The Mount Sinai Campus: A farewell, some nostalgia, and the friends we made along the way

By Teo Hui Sian (25S06C) and Valerie Ng Qi Xuan (25S06N)

The places they once walked: a small ledge in the crevice of a wall, a mini amphitheatre in the corner of the campus, a hill in the middle of the classroom block. Carrom boards in the concourse, the (now empty) canteen just a stone’s throw away from the track, the corridor between Lecture Theatre 2 and 3 (affectionately termed LT 2.5). 

The Mount Sinai campus was home to the RI batches of 1984 to 2004, residing comfortably in a landed enclave near Ghim Moh Road. Even after RJC had moved to the current Bishan campus, it was used as a holding site for Eunoia Junior College from 2017 to 2020. Recently, however, it was unfortunately announced that the campus would be demolished to make way for future residential developments (now other people will call it home). 

Nostalgia is a powerful weapon—on Sunday afternoon, 26 May 2024, more than 2000 RJC alumni would make their way to their erstwhile home away from home as part of the event Thanks for the Memories: RJC @ Mount Sinai. This would also be the last time

these former Rafflesians would get the opportunity to visit their old haunts. 

One can imagine, with the green, black and white returning to the Mount Sinai campus for the first time in 20 years, the campus wouldn’t look or feel familiar. Yet, some alumnus beg to differ—    

“Still looks the same, actually!”

We’ll take their word for it—though, it is certainly difficult to imagine our present-day JC lives being played out at the Mount Sinai Campus. Comparing our beloved Bishan campus and the one that came right before it, the similarities are few, and the differences, stark and numerous.  

A pair of alumni from the Class of 2004—the very last batch to have occupied the Mount Sinai Campus, recall to us their fond memories at the campus’ indoor gym. 

“(My favourite spot) was actually the indoor gym. We had a lot of memories playing floorball with the PE teachers at that time.” 

In fact, they tell us of a time where they made up the very first batch of A-division NSG floorball players. However, while these alumni can relate to a timeless love for sports that our current Bishan campus also plays host to, it seems their vocabulary doesn’t  quite share the same connotation as that of present-day JC students. Back then, “Hitting the gym” for one’s workout likely didn’t look the same.

“There was this culture where, on Friday evenings, the teachers would just gather in the indoor gym. Whoever wants to play – it’s an open court session, we’d be here until 8 or 9.” 

The indoor gym of the Mount Sinai Campus. 

No shortage of workout equipment on campus!

Another difference—the absence of modern luxuries. There were no air conditioned classrooms, no modern gym equipment, no Gryphon Vision boards, and no lifts. However, some may think it’s a worthy trade-off, since every classroom and amenity was contained within a maximum of 4 levels. 

The view inside the classroom block. 

“It may not look like much and it’s old and it doesn’t have as many facilities as new buildings. But actually, for us, it fits all the purposes that it requires.”

They say old is gold, and perhaps the architecture of the Mount Sinai campus proves that point. The relatively small campus seems to have embraced an open floor plan; cramming the classrooms, labs, lecture theatres, canteen, general office and sport facilities into a thin line of concrete that surrounds and overlooks the open field and track. 

This makes the campus open, cosy, well-ventilated, and dense, all at the same time. From the stadium steps alone, you’d get a taste of the concrete jungle that was the classroom block, the red rubber of the running track, the verdure of the field and towering trees that littered the campus, and the commotion coming from the canteen. 

It really felt like if there was something going on in school, you could feel it on the outside when coming in.”

Principal Loh, hailing from the campus as a student and a teacher (it was where he served his first teaching post), tells us:

“(The campus was) cosy… and it’s not really a very spread out campus, it’s very dense. We would see each other all the time.” 

Principal Loh

The view from the stadium steps. 

As you walk through the campus, taking in every sight and sound that fills the compound as it did some 20 years ago, you would realise that these old Rafflesians are not alone. Whether it was praying at the mini amphitheatre before morning assembly, sleeping in the Lecture Theatre, escaping from lessons, or even just sitting in the canteen after school, they were (and still are) always with their friends.  

They have never walked these grounds alone.

“I have very good memories of meeting great people.”

Maybe it is about the people. The Mount Sinai campus is nothing too impressive; just enough to house a school of JC students. And so who can deny that we owe the grandeur of school life to the people around us? The simplest and most mundane of activities—walking from venue to venue, having a meal in the canteen, or just sitting around in class—how could it possibly be the same without the people? 

The fact of friendship transcends the boundaries of time and space. What once was at Mount Sinai also is at Bishan. And so the next time you step into the school compound, take a look around you. Without the people—your friends, acquaintances, teachers, the list goes on—the campus would just be floors and walls and doors. It’s the people who make a place. 

Now after you take that glance, know that the time we have here is not so long. Go out with your friends more often, have that one more conversation, smile at them again. Maybe (with almost full certainty), some 20 years later, you’ll be glad that you did.  

“Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”  

Homer, The Iliad


For more stories, visit Raffles Press.

Tagged Topics

#Farewell #Mount Sinai Campus #Raffles Press #RJC

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