BANGALORE: It was rather awkward for the teenaged A S Sampath Mudaliar to live in his Richards Town house in the 1950s. His neighbours were Walter and Alfred Redwood, the founders of his school, and this always impelled him to be on his best behaviour even when his cousins came over on weekends.
“Bang on Monday morning, our principal W Wilcox would summon me to say that there was a complaint from the Redwoods, and I’d be dismissed with a warning,” remembers Mudaliar, who is now 75 and a retired scientist from the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Mudaliar belonged to the 1955, and smallest, batch of Clarence High School (CHS), which celebrates its centenary year on Friday. This makes CHS the fourth Anglo-Indian school in Bangalore to reach the 100-year milestone, after St Joseph’s (1858), Bishop Cotton (1865) and Baldwin (1880) schools.
The school was started in 1914 by the Redwood brothers, who were Englishmen. Back then, when it was functioning out of the old Frazer Town police station building, there were 17 students and two teachers. Now, it has 1,952 students from kindergarten to Class 12, with 75 teachers.
“You don’t get to have such memories from schools these days. Most of us have grown up to be well and my training here reflected in every defence presentation I made later on in my life,” Mudaliar says.
Though one of the founder’s grandsons, Jonathan Redwood from New Zealand, visited the school last year, the Redwoods, who left Bangalore in the 1960s, are no longer involved in the institution’s management. School principal Jerry George Mathew says, “The school was handed over to other committed people in a trust. We have tried our best to stay true to their (the Redwoods’) vision to provide Christian-based education. In fact, we make it clear to parents that our moral instruction comes from the Bible.”
The present CHS campus in Richards Town was bought in 1920. “We are looking at expansion, but want to take it slow. We are looking for opportunities to start another branch,” Mathew says.The school’s alumni have been instrumental in its growth. Mudaliar and his friends raised money to construct the Flack Memorial Auditorium, named after one of the school’s principals A C Flack, who came from Australia in 1946. A similar fundraiser is on the cards to help the school get its first bus, says Vivek Menon of the 1985 batch. The 45-year-old, who is an entrepreneur and president of the 28-year old CHS Alumni Association, says the school inculcated in him a strong value system, integrity and the ability to speak up, and these have stood him in good stead throughout his adult life. Menon, who contested the 2008 Assembly elections as an Independent from Sarvajnanagar, attributes his political will to the learning he received at CHS.
Principal Mathew says the alumni association wants to raise `20 lakh each for the school bus and to provide scholarships for students in need. The centenary year celebrations will be inaugurated on Friday by Jose Aikara, chairperson of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations.
This year, we want to have our first inter-school fest in September, a science exhibition in November and an alumni reunion in December,” Mathew says.