What makes HSNU the number one choice for students in Taiwan no matter where they live, who they are and what score they get on the High School Entrance Exam? Here are some secrets:
- Unique Class Number
The system of “Class Number” represents a unique symbol of identity for HSNU students. Upon entering HSNU, every student is assigned to a class, usually comprised of 30-40 students, and each class is given an identifying number. When HSNU alumni run into each other out in the world, the first question asked is usually “what was your class number”. In this way, alumni are able to quickly relate to one another, and more interestingly, one’s age is easily revealed at the same time. It is because, over the course of this 69-year tradition, 1449 groups of students have received their coveted class number, which has accumulated from 1 to the current 1449. One can easily estimate the age of the alumni simply by doing some simple math. The Class Number system was created by President Hui Huang in 1950, and HSNU is the only high school in Taiwan to use such a system.
- Passion for the School Song
HSNU students are known for being enamored with singing their school song, a phenomenon that is rarely found in other schools. The enthusiasm of students and alumni for the school song can be easily found in most events, after which students and alumni together gather on campus to sing the school song for usually more than a dozen times. Singing of the school song serves as fitting finale for most events, and it is a tradition to which outsiders typically find difficult to relate.
On April 14th, 2012, the 19th Student Association administration launched the “School Song Chorus” event with an aim to draw hundreds of thousands of people singing the school song altogether to break the world record. Although it did not succeed at breaking the world record, there were 10,231 people, most of them were alumni and their families, wearing their high school uniforms, holding their class banners, singing the school song for more than a dozen times. Music clubs including the wind band, the guitar club, the pop music club and Rock’n Roll club took turn to lead the school song in various versions.
- Last Flag Salute Festival
The flag salute ceremony is a solemn morning routine gathering at the quad, requiring students to line up by class to sing the national anthem and salute the national flag. In order to give more time for College Entrance Exam preparations, senior students are no longer required to attend the flag salute ceremony starting in the end of May. Back in the time when the Last flag Salute festival was not officially recognized by the authority, doing anything unconventional was considered “illegal”, and whoever broke the rules was subject to punishments.
However, this did not scare the students away. Nobody can accurately cite the exact year when the tradition started. According to some student publications, it can be traced back to the early 1960s when small incidents started to occur here and there in May. It is documented that some students secretly lit up fireworks when the dean gave his speech at the last flag salute ceremony. Other documented incidents include seniors gathering in the hallway after the last ceremony, shouting and singing the school song, half naked students running in the rain at the quad, and some male-only classes marched in the quad wearing uniforms and skirts from other girls-only high schools. The more the school tried to stop the senior students from doing anything “illegal,” the more creative students became to come up with measures to avoid being caught. After a few years of “hide and seek” between students and teachers, the school finally agreed to make the celebration a “legal” event. Since then, all classes of seniors make great pains in attempting to do the “coolest” thing during the Last Flag Salute Festival.
- Graduate School Bags
In 1982, the HSNU Senior Association launched the first graduate school bag, a modified version of the original uniform school bag, as a souvenir for every senior student. Before then, every high school student in Taipei City was required to carry a dull monochromatic dark green school bag with the school name printed on the front. The first graduate school bag became a great hit, and caused a major trend in many other high schools of emulating the idea to design their own versions of school bags.
The trend continued, as seniors of each year demanded to have their own version to represent the year they graduated. Graduate bag design was then opened up to all students to submit their own designs and all seniors of that year voted for the one they liked the most. Some of the HSNU school bags were so popular that counterfeit bags flooded the market. Although the student self-designed school bags are no longer a distinct product of HSNU, as more high schools develop their own stylish school bags, the unique school bags still symbolize an important time and identity for every HSNU student.