St. Peter’s High School in the late 1950s—Early 60s— Reminiscences of an Alumnus

I  came  to St Peter’s  from  Pampakuda  Government  Upper  Primary  School  for   further  studies  due  to  family  reasons.   I belong to  Ooramana  village hardly  5  km  away  from the  school. The transformation  from  one   village  to  another  village  school  was  quite an uneventful  shift, save  the  number  of better mix  of  fellow  pupils. We  celebrated  the  formation of  the Kerala  State while at  Pampakuda.Kolenchery  was more  of eventful  days  on account of  the  VimojanaSamaram ( Kerala  Liberation Struggle). I was stupidly  drawn into  the  students  agitation  and  took part  in many  a  naughty  strikelike picketing the  KSRTC  buses  on  account of  the  misguided leadership of the local  politicians  to  suit  their  narrow  pollical ends. I hang my head in  shame  when I recall  that kind of stupidities. It was  during  our time  we set  up a  unit  of  the  KSU—Kerala  Students  Union—in the  school. It was  yet another  act  of  foolishness  where  I wasted  much of   the  time  running after  politically motivated  sordid vested people  who wanted  to  make use  of  our   youth energy.  I was a school  fee  paying  pupil though   my parents  annual  income   was very meagre  from   the seasonal  agricultural  crops. Hence  I did  not  get any   fees  exemptions. I used to  walk  all the way  from  rural Ooramana  to  Kolenchery  every day  to  attend  the classes  along  with  many other students and  it  was  very  enjoyable  walk at times  stoning    to  fell raw  mangoes form the trees and  even plucking   cashew nut  fruits  etc. During the rainy season ,it  was  a  risky  game to cross  the  furious  Muvattupuzha River  from  Ooramana  side  to  Kadamattom on  a  country  canoe  and to balance  it  without getting sunk.

When I lookback nowmy  time  was more of  sports, games and less  of  a  hardworking and studious  student, though  I  passed  out  the  SSLC   exam in the  first attempt .  It was onlyduring the  college  days and  the university  days, I  realized  my  real calling  in  life  to make  a difference in life  by making use  of  education as an instrumentof empowerment .Peer pressure was  too much  in the  school days to be  lead  astray for uncalled  for  activities like  campus  politics.

Some of the teachers  during our times  like  the  Head Master   late NV Paulosesir  senior    teachers  like  TE Paulose sir  Rev NI Paulose, Pandit  Shankara Pillai sir ,Saramma  teacher,  Murimattathil  Chinamma teacher,  TP Mathew sir Thottappally,  Pathrose  sir Povelil ,etc  were    a band  of  real taskmasters and motivators. Shankara  Pillai   sir had  baptized  us in  Gandhian  way of life .Our  school  manager  was  late  CU Varkey .We used  to  see him visiting  the school  once in a blue moon with hardly any interactions with the  students  or  teachers.We  littlerealized  the  role  and importance  of  the  school  manager.We  were  told that  the most  illustrious champion  of  educational empowerment in  the school was  its  then  head master  Rev  Fr  Gheevarghese  Kallungal of Kolenchery  Parish Church.

Though the  school  was  owned by  the  local Church, its  vicars  or  any  such  functionaries  were not seen around  those days, as  we  see  its over interference and  indulgence  in the  recent  times.   I was surprised to see   some priestseven  without basic  college education  who belonging to  the  Kolenchery  Parish  recently  contesting  parish  elections  to become  the  school manger without  thematic  perception  or  exposure  of  the job  role.  It is seen at best as  the  biggest  joke  of   empowerment. It is somethinglike  what Jesus had  mentioned  in the  Bible  –  the  blind leading the blind. The most benevolent  and dynamicschool manager  was the late  charismatic   PM Paliy Pillai who  really  made it   known aschool  of  excellence all over  Kerala along  with  his  team of  teachers.  He   himself was a one-time  teacher and had  the knack  to  do things  differently and successfully.  It was   during his time  we set up the  alumni  association by  the  name ASSAPS.    Dr. PPN Namboothiri  was   elected  as the  president  and  Dr.   KM  George as Secretary. As  luck  would   have  it, ASSAPS  is almost  in  its ventilator  these days!  Even the school  management  was  very unkind, not  to invite  or inform  people like  me  of such historical  meetings of the  centenary   celebrations. Let me  quote  Shakespeare,  it is  the most  unkindest  cut of  all.  After all charity begins at home!  I wonder if  I am a  victim of  the  Church politics–Orthodox  Vs  Jacobite  vis  a  vis  the   former  school manager!  Despite being humiliated and slighted, by  the   previous management  under    one  father CM Kuriakose, when  I was    forced by  my  class  fellow  Prof Dr.  MP Mathai, I have consented to write  this   reminiscence.

 It can be  safely assumed  that  some  10,000  students were  empowered  by  the  St  Peters  over  a period  of  100  years. Most of its products  were  teachers and  very many   were  working  as  doctors, engineers,  entrepreneurs,  business  men and  women  as  well  as  ministerial  staff in various   offices in India an  abroad.  It has produced  many  top  civil servants and  a few international  practitioners of  reputation.

When  I look  back,  at this  centenary  year ,surely  I owe  a debt of  gratitude  to  this temple  of learning  for  shaping  my   career and my  subsequent  professional launch  into  wider  horizons  to  visit  10,000  villages and  to interact  with  100,000 poor  the  world over.   This reminiscence must logically end , with  my  pranam  to my  alma mater—St. Peter’s  High School.

Dr.  K M George, formerly a   UNDP  & ADB Consultant  & FAO  Team Leader on development projects, is currently President, Sustainable Development  Forum ;;

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