St Joseph's Institution (SJI) is not just looking for boys with book smarts or sporting ability.
The school introduced new areas in innovation, leadership, visual art and music through the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme last year, in line with changes to better recognise pupils' non-academic talent. It also scrapped the academic category, which previously allowed pupils with just good grades to apply to the school.
SJI offers both the O-level track and the Integrated Programme (IP), which leads to the International Baccalaureate after six years. It gave out 40 offers to pupils who applied for the O-level route next year and 50 offers to those on the IP.
SJI principal Adrian Danker said: "Our mission has always been that everybody who comes has some gift to give to the school."
He added that SJI wants to set aside places for pupils who are talented in other areas, given that those who enter the IP already score well for the PSLE. Pupils applying through innovation are given tasks, and teachers will look out for traits such as creativity and the ability to work in teams, he said.
Housewife Yuna Durairah Abdul Rahman, 38, whose Secondary 4 son got into SJI through the DSA academic category, said she initially thought the scheme was for children whose parents had more resources for extra classes.
"I tell my sons to just be themselves and, if they have the ability and means, they will get into the school they want," she said. Her husband is a taxi driver.
Her Secondary 1 son, Muhammad Daiyan Iskandar, 13, was also admitted to SJI because of his leadership qualities. The former head prefect in Dazhong Primary said: "I like SJI because it's like a family, and it's not about exams and competitions.