The new junior colleges to emerge from the 2019 mergers will be even stronger schools - this is the rallying cry of Jurong Junior College (JJC) principal Hang Kim Hoo.
With JJC slated to move to the Pioneer JC site, he highlighted how his school offers the Chinese Language Elective Programme, while the other JC has one for Malay.
"It's almost like this new JC is going to be the West Zone centre of excellence for mother tongue language elective programmes!" he said, urging students to look on the bright side of the mergers.
With Jurong, Innova, Serangoon and Tampines junior colleges set to stop taking in new students next year, this has raised concerns among JC1 students. Will they get to run orientation camps as seniors next year, and what about team sports and uniformed co-curricular activities (CCAs)? Dr Hang raised the possibility of JJC working with Pioneer by combining CCAs next year.
Innova already has a head start. Its principal Michael de Silva said: "We have been working with Yishun JC, our partner college, on possibilities of even having combined teams - not only in sports, but also in the Singapore Youth Festival."
Still, many students whom The Straits Times spoke to were disappointed by news of the mergers. JJC's Christabel Lee, 16, said: "We won't have juniors next year. If we want to be an OGL (orientation group leader), we will have to go to a 'foreign' school to do it."
Schoolmate Ang Hua Bin, also 16, said he would have considered applying for a different junior college if he had known of the merger last year. "They should have told us earlier," he rued. "Not when we've been here only two months."
Christabel said she was "twice as sad" over the JJC merger, as she is an alumna of Shuqun Secondary, which will move to Yuhua Secondary.
Alumni of the affected JCs also expressed some concern.
Serangoon JC's alumni association will hold a dialogue for members next month. "With close to 30 batches of graduates in the SRJC alumni, there will be a high level of interest to understand the rationale, implementation and impact of such a merger," its statement said.
JJC alumnus Kenneth Sng, 24, who is a Public Service Commission scholarship holder, said: "Frankly, I am sad to hear that my alma mater will be merged with another school."
He made the news last year when he delivered the opening remarks as the student union president of Washington University in St Louis, at a debate featuring then US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. "But I understand MOE's rationale and I hope the decades-long heritage will be preserved in some form in the new junior college," Mr Sng added.
Drinks stall operator Alice Lim, 54, who has been with Innova JC since it opened in 2005, was worried about business next year, with the student population being halved.
"We need to earn a living so it's definitely not happy news, but I will still continue serving the school, and hopefully in 2019, there will be new canteen vendor positions that I can apply for," she said.