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Two Johnians Receive Two International Awards

One of the World’s Best 100 Universities identifies two Johnians as recipients of the much coveted Monash University Future Leader Sri Lanka 2014/2015 Award! M.Tharushihan becomes first in the Island and R.Lohathieswar becomes Second Runner-up!
Monash University, the second oldest university in the State of Victoria and the university with the largest student body in Australia has been ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world according to Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2015. This prestigious university wished to identify and reward students demonstrating outstanding initiative and leadership in a range of issues that make a difference to the society - those who “equipped themselves for life, not solely for their own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community.’’ The university invited applications from schools across the country and 14 students were short-listed based on their academic achievements, leadership skills, participation in sports and games and in co-curricular activities, involvement in social services and vision for the future. The results of the interview conducted by a panel including an official from the Monash University are as follows:
M.Tharushihan - First in the Island - Awarded Rs. 200,000/=
A student from Royal College Runner-up Awarded Rs. 100,000/=
R.Lohathieswar Second Runner-up (joint)Awarded Rs. 75,000/=
A student from an international school in Kandy Second Runner-up (joint) Awarded Rs. 75,000/=

The Award Ceremony for Monash University Future Leader Sri Lanka 2014/2015 conducted on 4th September in Taj Samudra was attended by representatives from Monash Australia, distinguished personnel from the Education Fraternity in Sri Lanka, Monash Alumni and the families of Monash Future Leader Award applicants.

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The two students were given a grand welcome at school. They were garlanded at the gate and were given a warm welcome by the Principal and staff. They were escorted by the members of the College Band towards the Peto Hall where the Principal, Tharushihan and Lohathieswar gave their speeches

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The Principal in his speech said that it was one of the happiest moments in the history of the College. He thanked the parents teachers and friends for their support.
Lohathieswar said that even being an assistant sweeping monitor helps to develop one’s personality. Tharushihan echoed his thoughts by saying that his involvement in extra-curricular activities and a few social service projects he had undertaken helped him earn this much coveted award. He also expressed his confidence that many Johnians will receive this award in the future – because at St. John’s, almost all the facilities are provided for the students. It is up to the students to reach out and grab the many opportunities available.

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Tharushihan’s Speech

Principal sir, Vice Principals, Supervisors, teachers, parents and my dear friends. A very good morning to you all. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on my experience regarding the Monash University Future Leader Programme. I would like to share some ideas on the application process. First of all I am extremely honoured to be selected as the winner of the Monash Future Leader Award and I am sincerely grateful for this recognition. I should admit I was a bit stunned to know that I was the winner. It was sheer pleasure to receive the award from the Australian High Commissioner in front of distinguished personnel from the education fraternity of Sri Lanka and Monash. This programme is aimed mainly at recognizing and rewarding a student for his outstanding leadership and initiatives in a range of issues that would make a difference to the society.

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So as the principal said, schools from Sri Lanka were called to nominate three students fromeach school and so it was at St. John’s. Thank you sir for your choice and for placing your trust in us. Applications were mainly based on three criteria. First, consistent academic performance – for which our Ordinary Level examination results, Advanced Level examination results and summative averages in all our term examinations were considered. Secondly they looked at good conduct. The character certificate and the school leaving certificate bore testimony. The interviewers wanted to find out about the difference applicants have made to the school and local communities – for example in terms of leadership, community service and contributions in co-curricular activities. So, the positions we held in our school, the extra curricular activities we took part in our college life and the community service we did through our Scout Troop helped us. I was a Scout. We did a community service project to win the President’s Award. I cleaned a land towards dengue prevention. I don’t know how many of you are aware of an animal welfare programme called Embark. It uplifts the lives of street dogs which are homeless but undoubtedly a part of our community. After my school life, i joined as a Scout Leader in three schools and introduced scouting to some schools which lacked human resources. Such activities were advantageous in winning this award.

The last criteria drawn from ethos and values of Monash University: "Adopt as your fundamental creed that you will equip yourself for life, not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community." - Sir John Monash. And during the interview they asked about our future dreams and they evaluated us mainly on the basis of this quote from famous Sir John Monash. They were satisfied with my justification on this statement. That’s why I won this award. I am sure, in the future many Johnians will win this award and make St. John’s proud. Good luck to you all.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to some special people – not for this award alone, but for who I am. Firstly, my parents who supported me in all my undertakings, principal sir, vice principals, supervisors, all my class teachers and subject teachers at St. John’s, my friends and the entire St. John’s community for whatever you have bestowed on me. Without your unwavering support I would not have won this award. Thank you.

I would like to finish with a quote from famous Harry Potter. It is our choices that show what truly we are far more than our abilities. Without false modesty, I feel all the finalists who were selected for the interview were far more talented than me and deserved the award just as I did or even more than I did. But somehow my choice of career after my schooling like Scout Leader Training, working with Embark and some other were advantageous in myself winning this award. So make choices boldly and get involved – you will never regret it. Thank you sir once again for this podium and everyone for your patience. Thank you so much.

Lohathieswar’s speech

Principal sir, Vice Principals, Sectional Heads, teachers, my fellow students and friends – good morning to all of you. I stand here to share my experience in a few words. Two students from our school were selected to apply for the Monash University Future Leaders Award. My principal was happier than either of us. I was able to see it during the Award Ceremony as well.

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At first, according to the advice of our principal, we filled out the application form. We had to present the required information in a given format. First, our personal details. Next, our talents. We had to write in thousand words why we thought that we were eligible candidates for this award. I used just 250 words to fill it up. I couldn’t write a lot. My principal helped me out in this respect as well. After sending our application forms, fifteen students were identified and called for an interview. They decided the three winners based on the outcome of the interview. Tharushihan has already mentioned what they asked for in the interview. One

was education. Both education at school and informal education are very important. A lot of weight is given to education anywhere, at any time. We can see this everywhere. Next, extracurricular activities, sports and games and social services. From the time our principal took his chair, he has been persuading all the students to study and make use of all the facilities available at the College. Next to education comes games. Next comes the co-curricular activities. I used the grounds and this stage a lot. Thirdly I made use of the classroom. The reason why I am here now and the reason why I was able to get this award was because of my involvement in games and extra-curricular activities.

The interviewers asked me how I am going to change Sri Lanka for the better with the talents I possessed. Tharushihan who was involved in many social services said that he would build a hospital and provide free service to patients in the future. Similarly I said what I know best is Cricket – so I will bring about positive changes in this sphere. I said that I will establish links with the cricket board and see to it that our boys, if they are talented, get a chance to represent the Sri Lankan cricket team. As of now, there are two boys from our school who have almost made it to the nationals. Such opportunities will be there in the future as well. I will ensure that these opportunities are made use of.

As a student we should make use of all the facilities and resources available at school. Most of the students don’t do this. By making use of all the resources, we can attain and achieve.

I used to spend a lot of time playing games and with my music group. My relatives used to ask me what I was going to achieve by playing and singing. Can you become a Bradman by playing all the time? Can you become an Illayaraja by being a part of a music group? If Sachin Tendulkar had thought so, he wouldn’t be a star player today. A.R.Rahman would not have made his debut into the music industry if he had been intimidated by the great Illayarajah. This is the truth. I am neither Sachin nor Rahman but I am someone now because of my involvement in the extracurricular activities and because of my studies.

Our principal always tells us to participate in everything. He says that we should try to balance curricular and co-curricular activities to the best we can. This is what made me eligible for this award.

I need to thank three people in particular. First, my principal. Without him, I wouldn’t have got this award. When the principal called me and Tharushihan to apply, we were very negative and reluctant. He persuaded us. It was an all-island competition so we had our reservations. I need to thank my principal for this. Next is my father. He too encouraged me to apply. I had to spend 1100/= to apply. I suggested buying clothes for the New Year with that money but two of my friends, Thuvarakaseelan and Kapilraj said that I had good chances of winning – and they encouraged me to apply. Thanks to them too. It is because of these three people that I applied. The rest was God’s grace. I wish to repeat the great role played by my principal. Without him, I will not have got this award today.

I also wish to thank all my teachers from grade 1 to A/L – all the teachers who taught me, who trained me in sports and games, who made me take up extra-curricular activities – I wish to thank all of them as well. If not for them, we won’t be here.

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