Reporters and photographers have been swarming National English High School in Abishekapakkam since the SSLC results were announced on Wednesday morning. And in the midst of it all, the cynosure of all eyes, D. Tamizharasan, Puducherry topper and second in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry together in the SSLC exams, was basking in all the well-deserved attention. After all, it has taken him almost 10 hours of study a day to get a whopping 494 out of 500.

“It's a long-time aim that I have fulfilled by becoming a topper,” he says with a grin. In the last three months before the exams, Head Master and mathematics teacher S. Arumugam coached him for an extra four hours, to help him score a centum in the subject. Mr. Arumugam credits Tamizharasan for inquisitiveness for all things beyond the world of academics, sincerity and capacity for hard work as reasons for his success.

His father, who works as Head Constable at the office of the Director-General of Police, his mother, a homemaker and his older sibling have all been encouraging and supportive, and so have friends, with whom there is no ego, Tamizharasan acknowledges. “This is the result of a lot of hard work,” he emphasises.

Sincerity and diligence, combined with steadfast determination, are what helped G. Revathi, student of Vivekananda Higher Secondary School, come second in Puducherry and third in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry together with a score of 493 on 500. “I have wanted to be an SSLC topper since I was a child and today I have achieved it,” she says confidently. Although she likes painting, Revathi admits to being a studious type, who has always done well in academics. “While her mother has motivated her, all credit goes to Revathi herself, who really needs no pushing to do well,” reveals M. Gopalakrishnan, Revathi's father.

What Revathi and her classmate A. Sudha, who has emerged third in Puducherry State with only one mark behind Revathi, have to say about their teachers is that they were always eager to clear doubts and conducted frequent tests to improve their performance. “I was able to study without any tension,” she says with a shrug, adding that her father, who works in a grocery store, and her homemaker mother sat up with her whenever she studied.

A tension-free approach was also adopted by S. Manikandan of Thiru Vi Ka Government High School, who also emerged third in Puducherry, and first among all government schools in the State. “I love cricket, and I play it everyday. When an India match is on, I find it hard to resist watching television,” he confesses. But during exam time, he gave up watching TV to attain his objective of standing first among all students. Thiru Vi Ka has the pride of also producing another government school topper, K. Saranraj.

What all these kids surprisingly have in common (apart from the centum in science) is the ambition of becoming doctors some day. Knowing their determination and diligence, they will probably all make it.