The Municipal Middle School at Valayarkaratheru in Dharapuram is gearing up to celebrate its centenary year. But the joy in the observance will have a shade of gloom too, as the student strength of the school is steadily declining in the last 15 years.

Started as a primary school in the early 20th century, it was upgraded as Middle School in 2009. It is the oldest of the four municipal middle schools in Dharapuram.

“There are no records available to corroborate the exact age of the school. But the oldest attendance register available in the school records room has details of 65 students enrolled in 1911,” said S. Kavitha, who assumed office as headmistress of the school a few months ago.

The credit to celebrate the centenary of the school goes to her.

The classrooms existed during 1911 will only be in the memories of the people, as modern building has replaced its magnificent architecture about a decade ago.

Many old-timers in the area fear that if the trend of decline in student strength continues, the school may be merged with one of the other schools in the municipal limits.

The school has just 100 students up to Standard VIII.

A century back the school had 65 students on the rolls just for primary classes. During the eighties there were 700 students up to Standard V, said D.K. Thangavel, who was the headmaster of the school three decades ago. Even after the school was upgraded, the student strength has not gone up. The teachers and education department officials say emergence of private schools in large numbers in the area was the reason for dwindling student strength.

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