Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Schools give back to mark SG50

New Town's past and present students come up with time capsule for future cohorts
Thank the past, make the future thankful
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

A commemorative book from the school's official opening in 1966, an old school bell and letters from its alumni to future students.

These were among 50 items that students and staff of New Town Secondary School voted for, and put into a time capsule last Thursday.

The time capsule has been placed on a walkway outside the canteen, with the items prominently displayed, instead of being buried.

Vice-principal Gideon Yong said: "We want students to be able to see the items related to the school's rich history and culture. It helps them understand that many people have contributed to the school for it to be what it is today. And now, the school is in their hands. They can think about how they can contribute and give back to the school." by paying it forward and doing good for others.

Many have embarked on charity projects supported by SG50 Giving, launched by the Ministry of Education earlier this year. Under the initiative, the ministry gave a sum of money to schools, junior colleges, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to use for causes that they identify with.

The initiative aims to encourage students to think about how they can work with registered charities, as part of the values education programme in school.

Primary and secondary schools and junior colleges received $20,000 each, while polytechnics got $150,000 each and the ITE was given $250,000.

In one of the ITE's projects, students worked with the Teck Ghee Citizens' Consultative Committee to repair taps and install grab-bars in flats in Block 420 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10.

The students surveyed each household to determine the kind of assistance required, before carrying out the basic installation and repair works. They also gave fire extinguishers and first-aid kits to the residents.

Republic Polytechnic chose to lend a hand to the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped. Social enterprise management students organised a Dining in the Dark session in February this year, where participants had a meal in complete darkness for an hour.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the challenges that visually handicapped people face in their daily lives. The polytechnic plans to hold another run later this year.

Evergreen Primary School in Woodlands donated its $20,000 to non-profit group Food From The Heart, which distribute food to the needy.

Since 2005, the group has been providing food packs to the school's low-income pupils. Each pack contains items such as biscuits, rice and noodles, which can last a family of four to five members for about one month.

In recent years, the school's staff and students have helped the organisation pack goodie bags for its beneficiaries.

Vice-principal Chua Lay Na said: ''We decided to give back to Food From The Heart to affirm and appreciate the good work it has done.''

The school also got pupils to pen their thoughts on why there is a need to donate.

Mrs Chua said: ''We wanted to give purpose to the act, and get them to understand why the partnership started.''

Juying Secondary School in Jurong West donated its $20,000 to its long-standing partner, non-profit group Tzu Chi Foundation. Principal Seet Tiat Hee said: ''We have a number of students who are on financial assistance schemes and Tzu Chi provides some of them with food coupons and a transport allowance. The SG50 Giving fund is a good way for us to give back to it.''

Our students from various schools presented their schools' contributions from an e-book titled 'SG50 Reflections: Our...
Posted by Ministry of Education, Singapore on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Juying Secondary School
Beary good idea sparks big charity drive
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

What started as a workshop to engage some students at Juying Secondary School in Jurong West became its major charity event.

Principal Seet Tiat Hee had asked a parent volunteer, housewife Karen Chng, 42, to teach more than 20 Secondary 3 students - who did not go on an overseas learning trip with their schoolmates in May - how to make teddy bears. The students were divided into six groups.

Each group made two bears in two days.

One of the students, Bryan Lai, 15, had quipped that he could sell his bears for $150 each.

"I thought our bears looked nice, and I was joking that we could sell them. I didn't think it would become reality," he said.

This prompted Mr Seet to ask his friends if they would be interested in buying the bears, with the proceeds going to charity.

"I managed to get a friend who was interested. He bought the first bear for $100," said Mr Seet.

Before long, all the 12 teddy bears made by the students were sold.

Teachers and other staff members made another 18 bears, with some bearing the Singapore flag and the SG50 logo.

These bears also found homes quickly, with one donor even paying $1,000 for a bear.

The sales raised $8,888 for the Autism Association (Singapore).

Last Thursday, Mr Seet invited those who had bought the bears to a presentation ceremony at the school to celebrate National Day in advance. The fundraiser was just one of the ways the school marked Singapore's 50th birthday.

It is also donating $20,000, given by the Ministry of Education under the SG50 Giving initiative to encourage students to work with charities, to the Tzu Chi Foundation.

The non-profit group conducts house visits and provides food coupons and transport allowances to the school's low-income students.

Mr Seet said: "Most of our students come from very humble homes. But we want to encourage them to think outwards, and how they can use their efforts to impact other people.

"I want the students to understand that even if they don't have much, they can still contribute to society."

Madam Chng said: "I was just happy to teach the students how to make bears, because not many are interested in this craft these days.

"I didn't expect the project to grow this big."

Dr Lai Kin Seng, 48, an old friend of Mr Seet's from their days as students at Raffles Institution, had bought the last bear for $698.

Dr Lai, a researcher at DSO National Laboratories, said: "Much as we hope the donation will help to raise awareness of autism, we can also see how this cause has shown the students of Juying how a thought carried out to implementation can go a long way."

Evergreen Primary School
Grandparents join school celebrations
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

Anxious to be on time for her grandson's school event that would start at 7.30am last Thursday, Madam Ngan Sai Mui, 74, travelled from her Marine Parade home to stay the night at his Woodlands home. It was her first time attending a school event with her grandson, Leong Jun Ming, 11, a Primary 5 pupil at Evergreen Primary School in Woodlands.

Madam Ngan has three children and four grandchildren.

Jun Ming's school had asked 50 of its Primary 5 and 6 pupils to invite their grandparents to join its National Day celebrations "as a way of affirming the work our pioneer generation has done", said its vice-principal, Mrs Chua Lay Na.

"We usually talk more to the pupils' parents. This time round, we decided to do something for the grandparents as well," she added.

The school also invited several of its pioneer teachers to the event.

Teachers standing atop tables led about 1,500 pupils and the guests in doing the Great Singapore Workout, a national aerobic routine that was launched in 1993 and popular in schools in the 1990s.

The pupils also sang National Day songs. The grandparents were then ushered to an art exhibition put together by the pupils, and treated to brunch in the school.

Madam Ngan said: "It was fun. I joined in the workout, too, mainly just moving my hands around. I enjoyed myself very much. The celebration was grand. It was good to get together with my grandson and see what a school function is like."

Jun Ming, whom Madam Ngan had looked after when he was in pre-school, said: "I see my grandma about once a month because we live so far away. I sometimes wish I could spend more time with her."

Primary 6 pupil Titus Tan, 12, whose artwork was featured in the art exhibition, said he had learnt more about Singapore's history in the process of creating it.

Titus, with five friends from the school's art club, had made sand-art animation that told the story of Singapore.

He said: "We made drawings to show the different races talking about Singapore's future, and we also showed that there were various pathways to success. You could be working in art or medicine and it will still lead to a successful life."

The pupils' artwork will be displayed at the Woodlands Regional Library from Sept 5 to 13.

The school will also be donating its $20,000 under the SG50 Giving initiative, launched by the Ministry of Education to encourage students to work with charities, to Food From The Heart, which gives food to the needy.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Students raise smiles from strangers - and $80,000
Money goes to two charities that help old people who are in need
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

Smile, for you are doing a good deed.

This was what a group of life sciences and chemical technology students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) told some 50,000 strangers last month, as part of a campaign to raise funds for two charities - the St John's Home for Elderly Persons and Xin Yuan Community Care.

About 800 students went around Singapore, covering areas such as Chinatown, Bugis and Jurong, approaching strangers to smile for a photograph.

Each smile collected $1, split between the two charities.

Mr Scottz Lip, 38, who lectures at NP's school of life sciences and chemical technology, said: "We thought of the idea of a smile campaign because it symbolises gratitude.

"It is to thank our pioneer generation, and also to remind ourselves to be thankful for what we have that others may not have."

It was in this spirit that the two beneficiaries, which help needy old folks, were chosen.

The students raised $80,600 for the charities through the campaign.

This was mostly donated by the polytechnic's industry partners, including pharmaceutical and biotech firm Lonza. A portion of the money qualified for a grant from the Government.

In addition, NP also gave part of the $150,000 that it received from the Ministry of Education under the SG50 Giving initiative to the two charities.

Under the initiative, primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education were each given a sum of money to help their chosen charities.

Student Sheetal Bharadwaj, 19, who participated in the campaign, had set up a booth in NP to collect smiles from students.

"A lot of people were willing to do it once they knew that it was for charity, and they would raise $1," she said.

Fellow schoolmate Sharifah Yasmeen, 19, a landscape design and horticulture student, agreed. She had gone to Bugis to canvass for smiles with her classmates.

She recalled: "I didn't experience a lot of rejections. The people were quite friendly in general. As we approached them, we also told them about the two beneficiaries."

Students from the same school also took a group of 40 old folks out on an excursion to places of heritage around Singapore.

They also organised a donation drive to collect food items for needy families.

Separately, students from NP's mechanical engineering school developed a smart toilet sensor for Ren Ci Community Hospital.

The device is designed to make it easier for caregivers to track the patients' movements in the toilet.

An elderly person who is facing difficulties while in a toilet in the hospital would have to yank an emergency pull cord to alert someone outside for help.

"But the pull cord system is a passive one which requires the patient to be conscious enough to pull it," said NP lecturer Edwin Ho, who is also a senior manager at the polytechnic's automation and system centre.

His students made a smart toilet sensor that measures the distance from the toilet seat cover to the patient's back.

Any change in the distance would mean that the patient is moving. This would then sound an alarm to alert the caregiver outside.

The project, which started in 2012, is now in its final stage and the polytechnic has inked a deal to allow a firm to produce the sensors for the mass market.

Ms Regina Ng, deputy director of the mechanical engineering school, said NP plans to use a portion of its SG50 Giving fund to purchase up to 10 sets of the sensors for Ren Ci Community Hospital.

"Ren Ci is currently using prototypes of the sensor," she said.

"Through this project, students also learn about the community spirit of helping one another."

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