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'Heartless' words by principal get students' goat

MISUNDERSTOOD: Catholic High School principal Lee was surprised by the way his students had interpreted what was meant to be a "well-intended challenge".


    Sep 03, 2014

    'Heartless' words by principal get students' goat

    WE WANT to be known as a school of champions, not a school of first runners-up.

    Catholic High School (CHS) principal Lee Hak Boon told this to the entire school on Friday morning.

    But what was meant to be a motivational speech rubbed some students the wrong way.

    It started with representatives from the basketball, softball and volleyball teams presenting their runner-up trophies to Mr Lee.

    The three C Division teams had missed the top spot narrowly in recent inter-school matches. In the basketball match, for instance, CHS lost to North Vista Secondary School by just three points.

    After receiving the trophies, Mr Lee addressed the school cohort, commending the CHS boys for their fighting spirit.

    He then said the school has the potential to be champions next year if it learns from the winning teams, and added: "If we could be champions, why settle for runners-up?"

    One student felt Mr Lee was "heartless" in saying this.

    "If this is what schools teach, that we must win at all costs, then something is clearly very wrong with the education system," he told The New Paper in an e-mail message.

    Another student said in a separate e-mail message: "Mr Lee did not care about their feelings. He simply told the entire school that our players were inferior, right in front of the teams."

    But a parent who heard Mr Lee's speech was puzzled by the negative reactions.

    Leasing officer Christopher Yong, 53, was at CHS to root for his 14-year-old son, the vice-captain of the C Division softball team.

    "If you ask me to interpret (the speech), I would say, yes, (there is) a little bit of disappointment from the principal at having got three silvers. But there were no ill feelings," he said.

    Mr Yong said the principal would be present at every match and competition. He added: "He even went the extra mile to conduct motivational workshops for the softball boys three times a week. If he really didn't care about the students, why would he do that?"

    Mr Lee was surprised by how his students had interpreted what was meant to be a "well-intended challenge".

    But he acknowledged some of them could have misunderstood his intentions as they were still dazed by the losses.

    Emphasising that he was proud of his students' achievements, Mr Lee said: "Our school believes in celebrating our students' achievements, and guiding them to have a mindset of striving for improvement.

    "At the same time, I had intended to spur our students to learn from the winning teams and work on areas of improvement."

    He said he addressed the students on Monday morning to "clarify and commend the CCA (co-curricular activity) students again for their fighting spirit and achievements".