It’s back! The 38th Student of the Year Awards (Soty) – organised by South China Morning Post and Young Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club with support from the Education Bureau – are officially underway.
The 2018 edition will look for the very best that Hong Kong’s secondary school students have to offer in nine categories: Linguist (in English, Cantonese, and Putonghua), Scientist and Mathematician, Sportsperson, Performing Artist, Visual Artist, Community Contributor, Best Improvement, Best Devotion to School, and finally, the Student of the Year Grand Prize.
There will be three prizes in the “Linguist” category – one for Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. Each category will have three finalists and an overall winner, while the “Best Devotion to School” and “Best Improvement” categories will have five awardees.
As always, Team YP is eager to find out what students have in store. Whether judging or interviewing contestants, this is their favourite competition of the year.
This year’s theme of “creativity” hopes to help grow what has become an often overlooked feature among Hong Kong’s youth. Students are encouraged to focus mainly on studying; in other words remembering information from textbooks to do well in their exams. This means creativity is usually not encouraged.
However, the truth is that it’s the people who are most creative that end up really making a difference to the world. And the Student of the Year candidates should be the type of people who hope to do just that.
Last year’s grand prizewinner, Misha Fischer of German Swiss International School, is thrilled with this year’s theme, and agrees that creativity needs to be encouraged more in this city.
“Creativity is a vital and often overlooked part of education, and is a cornerstone of every subject,” explained the 17-year-old. “It helps us connect ideas and embrace originality. It is incredibly important in everything from painting to problem-solving.
“I’m excited to see how this year’s candidates will make the theme their own.”
Although creativity seems like an obvious focus for categories like Visual Artist and Performing Artist, judges will be looking for candidates in other categories to flex their creative muscles as well.
All secondary school students studying in Form Four to Six, or Grade 10 to 12, during the 2018-19 academic year are eligible for nomination. The best candidates will be invited to speak to or perform in front of the judges who will determine the finalists and winners.
Shortlisted candidates will also be invited to join a one-day leadership camp in January. First introduced in 2016, the camp has since become one of the event’s biggest highlights. It allows candidates the chance to meet each other not just as competitors, but also as friends.
“Students who joined this competition obviously wanted to win,” explained event organiser Samuel Tsang. He also works as a manager in the circulation and marketing department at the South China Morning Post. “However, at the interview and leadership camp, they were happy to share their experiences, laugh together and become friends. I know some of them are still in touch.”
In addition to creativity, judges will be looking for excellence in and commitment to their respective fields. And while individual accomplishments are certainly important, an ideal Student of the Year will also demonstrate the ability to inspire others.
Visit the Student of the Year website for more information and the specific judging criteria for each category