The Assembly Hall was decorated simply for the Graduation Event.
The hall was filled with chairs neatly arranged inside, able to accommodate not only every student in the school, but also 2 guests of each graduating student. On stage was a podium right in the middle, with the school emblem on it. There were chairs on the right and left of the podium, where all the teachers of the final year students were seated. Three single sofas were directly behind the podium, which seated the Principal and the two Vice-Principals.
All along the hall walls were banners and balloons of blue and silver. On the right side of the hall, above the banner and balloons, were huge posters of the Top Five Academic Students of the Graduating Year. Normally, it would be the Top Three there but this year, there was a tie for both Position #2 and #3. Thus, there were 5 of them.
Yup, you guessed it. From left to right, in order of ranking was Kyle, Kay and Sam (in one frame), Xing Han and Ali (in one frame as well). They all looked so smart and dashing in their school uniform and jacket. One couldn't help but think that they looked like CEOs of companies rather than 12 year olds. In fact, it looked like Kyle was the Head CEO and the others were his subordinates.
On the other side of the hall were the pictures of the Top Sporting Students of the Graduating Year, which comprised of those who was the top scorer in the field of football, basketball, chess, science and debates. The school didn't just emphasize physical sports, but also those of the 'intellectual' kind (not meaning to say that physical sports were for the slightly less intelligent people, mind you).
Yup, you guessed it again. It was the five of them. Again. From left to right, it was Ali (football), Kyle (basketball), Kay (chess), Sam (science) and Xing Han (debates). Each of them were smiling, holding on to something that was representing the sports they were the top at, while was wearing the official sports uniform.
Hence, Ali was in his football jersey while posing with his left foot (his striking foot) on a football, and one hand on his waist. He flashed a toothy smile with one eyebrow raised at the camera. Various football trophies were on the ground, arranged neatly on the left and right side of Ali.
Kyle had his body facing the left, with his head turned towards the camera. He had a slight smile on his face, and the sleeveless basketball jersey showed off his firm muscles on his arm that was bent upwards, as he twirled a basketball on a finger (of course, you can't see the basketball twirling in the picture). At the bottom of the picture, were the words, "State Champion".
Kay was in a white, short sleeved T-Shirt that had the school emblem on the front, and its sleeve full of the chess pieces patterns on it. She was holding up a small chess board with the chess pieces laid out on it. On her neck, were several gold medals representing the competitions that she had won.
Sam was in a long white lab coat that covered a light blue shirt and black pants. Several pens were sticking out of the pocket of his shirt. He was holding up the AI robot that he created at the International Science Fair, and on the robot was a blue ribbon which had #First on it.
Xing Han was in a black 3-piece suit, holding up a trophy that he had won at the State Level Debate Championship. It was but one of the many debating competitions that he won, as could be seen from the various trophies in the background.
Behind the podium, on the stage, were the pictures of the TOP student of the school. The one who achieved the best overall results, both in academics and sports, in the past six years. This was THE award. The best of the best.
Previously, it had always been difficult to decide who it would be. It is easy to establish who are the top academic scorers and who are the top scorers in sports : but finding one who had both was difficult. What sort of ratio do you decide as the basis? Which has higher emphasis? Is a person who excels academically but was dismal in sports, be better than one who was average in both academics and sports? Each year, making a decision gave the Principal and his Vice-Principals a headache.
This year, however, it was easy. All the candidates were the top scorers in their respective sports and were also the top academic students. Thus, it went without saying that the Top Student was Kyle. So, Kyle's huge picture was plastered once again, in all its glory, at the wall on stage.
There were mixed feelings by the guests who attended. Seeing the same faces over and over again throughout the Hall left a slightly sour taste in their mouth. It wasn't that their kids weren't good, but that those five were abnormal. Hopefully, their own kids can shine in their new school and leave the shadows of these Elite Five.
No one, other than the Principle in charge, knew where the Elite Five were going after graduation. It was a request by the Elite Five themselves, as they didn't want people choosing that school just because they went there. It wasn't that they were narcissistic or egoistical, but that it was a fact. Many didn't want to put down their choices until the last minute, hoping that they would be able to get information before choosing.
The Elite Five had already decided not to be split up, and they wanted to continue studying together until they graduated from University. Then, they're either going to be working together in the same place, or working together in collaboration.
Kyle was quiet in his seat as he started thinking of the future plans and what had been achieved during the past 6 years. It was truly a miracle that he managed to find such good allies and friends here. He didn't think that it would actually be possible but it was as if everything just fell into place.
Xing Han had been the first, followed by Ali then Sam.
Xing Han had stuck to Kyle since that first day, and for some reason that Kyle couldn't fathom, would always stand up for him or do things for him without being asked. At first, Kyle was suspicious of his motives, but as time went by, Kyle could see the sincerity behind every action that Xing Han did. Despite that, Kyle still didn't trust him 100%.
It was the same with the others. With Ali and Sam, he became friends with them after he defended them from some bullies. Ali was a Muslim, and had strict dietary requirements. Although the school would cater to his needs, he didn't insist on it. Instead, he chose to bring his own lunches everyday. Ali was small for his age at that time, and Kyle happened to come across a scene of him being bullied by some other students.
He saw Ali's lunch box thrown to one side, the food scattered all over as the kids jeered at him. They said some rather hurtful words, making fun of him and some would even stomp on the food that was on the ground. Ali just stood there, staring at the ground without a word. One particular boy, who was bigger than the rest, was about to hit Ali at the back of the head when he felt his arm being held back.
He was about to shout at the person when he realised that it was Kyle. Even then, Kyle already had a reputation of one who should not be messed with. There were rumours that when angered, Kyle wouldn't even spare a girl.
The dismal fate of one particular girl who kept bullying his sister was just one instance. The girl had regarded herself as the Queen, and hated Kay to the core. Kyle never physically hit the girl, but he did get rid of all the boys that were her lackeys. All of her supporters distanced themselves from her one by one, and though no one knew what truly happened, the girl became an emotional wreck. She had to transfer out of school because she was so terrified of Kyle.
So, now, the Big Bully was looking at Kyle. Like any big bully that meets a stronger person ... he turned tail and ran. The others weren't far behind either. Kyle watched them go, then went to help Ali pick up the pieces of his spoilt food. They threw it away, then he got Ali a vegetarian sandwich. Since then, they were inseparable.
Sam's story was similar, though in his case, he was ostracized because of his young age. It wasn't because people were deliberately being mean, but they couldn't get along with him. Some were, of course, envious and didn't like this young brat being the top in their class. Kyle's maternal instinct of his previous life kicked in, and he took Sam under his wing. Like a chick, Sam then never left his side as well.
Kyle was actually still cautious and did not want to rely on these people. He couldn't trust them yet.
It was in their Third Year when the incident happened. The event that changed their lives and bounded them to each other, forever.