Teens talk tough


  • Education
  • Sunday, 11 Oct 2009

Finalists of the Mag Inc contest impressed judges and the audience not only with the quality of their magazines and video recordings, but also with their stage presence.

IT WAS a serious topic that five Year Six boys were presenting at the finals of the Mag Inc 2009 contest but they had the audience in stitches with their unwittingly funny quips and charmingly innocent actions.

The team from SK Bandar Utama Damansara (4), Petaling Jaya, shared on bullying, why they chose this topic for teenage angst, and how they put their magazine together.

After introducing themselves – Boyz Attax comprising Zachary Luke Chee, Ong Chang Yew, Parvin Raj, Eswaran Sundaram and Shaun Avinus – they identified the roles they each played in creating their magazine Teen Edge. One was an editor, another a writer, a layout artist, a computer wizard and last but not least, shared Eswaran: “I’m the mastermind. I choose the right people for the right job!”

His team mate Shaun, had everyone tickled again when he said he was a victim of bullying because of his petite physique. “Just look at me, you can see how small I am,” he said while flexing his non-existent biceps.

While Boyz Attax was clearly a crowd favourite, the team had to compete against other equally impressive presentations. There were jazz chants, skits and the use of masks to convey other teenage problems.

The annual Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) contest, jointly sponsored by The Star and Pizza Hut, and held in collaboration with the Education Ministry, is in its twelfth year. This year’s contest, titled, Mag Inc, ran on the theme of Teenage Angst, and participants were required to produce a three-page mini magazine on issues like cliques in school, Internet addiction and dating, to name a few.

In her speech, Datin Asariah Mior Shaharudin, the ministry’s deputy director-general, Teachers Professional Development, was pleased to see how newspapers assisted teachers by keeping young minds challenged and focused in a classroom setting, when students now lived in a world stimulated by sound, lights and instant gratification.

She said, “I think it is absolutely fantastic to see students from the broad spectrums of language fluency excited by the stimulus and rewards that present themselves at the end of the contest.”

Wisdom at an early age

Although Boyz Attax bagged the grand prize in the Primary category with a three-day, two-night stay in Sibu Island, Johor, courtesy of Sibu Island Resort, their competitors, Little Professors from SK Tunku Putera Baling, Kedah, gave them a run for their money.

By no means strangers to the contest, the very same team who made their debut in a previous NiE contest, Campaign 4 Rewards, two years ago, emerged runners-up in the Primary category, and won themselves a three-day, two-night stay in Genting Resort courtesy of Genting, City of Entertainment. The pupils stole the hearts of the audience with their video clip entry titled “Friend or Foe?” to emerge winners in the newly-introduced Video Clip category.

The video segment which was an extension of the Mag Inc contest, encouraged students to shoot a three-minute video clip or a public service announcement on teenage angst.

It took on an interactive twist at the finals as the audience was handed key pads to rank all three shortlisted video clips.

The Primary team comprising Janice Philip, Timothy Ezra, Varissa Pra Theang, Priscilla Isaac Abraham and Arivitriana Chamnek beat two upper secondary school teams, The-4-of-us from SMJK Chan Wa, Seremban, and Angels-Devils from SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Kuantan, to each win a Canon Powershot A470 digital camera, sponsored by Canon Marketing (M).

The team felt that writing on the issue of friendship was important. “Sometimes in school, we see that people can be friends one day, and enemies the next, which is not right. So, that was how we came up with the idea of friends or foe,” Janice, 11, said.

When asked how they coined the team name, Janice continued, “We named ourselves Little Professors because we see ourselves as representatives of other children in Malaysia, and as the future leaders of this country.”

Jacqueline Liu Xing Yi, of The-4-of-us and fifth former Lim Qian Wen, of Angels-Devils, said that their team mates were happy to have made it to the finals as their submissions beat 800 other clips. Jacqueline, whose team portrayed teenagers troubled by the growing menace of cliques in schools, said, “The video clip category was innovative. We enjoyed it very much as we found it easier to express ourselves through this art form.”

Qian Wen, whose team did not expect to make it to the finals, learnt a lot from the video produced by The-4-of-us. “In retrospect, I guess we could have improved on the quality of the video, especially the content,” she said of the team’s effort which touched on bullying.

As runners-up in the video clip category, each member from SMJK Chan Wa and SMK Sultan Abu Bakar won a RM100 Pizza Hut voucher, sponsored by Pizza Hut.

Taboo topics

Issues highlighted in the Lower Secondary category took a serious turn as team E=MC2 from SMK Convent Ipoh touched on the topic of homosexuality.

Members, Gurkireth Kaur and Lilian Benedict, donned face masks to illustrate points while Anusha Rajanran, Shahidah Idris and Jaayshini Murugiah made bold statements in their powerpoint presentation.

Before the audience could catch their breath after a frank and candid presentation from the teenagers’ points of view, in came Underdogs from SMJK Chan Wa, Seremban, who stunned the audience with actual statistics of teenage pregnancy.

Underdogs’ authentic statistics and research were a result of surveys conducted in their own time. Besides that, the team members also started a website http://tpreg.blogspot.com to create awareness about teenage pregnancy.

At the end of their presentation, team member Jocelyn Yong said, “We believe that we have been successful in creating at least some awareness among teenagers through the number of visits on our website.”

This was clearly a winning point with the judges who found Jocelyn and her team members Grace Tee, Faith Tee, Christine Lee, and Nicole Lai, not only interested in winning the grand prize of a three-day, two-night stay in Kuching, but equally passionate about spreading the pitfalls of teenage pregnancy, too.

First time participants in the contest, E=MC2, on the other hand, went home elated knowing that they beat 24,000 entries to earn a trip to Genting Resort.

Clash of the titans

As with any great sporting event, the clash of the giants almost always keeps everyone holding their breaths. Vying for the grand prize of five units of pre-university scholarships totalling RM100,000 from Taylor’s University College were Blaze Breeze of SMK Hwa Lian, Mentakab, Pahang, and Juene of SMK Kuching High, Kuching, Sarawak.

When these teams took to the stage, the topic shifted to self-reflection.

Blaze Breeze, made up of Vivian Choi, Vinnie Wong, Eik Jia Heng, Ng Cheng Kean, and Chia Yee Pin, presented an exceptionally graphic presentation on self-mutilation and the reasons why teenagers were drawn to this form of expression.

Needless to say, there was pin-drop silence from the audience in this shock-and-awe session.

Competition was certainly stiff by the time Cheryl Chu, Kevin Yap, May Lim, Seth Chew and Ng Qi Wen from Juene stepped up to the floor. Judging from the applause that kept growing with every presentation, Juene had to rise to the challenge.

The team too focused on why teenagers perceived themselves through negative lenses.

Cheryl said, “We brainstormed about the many issues related to us teenagers, but after much thought, we realised that all of us had one thing in common, which was how we see and think of ourselves.”

She added that most teenagers had a negative self-image of themselves, and the purpose of their magazine was to send out a message to teenagers, reminding them to be confident and true to who they were.

Juene was not the least bit disappointed as they clinched the grand prize of scholarships from Taylor’s University College and a trip to Sibu Island Resort. “The scholarships means a lot to us, as they lift a huge burden off our parents, financially,” she continued.

Blaze Breeze won the runners-up prize with a trip to Genting Resort.

Schools with the highest entries were also rewarded with RM1,000 worth of sports equipment vouchers, sponsored by Pizza Hut. The schools (categorised under student enrolment) were SMK Chung Hwa, Kuala Lipis, and SMK Mohd Khalid, Johor Baru (500 students and below), SM Sains Sultan Mohd Jiwa, Kedah, and MRSM Kepala Batas, Penang (501 to 1,000 students), and SMK Seksyen 1 Bandar Kinrara, Selangor, and SM Notre Dame, Malacca (1,001 students and above).

Over 60,000 students participated in the Mag Inc contest this year, of which almost 4,000 students submitted entries for the video clip category.

Related Stories: Great job, say judges

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