Dance, drama, music and digital arts – more than just passions to tease out interest from students, it’s a way that Bukit Merah Secondary uses to help them grow.
“We’re all in this together,” is not just the refrain from Disney’s High School Musical, it’s a song that binds together students of
Bukit Merah Secondary School, thanks to the school’s Aesthetics Education Programme (AEP).
The 8-week programme gives all Secondary 2 students a chance to choose an area of the arts, and explore their creative interests and build strong ties with other students from different classes who shared the same passion.
“Most importantly, the programme allowed students to grow from strength to strength in their confidence,” says Miss Lim Kailin, teacher-in-charge of the AEP.
Even the students who already have experience in expressing their artistic inclinations benefit from the programme, as the group work involved taught them lessons in humility, empathy, and how to get things right as a team, and not just as individuals.
Legends in the making
The AEP groups got to show what they are made off on the occasion of the school’s 50th anniversary: the Bollywood and Percussion groups from the programme had a field day performing in school’s fourth musical in 10 years,
The Legend of Bukit Merah at Victoria Theatre in March 2018.
The event also involved talents from the school’s Performing Arts Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs) and interested students who were selected from walk-in auditions – a truly whole-school effort.
Elodie Lieu, who played the benevolent and wise queen in The Legend of Bukit Merah, was glad to perform with all her friends. “I was nervous when I first went for the audition, but I put in my best effort and was truly happy that everything turned out well,” said the Secondary 4 student. She also recalled how the grandeur of Victoria Theatre inspired the performers to give of their best.
Her co-actor, Secondary 4 student, Ameesh Singh, who played the role of a scheming Commander-in-Chief, General Wiram, candidly shared how everyone “felt the moment” and rose to the occasion on that memorable day. But to him, there was more: the shared private moments and friendships formed that he most treasured.
Miss Jayne Ng, another teacher-in-charge of the programme, added that the AEP has helped the students to be more resilient.
“To some, it is the first time they have picked up skills to perform in public. Although they struggled at the start, with some encouragement, they managed to support each other throughout the programme and enjoyed the process thoroughly,” she explained.
Discovering passion and developing talents
Students also had the opportunity to exhibit their artistic talents during the weekly Talent Corner performances -- a showcase for students, by students. Groups of students, even entire classes, perform in the school’s foyer for a Friday afternoon audience. There, they receive the heart-warming support of their peers as they sing, rap, dance, play instruments, and more, increasing the vibrancy of their second home.
According to Shehrehbanu Zafar Shaikh, a Secondary 3 student, some of the students have never had the opportunity to perform in front of a big audience, which is why the Talent Corner is an excellent platform for them to overcome their fears as they showcase their talents.
“At first, I was extremely nervous and worried. However, I took it as an opportunity, and it turned out to be a great experience for me. The audience was very respectful and they gave me the support and motivation I needed. I’ve never regretted performing in Talent Corner,” said Shehrehbanu.
Malacaman Salazar, a Secondary 2 student, had similar concerns.
“Having to perform in front of my seniors was a little tough in the beginning. It was really nice to see my friends supporting me when I performed,” enthused Malacaman.
Year after year, through the AEP and the Talent corner, the students exceed their teachers’ highest expectations. With their discovery of the arts and self-expression, they are truly legends in the making.