When the name for Eunoia Junior College (EJC) was announced in December 2015, many made snide comments and called the name pretentious.
Some mocked the new school for having a name that sounded like "you know ah".
But first-year student Kay Yeung, 16, is proud to be among the pioneer batch at EJC.
The students are especially excited as they had a hand in composing the school anthem, deciding what co-curricular activities the school should have and even designing the uniform.
Located in Mount Sinai off Holland Road, EJC had its first day of school yesterday, and The New Paper was there to witness the start of its orientation camp, which ends on Thursday.
The 440 students received a warm welcome with self-composed school cheers and a mass dance performed by the student leaders and teachers.
With no seniors to lead them, Kay and 83 others had returned during the December holidays to prepare for the camp.
Kay said: "I am quite proud that we could help develop the values of the college. But it was also a responsibility on our part."
The word Eunoia, which is pronounced "yoo-noh-iea" and has Greek roots, means "beautiful thinking" and "goodwill towards others".
Principal Wong Mei Heng, 57, told TNP: "I think when people had the chance to understand the meaning, they began to see how suitable the name is."
Mrs Wong said the school is expecting a first-year cohort size of about 650 students.
About 440 Integrated Programme students from three top schools - Catholic High, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' and Singapore Chinese Girls' - started school yesterday.
The other 210 students will join them on the first day of junior college on Feb 3, after the release of the O-level results tomorrow.
The school saw high demand for its Direct School Admission programme, with three to four students competing for each available place, said deputy principal, Mr Boy Eng Seng, 40.
Mrs Wong said: "While we are planning, we are also careful not to overplan so we can allow students to co-create with us."
She added that a sense of ownership will be important in creating the school identity.
Two students designed the white-and-grey school uniform, which was then fine-tuned by a designer.
When asked to comment about the school allowing students to have a say in creating its identity, clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet said: "Allowing them to decide gives them the freedom of identity, which should technically help their confidence and esteem.
"But the teenagers must take responsibility for what they choose. They cannot complain about the adults or the uniform."
Working closely with three teachers, about 10 students wrote the school anthem, which will be unveiled next month after the O-level intake.
Mrs Brigitte Koh, 30, head of department for student leadership and talent management, said: "They are excited and their energy has inspired us to work hard with them. I see this as a partnership between the school and the students."
Student leader Darren Sum, 16, said: "It is quite cool to be able to shape the college culture. Usually, you just follow what the seniors do.
"I want it to be quite family-like, where everyone cares for one another."
This article was first published on Jan 10, 2017.
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