In a school as academically rigorous as Churchill, it is no surprise that students often vie for the top mark in class. “I suspect that people who are insecure regarding their own achievements gain some sort of validation from using their peers’ achievements as a benchmark,” says Sally Young, known for politely but firmly shutting down inquiries about her grades. “ I guess I understand their behaviour, but I don’t condone it; I feel that unnecessary comparison damages self-esteem and stunts intrinsic motivation. Personally, I just want to do the best I can without letting a low mark get to my heart or letting a high mark get to my head.”
Classmate Ray Gill subscribes to a different viewpoint. “If my class percentile is below 95, how will I get into MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering, let alone John Hopkins Medical School? They’re highly competitive programs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ambitious, but I’m completely altruistic. I just want to make the world a better place.” When asked how gloating at Young upon scoring 5% higher than her on a math test made the world a better place, Gill murmured incomprehensibly. He later denied allegations that his post-Churchill plans were fuelled in any way by prestige, income, or familial pressure.
– Areeba K.