There’s a lot of flashing on the stage as the Student of the Year Award Ceremony comes to an end. Families, finalists, classmates, old friends and new got together to take photos and remember this special event.
Belinda Ng, Grand Prize winner, Catherine Wang, Linguist (English) winner and Anushka Purohit, runner up in the Community Contributor category pose with big smiles on their faces after screaming “Congratulations!” and hugging each other.
Other than being finalists, the three have another thing in common: their love for writing, or more specifically, their love of writing for Young Post.
As junior reporters, the last time these three girls were all together in one room was last summer, at Young Post’s Junior Reporter Awards.
Renaissance College student Anushka has been a junior reporter for almost four years, and she still remembers the first time her work was published in Young Post. “It was a Brain Game,” says Anushka.
As a reader, she had always enjoyed reading columns filled with student contributions and wanted to chip in, which was her first reason for wanting to join the junior reporters’ club.
When the day finally came, her answer to a Brain Game question was printed with a photo of her.
She had volunteer to help younger students in her school create paper mache that day, and when they picked up a copy of Young Post, the younger ones caught it first: “Isn’t this you?”
“My face was on it!”
A writer’s first publication is always special, but for Belinda, a South Island School Student, one of her most memorable moments was realising that winning the Grand Prize of Student of the Year had landed her on the cover of Sunday’s Young Post.
“I remember feeling so honoured that my story made the cover ... can’t believe it’s actually ME now,” says Belinda to Young Post via text message.
She has been writing for Young Post for almost two years, but says, “I just feel like I’ve been here forever.”
When she started, she pitched a lot of stories that weren’t accepted. “I knew I had to find something special, to make my story stand out,” says Belinda. It pushed her to think about what special angle she could go for. This skill has proved useful beyond writing though, as Belinda explains.
“[It] helped me with competitions like Student of the Year, in terms of trying to make myself stand out.”
“Writing – creative writing and journalism – helps me express [my thoughts] in a very clear way,” says Belinda. “I’m the type of person where if I experience anything, I get very deep thoughts and reflections and writing helps me get it all out.”
On a school trip to Indonesia, she talked to a man who grows palm trees to save the world and decided to write about it for Young Post.
“I wrote that not [just] because I’m really into environmental sustainability, but also because I want students in Hong Kong to see that there are solutions and YP has a platform. It’s like writing for a cause, but also writing just because I like it,” she says.
A final year student at Chinese International School, Catherine has been with Young Post throughout her secondary years. Being a junior reporter has taught her to be “opportunistic”, she says. She looks for ideas everywhere, from new trends to events and people that she talks to, constantly asking herself if it would make for a good story. And even the most random, unexpected ideas stand the possibility of making it to print – like her article about pointless websites for procrastinating.
SOTY 2016: Community Contributor hopefuls quizzed on their projects, their volunteer work and their hopes for the future
Since joining the junior reporters' club, Anushka went on to join and win Brain Game, a popular column written by readers (last chance to sign up if you want to be part of the next round).
Winning has boosted Anushka’s confidence and commitment levels. At a junior reporters’ editorial meeting, the Young Post team told her she shouldn’t limit [her] writing to Brain Game and contributor columns. “They told me to try writing articles about what was going on around me. I just needed that one push,” recalls Anushka. That prompted Anushka to start writing more, meet other junior reporters, and put herself forward for opportunities to cover workshops and concerts.
Meeting and chatting to new people is a big part of any junior reporter’s life, and that’s been the most useful skill for Anushka. “[It’s] taught me how not to be socially awkward.”
Belinda remembers being super nervous before her first phone interview as a Young Post cadet.
“I kept thinking ‘what if I messed up’, but it pushed me to put myself out there with more confidence,” she says.
Catherine agrees that this social interaction has been a very helpful skill, especially when it comes to going to university interviews or meeting family friends.
“You can’t [just] keep receiving the reporters’ club’s emails, you have to actually respond and prove your skills,” she says.
Being a junior reporter has also changed Catherine’s way of looking at the English language and words. “Before [becoming a junior reporter] I used to be very passive and thought, ‘As long as I can speak, it’s alright’. But thanks to my six years with Young Post, I truly go out of my way to be proactive and find opportunities to practise the language,” says the student linguist of the year.