Boarding programme

'A challenge' to mentor other students

Secondary 4 students Teh Hong Yi (left) and Irving de Boer, both 16, in their room at Hwa Chong Institution Boarding School.
Secondary 4 students Teh Hong Yi (left) and Irving de Boer, both 16, in their room at Hwa Chong Institution Boarding School. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

At Hwa Chong Institution, some students like the boarding programme so much that they rejoin it - as "captains" to guide younger students.

While the boarding scheme is mainly for Secondary 3 students, it has been extended to some in Sec 4 and junior college in recent years. This year, 20 Sec 4 students signed up to return as mentors - the highest number so far.

Teh Hong Yi, 16, a "cluster captain" - a senior who guides about 15 to 18 Sec 3 juniors living in a cluster in the same block - said it was a good opportunity to get some perspective. "Last year, we came in as boarders, so our responsibility was just restricted to ourselves. I realised that it's actually quite a hassle having to take care of 16 other boarders, but I suppose you can take it as a challenge," he said.

As a cluster captain, he is accountable for the boarders under him. He has to make sure they stick to their curfew and turn up regularly for daily study sessions at night.

"One of the main challenges would be accountability - if one of them goes missing, you can't sleep at night. Sometimes they may get rowdy, so it is also our job to keep them in check and remind them that they are living in a larger community," said Hong Yi.

Dragon Chew, another Sec 4 cluster captain, said he chose to return to the programme this year because he hoped to give back.

"There is a lot of freedom here and you can decide what you want to do, and when you want to do it. But the liberty that you are given is a privilege, and you are accountable for your actions, so you learn to regulate yourself.

"There is also a certain level of decorum you need to ensure respect from others around you," said the 16-year-old.

Yuen Sin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline ''A challenge' to mentor other students'. Print Edition | Subscribe