Academic excellence is worthy of praise, but even more so when complemented by a passionate pursuit of extracurricular activities. Students from Kolkata schools have managed to do just that.
My Kolkata caught up with three such students from city schools who scored more than 95 per cent in the CBSE examinations this year without compromising on their love for literature, music, filmmaking and creative writing.
Yubasana Kapas, Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School (97.4 per cent, CBSE Class XII, Humanities)
A versatile talent, Yubasana topped the number charts at her school. This young girl wears many hats — she is an award-winning filmmaker, a Hindustani classical singer, a theatre actor at Nandikar and an avid quizzer.
Yubasana’s short film Eituku, which explores the mental health of adolescents, won the best film award under the school section at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2022. She was, in fact, in Delhi attending the festival and returned only three days before her first CBSE Term-II paper. “I was still in Delhi, even though my exams were about to begin in just three days. My well-wishers were surprised as I went sightseeing in that city. But I was confident as ever,” Yubasana said with a grin.
Always a live wire, Yubasana enjoyed spending time with her family during the pandemic-induced lockdown. She spent her days learning film editing and watching different web series.
Recalling her role in school, Yubasana said she had been involved in a number of co-curricular activities since Class V. “My teachers at Gokhale have been a pillar of strength. They always motivated me to take part in such activities. Thankfully, I always managed to bring glory to the school. I did miss a few classes in the process, but the teachers were kind enough to help me out.”
On balancing studies and such activities, the young girl said, “Though I’m an extremely hyperactive person, I try to balance things properly. I had already completed my syllabus in the Term-I exams. The pre-Boards also boosted my confidence. I was already prepared to write my Term-II exams while I was in Delhi. So you can say that I completely focus on the task before me. Also, I never took tuitions, so the time management is completely in my hands.”
Yubasana is now preparing for CUET as she wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology or English from Delhi University. She also plans to apply for International Relations or Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University.
Agnibeena Ghosh, South Point High School (98.2 per cent, CBSE Class XII, Humanities)
A popular debater who has fetched many prizes for his school at inter-school competitions, Agnibeena also shows keen interest in creative writing and is also a western contemporary vocalist. She listens to western songs from the 80s and is a die-hard fan of the British rock band Queen.
“I have been taking part in co-curricular activities since childhood. I mostly participated in inter-school competitions as a singer till Class X. Then I became more interested in debating,” said Agnibeena, who won the first runner-up prize at the South Point school fest Udaan 2022 in the offline event Ver-battle debate. In 2021, she also emerged as the first runner-up at the Shabd fest organised by Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
An avid reader, Agnibeena is highly inspired by author Gabriel Marquez and his book ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. “I like fiction as it helps me nurture my creativity. I participate in various events that involve creative writing. In 2021, one of my poems was published in a journal by the Creative Writing Ink, UK.”
Agnibeena was also the second runner-up at the National Spelling Bee competition in 2018-19. The teenager said she believed in enjoying what she did. “I don’t overexert myself with anything. I believe in getting involved in the things I do and enjoy it. Also, I think it’s important to interact in the classroom. That way you can concentrate better, get involved and learning becomes fun.”
Though the pandemic has bitten into the share of co-curricular activities at school, Agnibeena hopes to continue adding feathers to her hat in future. Aspiring to become a professor and an author, Agnibeena looks forward to pursuing literature in her bachelor’s studies.
Somedutta Chakraborty, Mahadevi Birla World Academy (98.6%, CBSE Class XII, Humanities)
Topper of her class and a passionate debater, Somedutta is the pride of her school. She has participated in various national-level debates like the Amidas Goradia Inter School debate, Delhi, where she received the prize for the best speech writer prize in the bridge round. She was also awarded the title of ‘Outstanding Journalist’ at Intra MUN (Model United Nations). She also received a certificate of excellence from Bichitra Pathsala for participating in its ‘Tracing the Roots’ presentation.
The girl with the gift of speech is also a talented writer. “I secured a full scholarship to participate in the Young Writers Summer Online Program at Kenyon Review, which is supported by the US Government and the Ohio Arts Council. I also got a scholarship of £1000 at the Immerse Essay Writing competition, Oxbridge summer programme,” she said.
Somedutta has been the chief editor for her school magazine and is now composing her own collection of poems which she intends to publish as a book soon. She loves books by Dan Brown and indulges in poetry by Tagore and Keats.
The all-rounder not only participates in debates and writing competitions but also specialises in managing events at school. Somedutta said extra-curricular activities had taught her multitasking. “Every time I participate in something, I know I am broadening my horizon. Whatever I learnt from the debate or writing competitions or workshops has helped me in my studies. Effectively organising my learning boosted my scores in CBSE. I am thankful to my school teachers who encouraged me at every step,” she said.
Somedutta wishes to study law and is preparing for the CLAT exams. She also intends to crack the UPSC exams.