This year has seen some really successful outcomes in the secondary Art and Design department here at SUIS Pudong. After a delayed start back in August, due to the impact of Covid-19 pushing the AS-Level examination back until the November series from the June series, our A-Level Art students had a lot to cram in right from the beginning. Despite this, most of them managed to do very well indeed, with one student (Amy Gao) achieving 100% in her Component 1 Coursework project and another student (Beibei Wang) achieving over 90% in her Component 2 Examination project. These are the two components that make up the AS-Level.
However, the student to get the highest grade across both components was Grace Schenkel, who not only achieved the highest grade for Cambridge AS-Level Art and Design in our school, but is also ranked up there with other high achieving students throughout the rest of China. This fantastic accomplishment meant that she was the sole awardee of the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Award for High Achievement in AS-Level Art and Design 2021.
To celebrate this fantastic achievement, Grace and her family, along with our Principal Kim Sahi, and Grace’s Art and Design teacher, Mr. Thomas, were invited to a special awards ceremony at the Okura Garden Hotel in Puxi on Friday 21st May, 2021. Grace was one of three award recipients who was also asked to make a speech outlining her experiences as a Cambridge International learner. She wrote and presented a wonderful description of her time as a student studying Art and Design at AS-Level and spoke very maturely about her final project. She began by thanking Cambridge International:
“I would like to thank Cambridge International for giving me the honour to accept this award here today. It’s a privilege to be recognised for the work I’ve done for Cambridge International AS Level Art and Design, which is a subject I am deeply connected with.”
She went on to discuss the main structure to her project, which is about familial relationships, especially the one between her and her mother. She spoke like a real artist when she spoke about working with different materials and how this opened up new possibilities for her:
“One of the interesting things in this project is exploring human relationships and emotions through different art materials. For example, through the viscosity of paint, difference in textures and brushstrokes on the canvas, and the tones and values expressed using graphite pencil, I found that I could, to some extent symbolise the relationship I was discovering I had with my mother.”
She thanked Mr. Thomas for teaching and guiding her through the processes involved in producing artwork, saying that:
“We spoke regularly on the process of my coursework, and he introduced me to a wide variety of artists and art movements that I could relate to my work. Mr. Thomas, who has taught me for seven years has always given me a safe place to express myself, make mistakes, and most importantly, to become curious and learn independently.”
And of course, Grace was able to thank the school for giving her the opportunity to sit the exam and receive this award:
“My principal, Ms Sahi is here with us today, so I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to you and SUIS Pudong for supporting me as your student over the last 7 years of my life. Thank you.”
Awards like this are exceptionally valuable for everyone involved and they demonstrate one very important thing: schools enable teachers to teach their students, and when everything is in the correct place students learn and blossom educationally. For Grace to win recognition amongst some many other top talented students in China is no small feat, and it is something she can be proud of for the rest of her life. It is also something the school can be very proud of moving forward, as it continues to offer top quality secondary education.
Each year our graduating students are accepted into some of the best universities in the world to pursue their career choices. Grace Schenkel has been accepted into New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts to study Drama. From everyone here at SUIS who has been instrumental in getting Grace to where she wants to be, we wish her all the very best, she’ll do brilliantly!