Annual Hong Kong student of year awards expand again to honour achievements beyond the classroom

Best improvement and best devotion to school introduced

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 10:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 8:09pm

Instead of just looking for top students, the 36th edition of the South China Morning Post Student of the Year Awards is turning a spotlight on pupils who have shown growth and dedicated service to their schools.

In previous years, the awards focused on rewarding students with outstanding achievements in different subjects and skill sets, including science, mathematics, performing arts, sport, and community contributions. A grand prize has also been on offer.

Watch what it takes to win a ‘Student of the Year’ award

But this year, two new categories – best improvement and best devotion to school – have been introduced alongside the existing prizes.

The best improvement awards honour pupils who have taken a significant step forward in their academic results, extracurricular performance or personal development over the past academic year.

Amy Chan Lim-chee, headmistress of the Apprentice Jockeys’ School and racing talent development manager as well as a judge in the new category, believes perseverance is important.

“I will be looking for a student’s dedication towards his or her goals,” she explained. “If someone only has short-term interest in what he or she does, there will not be any results.”

Another judge in the category, Olga Wong Yee-sheung, Hong Kong news editor at the Post, said she would be looking for generosity, imagination and independent thinking.

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But she noted it was most important that the nominees “love dreaming”.

“They should dream about what they want to become, and how our society would be transformed into a better place,” she said.

The category best devotion to school acknowledges pupils who excel on a personal level and whose involvement in and contribution to school activities have also helped others reach new heights.

Chan Hung, a school principal and judge in this category, said he would be eyeing those with an enterprising spirit.

“I will be looking for students’ ability to take initiative, instead of simply following what the school has asked them to do,” said Chan, who founded non-profit Free Tutorial School in 2011 offering classes to underprivileged children free of charge.

Alex Ho, the Post’s general manager for education, recruitment, circulation and syndication business, and also a judge in the category, praised past winners and finalists. He said their commitment, humility and tenacity exemplified the qualities one needed to be recognised.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of event sponsor Jockey Club, welcomed the two new categories for recognising not just “students’ academic prowess or other talents, but also their determination and wider contribution to their school”.

“Of course not everyone can be a winner, but just by taking part, students will learn more about their capabilities and make use of their potential,” he said.

The award ceremony is to be held on February 25 at the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung is the event’s guest of honour.