“Golden Jubilee - a time to cherish the memories of school days

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Florine Rodrigues

"Education...beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of men --the balance wheel of the social machinery...It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor." Horace Mann.

02 December 2009: I was born in Belle to Late Pascal Martis and Paskina Martis of Kattingere.  I am the youngest of two boys and four girls.  Well, my childhood days were not-so-wonderful for me while growing up. My day started by waking up early and helping my parents with household chores, and then walking to school about one mile. Socio-economic conditions were not that great during those times. We did not have the luxuries of today’s generation. I consider it as a blessing because there was very little distraction from external influences.

I got married to Michael, born and raised in Chembur, Mumbai in the late 80’s.  We both worked for reputable establishments in Kuwait for couple of years. During the Gulf war in 1990 we returned to Mumbai, set up a department store, and ran it successfully for two years. After Kuwait’s liberation Michael was recalled for a higher position and we decided to move back to Kuwait.

We migrated to the United States from Kuwait thirteen years ago for better prospects, and are currently settled in one of the suburbs of Chicago. My husband, Michael, works as a Development and Implementation Manager for a Software company and our daughter, Crystal, is a sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School.  I work as a banker in one of the surviving banks from the worldwide economic collapse of 2008.

It gives me great pleasure and immense pride to write about my memories of our High School days on its Golden Anniversary.  It’s a matter of great delight and privilege to have been a student of St. Lawrence High School.  In the summer of 1980, I had the opportunity of graduating from such an outstanding institution.  Five decades have passed since its inception in 1959, and it has been an incredible place for learning. St. Lawrence High School will always be a part of my past and it has helped me reach this moment.  It has laid a strong foundation in instilling the knowledge, values and discipline for human success in this international market.  Today many Belleans are migrated and settled in various corners of the world.  This is possible due to the hard work of our founding fathers that deemed necessity of a high school in the middle of a farmland. We are able to work along with people of different ethnicity, race and religion because of the academic excellence this school has provided, and the values taught by our parents.

I have fond memories of all my classmates.  I am not at all a sports person but I have enjoyed watching my friends participate in sports.  We used to have throw ball teams where everyone had to participate.  While playing throw ball, I used to duck when the ball came racing towards me. Certainly, that did not make my teammates happy because our team lost most of the matches.  I had some classmates who had extraordinary talents in singing.  Forget about speaking in Hindi those days, it was hard to utter few words in Hindi but girls like Saraswati, Matilda used to sing Hindi songs so melodiously.

The final year of our batch at St. Lawrence High School, Principal Fr. Alexander Lobo came up with the idea of dividing students based on performance of the previous year. He might have used that initiative to achieve better results for the school and it was easier to focus and assist those who were performing below average. The annual sports day (Olympics) and the school play at the end of year was a much awaited indulgence after the whole year of rigorous studying.

There were many hardships & challenges then, but we had some brilliant teachers who did a tremendous job in igniting students with a lifelong love of learning.  Every teacher plays some role in imparting students with the knowledge & acumen for the challenges that lie ahead.  The teachers who had the greatest impact on my life are Mr. Dayananda Kamath, Mr. Alfonse D’costa and Mrs. Hilda Aranha among others.  Each of them had a unique approach towards teaching students. 

As President Obama said during his back-to-school speech, “At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all the students fulfill their responsibilities of staying in school, paying attention to teachers and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.  They have responsibility themselves to discover what each one is good at.” High school years are one of the most challenging times that lead adolescents to become vulnerable and anxious.  If the school can provide guidance counselor to help each student discover their special interests, I am sure, that in the future we will see many scholars and entrepreneurs coming out of this institution.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Principal, Staff members and the students, past and present, as you celebrate Golden Jubilee this year.  May the Belle and neighboring communities enjoy many years of academic excellence and may this institution reach greater heights in the coming years.


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