At 14, elite school's reject shows she's in a class of her own

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 August, 2007, 12:00am

Fourteen-year-old Ho Hoi-lam may once have been turned down by an elite school, but she had the last laugh yesterday, achieving near-perfect examination results three years early.

Hoi-lam, who was rejected by the English-medium Diocesan Girls' School when she was nine, scored eight As, a Level 5 in English and a 5* in Chinese in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination.

The star pupil, who lives in Tin Shui Wai, attends the Chinese-medium Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Lo Kon Ting Memorial College in Yuen Long. She said the results were unexpected as she had taken 10 subjects as 'a challenge', sitting all, except Chinese language, Putonghua and history, in English.

'I didn't know if I could manage 10 subjects and wanted to find out how well I could perform,' she said.

The science stream student has an IQ of about 130 and skipped two years in primary school and Form Two in secondary school. She said the support of teachers - some dedicated to working with gifted pupils - helped her achieve success.

'This school gives me the best in both academic and personal development. My teachers helped me with history and accounts in their spare time,' said Hoi-lam, a keen member of the school's debating team.

Principal Michael Leung Chi-kin said students like Hoi-lam were given special attention. 'We have a group of teachers catering to the needs of every gifted student,' he said.

The school's sponsor, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, awarded Hoi-lam a scholarship of nearly HK$20,000 yesterday.

Hoi-lam's father, an air-conditioning technician, and her mother, a housewife, migrated from the mainland more than 20 years ago.

She is not bitter about DGS' rejection. She thinks living in Tin Shui Wai counted against her. 'They said, 'You live so far away' ... I don't mind a Chinese-medium school. The most important thing is you try your best and achieve your potential.'

Her next challenge will be applying to study medicine. Medical dean of Chinese University Fok Tai-fai said it was unlikely her age would be a problem.

'It just depends on whether the student is mature enough and suitable,' he said.

Additional reporting by Lilian Goh