Life’s Like That for a Sixth Former in ACS!
By Foo Peak Ean, ex-student of Form 5S1 ( 2013 )

How time flies! It is now more than one year and a half since I left my alma mater, SMJK Poi Lam. As I recall the days when I was studying in Poi Lam, I found myself immersed in the memories of the time I spent in school with my friends and the learning environment there. After getting my SPM results, I decided to study Form Six at SMK Methodist (ACS). By the way, I am a Science stream student taking Biology as my main Science subject in Form Six now.

At the very first moment, I stepped into ACS, I really experienced culture shock. The school culture and environment at ACS were so different from that of my former school. Everything from the teachers to the students and the surrounding seemed to be so different from Poi Lam. Life as a Form Six student here emphasized a lot on learning to be an independent and responsible learner. Most of the time, our Form Six teachers expect their students to be disciplined and independent in their learning. We are expected to prepare our lessons well in advance and ask questions during lessons.

From the very first day when we stepped into ACS, the main subject teachers had been advising and telling us not to procrastinate and manage our time well. However, some students did not take this advice seriously. What happened next was they scored an ‘F’ in their monthly test when they did last minute studies or revision, like just a week before the exam! With only four subjects to study for the STPM as compared to ten or maximum twelve subjects in the SPM, I actually thought it would be a breeze and easier to manage my sixth form studies. How wrong I was when I ended up having to struggle for time to manage my studies! Even if you scored well in the SPM but do not study hard in Form Six, you can end up not doing well in your STPM. So, be prepared to study hard and manage your time well if you really want to study Form Six.

Students are given a lot of freedom and are expected to manage their societies or clubs well with guidance from their teacher advisers. From my previous experience in my former school, I think some of us had depended too much on the teachers to plan and organize an event. In ACS, student leaders are expected to plan and manage any event with minimal help from their teachers. As soon as I join the English Language and Debating Society, I found that I was lacking in many different ways especially soft skills to handle my duties and responsibilities well.

Recently, I was elected as the Marketing and Publicity leader for our school 120th anniversary celebration event. And can you guess what I had to do? Can you imagine students going out to companies like Hovid Sdn. Bhd. to ask for sponsorship? I was shocked when I found out that I had to go out and ask for sponsorship from the big corporate bosses! I am not an outgoing person and I do not really know how to interact with business people in the real world. So, it was very scary for me at first. But eventually, I realized that it was really a good learning experience going out and meeting up with those managers from the corporate world. I, too, get to learn how to promote an event and how we should talk and present ourselves when we are out there in society.

Another learning experience I had as a Form Six student in ACS, was when we had to go out to promote our 120th anniversary celebration event at Ipoh Old Town giving out flyers and explaining our school event to the people there. I soon realize that society is not at all like in a fairy tale where people will be very kind and good to you because you are still a student. From my experience, the reality was most of the time people would not pay attention to you or what you are telling them, and soon you would see your flyers ending up in a rubbish bin. And that can be very frustrating or demoralizing. But I did not give up and went about my job as usual. This helped to develop my confidence in a way!

During a three day Performing Arts Festival in ACS, I was put in charge of one of the workshops. That gave me a chance to widen my circle of friends and contact. I could see how confident the old boys were when they were running the workshops during the festival. I was given the opportunity to join one of the workshops “Improvisation on Stage” by Xavier Fong, an old boy of the school. I learned a lot from this workshop and gained a lot of knowledge which I could apply in my daily life. I learn that shyness is not going to help and take you far in life. When you want something, you have to be brave, stand up and work hard to get what you want.

While studying in ACS, I was given an opportunity to watch ‘Macbeth’, a Shakespearean play presented by the ACS Ipoh Alumni at the Damansara Performing Arts Center. It was a great experience watching an English play with the actors speaking English but all dressed up in Chinese opera costumes! How innovative and cross-cultural can this be! I met some old boys and girls when we were waiting outside the Preforming Arts Center for the show to begin. Some of them talked to me about their past and good old days in ACS. They spoke English to me.

Well, life’s like that as a Sixth Form student in ACS! By studying in ACS, I got a lot of opportunities to brush up my English and speaking skills. No doubt, there is still a lot of room for improvement. I am really grateful that being in an English environment in ACS motivates me better to learn how to communicate in English and how to speak and sound respectful in my conversation. Nevertheless, learning English can happen anytime, anywhere. Do make good use of any opportunity that you may have, even now in Poi Lam to strengthen your English Language skills. It helps to start as early as possible if you want do well in English and your future!