Moodubelle: Brief history of fifty golden years of St. Lawrence High School - Part-II

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By Fr. Paul Sequeira and Dr. Eugene D’Souza

Part-II: The progress-correspondents, head masters, teachers and students

Moodubelle, 24 December 2009: As seen in the last part of the brief history of fifty golden years of St. Lawrence High School, the institution was the outcome of many sacrifices and the labour of love and sweat of the people of Moodubelle. For the development and progress of any educational institution, it is not only the building that is important but also the Correspondents, the Head Masters, the teachers and the students are of utmost importance. They collectively make the institution. In fact it was the successive Correspondents with a foresight who provided the necessary infra structure to the institution, the Head Masters who with their experience gave the leadership, the teachers who by their commitment and devotion shaped the lives of their students and of course the students who by their willingness to study hard and work for the progress of the institution laid a strong foundation on which the institution stands firm.

Fr. Valerian D’Souza

After the transfer of Fr. Theodore Lobo, the next Assistant Parish Priest, Fr. Valerian D’Souza (who later came as the Parish Priest and built the new Church of St. Lawrence) also actively involved in the development and progress of St. Lawrence High School. As the hillock in front of the high school had to be levelled, Fr. Valerian joined the people in the work of digging and transporting the soil. According to Magdalene D’Mello, when the people used to complain about the hard work that they had to put up during the voluntary labour drive (sarthi), Fr. Valerian would jokingly tell them that while the people worked once a week in turns, he had to work every day and would show his palms hardened by digging the soil. He also in lighter vein would point out to the people that he might be transferred to some other parish in two or three years, but the high school would help their own children and their future generation to be educated and be well off.

Fr. Valerian is greatly appreciative of the sacrifices that the people of Moodubelle had done for the high school.  In spite of all the difficulties and poverty that they were facing the people were determined to have the high school and were always ready for any sacrifice either in terms of meagre donation or full hearted voluntary labour. Fr. Valerian initiated the practice of providing some kind of light breakfast to the volunteers during the work.

Albert Noronha has an interesting anecdote regarding Fr. Valerian. After B.A. Samak became the Head Master of the high school, when Fr. Valerian visited his office, the Head Master smilingly asked Fr. Valerian whether he feels that something was missing in the office. When Fr. Valerian could not understand what the Head Master was saying, B.A. Samak pointed out that there was no wall clock in the office to indicate time to ring the bell at regular intervals for classes and long bells at the beginning and end of the school.  The very next day, Fr. Valerian went to Udupi personally and brought a wall-clock costing Rs.75/- from Nayak Watch Company and presented to the school office, which gave service for nearly twenty-five years.

The materials required for the construction of the high school building such as granite stone blocks, sand, cement and wood were transported through the bullock carts. According to Camil Menezes practically all the bullock carts right from Dendooru to Palli were employed in the task of transportation. Besides Camil Menezes, other people who rented their bullock carts included Appi Martis, Benny Mendonca and Monnu Martis. A number of people donated their trees. According to Alice Rebello, tiles for the roof of the high school used to be brought by boats up to the Amavasya Ferry and from there were transported to the building site by head loads as well as bullock carts.  While the high school building was being constructed and even later, late ‘Monnu Master’ had been quite active in supervising the construction work and the accounts.

The new building of the high school was ready within a year and the first batch of the students whose 9th standard classes were earlier held in the higher primary school premises shifted to the new building for 10th standard. The inauguration of the new building of the high school was the realization of the dream that Fr. Abundius had for some time and the occasion of great joy and satisfaction to the people of Moodubelle that their money and labour were put to good use and their children and grandchildren as well as future generation would be able to complete their education up to SSLC in their village itself. However, their task was not yet over. The huge pile of mud in the hillock in front of the high school building had to be cleared and a proper playground had to be created which would take many more months of voluntary labour (sarthi).

Mr. Denis D’Silva

The first Head Master of St. Lawrence High School was Denis D’Silva who was transferred from Milagris High School, Kallianpur. He taught English and Maths. Sundar Ram Nayak was his assistant who taught Kannada, Social Studies, drawing and Hindi. Alban Rodrigues from Shirva joined the staff as the office-in-charge and also taught Science for some time. Presently he is the Principal of Dandatheertha English Medium Institutions, Kaup. The first attendant of the high school was Albert Noronha, who was later promoted as clerk.  Mukunda Puranik joined the high school in 1960 as Kannada teacher after Sundar Ram Nayak left the school. Denis D’Silva worked as the Head Master for one year and was succeeded by Deju Uchil, a retired education officer.  He was an experienced person and a strict disciplinarian. During his tenure teaching staff expanded with addition of new teachers.

As it was difficult to get teachers with B.Sc. degree to teach Science and Maths, Fr. Theodore Lobo persuaded T.V. Moraes from Belthangady who had acquired B.Sc. degree to join the high school as a teacher of Maths. He also managed to get Hezel Rego from Udupi to teach General Science. Edward D’Sa who was the Head Master of the Church Higher Primary School took up teaching of Social Studies in the high school. The other additions to the teaching staff included Gopal Krishna Nayak and Hebbar.

Mr. Deju Uchil

Remembering his student days, Victor Castelino further says, Deju Uchil taught by example how to be honest to the core, Mukunda Puranik and Hebbar taught the students how to cultivate vegetables and fruits using the rich and fertile soil of the school compound and cow dung which was available in plenty around the school premises. Most of the recess and games and crafts periods were used by the students to level the ground.

The first batch of the students appeared for the prestigious SSLC examination in 1962, the only batch to take the examination under the Madras Board of Education, which was considered to be very strict. The high school had an overall percentage of 62.5 and Denis Castelino (presently a diocesan priest in Mangalore Diocese) became the top scorer and the first student to adorn the roll of honour at  the top of the list.

The efforts of the Head Master, Deju Uchil, teachers and students bore fruits academically when St. Lawrence High School, Moodubelle had the distinction of scoring a hat trick by securing cent percent results for three consecutive academic years from 1963 to 1965. Wilfred R. D’Souza (presently retired as the Professor and Head of the Department of Commerce, Milagris College, Kallianpur) was the top scorer in 1963, Murari Hebbar in 1964 and Vinodnanda Kamath in 1965.  The top scorer in 1966 was K. Vadiraja Bhat (presently lecturer in Kannada at Shri Sharada College, Basroor).

Mr. B. A. Samak

Following the retirement of Deju Uchil in 1964, B. A. Samak who was retired as the Head Master of Belman Board High School became the Head Master of St. Lawrence High School. He was a resident of Padubelle and continued to be the Head Master of the high school till 1969.

The voluntary labour in the form of ‘sarthi’ was still in progress. According to Albert Noronha, due to lack of funds the people who did the ‘sarthi’ were not provided any refreshment. Seeing the people working so hard, Head Master B.A. Samak felt that these voluntary workers should be provided some refreshments. For this purpose, in consultation with teachers and students, B.A. Samak started a fund known as ‘People’s Government Account’. The fund was collected by the students by auctioning in the school, vegetables and bananas grown in the high school garden. Out of the funds thus collected, some kind of refreshment was provided to those who rendered voluntary labour in widening the ground. The school garden was maintained under the supervision of Mukunda Puranik who had great interest in gardening and involved the students in cultivating various types of vegetables and bananas.

The greatest academic achievement during the tenure of B.A. Samak was that for the first time in the history of Moodubelle, a student of St. Lawrence High School, Philip D’Souza secured the first rank in the SSLC examination at the Karnataka State level. According to Albert Noronha, Philip D’Souza secured the first rank in the State due to the fact that Philip was not only intelligent and hardworking but also due to the efforts of the entire teaching staff who took extra care to teach the students. These teachers included: Head Master B.A. Samak who taught Maths, Vasudeo Bhat-English, Victor Rebello-Social Studies, Niranajana Achar-General Science and Mukunda Puranik-Kannada. Among these teachers only Mukunda Puranik continued as a teacher till his retirement, others left the school and went elsewhere. Later, other two teachers-P. Dayananda Kamat and P. Govinda Nayak joined the high school staff.

Fr. Valerian G.F. Rego

Following the retirement of B.A. Samak and transfer of Fr. Abundius D’Souza to Kirem parish, Fr. Valerian G.F. Rego came to  Moodubelle parish in 1969 with twin responsibility as the Parish Priest and the Head Master of the high school. Prior to his arrival in Moodubelle, Fr. Rego had been the Head Master of Padua High School in Mangalore. Thus, he had a lot of experience in administering an educational institution.

During his tenure as the Correspondent of the educational institutions run by the parish and Head Master of St. Lawrence High School up to 1976, Fr. Rego undertook a number of measures for the expansion of the high school building and clearing the remaining portion of the hillock in front of the high school, thus providing open space for sports and other activities. In SSLC examinations held in 1970, one of the students of the high school, Narasimha Acharya secured 19th rank in the State of Karnataka.

To the great relief of the parishioners, Fr. Rego discontinued the practice of volunteer labour (sarthi).  As he had good contact, Fr. Rego managed to get funds for clearing the hillock in front of the high school building. He employed labourers to do this work and even hired a bulldozer for levelling the ground. According to Benny Master, the bulldozer did only two day’s work as it was taken to Suratkal to level the ground of the Karnataka Regional Engineering College which was started that year. If the bulldozer was available for a few days more the entire hillock would have been levelled much earlier.

Before his transfer, Fr. Abundius D’Souza had added another building to the original high school building which served as a hall with the stage. Presently a laboratory, library and high school staff room occupy the space. The need for additional classrooms due to an increase in the number of students was fulfilled by Fr. Rego by constructing three classrooms towards the northern side of the high school campus next to the Higher Primary School. Though Fr. Rego started one year Pre University Course (PUC) in 1970, unfortunately it was closed the very next year.

Fr. Alexander Lobo

Fr. Alexander Lobo was the next visionary who took up the responsibility of the parish of Moodubelle as the Parish Priest and the Head Master of St. Lawrence High School in 1976. He was a man of words and deeds. Realising the need to expand on what was built by his predecessors, Fr. Alexander Lobo thought in terms of providing a Junior College for the students of the high school and of other high schools in the neighbourhood for continuing their education after the SSLC rather than going to far off places such as Shirva, Udupi or Kallianpur for the Pre University education.

Fr. Alexander Lobo secured the necessary permission for the Pre University College from Bishop Dr. Basil D’Souza in July 1981 and started the Pre University classes in the same year. Meanwhile, he extended the facilities for the institution by providing a hall and a stage for performing cultural programmes and plays. The demonstration room and the Pre University Staff Room were constructed during the tenure of Fr. Alexander Lobo. He also got the play ground behind the school extended. Another important achievement of Fr. Alexander was that he succeeded in having St. Lawrence High School, Moodubelle as an examination centre for the SSLC students, who otherwise had to go to Udupi to appear for this examination. For his contribution in the field of education, Fr. Alexander Lobo was honoured by the Karnataka State Government by conferring on him the prestigious ‘Rajya Prashasthi’ Teachers’ Award on the occasion of the Rajyotsva.

Another innovative measure undertaken by Fr. Alexander Lobo was the facility that he provided for the SSLC students in the school during the night time for study. He was aware of the problems faced by the students while studying at home. Hence, he persuaded the parents to send their children to school in the evening for additional coaching and study who continued practicing their lessons even during the night. Fr. Lobo provided these students simple dinner and breakfast in the morning. Due to these measures, the SSLC results of the high school began to improve.

Fr. Harold Menezes

For nearly 20 years, the Karnataka State Government gave permission to the high school on annual basis. It was only in 1979 that St. Lawrence High School was granted permanent recognition by the government.  

Fr. Alexander Lobo was a strict disciplinarian. The students who had been in the high school and PU College during his tenure as the Principal vouch to the fact that it was due to the discipline that he had imposed and the right type of motivation and learning facilities that he had provided enabled them to achieve greater success in their professional lives.

Fr. Marian Pinto

In 1983, Fr. Alexander Lobo was transferred to the Rosario High school, Mangalore and Fr. Marian Pinto from Rosario came to Moodubelle as the next Principal of St. Lawrence PU College (1983-1984) and Fr. Harold Menezes was appointed as the Parish Priest and Correspondent. During their tenure, the Silver Jubilee of St. Lawrence High School was celebrated with great success in 1984. On this occasion the foundation stone for the Silver Jubilee Memorial Building, that is, the present Pre University College Building was laid by Rev. Dr. A.F. D’Souza, then the Vicar General of Mangalore Diocese on 12th January 1984. Fr. Harold Menezes completed construction of the ground floor of the present Pre University College.

Mr. John Menezes

In 1984, Mr. John Menezes who was a lecturer in St. Mary’s PU College, Shirva was appointed as the Principal of St. Lawrence PU College and the high school. He served these institutions for the longest period of 18 years under the guidance and direction of Fr. Harold Menezes, Fr. Joseph John Saldanha and Fr. Charles Lewis as the Correspondents of the parish educational institutions.

Fr. Joseph John Saldanha

Fr. Saldanha provided a hall on the first floor of the Pre University College Building. His other contribution towards the infrastructure of the institution include-toilet block for the high school students (boys) and provision of drinking water facilities.

Fr. Charles Lewis

Following the transfer of Fr. Saldanha, Fr. Charles Lewis became the Parish Priest and the Correspondent. He was a soft-spoken and holy priest who continued to work for the progress of the institutions. Realising the growing importance of the English language in the age of liberalization and globalization, Fr. Charles Lewis started the English Medium School, the residence for the priests (present Kindergarten) and also the Parish Hall.

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