Mangaluru: Addressing the media persons during the press meet held at Mangalore Press Club, Jagadish Shetty-Vice President of Centenary Committee along with Rev Fr Wilson Vitus D’Souza-Correspondent of the School/Parish Priest of Bejai church, Lona Rodrigues- Headmistress, Precilla Rodrigues- Organizer CC Committee, and Connie Saldanha-Secretary CC Committee briefed about some the activities that would mark the centenary of the school prior to the formal “Centenary Celebration’ to be held on Wednesday, 2 December 2015.
As part of the centenary celebration programmes which kicked of on 15 August 2015, the committee has planned- Cricket and Throwball tournaments for the Old Students on 15 November 2015; Free Yoga classes for the public from 16-24 November; and “Swacchatha Abhinayana’ on 17 Nov. Also Yoga training for all the Bejai School, and nearby Lourdes High School students on 24 and 25 Nov. by Yoga Guru M Jagadish Shetty.
The year 1915 St Francis Xavier Higher Primary School (then recognized by the Madras Presidency as a Lower elementary school), now popularly known as “Bejai School” opened its door to educate the students and make them start a new career in their lives- and today I join you all in celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of this prestigious school managed by the Priests of St Francis Xavier Church-Bejai. The school that fosters and values initiative amongst its pupils, which had 112 students when it first opened its doors in 1915, now has 215 students (117 boys/98 girls), with eight teaching staff ( three government paid/other five funded by the management). With St Francis Xavier as its Patron and with the motto “Lucem Spero” (It is Light I Hope For), St Francis Xavier Hr Pry School which is very well known for its ideology of religious tolerance, should attain a special place in district’s education map.
Several generations of students have spent their formative years in this School, carried their future education and have gone on to make their mark in the worlds of business, public service, education, health, law and in so many other areas, in the process making enormously valuable contributions to our economy, our community life, and our progression as a society. Many well known people have passed through this school and have acknowledged benefitting from the holistic education they received here and from an environment which encourages every girl/boy to realise her possibilities and reach her full potential. The pupils are very fortunate to benefit from a school and dedicated staff that continues to take a holistic approach to the education of its students, integrating the social, personal and academic aspects of educational provision.
The wide range of extra-curricular activities supported by the school is impressive and includes, I believe, field trips, visits to galleries and museums, co-curricular activities, musical performances and participation in many competitive events which support and enhance curricular learning. Meanwhile, the strong focus on the care and support of all students and on providing a positive learning environment allows pupils to develop into well-rounded young people prepared to face life with confidence; a confidence that the values which they have embraced, and the skills and knowledge which they have acquired, will equip them well in building their future lives.
It was the parish priests and chaplains of Bejai Church who took the initiative to start this school, which slowly grew to greater heights under the guidance of Rev Fr Sebastian Noronha. Starting with 112 students, the school got recognized by the then Madras Presidency as a Lower Elementary School in 1915. Rev Fr AAEC Colaco, who was the parish priest of Bejai Church played an important role as Manager of the school from 1922 till 1936, and he was responsible for the enormous growth of the school. After a new building was constructed in 1929, more classes were added up to eight standard, resulting in school getting the ‘Higher Elementary” grade in the year 1933.
In 1940, the school saw a bifurcation with the birth of Lourdes Hr Pry School exclusively for girls, which is located adjacent to this St Francis Xavier Hr Pry school. In the year 2000, both these two schools were merged together, thereby implementing co-education which still continues till date.With Lona Rodrigues as present Headmistress, there are eight teachers who teach 215 students with Kannada as medium of instruction. Under the able guidance and training of the teachers of the school, students have attained great posts in India and abroad, and many have been serving in various religious congregations as priests and nuns across the globe.
Speaking to mangalorean.com, Rev Fr Wilson Vitus D’Souza said, ” This is a school which has been accepting pupils without any discrimination of caste, creed and gender, and we offer free education. Our aim is to train, teach these children to be the future responsible citizens of India. We also encourage them to take part in co-curricular activities like dance, music, yoga, etc, and also train them in crafts and computer studies. Since parents want to send their children to English medium schools these days, but still we are happy to serve and dedicate ourselves in teaching/training these 215 students who are looking forward for a better career when they exit out of this school. Although we get only minimum funding towards teachers salary, we would appreciate if generous donors come forward to support this 100 year old school”.
Therefore, all those who have been touched, inspired and cared by the management of this school should express your thanks and gratitude to them for helping shape your ideals and beliefs. They taught you to respect your elders, practice self-control, diagram sentences, memorize poems, genuflect in Church, say your prayers, reflect about your lives, “what you did, what you should have done and what you failed to do” and how to clap erasers and carry your books and bags to the school. Don’t forget your Alma Mater- support in whichever way you can, you will be blessed.
In conclusion, to the present students, You too will leave this school sooner or later and go out into the world to place your unique mark on your communities and societies. My wish for you is that, like the generations that have gone here before you, most of you will look back on your days in St Francis Xavier Higher Primary School with great gratitude and affection. In years to come you may not remember all of the mathematical theorems that you learnt here, or the other subject, but you will remember the friendships, the support and the security that came with knowing you were part of the St Francis Xavier family.
Wherever you may find yourselves in the world in future years, you will always remain connected in a profound way to the people you share this hall with today; the people who have played such a significant part in your formative years and who will remain central to your memories of the place you will always think of as ‘your’ school. Finally, to the priests, nuns and teachers who taught their students back in the “good old days,” and also for their other services, they deserve a big “thank you”.
The Centenary Celebration will be held on 2 December 2015, with a Thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration at 9am at St Francis Xavier Church-Bejai by Rev Fr Alwyn D’Cunha-Parish Priest of Infant Mary Church-Katipalla as the main celebrant, followed by flag hoisting and prize distribution at 10am, with Mrs Hilda Clementina Pinto ECO as chief guest. The grand finale will be held the same day at 5.30pm at Lourdes Central School ground with Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza-Bishop of Mangaluru presiding, along with chief guests namely-Dr Nodu Subraya Bhat-Ortho Surgeon, MLA JR Lobo, MLC Ivan D’Souza, Mayor MCC Jacintha alfred and Rev Fr Jerald D’Souza-Secretary, CBE, joined by a bevy of guests of honor.
Happy 100th Birthday wishes to St. Francis Xavier Higher Primary School from Team Mangalorean. We also wish the present headmistress Lona Rodrigues and the eight hard working teachers all success in the years to come. Long live St Francis Xavier Higher Primary school-Bejai.