarming. As we gave our final rounds of ovation and the lights began to come on, the audience streaming out of the theatre, I left feeling satisfied. An evening at the theatre is an evening well spent. 

After watching the performance, I think my experience can be summed up in one word: “PHOEBEEEEEEEE!”

Not The End, But A New Beginning: A-Level Results Release Day 2023

Main Writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin

Contributing Writer: Edmund Wong Li Hong

Many may see the day of the A-Level results release as a day that signifies the end of a chapter in their lives. One that marks the end of an era, the end of their journey at ACJC. It’s the end of regular classes, spent learning with the classmates they have grown to form close friendships with. It’s the end of lessons and consultations with teachers who have worked tirelessly alongside them in preparation for every test and exam. It’s a farewell to the ACJC campus itself. 

Though many may view it this way, it is truly only just the beginning. Just as much as the A-Level results release may represent an ending, it also demarcates a new beginning. A fresh start. Here begins the next step in the lives of many of our ACJC students, replete with many exhilarating adventures on the horizon: be it attending university, locally or abroad, the discovery of new friends and passions, the start of a new job, a stint in National Service, or whatever else the future has in store for our 2022 graduates.  

This excitement for what was to come was palpable today as our J3s began pouring in through the school gates, itching to receive their results and happy to be back in the school that holds so many fond memories for them. 

Excited chatter was heard all throughout school as they wandered through their old stomping grounds before making their way to the hall for the much awaited ceremony.

The hall was packed, excited seniors sliding into their seats. The air crackled with nervous excitement, with happy greetings ringing through the air. It was a truly moving sight to see the camaraderie and kinship present amongst so many of these classes, delighted friends reuniting for such a momentous occasion. 

Alumni taking a selfie to commemorate the day. Photo Credit: Mr Mark Ng

Not only were these happy reunions a lovely sight, but it was fascinating to see how much our seniors have changed since graduation, now looking completely different outside of the school uniforms we were so used to seeing them in, already making the next step towards their future. 

A touching video played on loop on the projector in the hall, broadcasting happy memories on the large screen for all the J3s to reminisce on. It was a heartwarming collage featuring iconic moments the J3 batch experienced, received by nostalgic shouts and laughter from the audience as they pointed out their classmates, joked with each other, and reflected on their unforgettable time in ACJC. 

This was succeeded by a speech by Dr. Shirleen Chee, one that had the whole room buzzing with anticipation for what was to come. 

Then came the announcement of the honour roll. With every named call, Dr. Chee prompted each student to stand in celebration of their achievements. As Dr. Chee listed their myriad of accomplishments, the crowd roared in support, cheering on their batchmates for the hard work and dedication they put in during their JC journey. 

It was incredibly inspiring to hear what my seniors were able to accomplish, not just academically, but also holistically, through their CCAs, competitions or external VIAs. Hearing the impact they made, not just on school, but at times, on society, was dazzling. I’m sure this was an inspiring moment for my JC2 batchmates as well, motivating and spurring us on to achieve our goals in our remaining time at ACJC. 

What truly encompassed the ACJC spirit for me, was seeing the reception for each of these students as they rose up, waving at their fellow friends and teachers present in the crowd, wide smiles adorning their faces. The cheers and whoops of support and encouragement from their classmates in recognition of their talents and achievements really highlighted the sense of community our ACJC culture has. This unique sense of camaraderie and unity is something we’ve passed down from batch to batch, and something I hope we can continue to pass on for generations to come. 

Honour roll students posing with ACJC teachers. Photo credit: Mr Mark Ng

Another heartwarming scene was watching the selected J3s being called up to receive their certificates from Dr. Shirleen Chee. With every name announced, excited cheers erupted from the crowd, proud classmates celebrating one another. The J3s wore both looks of shock and excitement as they dashed up to the stage, intercepted by the congratulatory gestures of friends and teachers. Some students even grabbed onto their friends’ hands and ran up to the stage together, again exemplifying the sense of unity and friendship that remains alive within the J3 batch.

Finally came the moment everyone was waiting for. Dr. Chee announced that each class would go to the respective tables the form teachers had set up on the side of the hall to collect their results. There the teachers stood, waiting with excitement and greeting their students with happy smiles and congratulating them on their accomplishments.

As I watched the swarms of students stand up and head toward their tables, I couldn’t help but feel excited for them and what was in store for their future. 

And so they went, ready to kickstart a new beginning.

Shaunn Blasius Lok Jun Jie: Positivity Personified

Main Writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin

Contributing Writer: Edmund Wong Li Hong

Shaunn Blasius Lok Jun Jie, Photo Credit: Yearbook 2022 (Mr Mark Ng)

Shaunn exemplifies the spirit of ACJC, displaying tenacity and passion in everything he does. What he has accomplished is certainly no small feat. Leading his Water Polo team to third  place in the NSG and playing in the national Water Polo team, all while juggling his academics, Shaunn is the personification of diligence and determination, all with a positive, fun-loving outlook. In the following article, we sit down with Shaunn, and find out more about his time at ACJC. 

  1. Tell us about yourself. What was your subject combination? 

I was a (Water Polo) DSA student, coming into this school. I didn’t do so well in the O-Levels, but since we were allowed to choose whichever subject combination we wanted, I took my strongest subjects, which were Physics, Chemistry, Maths, and H1 Econs, with PW and GP. 

  1. What is your favourite canteen stall?

Waffles! The waffle aunty. I’m pretty sure she’ll remember me. 

  1. What was your CCA like, and why did you choose to join it? 

I joined water polo when I was nine years old. My neighbour asked me. I was just there to lose weight, then I realised I was half-decent, so I DSA’d into ACS Barker. I didn’t know we could get into schools using sports at the time. 

I didn’t do so well for PSLE. I went to the Normal Acad. stream at the start, then in Secondary Two, I got promoted into Express. Then, I joined the national team for Water Polo, which helped me build up my portfolio. It was a lot easier to DSA wherever I wanted after that. The water polo circle is quite small, so everyone knows everybody. 

What’s one struggle you faced in your training? 

Trainings are tiring. Really tiring. Thank God, here, my teammates are quite amazing. So training is not as dreadful as it should be. In (the) national team it’s hard, because we train at 5:30 in the morning. You just have to power through it or take a nap during the break and try to absorb whatever you can. That’s probably the biggest struggle: Just time management. No time to rest, or take a breath. 

Do you have any pre-game rituals? 

I listen to music, of course. I’m the type of athlete who cannot be serious before games. Some athletes need to get in the zone: I’m the complete opposite. I just have fun. I pray before the game, because I’m Catholic. It helps me to calm my nerves. So, one hour before the game, I’ll be dancing, singing and hyping up my teammates. Then, right before we walk out, around ten or five minutes before, I will do a prayer. 

In what ways has your CCA helped you to grow as a person?

I think, without my CCA, I’d be nothing. Before I joined the national team, I wasn’t really motivated. I didn’t understand what “grinding” was. But after being surrounded by people who have been playing a sport for so long at a higher level and seeing the hard work and determination that goes into training…. it also transfers into life in general. So, without Water Polo, I wouldn’t be as hard-working as I am, even in school. It links up. Everybody in Water Polo thinks the same way. 

What are some accomplishments that you’re proud of during your time in AC?

That’s a hard question. I didn’t really accomplish much in J1. So, after that, I barely promoted, advanced, then in J2 I just knew: Okay. Serious business time. So, in J2, COVID management protocols got relaxed, and then I could play in my first international game in three, four years, which was in March, which is nearing mid-years. So I played that, played quite well, did what I was supposed to do, then I studied all the way. I didn’t do so well in mid-years because of that, but I kept going. I just followed through. It really was an uphill battle. My biggest accomplishment wasn’t one specific thing. It was completing the journey, getting a full cert. For me, it’s a very decent score. But for the rest, it might not be. But, I feel like completing this whole journey, for my situation, is my biggest achievement so far. 

What were the challenges you faced in trying to balance academics and CCA? How did you overcome them?

Mostly by routine and discipline, and by surrounding myself with friends. That’s the most important thing. I have a senior, he did very well for A-Levels. He was like me, from Barker, and I’ve known him since Barker, and he is a good inspiration.

I have Arianne Tay, she’s a Sports Girl, and is in the National Team for Bowling. She goes through the same struggles I go through, so we study a lot together. Even though our academic level is a bit different, she still cares to study with me. So, just surround yourself with the correct people with the correct attitude and the same goals. Then, everything will be easy from there. 

When the going got tough, what kept you going?

God was really there, and again, the people that surrounded me. My parents… my dad, since he drives me most places. I stay quite far, so me and him have quite long car rides, and those car rides are like breaks. So usually, I have training in the morning, come to school, study til’ five, then the car ride home is around 45 minutes, which is the best break ever. For me, it’s eating a buffet. Just two hours, no studying, just eating. Then I go home, take a nap and reset.  

I approached A-Levels knowing I did my best, as cliche as that sounds. There was nothing more I could do. Not to say I studied 24 hours a day, but it was more like balancing my mental health and studies, the longevity of how I can study and how long my motivation can last. I already knew I did my best, so I knew whatever score came out, just completing that last MCQ for Paper 1 Physics, I knew I already achieved something out of it. If I failed, of course I’d be sad, but I knew there was a lot more that I gained from JC.

What was your most memorable experience in AC?

There’s too many! I could write a whole book about the past two years. But the most memorable would be training. Our CCA is really small. There’s only 6 of us in our batch. We’re all super close. Even now, we still meet.

What’s one thing you’ll miss the most about JC life? 

Just seeing everybody. I haven’t seen some of my good friends in months. We can’t do anything about it. We want to see each other but we’re both tired. I have a part time job, and I still have training, and they have their part time jobs too, and most of them are also in NS. You take each other for granted, seeing each other every day. Then, I could meet four friend groups a day: before school, during break, after school, CCA. But now, I meet one friend group a week. And car rides with Mr Paul. We would just talk. (I’ll miss) just hanging out with teachers. 

Do you have any advice for new J1s, especially those planning to join a sports CCA? 

Have fun, but not too much fun, and don’t make silly mistakes. Which is super hard. It’s normal to make silly mistakes, you just have to get back up and pick yourself up again. 

At one point, in J1, before mid-years, everything was just bad for me. My grades were bad, social life was bad, stuff at home was bad, and I really didn’t want to come to school. My relationship with my teachers went downhill as they didn’t trust me as much. I used June to just study, and slowly gain their trust back. Of course, one month of studying is not gonna get you six months of missed work, so I didn’t do so well, but I was continuous, and slowly, eventually, I got there. 

What do you think the future holds for you? And what would you want to pursue after leaving JC?

After knowing my results, I still haven’t decided what I want to pursue yet. Maybe I’ll work for a year overseas, at Club Med? I’ll just do something spontaneous. 

I feel like life is a book, and as cheesy as it sounds, you’re writing your own story. I don’t want my book to be boring. When I pass away, when my son reads that “book”, I want him to say “Dad is so cool!” (laughs)

Any final message you want to share with our readers? 

Don’t worry too much about how things turn out. One verse that stuck with me through the whole of JC – I kept repeating it as a joke, but it made sense to me –  was the one where God fed the sparrows. Sparrows just fly around, but somehow, they get fed everyday. Food appears, miraculously. Say, if things don’t work out in JC, there’ll be something else out there for you. If you don’t do well in a test, it doesn’t mean it’s the end but don’t give up. Keep studying, find new methods: I switched my studying methods ten thousand times until I found one that suits me. Keep trying, block out all the noise and be motivated. Good luck guys!

Kezia Chew Yi Ting: Diligence and Discipline, A Recipe For Success

Main Writer: Edmund Wong Li Hong

Contributing Writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin

Kezia Chew Yi Ting. Photo credit: Mr. Mark Ng

There has been no better successor to the longstanding tradition of ACJC’s Debate and Oratorical Society than Kezia Chew. From the strenuous academic requirements to her gruelling debate training, she overcame the various challenges of JC with the sheer force of her discipline and her great passion for debating. As the Captain of the ACJC Debate and Oratorical Society, she led her team to the semifinals in the NUSPA Debate Series 2022, as well as achieving 3rd overall best speaker in the Lasallian Debate League last year. On top of that, she has excelled in the A-level examinations with 6 distinctions, as well as received the ACJC Outstanding Project Leader Award for 2022, a true testament to the hard work and dedication she puts into everything she does. 

Now that we’ve lauded her for her achievements, let’s take a look into her ACJC experience!

Q: What was ACJC Debate like, and why did you choose to join it?

I DSA’ed into ACJC through debate, so I always knew this was something I wanted to do. I also knew quite a few seniors and the debate coach since secondary school, so I felt like I knew the community that they had. It was warm and welcoming, and even if you are a beginner in debate, they really don’t judge. They just send you for competitions, and everyone helps to mould and build each other into a better debater. That’s something that I really appreciated about the ACJC debate, and something I really strove to do as the Captain. There were a few newcomers into the CCA in my year, so I really tried to continue that kind of nurturing and welcoming environment for new people to enter the debate circuit.

Q: What was your favourite thing about the club?

I would say definitely the people; the long training nights and the competitions over the weekends really takes a toll on you, but if you’re doing it with people you see in the hallways, and you can discuss the debate at lunch or when you see each other – it’s those little bits of camaraderie that I really liked about ACJC debate.

Q: As a student leader, what advice do you have for people taking up leadership positions?

I would say to know your strengths and weaknesses, because when you are going into a leadership position, there are many things that become your responsibility which you need to be prepared to do. You also need to know yourself; if you are not able to undertake those responsibilities, to delegate them out or to recognise that, that’s something you need to work on, and take steps to improve yourself [sic]. I think humility, or knowing when you can or can’t do something is very important as a leader.

Q: Apart from debating and academics, what are your other passions in life?

I like reading; surprise surprise, because I like literature; I’ve also been into drawing. I think because of the nature of my school life I didn’t have much time to explore my hobbies, so it was great that debate was my hobby anyways.

Q: What was your most memorable experience in ACJC?

National Day last year was one of the most memorable experiences, because in my J1 life, there weren’t many mass gatherings because of the pandemic. So on National Day, we were all singing, and there were people running around the hall. I really felt like the AC spirit was present in the hall that day. I could feel that sense of warmth when everybody was shoulder to shoulder, and we were all hugging each other and dancing around. That was really a moment when I felt, wow, this is the AC culture. This is really why I came to the school; to experience the lively atmosphere that they’ve been talking about for generations.

Q: What’s one thing you’ll miss the most about JC life?

Surprisingly, it would be going to lessons and having a routine where I would just go to class, meet my friends and we would just have classes together. I feel like for the majority of the time it was not super stressful, especially because you are learning something you are truly passionate about since you get to choose your subjects. You don’t have to choose Science subjects if you don’t want to. 

It was really enjoyable to just enjoy the lessons and be in the company of really good friends and teachers who would joke around, but also be serious when they had to. I guess the community and the routine would be something that I missed.

Q: Do you have any study tips for us JC students?

Yes, I do. I have a few; first tip, consolidate material as fast as possible. For doing things like writing notes or making mind maps in JC, if you wait until just before the exams, the content would be too much for you to handle. You should instead try to do it every day, which is challenging, but if you get used to it, it gets much easier during your revision period.

My second tip is to go for consults, which is something I wish I did early in the school year, because I only went for them closer to the As. It really helped when you could talk to the teachers and show them your work, and get guidance from them on how to improve. 

My last tip would be to form study groups, because I realised studying alone is just too difficult. When you’re doing chapters upon chapters of History, it’s so much material to go through on your own. Doing it with your friends definitely makes it much easier. I think there are designated spots for you in school to study with your friends; they’re practically begging you to go and study there [sic].

Q: What do you think the future holds for you? What would you like to pursue after leaving JC?

I can’t say what my future holds, I’m not a fortune teller. I hope to continue pursuing debate, because ACJC really cemented my passion for debate. I hope I can give back to my community in that way [sic]. As cliche as it may sound, in the future I hope to give back to AC in some way, be it through debate or through any other opportunity that may come up, I hope I may be able to do something for the school. Personally, I hope that I’ll be someone that this school is proud of and I am proud of as well. I hope I never lose track of my values and my belief systems. To God be the glory. The Best is Yet to Be. That’s all.

Congratulations, Kezia! We’re rooting for you as you take the next step in your journey.

Looking Into The Future: The New Year’s Resolution Debate

Photo Credit: Kuligssen, Alamy Stock Photos

With the end of the year descending upon us, we stop to wonder: what’s to come in 2023? 

The beginning of a new year marks a change. From something as small as swapping out the accustomed “2022” on paper, to “2023”, to having more new, exciting opportunities open themselves to you: a new year means new change. 

I for one, am excited for the changes that will come in the new year. I believe that it’s important to have a positive outlook on what’s to come. Though 2023 may seem daunting, it’s bound to bring about lots of exciting new opportunities. More time to spend with classmates and old friends, applying for universities, preparing for the next chapters in our academic careers, learning new skills, reading new books, watching new movies. The newness of it all, all the new territory to discover, is an exciting prospect. There are, of course, changes I am not as excited about, ones that are more stressful than anything: the idea of the incoming A-Levels being the main stressor that looms large in my mind.

However, all these are an inevitable part of the new year. A new year brings about a whole 365 days of new changes.

What better encompasses this idea than the age-old tradition of New Year’s Resolutions? 

According to Merriam-Webster, New Year’s Resolutions could have existed as far back as the 17th century. Just like today, they were used as excuses for going all-out on flouting these resolutions in the month of December on the pretense that one would correct these behaviors in January. As written in an of a Boston newspaper, dated back to the year 1813, “multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.”

This shows how people all around the world for years on end have created New Years Resolutions. However, since the first resolution was made, they have gained a notoriety, with many lamenting the fact that they are made, and never properly fulfilled, or simply an excuse for a last hurrah of indulgent behaviour in December.

Because, as much as change is exciting, it’s also difficult. It’s much easier to stay set in your old ways than it is to make a change. It is harder to actively control yourself when you feel the urge to gossip, or set out time in the day to knit or practice guitar than just do and enjoy what you’re used to doing, even if it means that you don’t fulfil your goals and make a positive change. Despite this notoriety, the fact that New Year’s resolutions are still made to this day highlight their irresistible charm. But what has led to this longevity, despite the bad reputation New Year’s Resolutions have received over the years?

A simple Google search for “New Year’s Resolutions” will inundate you with pages of listicles. All of them consist of vague one-liners.

Practice mindfulness. Stop gossiping. Get in shape. Stop procrastinating. 

At face-value, these all seem like good ideas. It is innate in humans to want to self-improve and be the best versions of ourselves, increasing our quality of life in the process. After all, who wouldn’t want to be more efficient, more thoughtful, and more compassionate?

So why is it that, according to Forbes, 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February? Why would we choose to forgo a chance to become better people?

One reason is often a lack of time and resources. 

These resolutions usually come to mind during the holidays. Time stretches out languidly, days filled with free time available to us to spend fulfilling our ambitions. 

However, once we get back into the rhythm of our daily lives, our schedules quickly filling up with school, work, errands, and every other responsibility we bear, we come to the realisation that we don’t have enough time to dedicate an hour a day to meditation. 

Or, perhaps it’s resources we lack. We soon realise that, after accounting for all the money we blew on gifts over the holidays, there’s not much left to buy extra equipment for our barren home gyms. 

Another reason is a lack of zeal and motivation. 

Thinking of all the ways you could evolve as a person could get you all fired up, but that spark is likely to fizzle out after a while. Then, why bother? It’s certainly difficult to care about putting in the work to achieve a goal when you’re apathetic toward it. 

So, what should we do to avoid these outcomes? 

One way is to start with small goals. Avoid larger, broad goals and start with smaller milestones. Inch slowly toward your goal, and soon enough, you’ll accomplish exactly what you wanted. 

Another way is to make measurable goals. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. Without being able to measure your successes, you’ll end up feeling unmotivated as you aren’t able to take note of your progress. Celebrate your little successes. 

Finally, don’t make New Year’s Resolutions at all. 

When writing this article, I decided to discuss this topic with my fellow ACSians. Through these conversations, I found that an increasingly larger number of us completely disregard New Year’s Resolutions.

To some, the tradition seemed moot as one could make changes to improve themselves whenever they want, and thus there was no need to confine themselves to the specific timeframe of January 1st. 

To others, as most people tend to set them and forget about them or give up soon after, it seems pointless putting such pressure on yourself, only to face disappointment, when, statistically, things are more than likely to not go as planned. 

Instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions, it could be better to approach change and improvement as something that you can bring about whenever you want, free of restrictions, allowing yourself to take the initiative when it is best for you to do so. 

As we enter 2023, we will be met with a brand new year, filled with countless possibilities and opportunities to better ourselves and to change. Whether you’d rather participate in the tradition of a resolution, or forgo one, we all have the capacity to evolve in the upcoming year. 

So, will you be setting a New Year’s Resolution?

A Relic In The Heart Of Chinatown

Main Writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin 1MD2

Contributing Writer: Syed Nabil Bin Syed Hassnor 1AD2

Singapore’s Chinatown has long been reputed to be one of the most vibrant areas in the country. Crowds of people bustle through its colourful lanes, lined with a variety of shops and complexes, selling anything from traditional Chinese medicine to delicious pastries (which our writers happily munched on as we embarked on our AC Press Chinatown outing).

Between the stalls hawking pungent durian and handmade egg tarts, amongst the maze of streets decorated with iconic murals of a Singapore past, and between the intent games of chess played by those who have made Chinatown Complex their regular stomping grounds lies something extraordinary. 

A relic, a priceless treasure stored in a serene sanctuary, right in the middle of Chinatown. 

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. 

ACPress With Our Tour Guide and Other Temple Visitors Image: Tan Lay Choo, Cathy, Museum Executive

Built to house the sacred Buddha Tooth Relic, Buddha Tooth Relic temple opened its doors in 2007, in the Kreta Ayer district. 

The temple is a grand sight to behold, even from the outside. Its intricate, sloping roofs and imposing entrance, guarded by two temple guardians, are reminiscent of Tang dynasty architecture. According to our tour guide, these guardians’ mouths were sculpted, one open and one closed, to symbolise them uttering the sounds “Om” and “Ah”, which represents the possibility of transformative blessings of the mind, body and speech from Buddha. 

Additionally, the temple is designed to replicate a Buddhist Mandala, further highlighting the sacred, holy nature of the building, and the thought put into designing every inch of the space. 

Every floor of the temple had something fascinating to offer.

The first floor gleamed. Golden Buddha statues sat in altar cabinets fitted into the wall, looking serenely down at the visitors. Additionally, a huge statue of Buddha, said by our tour guide to have been carved out of a single tree stump, stood in the middle of it all, in front of a gigantic silk tapestry depicting dragons and lotus plants, hand-embroidered by a few of the temple’s devotees. Above it all, carvings of dragons swirled above our heads. 

The Buddhist Culture Museum on the third floor housed countless Buddhist artefacts, a rare peek into the impact of the religion on countries all over the world, and highlighting the cultural parallels between these areas. It was truly amazing to look at these ancient artefacts, carvings and statues sitting in display cases for the world to look upon. 

The Sacred Light Hall on the fourth floor houses the Buddha Tooth Relic, housed in a gigantic golden stupa. The stupa stood in the middle of an ornate room, the floors and walls covered in gold tile. It was truly grand to look upon, knowing that a priceless relic stood in that magnificent room behind the glass window as the monks recited their rites behind us, and locals meditated next to the windows that overlooked Chinatown. 

Finally, we headed to the rooftop garden, a tranquil place of refuge amongst the hectic city. Standing above all the chaos was a prayer wheel, supposedly filled with Buddhist scriptures, and believed to bring about good luck to whoever rotated it. Ornate gold spires stood atop the pagodas, and all was quiet high above the street. 

Indeed, this spot is a must-see when visiting Chinatown, filled with insightful looks into the Buddhist religion and its historical legacy. 

According to our tour guide, during religious holidays, the temple is even more alight and colourful than it already is, particularly during Hungry Ghost Month and Vesak Day.

The tour guides are volunteers, and are thus a physical representation of those devoted to the religion and its culture, as well as the importance of sharing its fascinating history with the world. They convey the knowledge they have with much passion and enthusiasm, making for an incredibly interesting tour. They work on a rotating basis, and there are many perspectives to be garnered by every single one of them! 

Indeed, The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a treasure. Next time you’re in the area, visit a prized relic, right in the heart of Chinatown! You could even participate in the temple tour like us—their free, walk-in temple tours are conducted every Saturday.

A Journey to Arcadia: CCA Bonding Day 2022

Main writer: Megan Tay Jia-Xin 1MD2
Contributing: Syed Nabil Bin Syed Hassnor 1AD2

[Our picnic spot @ Singapore Botanic Gardens. Image: Syed Nabil]

Though it was published twenty-one years ago, Gilbert Koh’s poem, Garden City, still holds up today. His portrayal of Singapore’s melding of urban architecture and nature would be familiar to anyone living in the city-state today: ‘trees – rain trees, angsanas, flames of the forest, casuarinas, traveller’s palms and more – springing up against the steel and concrete of the expanding city.’ 

Perhaps the best example of this juxtaposition of a modern landscape with the great outdoors would be the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Tucked away in a busy, developed area of Singapore, surrounded by bistros, boutiques and residential estates, the Gardens are a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life, while also being right in the centre of it. It was the perfect spot for our AC Press Bonding Day, a place to relax, explore and gather inspiration, even inspiring some of our members to write poems of their own. 

We started bright and early, the 9 o’clock sun filtering through the trees that towered overhead. We needed only to walk a few minutes from the gate until we reached our picnic area. Laying down our mismatched mats, we sat in a circle, greasy brown paper bags embossed with yellow “M”s crinkling as we unwrapped our breakfast.

[Some of our members eating their food. Image: Syed Nabil]

We ate with each other in the shade of the trees, just a stone’s throw away from the pond that gleamed a dark green, its surface still, only interrupted by the solitary swan that glided across it. 

We spent an hour cracking jokes and chatting through bites of our breakfast wraps filled with scrambled eggs and cheese, shooing away the jungle fowls that scurried around us, their little chicks tottering along behind them and kicking up the leaves in search of their own breakfast. 

After clearing our trash and stuffing our mats back into our bags, we made the long trek toward the National Orchid Garden, situated on the other end of the Botanic Gardens. 

Joggers trotted along beside us as we made our way through the tree-lined paths, admiring the beginnings of the Singapore Garden Festival. Tons of bright, colourful flowers sat in their pots, waiting to be arranged in preparation for the events. We walked through paths surrounded by the dense rainforest, monitor lizards peeking their grey heads out from the foliage. We even caught a glimpse of the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, surrounded by a lake littered with lily pads, the large white fixture surrounded by a vast green landscape. 

Finally, we arrived at the National Orchid Garden! 

The Garden has over 600 species (not a number to scoff at!) across its three hectares of land, separated into four zones: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. The flowers reflect the colour schemes of each season. We admired the trellises that hung overhead, wrapped in greenery. It blew us away to see the beautifully diverse orchids, marvelling at the huge variety of flowers as we “moved through the seasons”. 

Next was The Sembcorp Cool House. A glass structure standing near the end of the trail, one is greeted with a blast of its refreshing air-conditioning, used to keep the orchids it houses at a suitable temperature. This we welcomed, excited to seek refuge from the humid weather outside. 

[Inside The Sembcorp Cool House. Image: Syed Nabil]

The Cool House was beautiful: a true testament to Singapore’s Garden City status. From the outside, its architecture is modern, a wall of glass panes greeting its visitors. On the inside, a path leads one through the cool house, which is its own little world. It has a small pond, large rock fixtures spotted with fuzzy moss, alcoves that orchids and wide leaves sprung out of and mist that sprayed down upon us.

This was where we congregated to share our thoughts on what we gleaned from the day, and what inspired us the most, which have inspired the articles our other Press members have written! One member (who is also the contributing writer to this piece) wrote a short poem reflecting his experience. Take a look:

The Wreath of Blossoms

We live in the snow white mists
Of pure bliss, encircled
By the Arcadian greenery
That bestowed upon our souls.

Clouds air the atmosphere
And roses, mostly bright maroon and gold
Crawl up the walls, intertwining
Their stems and, arching
A ceremonial corridor for us.

In the middle of the wreath
The peephole of the door brings the eyes
(But not of the soul) into a room, clamoured
With the dexterity of the human body
That nature cannot oh simply provide
Us material comforts.

Yet, spirited, nothing but the scent we smell –
Petrichor, fruit and sweet nectar –
Gravitates us like we are bees
Pure and unclouded deeper into the leaves
(We are struck with only the essence of the earth).

It is truly a marvellous construction
Manufactured, graceful and artistic
And leaves marked with festive decor

[written by Syed Nabil]

Truly, the Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place, and it’s no wonder it has received global praise. Everyone should visit the Botanic Gardens, and marvel at how far we’ve come as a Garden City. And, of course, all of us had a splendid time traversing this beautiful place together as a CCA.

[(LEFT TO RIGHT) Raye Yap 1MD3, Ms. Neeta Singh TIC, Kyra Phan Hseun Rong 1AH, Megan Tay Jia-Xin 1MD2, Syed Nabil Bin Syed Hassnor 1AD2, Euan Adam Loh Kenji 1AD2, Tymon Oh Yan Chen 1SA2, Divyesh Balakrishnan 1SA6. Image: Syed Nabil]

Special thanks to the following for making the memorable event possible:

  • Ms. Neeta Singh (TIC)
  • Megan Tay Jia-Xin (President of AC Press 2022-23)
  • Raye Yap (Vice-President of AC Press 2022-23)
  • Sitinur (Secretary of AC Press 2022-23)

The Heavy Weight On Our Shoulders: The Plastic Bag Dilemma

Shoppers around the globe live at a crossroads. Not having quite emerged from the Plastics Age of the late 20th century, the usage of single-use plastic bags is still prevalent in our societies, and though sustainable alternatives are marketed to us all the time, they have not yet been fully adopted. We stand on the edge of an age where plastics are completely eliminated, while the plastic-consumptive activity of our past simultaneously looms not far behind us. Therefore, the two options are still made available to consumers everywhere. 

Which brings up the dilemma: Single use plastic bags, or reusable bags? 

Single-use plastic bags first became popular in Europe in 1965. It took a while for the United States to catch on, but it did eventually, when Safeway and Kroger, two of North America’s biggest supermarket chains, switched from paper to plastic in 1982. By the end of the 80s, plastic bags had replaced paper bags in stores all over the world. 

It’s obvious why plastic bags would appeal to consumers. Ralphs, a popular American grocery store chain, used to print their grocery bags with labels that touted plastic bags as easy to carry due to its soft strap handles, and as both waterproof and strong, qualities that paper bags lack. 

In hindsight, we now understand the detrimental effects that plastic bags have, and those outweigh the benefits tenfold. The plastics these bags are made out of do not biodegrade / are not biodegradable. They contaminate our environment. Microplastics that result from the breaking down of these plastic bags pollute our water sources and are consumed by wildlife. Birds and sea creatures such as fish and turtles often mistake plastic bags for food, filling their bodies with toxic debris. These microplastics make their way back to humans, too, as we consume them through our food and the air. Horrifically, it was reported by the World Wildlife Fund that humans consume the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic a week. 

When presented with these facts, it seems obvious that reusable bags have to be the better option. But that may not always be the case. 

Amongst the myriad options for reusable bags, one specific type has stood out the most. 

The cotton tote. 

Consumers have embraced the cotton tote as a light, fashionable, reusable, and overall, eco-friendly option for their shopping needs. Though there is the pre-conception that cotton totes are beneficial for the environment, the facts say otherwise. 

The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark says that the overall impact of production of cotton totes is so high, that one bag would need to be used for 54 years just to offset the impact. 

The production of cotton is extremely water intensive too. According to The Circular Laboratory, it takes anywhere from 10000 to 20000 litres of water to produce a singular kilogram of cotton.

On top of that, most cotton totes are dyed, or have been printed with designs to appeal to the consumer. What the consumers are unaware of is that most of these dyes are PVC based, which make them extremely difficult to break down chemically. 

There is no doubt about it. These reusable cotton totes are nowhere near as eco-friendly as we think. 

Thus, we circle back to a key dilemma of the modern consumer. Plastic bags, or reusable bags? 

In order to adopt sustainable habits, shoppers need to think carefully about the textiles they use, and whether what they consume and how they consume it (or, carry it) affects the environment. 

Single-use plastic bags are extremely harmful to our environment. But when selecting alternatives, we need to consider its effect on the environment too, and not fall prey to greenwashing. 

Consumers need to think carefully about the textiles they use, and how things may not always appear as sustainable as they seem. 

Consumers need to make a choice. 

Which would you choose? 

Class Bonding 101: Classmates, Companions

Entering post-secondary education is often thought of as a challenging step in the academic journey of students. We’re faced with new, advanced topics and more demanding subjects than ever before. Though the increase in academic rigour is certainly concerning for many J1s, another issue is in the forefront of their minds. Class bonding. The social aspects of junior college were a prominent worry for me when I first stepped through the gates of ACJC. Here are some points I have kept in mind while bonding with my new classmates.

  1. The Power of Icebreakers 

I noticed the palpable silence that hung in the air as soon as I entered my new classroom. Naturally, with only a few people knowing each other from their Orientation Groups, there was a general sense of uncertainty and awkwardness. 

Thankfully, this dissipated soon enough. 

Though icebreakers are often seen as a tired, overdone exercise, I think they’re a useful tool to kick off class bonding, and it’s essential that one speaks up and plays them enthusiastically, having fun with your classmates along the way. Whether it be games like Burning Bridges, Never Have I Ever, Splat, or even just listing some facts about yourself, they allow the rest of the class to get to know you, all while sprinkling a bit of fun into what can be a long, monotonous school day. These games allowed me to learn more about my classmates and were good conversation starters. I was already able to find some common ground with many of the people sitting around me based on the facts they shared, like their hobbies or which schools they previously attended, and strike up conversations with them.

Our form teacher prompted us to play these games during our first free period as a class, and I believe they were a simple yet enjoyable way to form fast connections with the people around me. We each took turns standing up and stating our names, our secondary schools, and hobbies, which prompted my classmates and I to talk to each other about our commonalities and learn more about each other. Afterward, we played a chaotic game of Never Have I Ever, the mood lightening as we poked fun at one another and shared stories. By the end of that first hour, the room was already buzzing as my classmates and I began to chat with a greater sense of familiarity due to the games.

  1. Take Initiative  

One of the biggest struggles students are faced with when they enter a new class is breaking past the wall of trepidation and stepping out of your comfort zone. It would have been easy for my classmates and I to have kept to ourselves and the people we were already acquainted to early on. However, it’s important to try to break out of your shell and take the first step in forming connections in your new class. Introduce yourself to new people and strike up conversations with them, join them in walking to shared classes, eat with your classmates during lunch, or invite them to join you in an activity outside school.

I was really heartened to see that by the end of the first period with my class, everyone began to take initiative and talk to different groups of people, introducing themselves and exchanging social media handles. We remained in our classroom a good while after dismissal, just chatting and forging new friendships. We’d sit as a class at lunch and talk to each other over our meals, getting to understand each other better in a more relaxed state. I look upon these break times really fondly, as they’re a great way to unwind after classes and speak with each other while eating or in the lengthy lines in the canteen. By the end of the first week, someone had already taken the initiative to propose the idea of a class trip to a game cafe once restrictions were relaxed. All it takes is having the courage to step up.  

  1. Social Media is a Powerful Tool 

One of the most common phrases I heard in the first week of being in my new class was “What’s your IG?”. Though some may roll their eyes and see this as a symptom of social media obsessed youth, there is no denying that social media platforms like Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp are incredibly helpful tools for forming connections with other people. 

Within the first day, my classmates and I were already exchanging social media handles, and continued to do so over the course of the week. Not only is it a good way to keep in touch via these platform’s instant messaging functions, but it’s also a peek into what their interests are, where they’ve been, and their likes and dislikes. I recall sharing Instagram accounts with my classmates over lunch, and finding a lot of common ground, be it through discovering that we have mutual friends, mutual interests in the same topics, or even just starting a conversation based on the nice composition of a photo. 

Social media has had the ability to help connect my class, digitally and in real life. 

Though these last couple of weeks have been hard on the J1s, what with the sudden change in environment, both academically and socially, I’m grateful for my classmates and happy I’ve been able to bond with them. Keeping these points in mind, I hope to form even stronger bonds with them in the next two years.