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'Violent heritage' speech sees Year 8 student win state comp

Banuka Ralapanawa, age 12 from Rockhampton Grammar School won the junior section of the Rostrom Voice of Youth speaking contest for Queensland. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
Banuka Ralapanawa, age 12 from Rockhampton Grammar School won the junior section of the Rostrom Voice of Youth speaking contest for Queensland. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill

"A VIOLENT heritage" was 12-year-old Banuka Ralapanawa's topical trump card when he took on hundreds of Queensland students in a prestigious state wide speech competition.

That, and a knack for off-the-cuff dialogue.

The young master, who is from the war-stricken country of Sri Lanka, rattled his way to victory last week in the junior section of the Rostrum Voice of Youth competition in Brisbane.

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An all-round academic talent, Banuka competed against 600 students, some in Year 10, to take home the blue ribbon.

He highlighted in his winning speech how his mum and dad gave up their jobs as doctors in Sri Lanka to move to Australia so Banuka and his two older sisters could receive a good education.

His mum Rukmin Ralapanawa said she and her husband were wealthy enough to sustain their family in Sri Lanka, but the increasing violence forced them to move to Australia for better educational and job prospects.

Banuka will fly to Adelaide at the end of this month to compete for the national title.

His academic record showed he was performing in the top 1% at his school.

Ms Ralapanawa revealed her son's NAPLAN results showed Banuka's performance in three out of five categories were above the high distinction mark for his grade at school.

On top of that, he received high distinction awards for science, mathematics and music theory.

"We are very proud of his achievement and support his endeavours," his mother said.

Banuka wants to become a doctor.

Topics:  education, rockhampton grammar school, speech, sri lanka



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