Mitisha Surana, Agarwal Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School (497/500, Sanskrit)

Painter. Sketch Artist. Orator. Quizzer. And a first rank holder. Her childhood friend Pooja Rathore calls her a “complete package”. Accepting her accomplishment with an air of humility, Mitisha Surana politely talked about her feat. She scored 497/500 in the State Board Class 10 Examination with a hundred in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Sanskrit and 97 in English.” There are occasions when I wrote irrelevant things. But my teachers scrutinised my paper and ensured I got perfect. Although I studied my lessons everyday I feel that only the last minute readings helped me a great deal. A composed state of mind and confidence enabled me to achieve this”, she said, flashing her pearl white smile.

Her principal and teachers attribute her achievement to exceptional observations skills, perseverance and determination. “Having seen her grow up in this school and knowing her capabilities, I expected this from her”, said P.V. Subbulakshmi, Principal, Agarwal Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School.

A fine artist that she is, Mitisha indulges in drawing and painting when she looks for a break from reading. She admitted that it is because of this passion of hers that wants to her pursue architecture in future. What's more? She excels in calligraphy too.

Ramya Shreeshaa Cotah, St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary School (497/500, French)

Ramya Shreeshaa Cotah has been studying in St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary School since she was in standard three, but when she entered the school situated in the calm tree-lined neighbourhood of Gandhi Nagar on Monday, she created an unusual flutter. Having scored 497, with French as her second language, she is the second State topper the school has produced, the last one being in 1996. “When Samacheer Kalvi was introduced, I was a little worried, but our school held several revision exams and cyclical tests to help us get comfortable with the new syllabus,” she said. Having always managed to come within the first five ranks, she says that she studies only with a ‘fresh mind'. “I love reading fiction, I learn to play the guitar, and am particularly interested in Egyptian history. Other than the three weeks during which the exams were held, I did not give up any of my interests,” she said. Ramya, says she wants to take up hotel management since she knows what the field is about, and what would be expected of her. “My father who is also an alumnus of the school, is in the field, hence I have some insight,” said Ramya.

Anjala Beegum A.H., D.A.V. Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mogappair (497/500, Sanskrit)

It is while enjoying her vacations in her hometown Calicut that Anjala was informed by her brother that she was one of the State toppers.

“When I told my friends about the news they said I should have been in Chennai. They would have been photographed along with me,” she said with a laugh. The soft-spoken girl scored a centum in three subjects and says it was the result of an entire year's preparation. Begum who aspires to become a doctor scored full marks in Mathematics, Science and Sanskrit. It was her mother, a home maker, and brother, an engineering student, who supported her and cleared her doubts anytime in the day. The ‘topper's class' conducted in school also helped her, she added. “My brother was a Sanskrit student and he scored well in the subject, which is why I chose the language,” said Anjala who kept aside her passion for public speaking and drawing.

Akila Nagarajan, Vyasa Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School (496/500, Tamil)

After securing 496 marks and securing a State rank in the process, Akila Nagarajan, wants to follow the footsteps of her father and become a civil engineer. A resident of Srinagar Colony in Velachery, Akila is a student of Vyasa Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Puzhuthivakkam. She secured centums in Science and Social Studies, a 99 each in Mathematics and English and 98 in Tamil. “The transition from matriculation to Samacheer Kalvi was difficult initially. However as weeks progressed, it became easier,” said Akila, who will be opting for the science group in plus two. On her daily routine, Akila said she would wake up as early as 4 a.m. and spend a good three hours on her studies, before reaching school to attend special classes. In the evening hours too, she would attend special classes and it helped her in scoring high marks. She had learnt carnatic classical music for 7 years before discontinuing and is interested in a wide range of Indian music. She has also completed a few levels in Karate.

V. Rajeshwari, Mamallan Matriculation Higher Secondary School (495/500, Tamil)

“I used to watch television, play with friends. But ensured that the day's portion is revised without fail”, said V.Rajeshwari of Mamallan Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Kancheepuram, who is one among the eleven 3rd rank holders in the State Board Class 10 Examinations . Though she prepared rigorously for the exam, she said that she has always put in extra efforts to score well. Rajeshwari represented her school at the State-level till standard nine.

“I used to go through the subjects between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. without fail. At the same time I also watched television and socialised with neighbours and friends at regular intervals, just to get myself relieved of the tension”, she added.

Stating that she had not aimed for State rank, Rajeshwari said: “Of course, I aimed to score a centum in science, which I got it”, she said. She added that she would take up the biology group as she was aiming to pursue a biology-related course. Rajeshwari scored a centum in Mathematics, Science and Social Science; 98 in English and 97 in Tamil.

Justin Xavier, Kalaimagal Matric Higher Secondary School, Thirumullaivoyal (495/500, Tamil)

When the change in syllabus was announced, in the beginning of the year Justin was anxious. “Around 25 per cent of syllabus under Samacheer had been completed by then. But when the classes began I realised the Samacheer syllabus tested conceptual clarity unlike matriculation where we had to cram subjects. I found samacheer extremely easy, which helped me score centum in Mathematics easily,” said Justin who scored 495 and holds the third in State. Intensive coaching by his school teachers and parents helped Justin Xavier achieve this feat, which he termed was “unexpected.”

His teachers conducted special classes for him and two other toppers every day till 8 p.m., and at home he woke up daily at five to prepare for the examination with the help of his parents who are both teachers. “I allotted an hour every day for a subject,” he said.

Akhil Reuben Kanagaraj, St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary (495/500, French)

“With the help our school and our teachers, we managed to get good scores despite the new syllabus,” said Akhil Reuben Kanagaraj, who was diligently wearing his school uniform. A national level tennis player, this student of St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary describes his preparation for the exam as ‘last minute'. “If you choose your tournaments carefully, you can do well in both tennis and academics,” he felt. Talking about the new syllabus and the examination papers, he said that the quantum of information in the older textbooks was much more. “Also, the questions were more application based,” he said. Having always come within the first two or three ranks, This Wilbur Smith fan says that he wants to become either a tennis player or an aeronautical engineer. His daily routine involved practising tennis after school till about 6.30 in the evening, and then coming home and studying. His mother, said that as parents they never worried about how he would balance work and play since he always gave his best in whatever he did.

Abey Sebastian, St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary (495/500, French)

Abey Sebastian wants to become a doctor like his grandmother, and if his State Board Class 10 Examination results are anything to go by, this dreamy-eyed boy's dream, might well come true. Having scored a 100, 98, 99, 99 and 99 in his five papers, he said that as far as possible he never studied beyond nine in the night. He said that he worked hardest for his maths paper, since he believed that, “the more you practice, the better you will get”. The papers, he felt were, largely easy. Having studied in St. Michael's Academy Matriculation Higher Secondary since L.K.G, he believes that it was the revision tests, and constant help by his teachers which helped him get the scores he got. “I love playing cricket and have been playing it for many years. Just during my 10 standard, I spent a little less time on it,” he said. Both Abey and Akhil, said Abey's mother studied together till class eight and got proficiency awards together.

With inputs from V. Venkatasubramanian, K. Manikandan, Lavanya M., Sunitha Sekar, and Asha Sridhar.

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