Kozhikode

At 225, St. Joseph’s is the oldest school in State

School authorities ascertain its age through Right to Information petition

Two-and-a-quarter centuries of imparting knowledge! No other school in the State can claim such a legacy. On its post-bicentennial silver jubilee, St. Joseph’s Boys’ Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode received an unprecedented honour — the tag of being the oldest in the State.

“So far, we used to claim that this was one of the oldest schools in the State,” said Fr. Joseph George, principal. “It was in connection with the anniversary celebrations that we filed a petition under the Right to Information Act with the office of the Director of Public Instruction, asking for a list of the oldest schools in the State. We were surprised that ours was indeed the oldest,” he added.

Founded in 1793 under the Mother of God church (which still exists next to the school) to educate the children of officials under the British East India Company, it was then St. Joseph’s European Boys’ High School. Taken over by the Carmelites in 1861 and later by the Society of Jesuits in 1894, it became a high school only in 1904 with 5th Form (10th standard) added.

Right from the beginning of the 20th century, St. Joseph’s used to be a prestigious school in Malabar. This was where the elite of Kozhikode sent their boys to. The student body was a potpourri of cultures, including Konkanis, Parsis, Gujaratis, Marwadis, Tamils, and Anglo Indians.

The school had good records in academics, sports, and arts at the time.

“This was the best school in these parts then,” said Darius Marshal, who was in Class 10 of the 1949 batch, the first after Independence. His brother Zarir Marshal, who belonged to the 1946 batch and living in Hyderabad, is the oldest member of the alumni.

“We had very strict yet loving teachers. Ours was the best hockey team in these parts. We had football, volleyball and badminton teams then,” Marshal, one of the very few Parsis in the district, said.

Mother Teresa’s visit

Most headmasters of the school were clergymen, mostly from Mangaluru, where the Society of Jesuits was based. Fr. John Aranha was the first headmaster after Independence. Fr. Thomas Anthraper, who joined as headmaster in 1974, held the position for the longest term. Mother Teresa was the guest of honour at the bicentenary celebrations in 1993. It became a higher secondary school in 1998.

Over the years, the school building underwent major changes. More blocks and auditorium were added. At present, around 2,000 boys study in the school.

“There were four divisions of Class 10. Only one of them was English medium. Even today, classes are held in both mediums,” said K. Aboobakker, former Resident Editor of Malayala Manorama, who belonged to the 1951 batch.

Over the years, several members of the alumni have made their mark. Among them is Azad Moopen, chairman, Aster DM Health Care; M.K. Muneer, MLA, and A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited.

More alumni from across the world are expected to turn up for the alumni meet to be held on January 27 and 28. “More than 800 have registered so far,” Marshal said.

The bicentennial silver jubilee has created a celebratory mood in the city with a variety of programmes. “This school has played a major role in the development of Kozhikode and vice-versa. It is time we recalled all those interactions,” Fr. Joseph George said.

The alumni website www.sanjoboys.com was launched recently. ‘Khalbile Kozhikode’, a series of nostalgic talks about various aspects of Kozhikode, is being held from January 18 to 24. Besides, there are daily heritage walks and a history exhibition.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 3:37:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/at-225-st-josephs-is-the-oldest-school-in-state/article22487205.ece

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