Eunoia Junior College (EJC) has a name some have dismissed as pretentious, but principal Wong Mei Heng says the school's focus is on substance and character.
"We want to anchor students in values... We are not building elitism. We are building quality, and (this) quality is accessible to all," she told The Straits Times on Thursday.
In addition to its academic curriculum, EJC, which welcomes its pioneer batch this year, offers four "flagship" programmes - the passion pursuit, life coaching, talent development and world readiness programmes to help students discover their purpose in life.
Said Mrs Wong, 57: "We always hear people say how (Singapore's) students are excellent students. But when it comes to creativity, being innovative, being willing to step out of their comfort zone, we don't usually see that happening."
She hopes EJC's flagship programmes will foster these attitudes, and a "nimbleness to adapt to what happens in the future".
Eunoia is at a temporary site in Mount Sinai off Holland Road. The new campus in Sin Ming will be ready in late 2019.
The school now has about 440 Joint Integrated Programme students from Catholic High School, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School and Singapore Chinese Girls' School. Three were offered places via the Direct School Admission Exercise. On Feb 3, they will be joined by 210 students coming in through the O levels.
EJC's academic curriculum features A-level subjects, and special programmes like the bicultural studies (Chinese), humanities scholarship and music elective programmes.
The world readiness programme aims to make students more culturally intelligent, through dinners and seminars with guest speakers such as migrant workers or international students.
The passion pursuit programme will get students to reflect on what excites them, and find ways to pursue their passions actively. Highlights include an "Unconference Day" (a conference designed by students), a guest speaker series, and "Deep Dive Day" when students get to delve deeper into a topic through discussions and talks.
Said Ms Adrienne de Souza, 30, department head for project work and flagship programmes: "Everyone has passions, but a lot of people might not find their passion in life because they don't search for it."
EJC's first few student batches will play a key role in shaping its culture. To give them the chance to do so, vice-principal Boy Eng Seng, 40, said "the (staff) management team was careful not to over-plan".
The uniform was designed by a student, and about 10 students are in the midst of composing the school song. Students will also have the chance to co-create the school's code of conduct and name CCAs.
Student Mickel Ng, 16, previously from Catholic High, said: "(EJC) is one of the few places where we don't have seniors to lead us. It will give us the opportunity to construct a unique school identity."