Power to the Pupils

The results of the 2003 PupilPower Competition, sponsored by The British Council and The World of English, among others, were announced to an excited audience at the Roma Theatre, Warsaw, on June 17. The winners were from the V Liceum Augusta Witkowskiego, Kraków, who received their award from Queen Elizabeth's cousin, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent.

The Duke of Kent, British Council Director, Susan Maingay, and the delighted winners from Kraków

Albertyna Paciorek, łukasz Pobereżnik, Bartosz Suchan, Przemysław Klimczyk, Julia Chojnacka, Daria Izdebska, Marek Siuta, Katarzyna Zawadzka, Jakub Mikulski, Jakub Michalik, Magdelena Kalemba, Agnieszka Hajos, Agata łopacz, Anna Soja, Krzysztof Tusiński, Maciej Taczuk, Jan Kaczmarczyk, Paulina Sygulska

The aim of the annual PupilPower competition is for secondary school students to create websites in English, which will enable them to make contacts with other English-speaking students in schools throughout the world. This is the second year of the competition. Last year, the theme was bullying in schools, and what to do about it. This year, the websites discussed "Youth and Politics": a timely subject as Poland gets ready to join the European Union.

Out of 61 entries - from schools the length and breadth of Poland - 13 were selected for the final round. In the morning of the conference each school made a presentation on stage as the 10 judges, and an audience of hundreds, looked on. Some of the presentations were very theatrical. As a screen on-stage displayed their website, the all-female team from the Liceum Ogólnokształcące in Międzychód, who eventually won second place, performed dances and songs to accompany their website presentation. One school, from łódź, included a rap performance in theirs.

And the winner is...

"We are really surprised we won!" said Albertyna Paciorek, from V Liceum Augusta Witkowskiego, Kraków. "We thought we had lost our chance because we had technical problems with our presentation - the movie we had prepared just would not play - so we had to improvise a little bit. But we had great fun."

But why do they think that they won? "Our strongest point, we think, was the Forum, the Chat Room and the comments that other students put there. We just wanted people to get involved. Our pages were alive as a result."

After the winners were announced, the Duke of Kent gave out the prizes and said a few words. "Clearly, the standard of English language is very high, and so is your enthusiasm for using it. I hope that the experience in taking part in this competition will also lead you to take an even closer interest in everything to do with Great Britain."

The main sponsor of the event was the British Council. Its Director in Poland, Susan Maingay, says that the PupilPower competition is the perfect medium through which the organization can pursue its goals. "It really connects many areas of our work. One is English teaching, and working with teachers across Poland on methodology, and ideas for use in the classroom. We also have another project to develop IT skills for teachers, which they pass on to students. It is also a way of promoting contacts between schools in Poland and the UK."

Susan Maingay was full of praise for all the entrants, but particularly the winners. "The website was imaginative and they had a lively presentation. They engaged the interest of the audience: it wasn't dry and boring. But finding the winner was difficult. The standard this year was very high."

One of the judges, Jerzy Bystrowski, from the Copernicus Foundation in Poland, agreed that the standard was exceptional. "There were at least 5 or 6 candidates that could have won. We judged the quality of the English language, the standard of webpage design, and the presentations. The winners from Kraków proved their professionalism, even when they had technical problems with their presentation. The runners-up came from small towns. This is something we are very pleased about, as it proves that you do not have to come from well-known schools, or large cities and cultural centres like Kraków or Warsaw to win competitions and prizes. The PupilPower competition proves that it is enough that you work hard to achieve you goals."

The Director of the British Council is already looking forward to next year's competition. "There definitely will be another PupilPower competition, but we are still thinking about the theme. One of the things the British Council is concentrating on at the moment is Science Fiction and Fantasy, so maybe we will be doing something about that next year."

Details of the 2004 competition, and how to enter, will be put on the British Council's website later this year.

The Winners are:

1. V LO im. Augusta Witkowskiego, Kraków
2. Liceum Ogólnokształcące, Międzychód
3. II LO, Rabka Zdrój