Six of the best to battle for top award
HAVING SAT THROUGH the three regional semi-finals for this year's Student of the Year Award as a panel judge, one thought has stuck in my head: 'There is no way I could have done better than any of these candidates!'
It may sound like a consolation to those who have not made it to the final but, hey, it's true. Those shortlisted for this round are already winners.
All are academically outstanding as the basic requirement for this award is that all candidates - nominated by their school principal - must have scored at least 30 points in their best subjects in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in one sitting.
They were also carefully selected based on their achievements in non-academic areas such as community/voluntary work and extra-curricular activities.
And what a fine bunch of students we have this year! Most - if not all - have a strong mind and personality and are able to take any challenge in their stride. Some are only let down by their command of the English language and others by their lack of knowledge in local and international events.
In its 29th year, the South China Morning Post Student of the Year Award has changed its selection procedure slightly this year to make it more encompassing.
For a start, we have divided this year's entries into regions - Hong Kong and Outlying Islands, Kowloon, the New Territories East and West - so that students of each area are pitched against each other fairly and squarely at a regional level.
For the semi-final, instead of adopting an 'interview format', 16 candidates from each region (the New Territories East and West was combined into one region) were asked to comment on the lyrics of a song before an open group discussion in the first round of selection.
The judging criteria were: creativity; fluency in the English language; confidence - but not too confident that they dominate the five-minute discussion session; their ability to keep their argument/discussion logical and coherent.
Those who made it into the second round (four in total) were given three minutes to comment on an unprepared topic - which was either a famous person, or a place or an event - that had appeared either in South China Morning Post or Young Post in the past three months.
Again, contestants were judged on their creativity, expressiveness, confidence, sense of logic, knowledge of local and world affairs as well as their ability to think on their feet.
While candidates from the Kowloon and Hong Kong regions were most competitive - after all, students were pitched against not only their school mates but also those from other top schools - the New Territories semi-finalists were the most lively and cheerful.
I was really impressed by two candidates - Wong Ching-yuen of Kwun Tong Maryknoll College and Chan Wai-lok of St Paul's College - who have great personality and ideas. They lost out only because their spoken English was not as strong as the others.
While Beatrice Liu Yung-ye of Diocesan Girls' School is totally fluent in the language, she was taken aback by the unprepared topic: Dublin (Special Olympics). Still her confident three-minute delivery is commendable.
Finally, a big and special thanks to our judges who helped us choose the finalists. They are:
For Kowloon: Joyce Lui Chien Yiu-chu, chief school development officer (Yau Tsim and Mong District), Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB); and Scarlett Pong, author and recipient of the Hong Kong Ten Outstanding Young Persons award (1998);
For Hong Kong and Outlying Islands: Julie Chen Wai-ming, chief school development officer (Central and Western District), EMB; and Dr Humphry Hung Hing-lap, senior lecturer at the department of management, the Hong Kong Polytechnic Unversity;
For the New Territories (East and West): W. L. Man, chief school development officer (Kwai Tsing District), EMB; Mark Wan, chief school development officer (Sai Kung District), EMB, and Ms Pong.
The six finalists will battle it out for the top award at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts on July 5.
This year's winner will receive a South China Morning Post scholarship of $30,000 and a free course worth $1,500 from The Art School, Hong Kong Arts Centre.
The big one
Here is the list of shortlisted candidates for the Student of the Year Award 2002/2003 Final to be held at the Hong Kong Academy For Performing Arts on July 5. The finalists are:
Elmy Lung Wai-yue, 18, Yew Chung International School
Tsui Ka-ling, 17, Po Leung Kuk No.1 W.H. Cheung College
Hong Kong and Outlying Islands
Chiu Kwun-sau, 17,Queen's College
Donald Wong Ho-lun, 18,St Paul's Co-educational College
The New Territories
Leung Sze-ning, 17,Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School
Kay Seto King-lune, 18,Li Po Chun United World College
A tough task for contenders
The songs selected for the semi-finals:
When You Believe - Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston
Hero - Mariah Carey
Hong Kong and Outlying Islands
Que Sera Sera - Doris Day
These Early Days - Everything But The Girl
The New Territories (East and West)
Reach - S Club 7
Best Friend - S Club 7
Benchmark Language Tests
Early Admission Scheme
Hong Kong Stadium
Nicholas Tse Ting-fung
Sars concert at the Hong Kong Stadium
WHO International Travel Advisory
Yao Ming and Coca-Cola