Speech by Mr Martin Tan, P/NLS, at NorthLight School’s New Campus Official Opening and 10th Anniversary

on 21 September 2016

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Mr Ong Ye Kung

Acting Minister (Higher Education & Skills)

Mr Bob Tan

Chairman, ITE Board of Governors

Ms Low Khah Gek

Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools

Mr Bruce Poh

Chairman, NorthLight Board of Directors

Ms Euleen Goh

Chairman, NorthLight Board of Governors

Parents, Partners, Colleagues, and Students (Past and Present)

1.        Thank you for joining us this evening.

Students First

2.      Every day is a special day in NorthLight. There is so much life and positive energy here. Students arrive in school each day looking forward to learning from their teachers and growing with their friends. They know that every day in school is filled with opportunities to learn and grow. They also know that the school cares deeply for them and will do its best to help them succeed no matter what their challenges are. The students appreciate their teachers who go the extra mile to help them feel accepted and believe in them.

3.      The culture and environment in NorthLight provides for an encouraging and motivating climate for students to do their best. Within the curriculum, students receive strong guidance and support to strengthen their literacy, numeracy and ICT competencies which provides a strong base for lifelong learning. In vocational education, students learn skills to enhance their employability in the hospitality, retail, mechanical and facility services. Most importantly, in character education, we instill in students the SHINE values such as sincerity and honesty. Through formal and informal activities as well as CCA and VIA, students also learn the Habits of Mind such as managing impulsivity and persistence.

Shining Stars

4.      Azlan Abdullah Lim and Muhd Almi, the winners of the Lee Hsien Loong Special Achievement Award and Tay Eng Soon Scholarship respectively for 2016 are shining examples of students who have benefited from their teachers’ dedication and passion. Like their school mates who started their education journey afresh in NorthLight, they rose above their challenges to excel during their time here. Tapping on his natural ability in dance, Azlan participated widely in many public performances and looked forward to performing during community visits to the elderly homes such as the Hospice Care. He rallied his schoolmates to practise hard so that they could put up good performances for the community.  Through it all, Azlan built his confidence and self-belief, enabling him to demonstrate good character and care for others as well as scoring a 4.0 GPA. Almi, on the other hand, volunteered at last year’s SEA Games which S’pore hosted and did a great job helping the athletes in various ways at the Nila Suite where they rested in between competition. Almi is also a leader in school where he has led by example on many occasions such as cleaning up the canteen on his own initiative and in the process inspiring his classmates to do the same as well as returning a handphone he had found to the office. Both students are currently in ITE.

5.      This year alone, I have received a number of emails from the public to highlight our students’ gracious and kind deeds. On two separate instances, it was about our students giving up their seats on the MRT for a pregnant commuter and an elderly lady. Both commuters were touched by the actions of our students in giving up their seats and one of them pointed out that there must be something great that the student has learnt at NorthLight. Another remarked that the student had made the effort to offer the seat despite looking visibly exhausted. The third instance involved three students who helped a young boy retrieve two $1 coins that had fallen into the gap between the extended platform and a milk tea stall at the nearby Boon Keng MRT station. They took over a pen that the boy had been using in vain to dig the coins out and managed to help him retrieve the coins. The boy’s mother was very grateful and said that it was truly heartening to know that the students are kind and caring towards their younger peers. She added, ‘They have done NorthLight proud!’

6.      All the students have worked very hard to prepare for this evening’s event. You would have noticed that each chair contains a bag which we have prepared for you. Inside the bag, you will find a box with a unique tag SOOC (which stands for sch official opening ceremony) and a set of coasters which our students have hand-coloured. The bag also contains a commemorative book entitled The NorthLight Story that we hope you will enjoy reading. Last but not least, the students who are performing tonight have spent many months practicing including during their school holidays to refine their moves. They are very excited to share with you their talents and determination to succeed in what they have set out to do.

Staff – Key Asset

7.      Indeed we are very appreciative of the many people who have helped to build the school in the early years. I would add that the unsung heroes who have sustained the initial good work till now are the teachers. Every day, there are many moments and examples of unconditional acceptance and care for the students shown by the teachers. Visitors sometimes ask me how do I inspire and keep the teachers going. The reality is that very often I am inspired by my teachers. More than just teach, teachers here make uncountable home visits when students are not in school, take those who are sick to the doctors, buy food for those who are hungry and provide counselling support for those who are emotionally affected by family breakups and other setbacks. Recently, a few teachers spoke up on behalf of the students in the Financial Assistance Scheme to express the need for the school to raise the daily meal allowance of $3 by a dollar to $4. They noted that students on FAS could only afford to either buy food at recess or lunch but not during both breaks. Taking into consideration that food may also not be available at home for these students, the school agreed with the teachers’ passionate plea. Needless to say, it made the students very happy. Taken together, with the teachers being supported by a strong team of counsellors and admin staff, the staff are the greatest asset of NorthLight.

Appreciation

8.      I would like to thank MOE for giving the NorthLight students this new campus with great facilities. The shift to our new campus in 2015 was an inflection point as the improved facilities served to provide a better environment and greater motivation for students to learn. The new campus has enabled the staff to design and deliver more engaging experiences. Through the guidance of Zonal Director Mrs Ng Ai Lin and Cluster Superintendent Mdm Lee Tee Choon, the school has grown from strength to strength. I also want to thank ITE for the constant support in areas such as governance, curriculum and staff capacity. In particular, ITE CEO Mr Bruce Poh and BOG Chairman Mr Bob Tan. Last but not least, the school is blessed to have Ms Euleen Goh as its BOG Chairperson since its inception. Her dedication and passion for the mission of NorthLight inspires my staff and I to give our best every day.

9.      I would like to thank everyone for your strong support for NorthLight over the years. My staff and I look forward to continuing our partnership with you in this national mission. I wish you a pleasant evening with us. Thank you.

10.    It is now my duty and honour to invite PM to address us.