RGS students 'dancing, chanting & praying' to Athena statue in school not punished: Principal

Their actions apparently disrupted ongoing classes.

Nigel Chua | March 30, 2022, 12:44 PM

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A group of first-year Raffles Girls' School students were called to meet with their Head of Year -- a teacher -- after an incident where they disrupted ongoing classes by worshipping a statue.

According to Yahoo News Singapore, the school's principal Haslinda Zamani said the Head of Year met with the girls and listened to their explanation.

The girls "reflected with maturity" and "benefited from hearing different perspectives", Haslinda told Yahoo News Singapore.

"There was no disciplinary action meted," she added.

Students allegedly "dancing, chanting and praying" to Athena statue

The group of students apparently disrupted the other classes by "dancing, chanting and praying" to a statue of Athena, according to a screenshot that appeared to show an email sent to the first-year batch by the Head of Year.

The email said the girls' acts "tarnish the reputation" of their batch and all RGS girls with "unbecoming behaviour".

"Regardless of your anxiety regarding your performance in the PPA, 'praying' to the statue of Athena, even if done in jest, is unacceptable," read the email.

The term "PPA" is likely a reference to "Pen-and-paper Assessments", one of the modes of assessment used in RGS.

The email explained that those who subscribed to a religion were committing a "sacrilegious" act.

Meanwhile, those who were not religious were offending the school community, as the school was expected to be "a secular environment for learning".

The screenshot was circulated on social media on Mar. 22.

A different screenshot was also located by Yahoo News Singapore, containing more of the email.

Screenshots were also widely circulated on social media.

Image via @adminsgfollowsalll on Instagram.

Girls asked to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken

The girls involved were asked to each write a "letter of apology" to explain their actions, and why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.

The email pointed out that pictures of what happened were going viral online, and that this had "caused the online community to have a negative impression of all RGS girls".

The email added:

"If your email is insufficient or I do not hear from you, I will follow up on this with an immediate booking. When school reopens, I will meet every one of you involved in this."

Girls who did not "run out to join" the praying and chanting were commended in the email.

But they were also encouraged to "go one step further" in future incidents, by "immediately telling off the girls who behave inappropriately".

Athena statue in RGS

Athena, according to the school's virtual campus tour, "symbolises wisdom and creativity, qualities crucial for daughters of a better age".

In ancient Greek religion, Athena was the protectress of the city of Athens, goddess of war, handicraft, and practical reason.

The virtual campus tour also draws a link between the statue's origins in Greek mythology and the words "from high Olympus", the opening line of the RGS school song.

Top image screenshot from RGS website and RGS Facebook page

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