Saturday 31 August 2013

by Amanda Lee Yue Ping, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Many a Merdeka I've spent sleeping in, waking up perhaps in time to watch the last of the Merdeka celebration on TV, then spend the rest of the day relaxing or catching up on work. This year's Merdeka however brings about a change from the usual routine.

Independence Day saw Cempakans waking up early from the comfort of their warm beds to go back to school, much to the chagrin of the parents who have to drive them - “Public holiday also need to go to school ah??”

Well to answer that question, yes. But for a very good cause. For the past week, the IB students have been holding their 'Aid The Needy' campaign in support of raising funds for an orphanage. Their success in the campaign could definitely be seen by the amount of boxes we had to carry from the foyer to the bus. At 8.45 in the morning, the group of us students including a team of security guards, Puan Nurra, Puan Sapura and also Puan Farah, loaded the bus with a miscellany of items- foodstuff, cleaning supplies and even two televisions - all sponsored and donated from the hearts of students, parents, teachers; Cempakans.

Pusat Jagaan Beribuan Kasih located in Kajang, was looking in much better condition after a few renovations and previous visits - courtesy of the IB students and Ms Fahrulina. However, there was still clearly a lot of work to be done.

We were greeted warmly by the manager of the orphanage, Ms Kavitha and the children, before getting started. A few were assigned to sweep the rooms, mop and also to wipe the windows and fans. Others helped build the bookshelves while some interacted with the children.

Quite a lot of work was done for such a short amount of time. And we left the orphanage in a cleaner, happier and better light than it was before with promises from the IB students to visit again the following week to teach the children, like they've been doing for the past few months. In all, I must say that this years Merdeka was very well spent, probably the most meaningful one yet - and I'm sure the other Cempakans would say the same.

Kudos to the students who sacrificed their holiday to give back to the community and lend a helping hand, and to the IB Student Committee for making this project come through.

“ True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what's right.” - Brigham Young
by Unknown 20:29 26 comments | in , , , ,
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Friday 30 August 2013

by Alisraa Aldin Bakar, Form 3 Cempaka, Class of 2015

To many Malaysians, Ramadan is an annual, highly significant event in their calendar. What is Ramadan? Well, your quick Google search would probably tell you that Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is during this month when Muslims all around the world abstain from food and water, from dawn to dusk. 

Many people assume it is a trying task to fast for many hours over such a long period of time. Well, perhaps it is to some. However, Ramadan is so much more than just giving up your favourite dish or your daily dose of caffeine. If it was, it would probably have become the latest diet fad.

In truth, Ramadan is a month where Muslims are fully content to be Muslims. It has always been strongly recommended for us to read the Quran on a regular basis, but it is even more emphasized during this holy month. Many Muslims believe that their good actions will bring a greater reward during this month because it is a month that has been blessed by Allah. 

There are extra prayers every night during this time, which last for about an hour and a half each. The actual night that the Quran was revealed is called 'The Night of Power', and to stand in prayer on that night is said to be better than a thousand months, which surpasses the length of 83 years of worship! One might think: "Who would want to miss such a blessed night?" Well, the catch is that the actual date is actually unknown - it could be any of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Generally, it is believed to occur on an odd numbered night i.e. the night of the 21st, 23rd and so on. Therefore, if we absolutely cannot pray on all the ten nights, we should at least make it a point to pray on odd-numbered ones, or risk missing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For those of us who are not used to a lot of worship, these extra practices may seem quite daunting at the beginning. Although I'll admit I did not commit to those practices every single night, my perspective of things have totally changed. Somewhere along the halfway mark of Ramadan, I began to feel excited, giddy with it even, whenever I walked with my mum to the nearby mosque for prayers. 

When I reflect on it, the month of Ramadan represents a huge opportunity not only for self-purification, but also provides an opportunity to rekindle our faith and to understand and appreciate the blessings we have been given. We are able to stop and reflect on everything we have and have had, gradually deepening our relationship with God. At the same time, it can be an opportunity missed, where one just gets hungry and thirsty without really asking ourselves why we are fasting. That’s the thing about today’s society; so many of our days become routine that we stop thinking about why we do what we do - we just do it.

I often find myself explaining to non-Muslims how I manage to survive each day without lunch, snacks and water. These concerns are completely understandable because these are the things most taken for granted. 

Admittedly, the first few days of Ramadan can be really long and hard. I remember feeling hungry, thirsty and a little weak; I remember watching seconds pass by like hours; and most of all I remember not having the mood to do anything. However, it was during one of these days that I came to have another realization. I grasped that there were people out there who go through this everyday. I asked myself: What if poverty was forced upon me? What if regardless whether the sun was up or down, I had nothing to eat or drink at all? And that's when I truly began to comprehend and appreciate what I was learning from my actions the past month. 

Even though I didn’t fully make the most of this Ramadan, this time round it seems to be the most meaningful Ramadan I've ever had. To an observer, this may seem hypocritical, but it is faith that pushes us to try harder for His forgiveness and blessings during this month each year. The hope that maybe some of this effort will rub off into our daily lives, and we wouldn’t completely 'de-evolve' into the same ungrateful human being the moment we celebrate Aidilfitri, which is the day celebrating the end of fasting. I certainly hope that it has for me. Now, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that more than once have I used schoolwork as an excuse to skip Tarawih prayers, but that's an attitude I plan to change from now on.

Just like years past, Muslims all over the world, myself included, will abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset during the next Ramadan. Everything that renders our fast to be valid will stay the same - it is our attitude that will make our Ramadan different. So, with a little more faith and maturity to my name, I can only hope that those components will be enough to make Ramadans-to-come even more magical than its former.
by Anonymous 08:42 19 comments | in , , , ,
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Tuesday 27 August 2013

by Ryan Yoong Ka Jun, Form 4 Science 1, Class of 2014

Photo credit : Beh Chee Kin, Class of 2015

It's that time of the year again, when all students (excluding the Form 3's, Form 5's and Year 11's) gather to put their thinking caps on for a week-long, brain-draining Challenge Based Learning — better known as CBL. These challenges range from tackling a world crisis to solving local complications, to creating inventions for a better tomorrow.

To solve problems is the essential baseline of CBL. This year saw a new project being introduced as an option for the Form 4 and Junior 1's, called Making A Difference Project or in other words, the M.A.D Project. Like its name suggests, this new project proved to be a challenging one (surprise, surprise). Besides the M.A.D Project, the alternative of designing an improved product as well as the traditional "Big Idea" projects were also options for the younger Cempakans.

Moving on, the most difficult part of CBL which I'm sure most of you will agree with, is the very first day on which you have to decide what project you want to undertake with your group. Possibilities seem endless when faced with the diversity of different topics and array of angles to approach them from. Perhaps this is why a full day is allocated to just this activity.

The following days then go by like a breeze. In six days (including the weekend which we should all be thankful to have this year), students have to cram in researching, surveying, interviewing, filming and editing in order to come up with a decent research paper and video. The research paper and iMovie have to outline a solution to the problem they chose, or in the case of a design project, it has to showcase their new design. Having gone through the process a staggering three times during my years in Cempaka, I can safely say that it is always grueling and tedious. Often you see groups erupting into a heated discussion which may sometimes disrupt the synergy of its members, causing a dispute. However, this is not necessarily all bad.

Honestly, I believe this is a big part of what CBL stands for. The ‘C’ need not only stands for the challenge of discovering something new, but also about the challenge of working with your fellow peers to accomplish something as a team effort. Furthermore, like what Encik Hisham said: ‘If you find your project easy, you’re doing it wrong!’. Being able to stand on stage during the review day and speak confidently as a group about your topic is nothing short of satisfying.

CBL review day today covered topics from various health issues to football strategies to crime prevention to futuristic locker and umbrella designs. Despite the occasional similarity, every group had a unique outlook on their topic which kept the day informative and refreshing.

CBL is, and will always be, a program that brings out the creativity and innovativeness of Cempakans and is definitely here to stay. With this being my last, I would like to wish all the juniors the best of luck for their CBL in the coming years. May you always find the challenge in your projects.
by Unknown 22:40 13 comments | in , , , , ,
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Sunday 25 August 2013

by Lee Ting An, Sophomore 2 Cempaka, Class of 2015

Photo credit : Amanda Lee, Class of 2014

This sleepy Saturday morning, the eager, budding young writers of YJC editorial gathered at school to listen to a talk conducted by Ms Lili Lajman. A freelance writer for the New Straits Times, Ms Lili (as she asked us to call her) shared with us invaluable advice from her experience as a journalist. After all, who would know better the little tips and tricks of the trade than one who’s already made it in that field? The insider secrets of a journalist were more than welcome to us (we are called YJC for a reason), and the humour with which she shared them was more than appreciated (powerpoint poisoning!) The ice was a little thick in the beginning, with us writers a little in awe and nervous excitement, Ms Lili also maybe feeling more of the latter. However, the ice immediately began to thaw when the first slide held the words 'tell us why you're here today, on a lazy Saturday morning, when you could be sleeping in your comfy bed at home'. Like how doctors connect with other doctors, teachers with other teachers, scientists with scientists; all of us connected like birds of a feather because as quoted by Cornelia Funke "all writers are lunatics!" We learnt or re-learnt, how important it is to read a lot, write a lot, then read and write some more. Questions and idea which had to be cajoled out of us in the beginning, were free-flowing towards the end. 

However drowsy we were in the beginning, ask anyone who attended, and they’ll tell you they got the message just fine: the secret of writing? There is no secret - just let your creativity guide you. So thank you Ms. Lili, for attempting and hopefully succeeding to teach us the secret of writing - you can take her word for it that it was no simple task. We hope you like our bookmark (made with love from YJC!) as much as we enjoyed your free flow of sweets. Here’s a quote we think you might like: 
‘Learn the rules of good writing... then learn how to break them.’ -Ane Mulligan

In conclusion, is there really such thing as a way to "Write Right"? 

Not really, no.  As Ernest Hemingway wisely put it: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

by Unknown 17:58 27 comments | in , , , , ,
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Thursday 22 August 2013

by Amanda Lee Yue Ping, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Ever seen students going about with a thin hardcover book in one hand, pen in the other? You'll notice a determined look on their faces as they rush about hunting for teachers, frantically collecting signatures and not to mention hear a lot of talk about 'the deadline'. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this announcement: "To the following students, please collect your CAS books from Mrs. Manjit in the office."

Photo Credit : Mr. Ashwin Mohandas

If you're new to Cempaka, then you doubtlessly have a quizzical look on your face right now. CAS? Well, to answer that question, I'd have to go a little in depth to give you the full picture.

If there is one thing about Cempaka Schools that makes it stand out from all the rest, it is how all-rounded the school is. There's no denying that an education in Cempaka truly gives you the whole mind, body and soul package. The calendar is a myriad of colour-coded events from January till December, filled with sporting events, performing arts shows, expeditions, charity events and so many other things that one wonders when we can get any actual studying done. Even if you are the more 'chilled-out' type of individual who’d rather leave all the work to your peers, mandatory things in the calendar force you to be active enough. But that’s the life of a Cempakan — to be able to juggle the hectic calendar and at the end of the day, still walk out of school with a good report card.

Couple all the compulsory things in the calendar, throw in a few events you enjoy and would participate in willingly, and there you have it - an active school life. But CAS — Cempaka Awards Scheme, does not stop at that. It stretches out, requiring a student to be active in seven different categories; academics, sport, school events, community service, expeditions, skills and society. The degree of participation in each category increases at every level of the award.

However, there is a cost to leading an active school life. It’s having to sometimes wake up early everyday, even on Sundays. It’s the long weeks of returning home so exhausted you fall asleep on the couch, never making it to the bed. It’s the late nights of typing out plans, finishing designs, completing homework. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you wake up from your ‘catnap’ on the table to find an unfinished report plastered to your forehead, and the hands on the clock pointing towards a time you don’t want to see. The mad dash to school. The mad dash back when you realize you’ve forgotten to wear your socks. It’s the cost of decisions you have to make. The extra classes during lunch and after school. It’s the annoyed glares from your parents, when you continuously ask them to chauffeur you back and forth for various events. The nagging you endure when they give you the monthly "You don’t study enough" lecture.

I’m sure you would then ask, why bother doing CAS? Is it really worth all that sacrifice? After all, some see it as just another opportunity to sign your name in the Book of Excellence, just another collar pin to add to the lapels of your blazer. Or just another reason for you to attend commencements and listen to repetitive piano music, which after a few rounds just makes you want to bash your head into a wall (or into the piano).

For me, it was never really peer pressure. A little sibling rivalry? Possibly. (Middle child for the win!) Mayhap when I started out, it was all for the glory. I was active enough anyway without anyone needing to force me. Why not grab an award in the meantime? It might start out like that in the beginning. Then as Platinum, the pinnacle of all awards looms ahead of you, taunting you with all its ‘special requirements’ and what not, you begin to realize why exactly you’re doing all this and whether the rewards you reap are worth the toil.

If I had the option to trade my packed school life for a less hectic one, I wouldn’t do it because simply put, the journey is so—much—fun. Putting your all into a piece of work and seeing the wonderful outcome of it makes all the late nights worth it. Spending so much time doing school-related things makes spending time with your family all the more treasured. I’ll always be able to laugh at that one time I had to use a pen to tie my hair in the rush of the morning. I’ll always remember my Sejarah textbook we used to kill this really annoying mosquito in our chalet during an expedition. I’ll never forget standing calf-deep in the sea with my cellphone in hand — about the only place you can get reception from where we were staying in Redang - calling to ask about homework. How can I forget the days of being woefully sunburnt after Games Carnival? Or that burst of adrenaline you get right after winning a match, making you jump up and down screaming like a maniac with the rest of your teammates, regardless of how steamrollered you were right before that. That moment right after an exam when your friend turns behind to look at you and grimaces at the very same time you do, and something inside you relaxes a little because you’re not the only one who found the paper mindbogglingly hard. It’s all these little and not-so-little things that make the journey worthwhile.

Going for the Platinum award made me try new things that I wouldn’t have normally tried. It gave me the joy of being able to prove others wrong, because I managed to do what they thought I couldn't. It made me feel that if I could survive crawling into a cage full of bugs, surely I could do anything. That includes studying like mad the night before the chemistry exam and somehow acing, even though there was a strenuous sports competition the day before.

Not all that keen on swimming,  I probably would not have signed-up for lifesaving if not for my goal of achieving Platinum. The mandatory two laps for Swim For All (SFA) I gladly suffered through — it was for Seladang after all. Doing ten laps for each stroke, and just as a warm-up? Not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I resigned to digging up my swimming costume and pair of goggles, the latter collecting dust bunnies in some neglected drawer. I also signed up for diving expeditions, in order to fulfill the criteria. What with all the invisible jellyfish, crabs or any other sea monsters your imagination can think of, lurking around just waiting for the opportunity to strike - I admit I was a little unnerved by the idea at first. But trust me, you get the most magical feeling when you suddenly see a sea turtle swim past the coral reef, a sight so majestic and glorious, happening right before your eyes.

And nothing beats that tiny pulse of exhilaration upon realizing that you just did something you were afraid of, or you thought you couldn’t do. Be it when you succeed in towing your friend across the pool twice, when you turn over your exam paper and see that miraculous A, or when you finally reach the peak of a mountain, gasping for breath but feeling like you’re on top of the world, almost literally.

I tried so many new things. I liked some, loved some, others not so much. I know that at the end of the day, I’ll graduate from Cempaka with no regrets, knowing that I’ve lived my school life to the fullest. When I look around me, I see fellow students who will one day jump into the pool - be it the Cheras pool or Damansara one, with much pride at what they've accomplished, jubilation in their hearts, and certainly - no regrets. Regardless of whether you do it for the impressive CV, the scholarship, the prestige, the glint of a newly minted collar pin on your blazer; regardless of whether you’re aiming for Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, the best part of CAS is and has always been — the journey.

Secondary school life has so much to offer. Grab it with both hands, meet the challenges head-on, full force. As quoted by Dr Rizal, from the foreword of the CAS book, “ I hope you lead a very full and exciting school life”.

Because ‘‘though the road’s been rocky, it sure feels good to me’’ - Bob Marley.

Side-note: To Encik Salleh, thank you for believing in me :) .

by Unknown 23:27 24 comments | in , , , ,
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Winning entry of 'A New Kind of Hero' Inter-house Comic Art Competition 

Submitted by Rumah Helang, Cempaka Damansara

by Anonymous 10:27 12 comments | in , , , , ,
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by Jamie Kok Yixin, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2013
with special thanks to Pang Huey Lynn, Kristen Phang & Tai Kai Xin

A new event was introduced this year for the Cempaka THINKCon, one that intended to once again open new opportunities, challenge minds and test the creativity of Cempakans. Of all the happenings and exciting new things that hectic day, this was probably the most interesting and intriguing of all. I am  referring to none other than the ‘A New Kind Of Hero’ comic workshop and inter-house competition. 

The challenge was simple. Each house was to come up with an original superhero that tackled a specific problem and dealt with it efficiently. Give your hero a name, costume and backstory, then submit your comic book covers and first page storyboard by the deadline. We were given only two weeks to brainstorm, plan, visualise, sketch, and illustrate our new-spun tales. Each house was required to form a project team, consisting of a leader, story board specialist, concept artist and illustrator to conceive a new superhero that would hopefully rise above the rest and win the challenge for them. The main goal was not only to impress the panel of judges - headed by an award-winning Malaysian designer known as Tintoy, and also consisting of Dr Iskandar Rizal and Mr Edwin Wong - but it was emphasized that we pay attention to the details, design and conceptualization of our hero.   

Last Saturday, Cempakans flooded the concourse area of Bangsar Village II, showing their love and support for their houses and never-dying enthusiasm towards learning new things. Right in front of the convention stood a neat row of easels, on which were mounted the eight comic features across all four houses from both Cempaka Cheras and Cempaka Damansara. It was certainly an eye-catching sight, and many visitors and Cempakans alike could not help but be attracted to the vibrant artwork and compelling stories on display. 

The presentations of the various heroes later that afternoon received good response from the audience. Comic enthusiasts, proud parents and supporting housemates alike crowded the area to listen to the captivating presentations from all the teams. First up from Cempaka Damansara was Rumah Merpati, who presented on their hero 'Rachany', whose name means 'The Night' in the Khmer tongue. Expert artwork and a nicely paced storyboard definitely made Rachany a fierce contender for first place. Rachany is a female superhero who deals with human traffickers and ventures to help victims of the inhumane trade. Her rich backstory provides the explanation for her sympathy: she was once subject to such savage treatment too, having suffered through the plight when she was younger. Trained in the ancient Cambodian martial art of Bokator, she uses her skills to help victims of human trafficking while simultaneously striking fear in the hearts of those involved with human trafficking.

Next, Rumah Harimau delivered a strong presentation on their hero, Scarlet Rose. Kristen Phang from Freshman Cempaka was the sole presenter. The comic was about an Indonesian girl from Bali who makes a living by selling clothes and Henna paintings. One day, she saw a stranger inject something into her dog, Soto. The story goes that she developed superpowers and transformed into Scarlet Rose after Soto bit hard on her hand. Their superhero has a heart of kindness and is a hero to the animals.

This was followed by one of the most anticipated presentation yet- Rumah Helang. Their Hero, Atlas, stood as a mysteriously silhouetted figure on their cover. Atlas is in fact, made of rock. Its story is set in a dystopian future whereby an evil corporation known as Alliance has virtually taken over the global economy and dominates the entire primary sector. Resting in the ruins of an ancient Mayan tribe, Atlas rises from his slumber to avenge the wrongs of Alliance, and leads the people to a rebellion by serving as a tangible threat to a seemingly untouchable Alliance. 

Finally, the last house to present from Cempaka Damansara- Rumah Seladang! The team from RUmah Seladang chose a Grecian theme for their hero, Pan. In their cleverly adapted version of the Greek tale, Pan, the son of Hermes fakes his death to escape the torment of watching his brothers turn against one another over dispute of their father's power. He teleports himself and ends up in a completely new world, Earth, dimensions away from the realms of ancient Olympia. Lost and distraught, he wanders into the Brooklyn Forest Reserve Company in search of a job. Armed with a new identity - Phillip Arthur Knowles, he was ready to take on a new life. He travels with a group of biologists into the Amazon but soon detaches him from them. This is the point of time he truly finds himself and listens to the energy of the forest around him. He feels awakened by roaming the deep jungles and open wildernesses. After wandering for a few days, he learns that there are groups of corporations that are determined to destroy the wild for greed and money, with a man named Dr. Corporato as its head. Thus begins Pan's mission to stop the evil Dr. Corporato, gaining many strengths on the way, including regaining his godly powers from the other realm and harnessing it for the greater good.

At the end of the day, wonderful presentations were heard from all four teams and the amount of effort put into this project was clearly enormous. The purpose of this challenge was not to see how well Cempakans could draw or how good they were at art, though all houses did a fairly god job on this aspect. Instead, what was required and looked forward to was really how well us Cempakans could come up with a viable concept that tackled the problem at hand, an idea that was well researched, well conceptualized and well applied, and of course was interesting enough to draw readers in and keep them on the edge of their seats. 

Alas, there could only be one winner. In Cempaka Damansara, Atlas from Rumah Helang proved the exception as it beat out the other superheroes to clinch first place. Nonetheless, I am sure all participants from all the houses can agree that the experience itself from such an innovative project was worth it, whether or not they placed first or last. It's easy to see that every Cempakan who took part in this performed commendably. All in all, 'A New Kind of Hero' competition proved to be quite interesting and thought provoking for everyone. We are grateful for the opportunity and very much look forward to the next THINKCon!
by Anonymous 10:26 42 comments | in , , , , , ,
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Wednesday 21 August 2013

by Sharizah binti Mohamed Shihab, Form 4 Science 2, Class of 2014

Photo credit: @cempakaschools twitter

When you think about board games, the first things that comes to mind are Cluedo, Scrabble, Monopoly. Definitely classics, but you might just groan at the monotony of having to play seemingly endless rounds of Monopoly every time someone asks what boardgames you have. Fret no more, instead open your eyes to the new generation of board games. Once you do, snakes and ladders will thankfully never see the light of day again. Also known as Euro or German-styled boardgames, these innovative games are specifically designed to challenge one’s mind and explore the depths of one’s creativity. The games also make a point of involving the use of critical thinking skills, thus having an educational edge.

Since 2008, a convention aptly named THINKcon has been held to encourage students to take an interest in the games. As a twist to this year’s THINKcon, it became an event which contributed 3 percent to this year’s First House Cup competition. Organized by Mr Edwin Wong and Dr Iskandar Rizal, the convention was an enormous success. THINKcon was not only attended by Cempakans but also by teachers, parents, visitors and even some ex-Cempakans who tried their hands at the games provided and to compete as a part of this years FHC competition. Needless to say, the Concourse area of Bangsar Village was packed with Cempakans last Saturday.

Photo credit: @cempakaschools twitter

Cempaka Schools featured various games that day, the main ones being Subbuteo Table Soccer, Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. The games allowed the four houses to develop their thinking skills in a fun way as well as bond in a competitive spirit. As promised, here are some comments of the games from a few players themselves.

“Carcassonne is a multiplayer tactical game where you have to place tokens on tiles strategically to gain points to win the game. When I played this game during the competition, I had butterflies in my stomach as you never know when the standings can take a sudden turn. I managed to win, but by a mere two points! The game is easily addictive, you have to think a lot and strategize as you play.”
- Koh Ji Chuen, Seladang Cacassones player

“The objective of Settlers of Catan is to build settlements, roads and cities and basically develop your settlement area until you achieve the most points. Honestly, I didn't think I'd be very interested in the game at first but after actually taking the time to read through the rules, I found it to be quite fun! It was definitely intense and pressuring, battling for the last few crucial points in the First House Cup. Settlers involve planning five moves ahead, anticipating your opponent's next move and deducing the gameplay from just looking at the number of cards left in everyone's hands. My brain really got a workout. I never thought I'd be jumping, face flushed and on the verge of a heart attack just over a board game but it's definitely an experience I'll never forget.”
- Chin Wye Mun, Beruang Settlers of Catan player

“Table soccer, or Subbuteo, is a table top soccer game where participants have to flick mini figures and guide the ball into the goalpost. Basically, the game follows a real soccer match’s rules and regulations with a little extra complication at the side due to the flicking. I played my first actual game of Subbuteo against Harimau together with my partner, Vanisha in the Girls’ doubles. I felt pretty nervous but excited at the same time. After we won the game with a tricky 2-0, both of us felt confident for the second match with Merpati. However, that match was much more intense and difficult than the previous one! With a few misses and inaccurate flicking, the game resulted in a nil-nil score. Who knew flicking took so much concentration? A flick too hard and the little figurine shoots right off the soccer turf, a flick too soft and it barely moves at all!"
- Woon Tyen Yee, Seladang Subbuteo player

Photo credit: Nimeesha Chan

Help University had also set up various booths to showcase several original games designed for educational purposes. To make things more interesting, an inspiring cardboard arcade showcase was set up by some of the younger children. With the excitement about the football season kicking off again, THINKcon also showcased a little special event - an EPL Opening Match Predictor shoot-out!

Besides all that, “A New Kind of Hero” comic workshop and competition was held by an award-winning comic character designer. Creativity was showcased in abundance that day as house teams presented standout comic heroes, sidekicks and villains. Prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions.

All in all, THINKcon 2013 was a successful event with a great turn out. Attendees walked away most impressed, their mindset of a board game now probably altered more than a little. The end of the highly eventful day saw Merpati as the overall winner, followed by Helang, Seladang and Harimau. It was a great way to end the Raya break, and I most definitely look forward to the next THINKcon convention.
by Unknown 00:27 40 comments | in , , , , ,
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Sunday 18 August 2013

by Chua Zi, Form 4 Science 1, Class of 2014

Weather report showing Typhoon Utor approaching the Philippines on Sunday,  August 13 2013
MONDAY - Typhoon Utor, the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines this year left desolation in its wake where it made landfall in Casiguran, Aurora. The devastating typhoon caused landslides and floods, struck down power lines, wrecked home and crops, and displaced scores of families. 

One survivor who reported on the BBC stated that the natural disaster, travelling at 200 km/h was “taking down all their livelihoods” leaving them to rebuild their homes and lives from scratch once again. At least 20 typhoons or power storms hit the Philippines each year. Officials say this one left at least 6 dead.

Devastating floods in the Philippines
Disaster prevention teams and rescue efforts persevered as the typhoon made its way to China, where it was expected to make landfall in the South China Guangdong province by Wednesday.

On Wednesday, an eerie calm settled over the normally bustling city of Hong Kong.

A man crosses an empty street in Hong Kong on Wednesday, 14 August.
As the typhoon approached China, heavy rain and strong winds were reported in Hong Kong. A No. 8 storm signal was hoisted which caused schools, businesses and government services to close down, while the stock market was suspended. Ferry terminals and hundreds of flights were cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. Many citizens opted to remain indoors, leaving the roads empty and quiet. 

Shop windows reinforced with masking tape in Hong Kong
However during the day when the winds were closest, they skirted around 250 km to Hong Kong. A No. 3 signal was issued by the afternoon as the typhoon moved away from the city.

Meanwhile, in south China, Guangdong province braced itself. Fishing boats were ordered to return to port as waves at sea were at 10 m while those at coastal areas could reach 5 1/2 m. The people of Guangdong were used to typhoons — this was the 11th to hit China this year. They secured windows and doors, cleared drains, and went to find shelter.

According to the Guangdong meteorological centre, this was one of the strongest typhoons to form in the west of the Pacific Ocean in South China Sea, with winds travelling at 150-155 km/h.

Typhoon Utor is one of the strongest typhoons in the world to hit this year.

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Saturday 17 August 2013

by Amanda Lee Yue Ping, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Cempaka's annual ThinkCon event came to a spectacular end this evening, thus bringing a close to the number of points being tallied for the First House Cup. Cempakans swarmed the concourse area of Bangsar Village I from 10.30am to 7.00pm, in anticipation of exercising their brains after the long Raya break.

Minds were challenged and strenuous decisions were made. Cempakans fought long and hard, pitting their strategies and tactics in a battle of wits to best their opponent. You'd think the large crowd was gathering for a football match, or maybe even a debate competition. Though in fact, it was all in the name of a few board games. Not just any mere board game however. Like its name suggests, ThinkCon consisted of board games specifically designed to put your thinking skills to the test and challenge your mind.

Stay with us to see what went on during the sidelines of the intense table soccer matches- mind-blowing penalties, fatal fouls and all! Get the down low on the strategic maneuvers and twists during Settlers of Catan and Carcassone matches. Discover the inspiration behind the spectacular showcase of A New Kind of Hero - design and story to superhero-dom all in courtesy of the highly-creative teams from the Cempakan houses. Keep up-to-date with us to find out the results of this action-packed day filled with spirited cheers, intense situations and some really close games!

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Wednesday 14 August 2013

by Chin Wye Mun, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Switching the striped green Cempaka blazer for a plain black one, Leong Khim took his steps into the school. However, this time, not for classes but for an internship. When he was first introduced during an assembly, I couldn’t quite place my finger on who he was. It was only later in the week when I pieced the puzzle together. Interested in making movies, last name Wong - oh, of course!

For those of us who knew Leong Khim, he certainly was a prime example of a talented Cempakan who left his mark behind in school. Leong Khim was valedictorian of his graduating Class of 2009, Helang iMovie captain (his team won every year), Special CCA Award recipient for Film and Design, YJC Chief Designer and he also designed the current school website, among other things.

His last day of internship being the Friday just before the holidays, I couldn’t miss the chance to interview him. In the following interview with the famed moviemaker, who is currently studying for a degree in Physics, he shares a little more on his work experience here and his studies in a top university like Oxford.

WYE MUN : What is student life like for you in a top university like Oxford?

LEONG KHIM : Absolutely wonderful. Oxford, of course, carries a reputation for being very intellectually-demanding, and so do other similar places like Cambridge, Princeton, Harvard, etc. There’s a lot of work to do and it’s rarely easy. But I enjoy doing it, and so do most people here. The happiest people at university are often the ones studying subjects they love. Also, doing things that are difficult means you’re pushing yourself to become better, which is sort of the point.

WYE MUN : I'm sure it isn't easy at all! Other than academics, what else can students get involved in?

LEONG KHIM : There are plenty of clubs and societies, charity organizations, sports, and so on. To give an example of the range of things Oxford has to offer, we have the ‘Underwater Shark Fighting Club.’ I don’t know what they actually do, though, because apparently no actual sharks are involved.

WYE MUN : [laughs] Are you involved in any of these clubs and societies? Other than that, what do you do with your spare time (if you're not busy studying)?

LEONG KHIM : As for me, up until recently, I was the Vice President of the Oxford University Malaysia Club, where we look after the welfare of the Malaysians in Oxford, especially helping the new first year students settle in, but my term has ended and I’ve since relinquished my duties. 

Apart from that, I mostly just enjoy lazing around watching movies or television series, trying out new cooking recipes, spending time with friends; occasionally go for a musical or whatever they’re putting on at the theatre. During the warmer months, punting on the river is the best way to spend a sunny evening.

WYE MUN : Life sounds amazing in Oxford! However, now that you are interning in Cempaka, what exactly have you been working on?

LEONG KHIM : I started out by assisting Mr Shipley design the scheme of practical work for the IB Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) course. We got to conduct one of the experiments with the ESS students, so that was very exciting. One of the girls seemed to have obtained marvelously good data, which made me very happy because I hadn’t tested the experiment beforehand and didn’t expect it to work out that well.

I’ve also been working with Malayandi, another old Cempakan who’s returned for the summer, on changes to the school curriculum and learning experience that is being planned. We’ve been really privileged to be entrusted with laying down the groundwork for something that, I think, is going to drastically change the Cempakan experience. It will be interesting to see how they take what we’ve done and turn it into the final, finished product.

WYE MUN : Wow! What made you come back to intern at Cempaka in the first place?

LEONG KHIM : I’m still figuring out what I want to do once I’m done with all the studying. One of the things I’m really interested in is education. I felt that spending some time in Cempaka would be a great learning experience for me, to see how things work in school from the teachers’ perspective. At the same time, I was quite excited at the opportunity to bring some of my experiences from Oxford and appropriating them here. I’ve always known that Dr Rizal is always open to new ideas, and I suspected, correctly, that Cempaka would gladly welcome me back.

WYE MUN : What is the thing you miss the most about Cempaka?

LEONG KHIM : My watermelon-esque jacket! [laughs] No, not really. I miss the people, mostly. I had a great bunch of friends whom I got to see everyday. And of course, I had wonderful teachers as well. We all had a good social dynamic going.

WYE MUN : 2nd August (Friday) was your last day of internship in Cempaka. Do you have any plans for the rest of the summer before returning to the UK?

LEONG KHIM : Nothing set in stone. My family has been planning to go on a holiday for weeks, but we still haven’t settled on a destination. Puan Siti recommended I go out dating, so I might just do that. [laughs]

WYE MUN : Well, I hope you had a marvelous time coming back to Cempaka and that you have an equally wonderful summer back in Malaysia and with your family. Do visit all of us soon, and thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.

I think most of us can agree that having ex-Cempakans come back, even if they visit for a mere couple of hours, is always exciting. I look forward to seeing Leong Khim’s work being put into effect and the difference it is going to make to the Cempaka experience. 

YJC Archives: Click here to read an article from Lumen Studet way back in 2008 when Leong Khim was interviewed for being the most active designer in the YJC!
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Submitted by Amanda Lee Yue Ping, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Tuesday 13 August 2013

by Pang Huey Lynn, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2013

BookFest @ Malaysia 2013

On the 3rd of August 2013, I managed to attend one of the biggest book fairs held in Malaysia; BookFest Malaysia 2013. The fair was organized by Popular Bookstore, but it was also hosted and sponsored by many other famous brands. This year it was held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) for 9 days; 3-11 August 2013. Most of the books were on extreme sale, I say extreme because there was no less than a 25% discount on most of the books. 

For those under the age of 18, entry is free provided you have your Identification Card. However, if you are over the age of 18, there is a small entrance fee of RM2.50. You may also purchase a 9 day entry ticket for RM10.00.

The first section I visited was the 'English Pavilion'. This section was one of the biggest. I spent most of my time here, browsing through books that were on 50% discount. When you first enter the English Pavilion, there is a section dedicated to teens and young adults. Aptly named 'What Teens Want', the books here range from fantasy to romantic fiction and most of them were on 25% discount. It was here that I got to meet the author of the famous Mr Midnight series, James Lee. He was very friendly and even took my name down as an idea for names in his future books.

Next I visited the 'Fiction Pavilion'. There were many famous books written by bestseller veterans like John Grisham, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult and Cecelia Ahern featured here. The latest books were on 25% discount, while the older ones were on 50% discount. 

As I went on my way, the Humanities section caught my eye. With its huge sign promoting a book about Aung Sang Suu Kyi, it’s impossible to miss. This section promoted books on History. There were books on World War I and II, biographies of famous politicians and humanitarians such as Winston Churchill and Mahatma Ghandi, and also many books based on personal experiences. The prices here ranged from RM8.00 to RM30.00 at most. 

After I left that section, I came across a small comic book section entitled “World of Comics”. The graphic novels sold here were primarily Marvel comics. They had Spiderman, The Avengers, X-Men and even Antman. I was especially impressed by the hardcover graphic novels. The prices here ranged from RM12.00 to RM30.00. These prices are phenomenal considering the fact that their original prices were from about RM50.00 to RM90.00. I would highly recommend this fair to any comic book enthusiast out there.

Soon I made my way towards the next hall, the Chinese Pavilion. The pavilion was filled with Mandarin books ranging from comics to cook books. There were books that were translated from English to Mandarin as well, such as The Mortal Instruments series, The Twilight Saga and even Harry Potter. I did not stay there for long as I, unfortunately, am unable to read Mandarin as I never received any formal education in the language. However, if you enjoy reading CHinese books you should definitely pay a visit there as the books were extremely cheap, with discounts up to nearly 80%.

Lastly, I visited the Stationary section which was located on the 3rd floor. Here, they sold a variety of products ranging from pens to vinyl records. There was an entire section dedicated to CD albums. Almost all of them were on markdown prices.

All in all, I had an amazing time at this fair. I managed to get three graphic novels, a new Mr Midnight novel signed by James Lee himself, and some activity books as preparation for the SPM examination at the end of this year. Bookworm or not, I highly recommend that you pay a visit to the BookFest to have a look around. You never know what you may find at amazing prices at a fair like this one!
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by Akhilan Manivannan, Sophomore 2 Cempaka, Class of 2015

Drama, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Chris Pine as Capt. James Kirk; Zachary Quinto as Spock; Zoe Saldana as Uhura; Karl Urban as Dr. 'Bones' McCoy; Simon Pegg as Scotty; John Cho as Sulu; Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison; Anton Yelchin as Chekov; Bruce Greenwood as Pike; Peter Weller as Marcus; Alice Eve as Carol
J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek, Mission Impossible III)
Paramount Pictures
May 16 2013

I have to admit, when I bought my ticket for Star Trek Into Darkness, the second space venture by J.J Abrams, I was not expecting a great deal. After all, Science-Fiction movies have come under such scrutiny in recent years, and I am not what you would call a 'Trekkie'. To be perfectly honest, I thought the movie would be a typical high-octane blockbuster with a bland storyline. Thankfully however, I am glad to admit that I was sorely mistaken and proven wrong. I walked out of the movie theater afterwards with only one phrase to describe my expression- completely and utterly mind-blown.

Let’s start with the storyline. As with a typical blockbuster these days (aka Transformers), the plot mainly surrounds a new villain, whose sole existence is to provide a new predicament for the heroes to deal with - naturally. However, Into Darkness soars over the predictability hurdle by weaving subtle intricacies into the plot. These intricacies play off the characters personalities immensely well and it’s these small things that make the movie intriguing for the viewers.. For example, Into Darkness focuses a lot on the character development of Spock. Honestly, that was what really sold the movie to me because of how brilliantly it was done. Furthermore, although the overall outlook of the plot can be seen as stale, certain parts of the plot are very unpredictable and these are spread out evenly throughout the movie so the viewers are always at the edge of their seats.

Now, shifting to arguably the most significant aspect of a movie: the acting. Over the past 5 years or so, I have watched tons of movies spread throughout different genres, and I can honestly say that the acting in Into Darkness puts all others to shame. Every single member of the main cast embraced their role so emphatically that the characters were played to near perfection. This was a huge shocker to me because there wasn’t a very star studded cast to say the least, and bringing Sci-Fi to life is extremely difficult. I would have to say Zachary Quinto (playing Spock) was the shining star of the movie and stood out the most to me. I cannot find a single flaw in Quinto’s phenomenal performance. Facial expressions, movements, delivery of lines, everything was spot on and it is clear that Quinto has taken into account every aspect of Spock’s personality. Another stand out for me would be Benedict Cumberbatch (playing Khan) whom I think played the dark, dubious character of the villain extremely well. 

The only thing I can criticize in terms of acting is that personally I feel Chris Pine (playing James Kirk) could have put a little more effort into it for we get the sense that he didn’t give it his all. Nonetheless, a master class effort in acting overall, by everyone involved.

Even with excellent acting and a great storyline, many movies struggle to keep the viewer interested and well engrossed with the movie. This is usually due to a lack of empathy and emotion. With regards to that, I’m delighted to say that emotion is one thing Into Darkness has in abundance. Sadness, excitement, joy - you name it, Into Darkness has it. The beauty however is that none of these emotions are too overwhelming. On the contrary they balance each other out almost perfectly, giving the viewer a thorough and heartfelt movie-going experience. Another notable thing about Into Darkness is the pace of the movie. Although there were plenty of fast-paced, heart-racing action scenes, Into Darkness follows a very comfortable pace throughout the two and a half hours (I did not even glance at my watch once!). A lot of credit has to go to the director and his backstage crew for the magnificent organization of scenes because even  small things like that are the ones that ultimately make a difference.

Everything said and done, Star Trek Into Darkness is an engrossing, thrilling adventure through the Star Trek universe and it is filled with unforgettable moments, including one enthralling twist towards the end. I do not want to reveal too much but that moment is one that gives me goosebumps to this day and I would watch the entire movie again just to see it. 

All in all, it is a must watch film and I give it a well deserved 4 and a half stars. If you did not manage to catch it in the theaters, fret not! The DVD is set to be released this coming September. 

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday 5 August 2013

by  Nadia Marissa Abdul Rahman, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

The Dato’ Pilus Hall is no stranger to special assemblies, celebrations and the like. With Dato’ Freida’s birthday right around the corner, Damansara chose to celebrate our beloved founder and her school with poems, performances and many profound thanks. 

The assembly kicked off with an iMovie detailing the Interact Club's successful book drive and build-a-mini-library project which you can read more about by clicking here. The next video - a project led by Wong Sher Lynn and Ow Syen Yee - documented the students and teachers of the school citing all of the ways Dato' has inspired them. Strength, passion, and determination were some of the few but everyone could agree that the most inspiring thing about Dato' was the sheer magnitude of love that she had for our school. 

The performances began. Leading the way were Nik Ashman and Mithali Maya Mittra reciting a witty poem, Forever A Cempakan, written by yours truly. With equal parts comedy and equal parts sincerity, they managed to capture the spirit of the school vividly. This was followed with a beautiful performance by the violin ensemble called "warriors' stride". An apropos name considering the amount of gusto and heart the young students' put into their performance. 

The next line-up was by our singer and part-time apeman, Jes Ismael Izaidin. With powerful vocals and a stage presence to rival the alter-ego he played, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" had never sounded better (or less boring). If there’s one thing that Cempaka doesn’t lack, it’s talent; And the subsequent piano performance of Hot Chilli Cha-Cha by Lim Jia Ying and Zainal Azzan’s rendition of “You Raise Me Up” were nothing short extraordinary. However, it was the four incredibly young Cempakans (they’re from the graduating class of 2021/2022 - as if I didn’t already feel old), Chanice Lee, Charmaine Koh, Sara Ariana and Lauren Ho who stole the entire show. Big talent often comes in small sizes and their performance of “Dream Big Dreams” shows just how talented and how far they have to go. 

The hall lights turned on, marking the end of the performances. Donations collected from the past week consisting of toys, Raya biscuits and other such items were given to a few representatives from the Lighthouse Welfare Children’s Home. The donations were collected on behalf of Save The World's Acts to Save The World Week. Then, much to our delight and enthusiasm, teachers  took centre stage for the finale and sang “Thank You For The Music” - a fitting tribute for the 30 amazing years Dato’ Freida has given. This special performance was greeted with many wolf-whistles and cheers from the audience who watched the 30 teachers on stage, all dressed uniformly in red and black, make history. Following that, addresses were given by Dato’, Dr Rizal and En Hisham. Though we were all rooting for the two brothers to duet, we made do with a surprise performance by Annabel Yong, a former Cempakan from the Class of 2009, who was greeted with delight from the audience. 

Many things can be said about Dato’ Freida and the 30 past years that have brought Sri Cempaka from its humble beginnings to what it is today. And in a way, the assembly celebrated all those things. But even more so, the assembly was a celebration of everything Cempaka is and will always stand for - a family. As our dear founder said in her speech, “This day is not about the founding of the school, but about how we found each other”. 
by Anonymous 12:23 28 comments | in , , , ,
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Lee Ting An from the Class of 2015 recently wrote an article about the World Education Games for Niexter New Strait Times!

Read the article by clicking here.
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Sunday 4 August 2013

By Nadia Marissa Abdul Rahman, Junior 1 Cempaka, Mithali Maya Mittra & Nik Ashman, Form 4 Science 1, Class of 2014

As a child, 
I was taught to dream, 
As a teenager, 
I was told to work hard 
As Cempakans, 
Now and forever we believe that nothing is impossible. 

The 8AM classes were a bore, 
Dragging myself out of bed is still a chore, 
The workload is like Everest, 
Really, our workload is relentless. 

But the teachers are kind,  
And the prefects - we paid no mind, 
When they said, "Please turn around your smart card,"
The effort to keep my mouth shut was really hard. 

But after a while we got accustomed to this, 
And one day this will be what we miss,
The experience that we all gain, 
From the venture with blood and pain,
The values, the lessons, the peers, 
We will cherish throughout the years. 

There were always whispers during assembly,
And lots of laughter in class, 
There were sports and fierce competition, 
To win the House Cup was everyone’s mission,
There were performances and productions,
And the oh-so-fancy functions. 

To aspire, to dream, to create,
Have long since become our traits,
There is nothing we believe we cannot do, 
Work hard, work smart, be true. 

In this school you built with blood, sweat and tears, 
With passion and no fear,
We learnt to count and write and read, 
But were also shaped to lead, 
Thank you seems too small a word, 
I doubt our real "thank you" will truly be heard, 
Because we owe you so much and always will,
Here's to Cempaka the school we all love still. 

- Performed by Mithali Maya Mittra & Nik Ashman on 2nd August 2013, in conjunction with Founder's Day Assembly as a tribute to our Founder & Mentor, Dato' Freida Pilus. 

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