A school steeped in history

A view of The Higher Secondary School for Boys at Srirangam in Tiruchi on Saturday.

A view of The Higher Secondary School for Boys at Srirangam in Tiruchi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

This weekend will be a special one for students and staff of The Higher Secondary School for Boys (THSSB), Srirangam, as the institution celebrates its 125th anniversary with joy and nostalgia.

Among the highlights of the two-day event is the inauguration of a digital library and an audio-visual meeting hall on a custom-built premises within the campus on Sunday, preceded by programmes for former students and teachers of the school.

“We were unable to hold the 125th year anniversary celebration in 2021 because of the lockdown. So this year, we have planned to inaugurate the Kodiyalam Vasudevan Block in commemoration of the milestone,” N. Kasthuri Rengan, secretary of Srirangam Educational Society (SES) and an alumnus, told The Hindu.

The new building has been erected on the site of the former Lakshmi Hostel endowed to the school in 1938.

“One of our alumni, K.V. Rangaswami, who studied from Class 6 to SSLC here, has donated ₹50 lakhs out of regard for our institution. Our Old Boys Association started in 1993 has done a lot to improve the infrastructure of the school,” said Mr. Rengan.   

The Kodiyalam Vasudevan Block, housing a digital library, has 30 internet-enabled computers available to students and the public for browsing educational websites. It will be inaugurated on Sunday by Lok Sabha MP T. R. Paarivendhar.

On Saturday, Motta Maadi, a music club of Chennai held a show for the audience. Retired teachers and those who have completed 25 years of service were also honoured.

Early years

Established on January 22, 1896, by R. Veeraraghavachariar, a teacher, the High School, as it was then known, initially functioned with just 15 students from ‘Sokki Madam’ on Ammamandapam Road. It was shifted to its current campus in 1914, after land was made available by members of the Nagarathar community and Thiruppanandal Mutt. The Jesuit fathers of St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi also helped in securing the site, according to the school’s records.

The High School was amalgamated with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Lower Secondary School (managed by R. Ramanuja Iyengar) in 1909.

A view of 125th Anniversary Building at the  Higher Secondary School for Boys, at Srirangam in Tiruchi on Saturday.

A view of 125th Anniversary Building at the Higher Secondary School for Boys, at Srirangam in Tiruchi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

“The High School was officially recognised in 1905, and in 1962, when the Tamil Nadu government took over education, it became an aided school. In 1968, English medium classes were started for one class per standard. In 1978, our institution became a Higher Secondary School. So our growth has been from very ordinary beginnings, helped by service-oriented individuals,” said Mr. Rengan.

THSSB has 1,200 boys on its rolls as of now.

The co-educational institution was bifurcated in 1947, with a separate school for girls. Today, SES manages seven schools in Srirangam and Tiruvanaikovil, mainly catering to students from rural areas. Its committee is headed by M.S. Nandakumar.

Heritage building

Visitors to THSSB may be surprised to know that one of the blocks that is more than a century old, is still in use. “The first building of the school was started in 1914 (construction took place for three years from 1911), so in 2014, we celebrated the centenary of that block. It has been upgraded to modern standards, and has been certified safe for use,” said Mr. Rengan.

THSSB students have travelled far and wide in their careers. Some of them, like writer S. Rangarajan (better known by his penname Sujata) and poet-lyricist Vaali have often highlighted their alma mater’s role in their creative work.

Constantly adapting the pedagogy to changing times has helped the school succeed. “When I started service in 1985, we had just chalk and talk, but now we have adapted to online mode as well with smart classes. Students’ concentration levels have gone up, so teachers too have to be well-prepared,” said R. Srinivasan, Commerce teacher, who is the senior-most academic staff at present.

Due to retire in May this year, Mr. Srinivasan said that it was important for schools to instill hope in students. “We have come across academically weak children who have gone on to achieve great things later in life. Every teacher in our school tries to motivate the students to do their best,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 2:20:44 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/a-school-steeped-in-history/article65240534.ece