Curtains came down on the six day cultural extravaganza with Kozhikkode district being crowned the over all champions at the 51st edition of the Kerala State School Arts Festival here on Sunday. The students from Kozhikode lifted the coveted Gold Cup with 819 points with Thrissur at the runner up position with 776 points and Kannur at the third place with 767 points.

Among the Schools, Durga HSS, Kanhangad, took the top position in the Higher Secondary Schools category with 108 points and came second in the High School category with 68 points taking their total tally to 176 points. In the High School category, St Teresa’s AIHSS, Kannur came first with 73 points.

Presenting the Cup, K J Jesudas said the spirit of the festival should not be lost in the cut throat battle for victories. “You are here not to defeat any one, but to prove your talent,” said the veteran musician who was the winner of light music competition in the 1958 edition of the School Arts Festival. The victory at the festival was the first step in the long arduous journey every artist would have to make in his search for excellence, he said.

Mr Jesudas had a word of caution to the parents who were pushing their wards into unhealthy competition and said parents and gurus had no place at the festival which was the celebration of youth. “Your role ends with encouragements and inspiration you instill in your wards,” he said.

The chief minister V S Achuthanandan in his inaugural address stressed the need to find ways to help the students from poor families to pursue their artistic ability and called for join efforts among local bodies, teachers, governmental and non governmental agencies to address the issue. He pointed to the large number of students who drop out of their artistic pursuits after their performance at the School festivals and called for initiating steps that would help the young talents to continue in the field.

M A Baby, Minister for Education, declared the formation of a corpus fund to help talented students to pursue their artistic studies. A Rs. 40 lakh fund has already been formed and the government plans to enlarge it to Rs. 1 crore, he said. The fund will be utilized to institute scholarships and also to extend financial assistance to needy students in their artistic pursuits.

Noted nadaswaram exponent Thiruvizha Jayasanker was felicitated on the occasion. V N Vasavan MLA welcomed the gathering. Jose K Mani and Anto Antony (both MPs), MLAs from the district and others spoke on the occasion. The festival flag was presented to the team led by Therambil Ramakrishnan MLA who took it to Thrissur, the venue of the 52nd edition of the Festival scheduled to be held in January next year.