By Celine Thai and Tiffany Khoo

THE students of Sri KDU Secondary School, Kota Damansara, Selangor, had wanted to celebrate this year’s 54th Merdeka Day in a unique way. So, led by the school’s Prefectorial Board, we set an ambitious task for ourselves – to create a mural out of the faces of 54 Malaysian heroes.

On top of that, we also wanted to arrange the faces in the shape of the number 54, measuring 7.3m (24ft) by 10.05m (33ft).

The Malaysian heroes ranged from politicians and performers to athletes and fashion designers. Every class was assigned a hero to create, and we had to research the person to gain a better understanding of his or her contribution to society.

Apart from commemorating Merdeka, we also wanted the “54 Faces” project to have a strong environmental message. Hence, all the faces had to be constructed using only recyclable materials such as paper scraps, crushed cans, plastic containers and even old computers parts.

The students really showed how creative and resourceful they were in completing their project – there were faces made out of old yarn, and hair made of used sponges!

Juggling between lessons, homework and exams, we only had two weeks to finish the boards (measuring 0.9m x 0.9m) and then figure out how to assemble them in time for Aug 31.

Sri KDU Secondary School students and prefects celebrating the successful completion of their Merdeka project entitled "54 Faces" with their principal Mrs A.K. Chan (front row left,) deputy principal Hariet Thomas (second from left), project advisors Mr Rajandran Thanimalay (second from right) and Encik Abd Hanif Abd Hamid (third from right) and teachers.

We faced many challenges in completing the project. Initially, not everyone thought it was a good idea to use “rubbish” to make the faces. Then, we had to collect the materials which took a week. We were also worried about putting together something which would be a two-storey tall structure overlooking the school’s covered courtyard, something that we had never done before.

Fortunately, we had a lot of help from the head of the Kemahiran Hidup department, RajandranThanimalay, the school’s maintenance staff, and the art teacher, Abd Hanif Abd Hamid, who advised the students on how to create the famous faces using unconventional materials.

Everyone really believed in what they were doing, though, and the project coordinators, fifth formers Kok Waihowe, Yong Zheng Xi, Lim Wu Ping, Bryan Thor, Chan Jin Mae, Jocelyn Ho and Alia Abu Bakar, who came up with the initial idea, worked really hard to make it a success.

Everyone was motivated by their conviction that 54 Faces would be able to inspire patriotism and pride among students and unite them in getting the job done.

The 'face' of legendary Iban warrior Rentap done by Secondary 5 Newton won the first prize in the Upper Secondary category as well as the 'Best Usage of Recyclable Materials' category

Zheng Xi, one of the assistant head prefects, expressed how many of us felt. “The project made the students, teachers, and staff work together on different levels: in the classroom, in the staffroom, among the prefects and finally, as individuals working together to make sure our boards looked right and that the 54 looked like a 54!”

To reward the students for their efforts, prizes were given for the Most Realistic Face, Most Creative Face, and the face with the Best Usage of Recyclable Materials which were sponsored by SkinFood and the Berjaya Group of Companies. In addition, the best three faces created by the lower secondary forms and the upper secondary forms were awarded cash prizes totalling RM2,000.

When the project was finally completed, we felt such a sense of accomplishment. Seeing our towering brainchild come to life with the collective effort of the whole school was very gratifying indeed.

54 Faces taught everyone that sometimes – even if there are hiccups and obstacles, as long as you believe in what you’re doing and know what direction you’re going – you have to persevere.

We wish to thank everyone, from the principal A.K. Chan to deputy principal and advisor to the prefectorial board Hariet Thomas, teachers, maintenance staff and fellow students, for making “54 Faces”, an amazing reality.

q Celine Thai is head prefect and Tiffany Khoo is the secretary of the prefectorial board of Sri KDU Secondary School, Kota Damansara, Selangor.

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