Pilgrimage

On foot of the persistent and worrisome decline in birth rates in Singapore since the 1960s, the Ministry of Education issued a communiqué on April 20 to apprise the general public of the amalgamations of fourteen primary schools, six secondary schools, as well as eight junior colleges in 2019. In spite of its clear-sightedness, this measure—a necessary evil, if you will—aroused monumental dismay and disconcertment amongst various alumni, including several former classmates of mine.

I was remotely puzzled. When my mobile phone pinged and this very announcement was delivered to me in the form of a WhatsApp message a few hours before Facebook was inundated with unhappy post after unhappy post about the mergers, I was able to rapidly come to terms with the fact that Shuqun Secondary School, my alma mater, is amongst the hand-picked twenty-eight educational institutions. So why is this not the case with everyone else?

Perhaps it is the conventional notion of what happens next that annihilates any hopes of dispelling the rippling sadness. When the time is ripe and the campus on 450 Jurong East Street 21 is uprooted and emptied out, so will the canteen, parade square, and classrooms.

Over and above that are the raspy guffaws and high-pitched chortles of teenage boys and girls—an unambiguous attestation of yet another fruitful history lesson well conducted, the choking sobs of studious adolescents whose hard work failed to pay off handsomely in a test, the squeaks and screeches that rent the air when volleyball players transformed the multi-purpose hall into a makeshift court and hid away to train for hours on end, the harsh-sounding uproar as band members tooted their trumpets and flutes and clanged their cymbals asynchronously, and the pandemonium that occurred before the morning assembly every weekday as run-of-the-mill students rendezvoused with scholarly ones to recklessly reproduce their homework; the heart and soul of a close-knit community that made Shuqun Secondary School, well, Shuqun Secondary School.

Today's one-word prompt is Avid.
The featured image is courtesy of Filip Gielda.
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