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Lawrence School set to cross a landmark

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standing tall: The main building of Lawrence School at Lovedale near Udhagamandalam.
standing tall: The main building of Lawrence School at Lovedale near Udhagamandalam.

D. Radhakrishnan

150th anniversary celebrations will commence on April 30

Udhagamandalam: While there can be no dispute over the fact that many of the problems in the Nilgiris, especially those connected with the ecology and environment are at or nearing a crisis point, at the same time what cannot be refuted is that the Blue Mountains continue to be famed for many things - the picturesque scenery mainly in the outskirts the cool tranquil hills stately trees, salubrious climate and the rich flora and fauna.

They are also renowned all over the country and abroad for their contribution to school education. An institution which has played a prominent role in facilitating such a reputation is the Lawrence School in Lovedale, which is all set to celebrate 150 years of its existence. The school, which ranks as one of the leading public schools in this part of the world came into being in 1858. Situated amidst sylvan surroundings, the school which sprawls over about 700 acres has had a chequered history.

Started as an asylum thanks to the efforts of a soldier-cum-civil administrator Sir Henry Lawrence, it was converted into a military school and made a public school after Independence. However, the tragedy was that Sir Henry did not live to see his work come to fruition, having died on July 4, 1857 in the Lucknow Mutiny. Before being christened The Lawrence School, it has over the years been referred to as the Ootacamund Lawrence Asylum, the Lawrence Memorial School and the Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School.

Stating that the 150th anniversary celebrations would commence on April 30 and conclude on May 2, the Chairman of the Board of Governors, M.R. Sivaraman, said that the activities will go on till September 2009. In keeping with the institution’s social responsibility it has been decided to adopt a tribal village and also provide free education to four tribal children. The expenses of two of the beneficiaries will be taken care of by the old Lawrencians.

A new garden formed to commemorate the occasion will be dedicated by the Nilgiris MP, R. Prabhu while chief guest on the concluding for the celebrations will be the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The Principal, Y.H.V.S. Prasad, said that holistic development was the aim of the school. In order to inculcate a love for nature among the children, it was proposed to set up an Environmental Interpretation Centre. To begin with, most of the trees and plants on the campus have been labelled. A database on the floral wealth of the Nilgiris will be developed by the students with the help of the staff.

The Bursar, C. Sunderaj, said that the existing infrastructure, particularly the main heritage building, had been strengthened with the help of experts and additional facilities provided.

Meanwhile the Nilgiris Documentation Centre has appealed to the management and past and present students to commemorate the 150th year in a manner that would show that they care for the Nilgiris. The Director of the Centre, Dharmalingam Venugopal, suggested that the school should institute a Chair for Nilgiris studies to educate their students about the significance of the district and how to care for it.

To involve the students in the actual care of the district, he hoped that it can undertake the upkeep of a piece of Ooty, such as the Charing Cross area.

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