Celebrity geeks: the worship of China’s top gaokao scorers
By Agencies-Globaltimes.cn, Published: 2015-07-20 14:08:37
Chang Shuhao, the top scorer of 2015 gaokao in Changchun, Jilin Province, sells his class notes with six classmates outside the gate of a middle school on the first day of the entrance exam to high school on June 27. The sign reads “ Zhuangyuan ’s notes for sale.” Selling for 20 yuan ($3.22) a copy, the notes were soon snapped up by parents looking to give their children a leg-up on the high school life. Photo: CFP
Editor's Note:
The worship of top exam scorers has long existed in China. Since the imperial examinations of ancient times, the top scorer, or zhuangyuan , was elevated to celebrity status and rewarded with riches and glory. This tradition of scholarly stardom continues today. The zhuangyuan of the national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, are awarded with better resources and opportunities to study at top universities. Their teachers are often promoted, while their schools benefit from their star student’s prestige.

Two students who toped the liberal arts and science portions of this year’s gaokao in Jilin city, Jilin Province, wave while standing on the zhuangyuan bridge at the city’s Confucius Temple during an awards ceremony on July 11, where a total nine students were given cash awards between 5,000($805.5) to 20,000 yuan for their high scores. Photo: CFP
Chen Fengzhu (middle) and Liu Shihao (right), Hubei Province’s top scorers in this year’s gaokao liberal arts and science portions respectively, ride horses in a parade on July 9 in Xiangyang, Hubei Province. Photo: CFP
Seven top scorers in Anhui Province share their experiences with more than 600 students and parents in Hefei City Library on July 12. Photo: 365jia.cn
Schools sometimes celebrate their scholarly sons and daughters in unconventional ways. In 2013, a private middle school in Laifeng county, Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hubei Province, unveiled a statue to celebrate a former student surnamed Yang who was Enshi’s zhuangyuan in 2012. The bust was later removed at the suggestion of local education authorities, who called it “inappropriate,” Chutian Jinbao reported. Photo: Chutian Metropolis Daily
The likenesses of five top scorers of the 2009 gaokao are used to endorse boys and girls underwear sold in a supermarket in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province in 2010. Each 25.9-yuan ($4.1) pack of underwear comes with a 19-page brochure on the secrets of getting high scores. Photo: CFP
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