When the first figments of sentences I heard upon stepping into Pioneer Junior College’s assembly hall were “Welcome back J2 students from your short break", "Last weekend to let your hair down and relax", "The night study programme will commence next week”, I knew the students from this institution have plenty on their cluttered minds to worry about constantly.
At least to me, junior colleges have always seemed terrifying – all thanks to enforced regimental discipline, an intimidating slew of examinations and uniforms (oh god, the uniforms). These folks certainly deserve a pat on their backs for investing heap loads of time, hard work, determination and focus into their studies — all over the course of two years.
However, it was nothing short of heartwarming to see this skeptical group break into a loud roar of cheers and applause as the emcees for the eighth stop of *SCAPE Invasion Tour – 987FM DJs Gerald Koh and Joakim Gomez — sprung out from behind the curtains with an energetic introduction to rile up the crowd.
And I have got to admit they did a stellar job, combating the spells of a sleep-inducing rainy weather most of the students seem to be under, alongside singer-songwriter Daphne Khoo and one of the *SCAPE Invasion headliners, Michaela Therese.
While it may still seem like morning assemblies are probably not something the students of Pioneer Junior College usually look forward, I am certain the invasion has changed that completely.
Assuredly the most magical thing about these two ladies is their stunning ability to turn frowns into bright smiles and rigid cross-legged sitting positions into finger-snapping, head bopping upper-body swaying with little or no provocation.
Apart from dazzling many with her heartfelt lyrics and that familiar vocal prowess, the former Singapore Idol contestant (whom many would better remember her as) also shared with the students her inspiring story of how her love for music was found and how this fervency was nurtured.
Meanwhile, a trademark voluminous and endearing voice could also be heard piercing through a mélange of groovy drum chops, soothing keyboard passages and thumping basslines as Therese belted out a string of soulful tunes – boasting her spectacular vocal gymnastics.
In addition, singer-songwriter Inch Chua spoke to Pioneer Junior College about pursuing a career in music and the essence of good mentorship, prompting many to lean in to listen in earnest interest. Those paying close attention would definitely have picked up a couple of helpful pointers from the SXSW Music Festival alumni that would prove beneficial in the near future.
Well it’s entirely safe to say that thsis Friday morning invasion definitely made its mark on the first Junior College on the checklist – and a memorable one for the relentless muggers, daredevil rebels, avid music fans and aspiring musicians alike, each with a little takeaway from the pleasant morning.
Or for some, a much-needed calm before the ‘A’ Levels storm.