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By Neena Bhandari

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - Published: October 25, 2013 - 11:15AM


Jonathan Li's childhood passion and dedication to music won him Cranbrook's music scholarship in year 7. Recently, he became one of 80 students worldwide to attend a six-week science research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).

Jonathan says, ''I probably would not be at Cranbrook, if I hadn't got the scholarship. It has provided me an opportunity to pursue my musical and academic interests.'' He plays the piano, clarinet and harpsichord and has topped each of his subjects in the year 12 school finals.

Cranbrook offers academic scholarships to boys entering years 7 to 11 and music scholarships to students enrolling in year 7. The scholarships are awarded to Australian citizens primarily on the basis of academic success achieved in the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) scholarship selection test. This is followed by an interview to assess leadership, interpersonal and creative skills. For those striving for the music scholarship, there is also an audition.

The school's headmaster, Nicholas Sampson says, ''The scholarship program provides the opportunity for outstanding students, who otherwise may have been unable to attend Cranbrook, to experience the many opportunities the school offers.''

Jonathan sat the HSC exam for 5 units in year 11 and obtained high band 6s and achieved 9th rank in the state in mathematics. He says, ''The fact that I had got so much work out of the way was a major factor in deciding to avail of this opportunity at MIT during this crucial HSC year. My interest in music complements excellence in academics and it has allowed me to develop excellent time management skills. Besides, the teachers supported me after hours and allowed me to sit the year 12 school final exams early.''

Cranbrook encourages students to go on exchange to international universities/schools while they are at school. Mr Sampson says, ''Boys bring back exciting global perspectives to our classrooms and find themselves enriched by the experience, both culturally and intellectually from such stints abroad.''

For Jonathan the time at MIT from June 22 to August 3 was an eye opener. He says, ''The experience allowed me to see the world beyond high school science. Interacting with distinguished scientists and like-minded students, and listening to how they have achieved extraordinary results despite failures has been very inspiring.''

Jonathan is considering pursuing further studies either in American Universities such as MIT and Harvard or one of the leading Australian universities.

Mr Sampson says, ''Being a non-selective school, our aim is to inspire each boy to realise his full potential and develop his strengths whatever they might be, whether academic, sporting or within the arts. We also offer endowed and named scholarships. For example, the Martin Pitt scholarship is available to students, who without financial assistance would have been unable to study at Cranbrook.''

The number of scholarships offered each year varies. In 2013, nine boys were offered academic scholarships and one boy received the music scholarship.

The school also has an Indigenous scholarship program and is part of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) and aims to have two Indigenous boys in each year group from years 7 to 12. In 2013, the school had 11 Indigenous students on scholarship.

Tyson Williams joined Cranbrook via the Indigenous scholarship program four years ago from Nowra High School.

''In my previous school, I would not have had many of the opportunities such as learning Chinese and participating in the Indigenous Australian engineering summer school program at Curtin University in Perth,'' he says. He has been offered a position on the university's civil engineering course after completing HSC.


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