SOTY 2017: The value of giving back, and learning from your mistakes

We talk to the five Student of the Year winners in the Best Devotion to School category about their secondary school life, and the many contributions they’ve made to their schools

Nicola Chan |

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Michael found being a prefect difficult.

Not everyone appreciates the fact that school is a safe environment where students are intellectually and emotionally nurtured by teachers and friends. And not everyone gives back as much as they take.

However, that’s not the case for the five 2017 Student of the Year – Best Devotion to School winners as they believe that their school commitments not only help them feel a stronger connection to their school, but also teach them the importance of civic responsibility, as well as communication and leadership skills.

Young Post caught up with Kary Hui Jing-yi, Tse Cheuk-hang , Kwok Wing-yan, Michael So Yiu-hei, and Roi Joshua Abad Cruz, all 18, to learn more about their life in secondary school and the contributions they’ve made to their schools.

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“Students have been spoon-fed a cascade of information, and the concept that acing the exams with flying colours means having a successful life,” Kary said.

Kary thinks there is too much spoon feeding in schools.
Photo: Hui Jing-yi

Because of this, many young people think of school as where they “gain knowledge”, but have little enthusiasm for living and learning, she added.

But the former deputy head prefect, class monitress, and house committee member from Tak Nga Secondary School has found plenty of satisfaction from dedicating hours to her school, though she had to sacrifice a lot of free time.

Cheuk-hang thinks giving back to his school is one of the most meaningful things he has done.
Photo: Tse Cheuk-hang

Cheuk-hang said that his school Queen’s College has provided a lot of freedom and numerous opportunities for students to unleash their potential. This helped him personally develop a greater sense of purpose and belonging. He wanted to give back to the school, so he became head of counselling prefect and took part in a variety of projects, including organising the school’s orientation programme.

“It was one of the most meaningful things I have done,” said Cheuk-hang.

Wing-yan says her parents encouraged her to join more activities.
Photo: Kwok Wing-yan

True Light Girls’ College student Wing-yan said, her parents were a big part of why she joined a host of extracurricular activities, including table tennis, swimming, and athletics teams. She also became chairman of the Form Association and Class Association.

“My parents have always encouraged me to develop my interests, and reminded me to be thankful for the many opportunities my school has provided me,” Wing-yan said.

Striking a balance between studying and her many responsibilities in school was difficult, she added, but it was possible by prioritising tasks, sharing worries with close friends and loved ones, and finding ways to destress.

Michael, the deputy head prefect of St Joseph’s College, said one of the most rewarding parts of his school life was befriending the troublemakers.

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“I actually got along quite well with them. I think the key is to listen to them,” said Michael.

But fulfilling his duties wasn’t always easy. One time, he received complaints from a parent who was unhappy about his attitude when enforcing school rules.

“I was disheartened. However, I later learned that as long as my conscience is clear, there is nothing to worry about,” he said.

Engaging in various extracurricular activities, Michael believes, can help “cultivate important life skills” as well as refresh the mind during studying.

Roi discovered doing other activities was a great way to relieve stress.
Photo: Roi Joshua Abad Cruz

Roi agreed, and said that organising events, and bonding with his school’s editorial and English Ambassadors team, “was a great way to get my mind off academic pressure.”

The form six graduate from Paoc Ka Chi Secondary School has been an active contributor since Form Three, after he his teachers and classmates helped him to organise a few English activities.

Organising cross-cultural events for schoolmates of different ethinc backgrounds was particularly difficult, he recalled. “Most of the students were not even interested in the events.” But his efforts paid off, and much to his delight, his school has now become much more inclusive.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda