Students who did well in the GCE O Levels: (from left) Luke Yong, Jonathan Liem and Benjamin Cher.

More than 70 percent eligible for admission to junior collges and polytechnics

Holy Innocents’ High School (HIHS) students have done well in the 2010 GCE O Level Exams.

Top student Lin Yifeng scored eight A1s, while another student, Audrey Sum, scored eight distinctions. Seven other students scored seven distinctions.

Furthermore, 70.5 percent and 97.4 percent of the cohort are eligible for admission to junior college and polytechnic respectively, the highest in five years.

While character development is emphasised by all schools, principal Soh Lai Leng said that in mission schools, students “grow up and learn in an environment that is God-centred and love-centred” with the staff giving “their whole heart” in nurturing the students holistically.

Ms Soh attributed the school’s good results to a few factors – caring, committed teachers who give their best to the students; the 2009 HIHS graduates who did well and set the benchmark for the 2010 batch to perform well; and self-disciplined and motivated students.

Students attest to the dedication of the teachers. Benjamin Cher said that students were given extra lessons and classes on weekdays and Saturdays in preparation for the O Levels.

“It was quite beneficial,” Cher said. The teachers are passionate about their jobs and are genuinely concerned about their students, he added.

Luke Yong said his form teacher even booked an air-conditioned room for the students to use during their study breaks.

Ms Soh said HIHS offers enrichment programmes such as reading and debating workshops for students to boost their English skills. The school also collaborates with Nanyang Polytechnic and National Technological University in research projects and also sends students for mathematics and chemistry olympiads.

The school also holds an intensive week-long programme before the June Mother Tongue examinations.

The principal also stressed that the school admits students with diverse academic abilities – from those with a PSLE score of 188 to those in the 240-point range for the express stream.

Apart from HIHS, several other Catholic schools also fared well in the 2010 O Levels. CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School produced the top O Level student three years in a row. This year, student Chia Pei Yun scored 10 A1s. The school also saw two other students scoring nine A1s.

Catholic High School saw one student scoring nine A1s and one A2 and four other students scoring nine A1s.

CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), Maris Stella High School and St Joseph’s Institution had students who scored nine A1s. Other Catholic schools with at least one student scoring seven A1s or more include CHIJ Katong Convent, CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent, Hai Sing Catholic School, Montfort Secondary School, St Patrick’s School and St Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School.

‘Grateful for extra classes’

Jonathan Liem, who scored seven distinctions, said he is grateful to his teachers who conducted additional classes on Saturdays.

He had initially thought of the classes as a “waste of time”, but later found them helpful in clearing up misconceptions in his studies.

He said he is also thankful for the Masses and once-a-year penitential service held for the students.

Preparing for the examinations is more than memory work, he said. Doing well in studies means understanding the concepts and applying them during the examinations.

It is also important to consult with friends and teachers to check that one has understood the subjects and concepts correctly, he added.

Liem said he is grateful for a Catholic schoolmate’s encouragement during the O Levels when he felt stressed.

‘Friends helped me come out of my shell’

Although Luke Yong suffers from dyslexia, he said his teachers have always treated him like any other student, something he is grateful for.

However, he did get extra one-to-one help in English and Mathematics when he approached the teachers.

He scored an L1R4 of 12 and an L1R5 of 15 in the GCE O Levels which he said was “better than expected”. The school also helped him to appeal to the Ministry of Education for extra time to complete his exams. Yong told CatholicNews that since he would often miss out a few letters while writing, the extra minutes gave him a chance to check his work.

For the first two years of his secondary school life, Yong said he was quiet and kept to himself as he felt “scared and embarrassed” by his condition.

But his classmates did not see him differently, and were friendly and reached out to him. This helped him come out of his shell, and open up to others, he said.

Looking back, he said he really enjoyed the friendships made during his school days.

Two of his Christian friends also inspired him to become a better Catholic, Yong added.

Being involved with the scouts also helped him to become less introverted and taught him that “tough times don’t last, only tough men do”. These words helped him during his preparation for his O Levels.

Yong nearly did not manage to make it into HIHS. His PSLE score of 209 was lower than the cut-off point for non-affiliated students. However, then principal Pauline Wong allowed him to join the school.

Yong said he is also grateful to his choir friends at St Anne’s Church for their prayers and encouragement.

‘School boosted my leadership skills’

Holy Innocents’ High School helped me develop leadership skills, said Benjamin Cher, who attained seven distinctions in the GCE O Levels.

Cher who was in the Students Council said that being in the organisation helped him develop his leadership potential and taught him to be more articulate.

He was involved in the planning committee for the Secondary One and Two school camps.

Cher also participated in the Young Christians Students Movement (YCS).

He was its vice-chairman in Secondary Two and its chairman in Secondary Three and Four.

He also held the position of vice-secretary and led the training team in the national office.

YCS gave me the opportunities to show my leadership qualities through assigned tasks at the national level, he said.

He added that this co-curricular activity has helped him to collect his thoughts through the weekly reflections.

The parishioner of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary said he feels at home in the school as “people and staff were all very warm”.

He admitted that he was surprised at his results because he was “not significantly top” in his level.

During the examination period, he said he put the Litany of the Saints on repeat mode on his iPod which helped him to relax.

He also said that he lifted everything up to God, and prayed for strength and wisdom so that he would be able to concentrate and maintain a clear mind during the examinations.

Cher is involved with the Mandarin ministry of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

By Darren Boon
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