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Nature in RGS - Orienteering by Charrisa Lu

At first mention of the orienteering event for the Lower Secondary, my classmates asked, "Huh?" We had never heard of such an event, and our English and Literature representatives had no explanation as to what it was. Nevertheless, I signed up, and achieved three things: one, to know this school that I will be in for the next four years of my life better; two, to appreciate nature; three, to foster class and team spirit!

Who would have guessed that such a small compound could contain such exotic members of the green branch of nature? Banana, thuja pine, butterfly, golden shower, oil palm, royal palm, traveller's palm, ruffled fan palm, red palm, cinnamon, bird's nest fernů the list goes on. Perhaps the school could make a map of the plants in RGS. I would tell to my father "Pick me up next to the ixora bush" instead of "Pick me up at the foyer".

The questions posed in the orienteering were about the plant life in RGS. Basically, the ability to identify plants, good observation skills and a wide general knowledge were needed. In keeping with the theme "Living Language", there were witty clues in English behind the question paper. ( Clues which, unfortunately, my team overlooked. ) Clues like:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To find a tree named after him

This produced the answer: jackfruit tree. As another example, the bird's nest fern was cleverly linked to Big Bird of Sesame Street.

To give you a further taste of what it was like, I'll share some of the tidbits of information gleaned from the event. The cannonball tree is named for its huge round fruit surrounding the trunk of the tree. The palms, though various, are easy to tell apart: the red palm has a distinct red trunk, the traveller's palm is like an open fan, the royal palm's leaves grows at the crown, the oil palm has a dark trunk and bright orange fruit, and the ruffled fan palm's leaves testify to the origin of its name. The bougainvillea is a popular window-box shrub, and interestingly enough, can grow through stem-cutting. The flowers are available in lots of different shades, ranging from red and orange to pink, white and purple.

Something which left me faintly nostalgic was the inclusion of ixora flowers in the orienteering. This writer admits to have hunted and picked such flowers before, in primary school. The ixora sap is poisonous, but if you suck on the end of the flower stalk, a sweet nectar flows into your mouth.

I enjoyed this year's orienteering, and hope that it will be held again next year, maybe even for Secondary One Orientation. (The event covered almost every plant in RGS, but I can name one which the organiser missed: the all-important Raffles Tree.)