St. Augustine's School, Kalimpong

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St. Augustine's School is a school in the hill station town of Kalimpong in West Bengal, India. The school conducts classes in the English language and follows the ICSE and ISC syllabus.

Early years[edit]

In 1941, Fr Benjamin Stolke, a missionary undertook to tutor a few boys of St. Joseph's Convent in Latin thereby preparing them for admission into North Point School, Darjeeling. Soon, Father Stolke started classes for 12-15 boys ranging from Kindergarten to Matriculation and Senior Cambridge in his own residence. The threat of Japanese bombardment over Calcutta during World War II induced anxious parents to evacuate their children to the hills and some of them came to swell the ranks of the nascent school. Mgr. Gianora, who had long been eager to set up a high school at the headquarters of the Sikkim Mission, readily gave his blessing to the new enterprise and even consented to take up a class. The school and the Fathers were then housed in the old Prefecture Apostolic.

Founding and early struggle[edit]

In 1945, it was shifted to the current presbytery of the institution. Fr. Eberhard had taken over as Principal and he opened the first Admission Register with 27 entries. Foreseeing future developments, Mgr. Gianora purchased 14 acres (57,000 m2) of adjacent land and leveled up a piece of building ground, but funds remained scarce and, for another thirty years, the ‘New Land’, as it used to be called, was handed over to the Swiss Dairy. Meanwhile, an application for the school’s recognition was turned down by the Board of Secondary Education as the Government of West Bengal was itself contemplating the establishment of a Government High School in Kalimpong. The school then had about sixty students.

Fr. Albert Lee, who had succeeded Fr. Eberhard at the helm, obtained the school's affiliation to the University of Cambridge. The first candidate appeared in 1952. Fr. Eberhard returned from leave, but soon again handed over charge to Brother Peter Grobety, who in two years, enhanced the popularity of St. Augustine's School(S.A.S.) and it became urgent to find a solution for its extension.

By adding an aisle and a top floor, Mgr. Gianora increased dormitory space to 75 beds. The kitchen and refectory were promoted by being transferred from the current garage to the old church, no longer in use for religious purposes.

Establishment[edit]

There seemed to be no hope of any extension, when a Swiss gentleman, Mr. Mentha visited from a Swiss Government Agency called Swiss Technical Co-operation. A detailed project was prepared and an architect and an engineer were summoned from Switzerland. The Swiss Government grant was finally sanctioned when the Ambassador obtained ‘non-obstat’ from the Indian Ministry for External Affairs.

In the autumn of 1965, the first soil was dug, triggering 5 years of building and culminating in a new campus. Such was the rush for admissions in 1967 that the first building had to be occupied before its completion. This building won the admiration of Mgr. Caprio, former Internuncio who hallowed it in the month of April 1968. Meanwhile, under the supervision of Fr. Ruckstuhl and later, Fr. Martin Rey, work was progressing steadily and in 1970, the new hostel was in turn ready to welcome the students on their return from the winter holidays. By the end of the same year, the exterior of the hall was also completed. Both hostel and hall were blessed by Mgr. H Salina, newly elected Father Abbot, in the month of November of the same year.

The School was affiliated to the Council in the year 1970 and Fr. Edward Gressot, Fr. Thomas D’Souza, Fr. Felix Baretto, Fr. Paul D’Souza, Fr. Samuel Lepcha , Fr. Valerian Viegas and Fr.Lawrence Monteiro have led the Institution efficiently, being its head.Fr.Valerian Viegas is the Principal of the school. Fifty years after the formal inauguration of the school, the first batch of ISC appeared for their examinations of March 1995.

Motto[edit]

The motto of the school is Per ardua ad astra - meaning "Through Hard Work to the Stars". That is to say, by hard work and perseverance the students can succeed.

References[edit]