Hwa Chong Institution (HC) was formed from the merger between the former Chinese High School (founded in 1919) and Hwa Chong Junior College (founded in 1974) in 2005 and is located along Bukit Timah Road.
Hwa Chong Institution (Junior College)
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The most vivid chinese high memory is when my CCA, strings ensemble, travelled to Sweden for a music competition. Aside from the fact that we won the strings ensemble category of the competition, it was a funny incident that was etched in my memory!
My teacher in charge, Mrs lim, is quite a sizable and bubbly woman. She likes to join in bonding activities with her students. One night, as we were enjoying card games at our dorm in groups, Mrs lim enthusiastically joined in a game of “heart attack”, where players have to slam their hands over the cards if an identical one appears from the draw to see who has the fastest reaction.
Having a lot of fun, Mrs lim participated wholeheartedly, and suddenly, “CRACK!” she was so excited that she slammed her entire body on the bed. Lo and behold, the bed actually collapsed!!
Needlessly to say, all of us had a hearty laugh, and I will never forget this bed breaking incident, because I was also lying on the bed!
The Hwa Chong experience established through all the years of hard work was indeed a pleasant schooling experience. Ranging from the uniquely one month long orientation period to the splendid study environment, Hwa Chong is a school filled with fun activities yet producing great results at the same time.
Being a non-IP student, the integration into Hwa Chong is surprisingly smooth despite of the influx of those from the Integrated Programme. The entrenched Chinese tradition is pervalent as seen from the celebration of traditional festivals like the Mid Autumn Festival and the Chinese New Year with so much pride. The bustling school life has undoubtedly proven that my decision is right.
Hwa Chong was quite a long journey since I spent 6 years there courtesy of the IP programme. And before I do go into all that, I think it better to clarify first that I'l speak more on the JC side of it since I assume that's what you referred to. But for starters, the general difference was of course, the presence of girls and the much greater academic freedom I had in my 4 years of secondary school compared to JC.
It's a quite a tragedy really, how we're constricted by the requirements of a standardised examination that is the A-levels. Everyone just seems so engrossed and at some level afraid even whilst learning up to a point that learning just didn't seem like learning. The academic part of JC I must say wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. I was a Biology, Math, Chemistry and Economics 4H2 student, the average by school standards. And given how I failed Chemistry and Economics (Occasionally Math) on a regular basis, H3 wasn't really an option. In class I was arguably much more inquisitive than my peers and at times I suppose it got a bit annoying for teachers who didn't think my queries belonged within the scope of our syllabus. But honestly, it was much more annoying for me to not get the real picture as opposed to the "exam cut picture" that teachers usually offered. I understand of course that teachers are expected and paid to get students their As. Sure they're supposed to inspire and well facilitate learning and discovery but very very few can ensure those alongside the As. I had the fortune of a few good teachers as well as a few very intelligent and patient friends who saw past my well, past of slacking, and coupled with Economics tuition I winged my 6As so I guess can't complain too much. Word of caution though, try to learn for learning's sake and you'd find your time in class more enjoyable than you think and if this doesn't work with your teacher's style, speak to him or her; it's an open environment.
But I must also say that I'm not bashing the school because when we look at the entire JC system, the schools are rather similar aren't they? What Hwa Chong offered in other opportunities however is something I'll find hard to forget. Joining the JC choir was something that could be likened to recklessness I should think but going through all of it, the practices, the emotional drama and that sense of a group identity, all whilst learning from scratch what tone, rhythm, keys and scales meant (Don't even get me started on singing technique) without a music background, really made choir one of those things where you go "I never knew I could be a part of something so special!". Of course, the defining part of it was becoming champion in a foreign land that was Czech Republic but ah, victory tastes all the more sweeter on distant shores no?
There's been more to other aspects of student development certainly, and I don't mean the Council. The school's been kind enough to send me for a variety of Model United Nations conferences, including one in Philadelphia. I've had the opportunity to experiment with bacterial hormesis in our very own school labs, applying antibiotics and electromagnetic fields to improve beneficial bacterial growth. And one of the best trips of course was the Reach Cambridge summer school programme in Cambridge University itself where we underwent different classes that we opted for (I was the only science student taking Philosophy so that started off a little awkward) in a 2 week stint in England, visiting various places of interest related to the subjects; the literature class would go for a Shakesperean play while the biology class would visit the university lab facilities. There're many a time when I look upon one of those opportunities in announcements and go thinking "Hmmm, there's gotta be a better applicant out there" but really, you'll never actually know until you apply and Cambridge was one of those hesitant applications that went through.
But beyond all of that, I won't regret those 2 years more because of the people I've met and lost and consequently, the lessons I've gained because of them. What I learned about myself and people I think is more valuable than any other subject A grade's worth. I'm still learning too, but the funny part is, I'm no longer a student.
As a top school, Hwa Chong Institution offers much more than just results. Exempted from taking the O Levels, I was able to pursue other interests, from doing a research paper in Literature to taking China Studies. I also spent a lot more time with my friends than if we were taking a major exam. In fact, Hwa Chong is all about its people. The class benches in JC bring everyone together, allowing you to strengthen existing relationships and forge new ones. The friendships I've made remain strong even after leaving the school and is my best takeaway from the school.
Hwa Chong has a really spirited environment. Outsiders may scoff and think of Hwa Chongians as overly traditional people who are strongly inclined towards the Chinese culture, but I reckon it is this stereotype that actually bonds students and alumnus together. We have many schools songs that have been passed down across many generations, and we grab hold of every opportunity to sing them, such that songs have become a trademark of Hwa Chong celebrations.
For example our annual Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations which grow in scale and grandeur each year, brings together Hwa Chongians of different ages. Despite the generation gaps, students and alumnus alike sing these songs with such gusto and spirit that it warms my heart, and I have come to realise that the HC experience is an evergreen one. My years in Hwa Chong were indeed the best few of my life - an unforgettable experience indeed!
Hwa Chong Junior College was where I graduated from years back. When I first heard about the merger of the school with Chinese High, it was both exciting yet heart wrenching. Exciting as it was time for the school to be brought to a much higher level in terms of facilities and funding. Heart wrenching as the name HCJC was forever gone and worse, the chinese name of HCI was only a reference to the Chinese High School. It was a consolation that HCI was ultimately used as the English version.
I had many good memories of the school from my orientation to my class, from the wonderful teachers during lesson time to the even more superb time spend at the class benches, from the mass dances at the central area to the sleepy lectures at the LT, and also collecting saga seeds from the backs of the LT back then when it was a nice idea to give the heart shaped seeds to your loved ones.
Of course, there will also be memories of how the whole class would go out for breakfast at King Albert's Park or Serene Centre and then try to sneak back to school via the Chinese High School field.
Cheers to the school for all the good memories.