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Book and Music Week 2015: Places & Spaces

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Book & Music Week (BMW) is a highly anticipated yearly event which sees Katong Convent girls given the chance to shine with their talents! Founded by Mrs Marie Bong, former Principal of Katong Convent, BMW is a much-loved tradition in Katong Convent that is spoken of fondly by all who have lived and breathed the BMW experience while a student here.

The theme for this year’s BMW was “Places and Spaces: SG50 X KC85” and we celebrated all things Singapore and Katong Convent past, present and future from 22th to 24th July. From the KC and SG heritage of yesteryears and the present as represented by the exhibitions and invited guests, to BMW traditions such as choral speaking, busking, debate and BMW Quiz, the KC family gathered together to be awed by the high standards that the school had achieved and is still achieving for herself in the areas of language, literature, literary arts and music. Here are some highlights:

Opening Ceremony

The event was opened by a surprise entrance in the form of a thoughtful monologue by our Principal, Ms Chan, who paid tribute to the samsui women and their immense contributions in the building of Singapore. The audience was pleasantly surprised but were soon immersed in the thick of the action as they showed their appreciation through both applause and exclamations. She also paid a fitting tribute to our Guest-of-Honour, the distinguished Ms Angeline Yap, KC alumna from the class of 1975, whose poetry has been applauded both in Singapore and beyond.

Ms Yap rose to the occasion and shared her thoughts and reflections, including a fitting tribute to Mrs Marie Bong, in the form of her poem “simple”. Ms Yap was then invited to unveil a mock-up of KC’s latest anthology of works by members of the KC family, past and present, 85 x 85. She declared the BMW open by signing this.

The KC Choir then serenaded the audience with their angelic voices, as they sang both a Dravidian composition as well as Lenggang Kangkong. Sec 2NT then rendered a fusion dance, showcasing the grandeur of our main ethnic groups in Singapore. The first round of #OOTD (Outfits of Those Days) was opened by the Secondary 3 level who was tasked to present beloved Singaporean mascots, such as Sharity Elephant and the POSB Squirrel from the past 50 years. The occasion saw an unbridled flow of creativity in representing the various mascots which were lovingly handmade for the occasion. The Opening Ceremony drew to a close with a final dance item by the KC Dance team, who roused the school through their dance interpretation of Dick Lee’s Rasa Sayang.

In Conversation with Ms Angeline Yap

The upper secondary students proceeded to the hall after the Opening Ceremony for a conversation with Ms Angeline Yap. Facilitated by Ms Michele Sim, the conversation touched on topics such as Singapore literature as well as Ms Yap’s creative muse. Ms Yap and teachers were then welcomed to the Dance Studio, where further conversations continued over cakes and tea.

Busking

An unmistakable perennial favourite amongst KCians, the air was abuzz with much merriment amidst song and dance. The upper secondary students’ experience in this area was apparent, and the younger students formed part of the rapt audience. The lower secondary students had much fun catching on the spirit of performance as well. Judges were engaged. The audience was inspired. KCians’ talents know no bounds.

On the first day, the Sec 3s started with their dance and song items. It was evident that many classes had put in effort, judging from the mass participation and snazzy choreography. The Sec 1s, 4s and 5s busked on the second day, and the seniors really set the bar high with their complex dance performances and passionate belting of songs with many interpretations of various Singapore and Katong Convent stories. The Sec 2s performed last, but their performances were by no means less engaging. A traditional BMW item, busking had the audience engaged, amused and inspired by on all the three days..

All classes were judged based on their participation rate and interpretation of the theme, and we are pleased to announce that for the Secondary 4 & 5 level, Sec 4/1, Sec 5/0 and Sec 4/5 attained the first, second and third places respectively. At the Secondary 3 level, Sec 3/3, Sec 3/5 and Sec 3/0 attained the first, second and third places, while at the Secondary 2 level, Sec 2/1, Sec 2/7 and Sec 2/3 attained the first, second and third places respectively. Last but not least, amongst our newest members of the KC family, the Secondary 1 level, Sec 1/4, Sec 1/3 and Sec 1/6 attained the top three positions, with special commendation for Sec 1/7. Congratulations, girls!

Whose Room?

Ever thought that the classroom is a space that is all so ordinary? Well, for this year’s Whose Room, the Sec 2s were given the herculean task of transforming their classrooms to various places in Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s. So, for three days, the secondary 2 level became the backdrop for nostalgia in the form of various venues such as the bus interchange, provision shop, hawker centre and more. The prize for the best presentation went to Sec 2/1 (Tanjong Pagar Railway Station), with Sec 2/3 (Provision Shop) and Sec 2/6 (HDB Home) clinching the second and third places.

Choral Speaking

Choral Speaking was targeted at Sec 1 and 3 students. Choral Speaking has been a long standing tradition of Katong Convent. It enables KCians to discover and unravel the rich musicality of poetry through choral recitation, affording a heightened appreciation for poetry. What better way to welcome the Sec 1s to KC than to imbue in them a passion for KC’s legacy.

The preparation for Choral Speaking started in Term 2 Week 9, when participating classes were given a selection of poems from various Singapore poets. As a class working together in unity, they were tasked to devise their performance, keeping in mind the legacy of what Choral Speaking in KC is like.

The performances took place in two stages, once in an earlier preliminary round, and during the finals. Students were given an opportunity to display their proficiency at choral speaking by performing with their voices, ovements as well as inspired props. Their camaraderie as a class as they displayed their mastery of pitch, pace and tone in their voices really brought the poems to life.

The teachers of the school were not to be trifled with as they too joined in the fun and performed Arthur Yap’s poem – 2 Mothers in a HDB Playground – as a surprise performance. They were in full attendance as housewives, complete with eye-catching outfits. Their performance was met with a arousing applause and shouts of “encore” from the students.
The students displayed such a high level of excellence in performance with the judges awarding 3 winners with Sec 3/4 in the second runner up placing, Sec 1/6 in the first runner up placing and Sec 3/6 as the winner of Choral Speaking 2015. Overall, this segment of BMW has been an exceptional display of class spirit in the continuance of a true blue KC tradition.

Debate

This year, the Sec 3s were tasked to debate in three preliminary rounds which yielded two finalist teams. It was an inter-class affair, determined by drawn lots that saw the combined team of Sec 3/0, Sec 3/1 debate Sec 3/4 on the motion: THBT the youths of today are less prepared than their parents to face future challenges. Sec 3/5 debated Sec 3/6 on the motion: THBT fast food should be sold in schools. Sec 3/2 debated Sec 3/3 on the motion: THBT teachers should be made to wear school uniform. The finalists were Sec 3/6 and Sec 3/5 as they had the highest scores. Sec 3/6 proposed the motion: THBT Singaporean youths are a ‘strawberry generation’. Again, in a tightly fought debate, Sec 3/6 was declared winner and the best speaker was Sarah Kai El-Hilo from Sec 3/5. An old tradition continued, the debate segment was a resounding success, no debate about that.

#OOTD Parade

The #OOTD Parade, aptly titled Outfit of Those Days tapped on the SG50 theme, looking back on Singapore and Katong Convent’s history. Each class was given free rein to respond to their icon, mascot, figure or personality assigned to them. Students were tasked to create an outfit that not only reflected heritage, but showcased their innovative spirit. Secondary 1 students explored Singapore icons such as Orchard Road, Ethnic Groups and the Singapore Girl while Secondary 2 students brought Singaporean historical figures such as Sir Stamford Raffles and Tan Tock Seng alive straight from the pages of their History textbooks. Secondary 3 students paraded their own interpretations of beloved Singapore mascots including Singa the Courtesy Lion, Water Wally and Smiley the POSB Squirrel, educating their fellow schoolmates about relevant campaign messages. The Normal Technical classes gave hilarious interpretations of Singaporean personalities, namely Fandi Ahmad (including an ode to his torch bearing stint with his son at the SEA Games), Liang Po Po and the Dim Sum Dollies. To round up the event as part of the closing ceremony, the Secondary 4 and 5 students wowed the audience with their own interpretations of Katong Convent icons. The girls fully embraced KC icons such as the spindle and a garland of marguerites which showcased their affinity and pride of being a Katong Convent daughter. The activity challenged students to be innovative problem solvers, as they not only had to present meaningful and accurate portrayals of characters but also to provide an informative and insightful commentary to accompany their presentation.

After intense judging during the BMW week, 3 winners from each level were awarded the top three positions in each level. At the Secondary 4 & 5 level, they were Sec 4/2 in the first position, followed by Sec 5/0 & Sec 4/5 sharing the second position, and Sec 4/4 in third place. At the Secondary 3 level, Sec 3/4 came in first, followed by a close fight by Sec 3/5 in the second placing and Sec 3/0 in third place. Sec 2/5, Sec 2/4 and Sec 2/3 emerged first, second and third at the Secondary 2 level, while Sec 1/4 clinched the top spot at the Secondary 1 level followed by Sec 1/1 in second and Sec 1/6 in third place. Sec 4/7 came in in first position, followed by Sec 2/7 and Sec 3/7 in second and third respectively for the NT classes. Great job, ladies!

BMW Quiz

To enable mass participation, fun and to end the BMW on a high note, the quiz was organised bingo style this year. The sustained screams, cheers and energy level in the hall were palpable. All 5 categories of questions – Pop Songs, Classic Literature, Popular Fiction, SG50 and KC85 – were educative, yet fun. Seating the classes in a compact fashion enabled classes not only to discuss but also collaborate in activities before and after the quiz (like Sec 4/2’s ‘flash mob’ during the #OOTD and bhangra segments).

Celebrating the Talents of our N(T) Students

Our Normal (Technical) students were very privileged to be given the opportunity to showcase their natural and raw talents during the recent BMW based on their involvement with Cabin Club, the CoCurricular Activity designed for N(T) students within school curriculum time.

Sec 2/7 presented a fusion dance representing dance from the Chinese, Indian and Malay ethnic groups. The dance showcased nifty and elegant moves while bringing to life the intricacies of these art forms. With perfect timing as well as corresponding facial expressions, it is no wonder that the dance was the focus of a rapt audience who kept their attention trained on the dancers from beginning to end.Throughout the rehearsals and performance, the girls learnt the importance of good teamwork and trust amongst themselves.

Meantime, on the last day of BMW, Sec 1/7 showcased their musical talent by moving their hands along with percussion instruments of the major ethnic groups in Singapore. The girls were very open to learning this as part of their Performance Module in Cabin Club. Kudos to mastering the instruments and beats in such a short space of time!

Sec 3/7 rounded up the N(T) performances by presenting a comedy skit entitled “Oh Singapore” in the form of a TV programme. With their candid expressions, they entertained the crowd with their presentations of three typical local situations namely a day on an MRT train, friendly rivalry amongst hawker stalls owners and the different perceptions that tourists have of Singapore, as shown in reactions to encounters with durians. It was a good performance considering that the girls had very little exposure to drama performances on stage and it definitely gave them more self-confidence as they now realise that they have hidden talents. The girls enjoyed the learning experience very much indeed and have grown to love theatre work and productions.

For most of us, the performances are over. However, for the students, they will now reflect on their performances and learning journey so as to articulate school values associated to their experiences such as tolerance, teamwork, independence, respect as well as excellence and ensure that the values are transferred to their daily practice. Several times during the whole process leading to the performances, they met with various challenges and obstacles which required them to be adaptable and innovative in solving the unforeseen problems that arose. Thankfully, with the constant support and encouragement from the teachers-in-charge of Cabin Club lessons along with the respective trainers as well as the efforts from the form teachers and co-form teachers, the girls overcame them all, put their best foot forward and proved that they are indeed an amazing bunch of girls! At the same time, the experiences have enabled them to become more confident individuals who truly believe that each and every individual is naturally talented and that with the right skills, attitude, discipline as well as proper guidance and instruction, they will shine even brighter than diamonds.

BMW Memory Kit: Reflection Booklet

A means to consolidate learning over the 3 days and beyond, your daughter had a valuable opportunity at pulling together her own learning over the BMW preparation and celebration proper. Many heads were bent over in intense concentration as students pored over their thoughts and learning in creative artistic and literary expressions, as they made decisions on their favourite experiences and more.

Building My Singapore: Lego Activity

As a special activity for SG50, students explored creating their own spaces and places in Singapore in groups for the Lego activity as part of Building My Singapore. Students were given an opportunity to appreciate Singapore’s journey by gaining awareness about Singapore’s heritage from a young age, as well as take ownership in shaping the spaces they shared with others in Singapore’s landscape. Many beaming faces could be seen at the end of the activity, as students showed off their masterpieces to each other and explained the symbolism behind their creations.

Sandwich Making (Lower Sec)

For BMW this year, we introduced a new item, Sandwich Making Competition which was held on 22th July. It was an intense half an hour during which the individual teams had to assemble their most nutritious and appealing sandwich with pre-prepared ingredients. When time was up, each team made a presentation to the panel of judges.

Talentime The Stars

The Stars 2015 was conceptualised as an opportunity for KC students to step out of their comfort zone, embrace their talents and share them with the masses as effective communicators. The auditions saw over 20 acts of distinct variety participating, from Pop and Lock artistes, to classical musicians, K-Pop dancers and soulful R&B singers. The judges of The Stars were truly impressed by the immense quality in talent and decided to put through 4 individual acts, Iva, Celeste Wong, Sarah and Hadirah as well as 5 group acts, Frozen Popsicles, Dancers not Movers, Miss4, Siren Crew and Cat & Glenice to the finals.

At the finals, which was held in conjunction with KC’s first ever Family Night, the audience was in for a treat as our student emcee, Denise Tan of Sec 5/0, masterfully guided them through a starry night of talent and finesse. The contestants really put on unbelievable performances, with some teachers in the audience even expressing astonishment at the hidden talents of some of the students they teach.

Indeed, because of the high level of talent, our teacher judges who took on famous characters like The Terminator, Mr. Unbelievable and Barbarella on stage really had their work cut out for them. After much deliberation, the final two winners from each category were announced to much fanfare. In the Individual category, Celeste Wong was the first runner up with Sarah El-Hilo as the winner. Dancers not Movers were the first runner up with Siren Crew as winners in the Group category. The evening of The Stars, closed with the participants, judges and teachers singing the finale song, Jessie J’s Flashlight, reminding ourselves never to stop pursuing our talents, always seeking to shine brightly like the stars they are.

Exhibitions

Art
The exhibits were pieces of work produced for the 2015 mid-year examination which had ‘Celebrating 50 years of Singapore Art’ as the theme. The works produced were presented as a mural design proposal that melds the design of several illustrious artworks by at least 3 local artists. The artworks featured were those that were completed between 1965 and 2015. Students were also allowed to integrate into their design symbols and iconography that represent aspects of Singapore and/or National Gallery Singapore.

“Dim Sum Dollies, History of Singapore Part 2” exhibits
The exhibits showcased a range of landmark events in the history of Singapore in the last 50 years. These boards showed images with accompanying notes that were taken from the Straits Times photo files.

Performances by Secondary 4 Drama Elective Programme and Dramatic Arts Society (Odyssey of the Mind) students
11 students from the Drama Elective Programme presented excerpts from the plays that they have been working on in class as part of the busking festivities of BMW. The students were also joined on stage by Dramatic Arts Society (Odyssey of the Mind) students. Their performances were a remarkable show of effort and talent and served as a mirror of social issues, reflecting the challenges faced by humans in different places and spaces. With the use of minimal props and costumes, the performances truly showed raw acting talent as their interpretation of the plays were brought to life before the audience’s eyes.

External Performances

The Scape Invasion Tour
Staff and students were given a taster of local music as the SCAPE Invasion Tour took to the stage of KC. An outreach programme that seeks to showcase made-in-Singapore bands and musicians, emotions ran high as the girls and some teachers sang along to the tunes of local bands The Summer State and headliner, Gentle Bones. The performance was hosted by DJ Kimberly from 987fm, who certainly injected more than a touch of fame and celebrity madness to the event. The girls were also introduced to the music scene of Singapore by West Grand Boulevard’s Syed Hyder as well as encouraged to ignore negative prejudice and to always support local talent. The musical performance finally cumulated in a wefie with the school audience, creating a memorable experience for the students.

Gamelan Express by Asmaradana Gamelan
This is an imaginary musical train journey through the Malay-Archipelago. The audience was treated to a range of tuneful popular traditional gamelan music that is commonly used in various situations i.e. for processions, celebrations, dance performance and for an orchestral accompaniment to a wayang kulit theatre performance.

Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony began with foot-tapping tunes from two solo performers from the KC Band. The Infocomm Club worked hard behind the scenes to put together a video of precious moments from the BMW, eliciting cries of recognition and applause from students as they relived the excitement of the 3 days in those few moments on screen. This was followed by an inspired take on KC history by the Secondary 4 and 5 students, who took on the challenge of interpreting KC Icons such as Blessed Barre, Mrs Marie Bong and even symbols such as marguerites and the spindle, and presented these to the school population, to much applause. Emotions rose to a high during the BMW Quiz, where all classes participated, BINGO-style. High spirits were evident when an external Bhangra performance made their entry down the aisle of the school hall, and everyone joined in with the dance moves enthusiastically. Just when everyone thought BMW had sadly drawn to a close, students and teachers alike were treated to a surprise item, KC’s Teachers’ Edition of a Bhangra dance, which was received with much enthusiasm.

The event ended on a high, with loud cheers as our Vice-Principal then rounded off the BMW festivities, cheering the efforts of both students and staff in celebrating KC’s strong heritage in the English Language, Literature and the arts, with a focus on integration this year with National Education, and other subjects, including History, Social Studies, and Mathematics. It has been a truly memorable experience for all!