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Surprise award for EL teen

Date Released: Mon, 15 July 2013 10:59 +0200

EC pupils do well in Olympiad.

Feisty Lucy Grinker, 17, of Clarendon Girls’ High, who entered the 2013 De Beers English Olympiad on a nonchalant “whatever” basis, could not believe it when she came second out of 7 500 entrants from Southern Africa.

Six Eastern Cape pupils also made the coveted top 20.

The announcement was made in the Monument’s Guy Butler Theatre before hundreds of pupils attending the National Schools Festival in Grahamstown on Thursday.

Grinker, an Eastern Province school’s debating team member and daughter of East London social activists and researchers Russell Grinker and Gail Kirchmann, won a literary tour of England, a “really big” dictionary and a year of free tuition at Rhodes University.

Other Eastern Cape winners were Carmen Nangolo, of the Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) (6th), Micaela Ponzo of Alexander Road High (10th), Lili Flax of Theodor Herzl High (14th), Silvie van Onselen of the DSG (15th) and Wiebke Langner also of Theodor Herzl (18th).

Daniel Peter of St David’s Marist College (Inanda) was the overall winner.

Grinker said: “I thought it was a misprint and that it would be superawkward when they had to apologise to me later.

“I only got a merit last year, which is one above ‘unclassified’, meaning you used vulgar language or never finished the paper!”

Her entry featured a “scathing review” of City Press editor Ferial Haffajee’s lecture at the National Arts Festival’s Think Fest last year, a poem, plus “lots of statements open to different interpretations”.

She said: “It was great that the theme was Secrets and Lies because it is very topical.

“I focused on the hypocrisy of Haffajee withdrawing the Spear painting from their website, and then lecturing on the freedom of the press and standing your ground. Yet she herself buckled.”

She thanks “legendary” Clarendon English teacher Carol Felton for “encouraging exactly this kind of writing [that says] it is OK to dissent and be contrary, but mainly to have an opinion on something that matters.”

Felton told the Dispatch her star pupil was “insightful and talented”. She has opinions and is happy to express them.

“She is very aware of global, national, political and socio-economic issues. She is way above most of her peers in terms of knowing what is going on in the world. In this country we still have freedom of speech.

“I encourage my kids to have an opinion and to express it. Maybe it’s controversial for people who think conservatively, but that’s the way I think.”

Dr Diana Ayliff, academic coordinator of the competition, said: “It was a delight to read such eloquent scripts written by the top English Olympiad candidates.”

De Beers Consolidated Mines spokesman Tsepo Monaledi said: “English holds a special place in business, as the medium for global conversations. De Beers is of the belief that communication is a key to African development.”


Picture Caption: GIFT OF THE GAB: Brilliant Clarendon Girls’ High Grade 11 pupil and EP debater Lucy Grinker, 17, came second in the southern Africa-wide De Beers English Olympiad run by the SA Council for English Education and the Grahamstown Foundation.

Article Source: Daily Dispatch