Teachers Day provided me an opportunity to visit the school in Egmore where I studied.
Though we have not had a strong and active alumni community, a informal group has created linkages with St. Anthony’s and has been involved in a few campus activities.
Asha Marina who studied here in the 80s leads this group. I had timemorning, so I joined her and a few others to take part in the Teachers Day celebrations.
As the students danced to a medley of loud and popular Tamil film songs, roaring to the play of ‘ Kasu Money...’ from the ‘Soodhu Kavum’ film and then got the younger teachers involved in some fun games, I chose to walk around the small campus that was once our second home for 11 years.
St. Anthony’s is part of the group of schools in India, first started in Madras by the missionary nuns of the Union of Presentation Sisters from Ireland. A small group who were sent from George Towne to Pudupet to look after Anglo-Indian kids, helped to set up this school which celebrated its centenary in 2012-2013.
Little of the vintage parts of the school remain but then campuses have a way of taking you down a nostalgic path.
As I walked around I spotted a board outside the Head Mistress Office - it listed the HMs but it was incomplete, starting with the HM of the 50s.
That small bit of truncated history was a trigger.
So when we had adjourned to the Teaching Staff Room to meet up with the teachers who work here today, I asked my alumni colleague Jacklin if we could collaborate on a project to document information on the teachers who had served the St Anthony’s community.
Jacklin showed some interest and went on to feed on my interest in social histories. She could trace five generations of her family who came to be in the heart of Mylapore. Yadava Christians who ran a successful diamonds business that catered to the quiet rich of the city once upon a time.
Our schools are repositories of a huge and fascinating amount of social history. For obvious reasons.
Highlighting it in its simplest form could well inspire the present generation of young minds. Visuals and exhibits can attract students and can have an impact on them.
Recently, during a visit to San Thome School I noticed a simple painted note on the landing of a floor which listed a short history of this school, also started to cater to orphans and Anglo-Indians.
A Teachers Day initiative for our local schools could be a document on all the teachers who made the school what it is today.
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