St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School@175: Old students go down memory lane

This was the only school with a boxing ring and a venue for boxing tournaments with the Army and navy teams encouraging rivalry with the town's youth.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  26 Nov 2022 3:30 AM GMT
St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School@175: Old students go down memory lane

Visakhapatnam: Victor Arun Kumar stepped into his old school St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School here after 30 years and was immediately recognized by his favourite teacher.

"I came to school after 30 years, and my favorite English teacher Aubrey Hoyle recognised me and called out 'Hello, class topper.' I had a lot of memories back in this school. Victor, a 1984 batch student, has come from the USA to celebrate the school's 175th anniversary.

Like Victor, many old students visited the school for the celebrations, wearing their house t-shirts and school badges.

A festive atmosphere

There was a festive spirit in the air. The current students, with the help of the teachers, had organised games and set up food stalls in the school corridors. Many of the visiting alumni participated in every game, bringing the child in them back. They argued with teachers, asking them to give them another chance to play. Gathering at the school, the old students formed groups and shared their good old memories of days when they took extra sports rather than academics and when they wrote love letters to the teachers.


Ravi Prakash Baid of the 1985 batch, who was in the 'Green' house, was responsible for making the 175-year celebrations grand. "For the last two months, my friends and I were so busy with the celebrations that I felt I was going to the school every day," said Ravi Prakash.

Same old steps & gothic corridors

"Coming back after 30 long years, I went back to the first day of my school. Nothing has changed. It is the same old gothic corridors, old steps, dormitory, and our favorite school ground. All I miss is the beach view from the school which is now obstructed by new constructions," said Naveen Kumar, a physician at Vizag Steel Plant.

Sports time was the best

"We never felt like bunking college and running away. This school taught me the best English, which took me worldwide. We had the best communication and sports at the school. This generation's schools do not have that beauty on their premises. Sports was the best part in this school which is now lacking in many schools," said Sunil Kumar of the 1980 batch who works as DGM at Vizag Steel Plant.


History

St. Aloysius' Anglo-Indian High School is the oldest Christian mission school in the city of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It was founded in 1847 during the East India Company rule in India by Fr. Tissor, a priest from the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, who first arrived in Vizagapatam in 1846. The government recognised this in 1860. The school was started to educate British Indian Army European soldiers' children. It was also the first English-medium school between the Madras and the Calcutta Presidencies in British India.

At first, the school was in a small two-room house in the Old Town Area. Over the years, the school expanded, and now it is a stone-cast three-storey u-shaped building with a spacious quadrangle in the center. The two rooms of those days are still a part of the main school building on the eastern side.


Until 1940, the students were chiefly Anglo-Indians. To give Indian children an English education, the government relaxed the rules, and soon non-Anglo-Indians were admitted into the institution, catering to the educational needs (of boys only) of all sections of society. It is managed by the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales (M.S.F.S.) and is assisted by a staff of qualified and experienced teachers.

The school has classes from LKG to X and prepares its students for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE, New Delhi). It has four houses—Gandhi House, Nehru House, Sastri House, and Kennedy House—through which various curricular and co-curricular activities are conducted.

Gothic style architecture

The school, a north-facing structure by the seashore, is a heritage building with gothic architectural influences. It recently received an award from INTACH for the best-preserved heritage building. The school has some of the oldest steps, gothic corridors, and a vast playground.

The school buildings were destroyed in the cyclone of 1923 and rebuilt by 1933 with the smaller rocks from the blasting of Ross Hill during the port construction. The larger rocks were used for the breakwater near Dolphin's Nose.

The historical bell

The school bell is a historical piece that was a gift from Pope Leo XIII to Rev. Jean Marie Tissot on his nomination as Vicar-Apostolic on 6 August 1863. The foundry of Georges and Francisque Paccard in Annecy Le Vieux on the French side of the Italian border manufactured the bell. This bell rang out at 6 a.m, noon, and 6 p.m every day in an era when the locals had no watches. The bell and its belfry were damaged during the cyclone in November 1923.


Boxing ring

This was the only school with a boxing ring and a venue for boxing tournaments with the Army and navy teams encouraging rivalry with the town's youth. Opposite the school is the Maidan (ground), the venue for many community celebrations in the old town. The annual sports day of St. Aloysius was an event with music and gymnastics performances followed by athletic performances. There is a history of many Andhra state athletes, football players, cricketers, and hockey players who showed their skills on the Maidan in those days.

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