Whitley Secondary School Explains ‘Compulsory Prom’

Secondary 5 students of Whitley Secondary School who ponned their ‘compulsory prom’, breathed a collective sigh of relief when they realised they’d still be getting their O-level results today (12 Jan).

Mrs Tay Yang Fern, the school’s principal, told The Straits Times (ST) that the result slips of students “will not be withheld when the results are released”.

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This comes after user SqueakyArmChair alleged on Reddit that her sister had her O-level results held hostage, after she refused to pay a penalty of $60 for being MIA on prom night.

To get to the bottom of this, let’s dissect what Mrs Tay had to say on the matter.

1. School never say it’s prom hor. Students ownself think it’s prom.

Turns out, the ‘compulsory prom’ at the heart of this debate was in fact, not a prom at all.

Huh, wait what?
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Mrs Tay clarified that students were the ones who saw it as a prom, as reported by ST.

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We can’t say we blame them, as the ‘formal dinner’ was held at the swanky Holiday Inn hotel at Orchard City Centre, complete with a banquet-setting meal.

It’s just supposed to be a training session for students to apply their etiquette skills.

2. It was a formal-interview-etiquette-course-dinner, not prom.

Since the formal dinner was bundled together with the “development programme” for graduating students, students were still required to turn up for it.

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She elaborated that for Sec 4 and Sec 5 students, there were differences in the course outlines, namely:

Sec 4 – Grooming and Etiquette Skills
Sec 5 – Interview and Etiquette Skills

Okay, this sounds fair. Except for one thing — why wasn’t this explained properly to the students in the first place?

3. Sec 5 students thought they had no choice

The school explains that they were aware some Sec 5 students “perceived” they were not given a choice of “not attending the dinner”.

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Mrs Tay refutes that this was true, asserting that some students successfully “opted out in advance” and did not pay for the dinner.

However, we know from SqueakyArmChair’s post that her sister and classmates responded to a ‘prom poll’ held earlier, indicating that they were not keen on going.

We’re not sure why a miscommunication this severe could have happened, but one thing’s for certain.

If student welfare was the school’s priority, more effort would have been put into ensuring their Sec 5 students were not misinformed.

4. School will help students who are financially hard up

Lastly, Mrs Tay claimed that a mutually agreeable settlement would be arranged with parents and students affected.

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She said that the school would provide necessary assistance to cases of “financial hardship”.

We think, however, it’s not about how much money is at stake.

The school could have priced ‘refusal to attend’ at $5 or $500, but the fact remains that prom was perceived to be compulsory by students.

And therein lies the problem.

Addressing the elephant in the room

The sibling of the affected student whose post went viral on Reddit only had one thing left to say about the issue:

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We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, as money is indeed a “secondary issue”.

Whitley Secondary School’s official statement has artfully dodged the crucial question of forced participation.

The principal also did not explain the message from the form teacher who urged them to quickly clear their “debts (prom/sch fees)” to avoid being in “an unfavourable position”.

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At this point, we can only speculate if the school actually told students that alternative solutions were available.

Or, if they had to backtrack on their original stance, because of the media attention received.


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Fourth time’s the charm?

From a 15-student brawl, to unfair advertising contracts with ‘unlimited changes’, this isn’t the first time Whitley Secondary School has made headlines for the wrong reasons.

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“unlimited changes”
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We hope that the next time they make the news, it’ll be for all the right ones.

On a side note, we at MustShareNews would like to congratulate all the O-level students receiving their results today.

P.S. If you’re still blur like sotong on which school to try out for, here are the top Junior Colleges, Polytechnics and Private Institutions in Singapore.

Featured image from Foursquare and Whitley Secondary School.