Tanjong Katong Primary pupil focused on PSLE amid Kinabalu grief

After losing seven of his schoolmates and two teachers in an earthquake that struck Mount Kinabalu in June, Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupil Jayden Francis coped with his grief by plunging himself into his studies for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Yesterday, the 12-year-old learnt he had scored an aggregate of 215, with an A for Mathematics and Bs for English, Chinese and Science.

He was with 28 schoolmates on an expedition to scale the mountain in Sabah when a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck, killing 10 people from Singapore including an adventure camp guide from a firm.

Jayden escaped with ankle and achilles tendon injuries, but was left to grieve over the deaths of some of his best friends.

"He attended nine funerals in seven days on top of coping with what he went through," his father, Mr Dannie Francis, 56, said.

The score of 215 was slightly off the 235 target Jayden had set himself - but he was happy with what he had achieved.

Jayden admitted he sometimes found it difficult to prepare for the exams, but "our parents, teachers and friends helped push us forward in our studies".

Jayden's family of five will relocate to Perth next month. His father said: "It's been a fairly tumultuous year. We thought it was a suitable time to go and give him a chance to... grow up in Australia."

Schoolmate Emyr Uzayr, 12, who had also gone on the trip, achieved a score of 238 for the exam, with an A for Malay, and Bs for English, Mathematics and Science.

He suffered a fractured skull, which took months to heal and gave him migraines that hampered his ability to focus. "The teachers sometimes stayed back after school to teach me," he said.

His father, businessman Sadri Farick, 37, was proud of his son who "overcame (a lot of) things in life at an early age". "I'm always very confident of him. He's got my support," he said.

TKPS principal Caroline Wu said she was proud of her Primary 6 pupils, and wished them well.

Yesterday, the pupils who went to Mount Kinabalu and their parents had a potluck gathering at Mr Francis' condominium in Upper East Coast. He added: "Kinabalu is not something to forget; it is something to honour."

This article was first published on November 26, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.