Mayflower Secondary School student Goh An Soon woke up before sunrise on a public holiday to represent his school at a community walk yesterday.
But the 16-year-old made the most of it by getting his MP, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to sign a photograph he had taken with him two years ago.
An Soon, who keeps up to date on current affairs and hopes to be a Member of Parliament one day, said it was "extra meaningful" to meet the Prime Minister on National Day.
"It hasn't been easy for Singapore to come this far. With issues like terrorism affecting other countries, we should be thankful for every year that goes by without incident," he said.
Yesterday, the People's Association held several community walks across the island to celebrate the nation's 51st birthday.
In Ang Mo Kio GRC's Teck Ghee ward, about 3,000 residents of all ages and races made their way from Teck Ghee Community Club to Townsville Primary School.
The two buildings were only 1km apart, but the walk took residents close to an hour to complete as many approached Mr Lee, who accompanied residents on the walk with Mrs Lee, for selfies.
During the walk, Mr Lee gave out Singapore flags and exchanged National Day greetings.
A number of residents also approached him with requests for municipal improvements.
Among them was Madam Lim Ee Chu, 70, who asked for a traffic light near her block so that children and factory workers would be able to cross the road safely.
"That would be a meaningful National Day present," she said.
At Townsville Primary School, Mr Lee joined the residents and participants in singing the National Anthem and reciting the Pledge. They also sang popular songs like Stand Up For Singapore and Home.
Madam Balakrishnan Padmapathi, 64, who moved to Teck Ghee from Sembawang earlier this year, said she enjoyed the walk as it gave her a chance to meet new neighbours. "We have talked about the importance of living in harmony with one another. What better way to celebrate it than this?" she said.
Another resident, retired wireless operator Kham Tim, 77, said the walk was an alternative to his daily qigong exercises.
He quipped in Mandarin: "It is my national duty to keep my medical bills down by staying fit!"