St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling

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St. Joseph's School, North Point
St Joseph's.jpg
Sursum Corda
Location
Darjeeling,  India,
Information
Type Private
Established 1888
Founder Rev. Henri Depelchin
Rector Fr. Shajumon S.J.
Enrollment 800
Colour(s) Blue
Website
Fraser Hall
The school's main quadrangle
The front view of the Main building
Fraser Hall, the PD building and the auditorium as seen from the football ground
A statue of Our Lady of North Point

St. Joseph's School popularly known as North Point.[1]

The name North Point came about because the school is situated in that area of Darjeeling.

The Kangchenjunga mountain range forms the backdrop to the school, with Grecian columns and cuneiform windows enclosing an eye-catching quadrangle in the centre. The school was opened on February 13, 1888, at Sunny Bank in Darjeeling town. There were eighteen boarders and seven day scholars on the rolls. Numbers soon increased and the need was felt for more ample grounds. Property was procured by Fr. Henri Depelchin SJ, the founder, on the town limits at North Point. The foundation stone was laid on April 27, 1890, and on February 18, 1892 the new building received the first North Pointers. In 1899, the student body consisted of 193 boys.

Towards the end of 1908, Sir Andrew Fraser gave Rs.21,000 on the school. The money was used to close in the quadrangle completely. With this the number of students increased to 290. In 1947, the year of Indian Independence, the number reached 422, including ninety-three college students.

There was a steady increase in the numbers of day scholars, and the school became more international in character. There had always been a scattering of English, French and German boys, now students from China, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand and Burma started arriving. In 1954, twenty-eight nationalities could be found in the college, including the staff. At one time there were Americans, Czechs, Armenians and a mixture of religions: Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, Bhuddist, Hindu, etc.

Initially, the Jesuits who ran the school were from Belgium but in the late 1940s, the Canadians slowly took over. Now, there is just one Canadian priest in the Staff, Fr. Van Walleghem.

Notable alumni[edit]

"The Harrow of the East". Its alumni include the royal families of Nepal, Bhutan, Coochbehar, Burdwan. Students in the late 1950s included nephews of the then Shah of Iran. Fr. Van Walleghem heading the organization. Some of the notable alumni are:

  • Jigme Singye Wangchuck - former King of Bhutan.
  • Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev - former King of Nepal.
  • Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev - former King of Nepal.
  • Yeshey Zimba - Prime Minister of Bhutan.
  • Lawrence T. Picachy - Archbishop of Calcutta and Cardinal.
  • Louis Banks - jazz artist.
  • Eric Avari - actor.
  • Michael Ferreira - world billiards champion.
  • David McMahun - writer.
  • Arnold McKenzie - business magnate.
  • Lyonpo Om Pradhan - Former cabinet minister and ambassador. Currently Chairman, Druk Holdings and Investments, Bhutan.
  • Philip Khan Panni - writer and public speaker.
  • Paljor "Benji" Dorji - former Chief Justice of Bhutan.
  • Diniar Devitre - vice-president of Philip Moris, USA.
  • Malcolm Ash - athletes of the 1950s.
  • Leonidas Asfari - Dictator
  • Jamyang Norbu - Tibetan Activist and Author
  • Kamal Meattle - Chief Executive Officer, Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park.
  • Mr. Amal Ganguli - Trustee Directors, AIG Investments, India.
  • Neer Shah - Nepali film actor and relation to the Nepal royal family.
  • Ashok Singh - Erstwhile Crown prince of Kursela Estate in Bihar, India.
  • Late Dawa Tshering - former foreign minister of Bhutan (longest-serving foreign minister in the world).
  • Shailendra Mallay - Notable Defender of Northeast United FC

History[edit]

The building of the structure, in 1888, was entrusted to Brother Eugene Rotsaert, who levelled the site. Approximately 2,000,000 cubic feet (57,000 m3) of rock and soil was removed before building could begin, and a force of some two thousand men was employed for the purpose. Below the school site, the Maharaja of Burdwan had an extensive field known as Ladbrooke Farm. It was acquired on long lease. The work at North Point proceeded under the lead of Brother Rotsaert. By May 10, 1889 the excavation of the foundations was completed and construction was started without delay.

The foundation was blessed on April 27 1889, and the school was blessed by Fr. Depelchin on December 8. In 1892 E. H. FitzGerald joined the staff, and remained until his death in 1945. Classes reopened on February 18, 1892, for the first time at North Point.

In spite of the financial difficulties at St. Joseph’s, material improvements were taken in hand from the very first year of its existence. The dormitories were panelled, dressing-rooms were fitted out, and the equipment of the two laboratories -for physics and chemistry- was improved.

In 1893 the unsightly mound which stood between the building and the Lebong Road was removed.

Houses[edit]

The house system was introduced in 1950s. Boys who come to North Point are assigned to a house.

Four houses- Ashley, Garnet, Campion and Southwell- were established with a boy prefect each. There are no records of those after 1938. In 1952 the present system was introduced. The houses were named after four deceased Jesuits who had served many years at North Point.

  • Depelchin House (red) was named after the founder of St. Joseph’s College and builder of North Point, Fr. Henri Depelchin S.J. (1822–1900).
  • Fallon House (blue) was named after Fr. Joseph Fallon, a former Prefect and Rector (1913–1919). Fr. Fallon later became Superior of the Bengal Mission. He returned to North Point and died here in 1952.
  • Laenen House (yellow) was named after Fr. Denis Laenen who taught from 1901 until his death in 1946.
  • O'Neil House (green)was named after Fr. Edward O'Neil who had been a teacher and then the Prefect. Later he was appointed Rector of St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta.
School Song

Hurrah for our home in the mountains!
Hurrah for the monarchs of snow!
For the land of the forests and fountains,
And the torrents that ever flow! (bis)
 
Toil up from the valley below;
Lift your hearts to the breeze and the glow;
And our school on the hill
Here a cheer for it still, Hurrah!
As onward through life we go!
 
From the sweltering South and the Islands,
Form the plains where the hot winds blow,
We have met in the heart of the highlands
At fair India gates of snow. (bis)
 
Toil up from the valley below...
 
Here a hand to a faltering brother.
Here a lift for the lame and the slow,
And we stand, boys, like men to each other
As onwards through life we go. (bis)
 
Toil up from the valley below...

Academic sessions[edit]

The North Point academic year is February-November.

Sports[edit]

Sports history[edit]

In 1893 Darjeeling residents were surprised by the excellence of the school sportsmen. St. Joseph's met St. Paul's for the first time in a cricket match on April 3, and the result was a victory for the North Pointers. Ten days later they won again in a season of mostly victories. Cricket flourished under the wise and firm direction of the captain, F. Boswell, who led the team from victory to victory. At the close of the year the team made a tour of Calcutta. During the year the first cricket pavilion was erected.

Sports now[edit]

The Duke of Edinburgh Shield in cricket, the Herlihy Cup and the Jack Coffey Cup in football, and the Pliva Shield in hockey has been won by the school. The major sports seasons are cricket, football and hockey. Other sports like basketball, volleyball, table tennis, squash, lawn tennis, athletics, swimming, billiards, boxing and gymnastics are played as well.

HMI[edit]

The class nine passed students go on a 15 days adventure course before they attend class 10. Courses are offered by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute on Birch Hill From 1970 onwards, every year in the first week of February, the boys who are about to begin their class ten return for a two-week course in mountaineering.

In popular culture[edit]

The school has been featured in films by Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, Anjan Dutt to name a few.

For many years, the school put on two full productions on the Fraser Hall stage and standards were so high that Representatives of the British Council expressed their amazement and said they had not seen as high a level even in England.

Films were screened once every two weeks in the Fraser Hall. Every other week the boys were shown interesting documentaries that added to their general knowledge.

Publications and media[edit]

According to the EW Survey of Schools, conducted by Education World Magazine, the school is one of the best boarding/residential schools in the country.[2]

School's experiment with honesty[3]

Old students head hillwards for reunion[4]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°02′40″N 88°15′45″E / 27.0445°N 88.2625°E / 27.0445; 88.2625