THERE are only three weeks to go before the Eastern Cape's top matric pupil is announced and while today's featured finalists have their fingers crossed, they feel being in the top 20 will add weight to their already impressive curriculum vitae.
The over-achievers could not believe their ears when they heard they were finalists.
Mikaela Oosthuizen, 18, of Pearson High School is a bubbly model, who was "over the moon" about being a top 20 finalist. "One doesn't do great things in school necessarily to get a pat on the back, but I must admit it is great to get that pat," she said.
She is the head girl and president of the performing arts club. Mikaela was the youngest title holder in the Miss SA Teen pageant in 2010 at just 14 years old. She is on the school magazine's editorial team and a debating club member, and she has academic honours and colours in dance sports among a host of others.
Ryelan Hardnick, 18, of Queens College Boys' High School, said winning the competition would "take a load off my parents financially". "This is a very important competition because it grants you the opportunity to study and make something of yourself," he said.
Ryelan is head prefect, house head and first team hockey captain. He helps out at soup kitchens and visits the old age home in his area.
He came first in the whole matric class this year, with an 86% aggregate. He is also the Border under-17 cricket captain and has colours in the sport and half colours in first team chess.
Ryelan has a scroll in debating and is part of the JSE and Interact clubs. He has awards from maths and accounting olympiads and was given honours in academics summa cum laude.
Amy Warner, 17, of Clarendon High School for Girls, plans to take a gap year next year while she waits for US universities to open in September.
An ardent rower who was in Lithuania for world championships when she found out she was a finalist, Amy said she was offered a few rowing scholarships in the US.
"I plan to work as a coach next year to make money before going [to study in the US]," she said.
The teenager, who takes part in all fun runs or walks for charity, is a house head and vice-captain of the school's rowing club. She has colours for rowing as well as an honours award in the sport.
She is part of the junior national South African rowing team. She also has academic colours.
Ronald Strydom, of Brandwag High School in Uitenhage, is a boffin with a love for prose.
Ronald whose brother Daniel was a finalist two years ago, loves entering poetry competitions and enjoys writing.
He is the head boy and editor of the school's newspaper. A born leader, Ronald has full colours for leadership and is in the Junior City Council.
He has Eastern Province colours for chess and represented the province in national championships. He has full academic colours and has maintained an A-aggregate each year since Grade 8.
"It is such an honour to be in this competition and I'm excited that my hard work is being recognised and complimented," he said.