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25 Years Ago: 1982-’83

25 Years Ago: 1982-’83

Newspapers like the New York Times and The Hindu offer a history section where they cull out news reports from the archives and present slices of the past. For Loyola, the LENS and Wall Diary squads are best equipped to carry such a section. But till then, let me offer you a series — 25 Years Ago — based on the school magazines of yesteryears.

Loyola School Trivandrum - school magazine 1982-83

  • For a school that has made a mark on the national quizzing scene in recent years, the most significant development of 1982-83 was probably the setting up of a quiz and debate squad — “the brainchild of Mr B.O. Sebastian” and guided by Mrs. Santha Nair. Mitu Gulati (1983) wrote “The Squad started its work with house-wise quiz programmes for different standards. In the second term, a debate for Std IX and X was conducted on the topic ’20th Century Man: Better Off than his Predecessors’.”
  • 105 students were involved in service squads, whose number rose from twelve to nineteen in 1982-83. (It is not clear as to which ones were introduced that year). There were service squads for maintenance, auditorium, wall diary, buses, safety, picture display, weather chart, indoor games, inter-school competitions, morning study, and LENS. Sankar Krishnan (1983) wrote about LENS, “Loyola English Newspaper Service aims at reaching all the item of news in the school to the students through their weekly publications. Some special issues regarding the School Day, St. Ignatius Day, the Loyola Basketball Tournament and indoor games have also come out. We carried out a few interviews and also conducated an indepth survey of Cheruvickal School to find out exactly to what extent it profits from Loyola’s helping hand.”
  • The School had children from four religions — Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. Prayer services or special assemblies were held before major festivals, and programmes included singing of devotional songs by the school choir, reading of extracts from sacred books or of well-known writers, and an explanation of the festival’s theme by the Principal.
  • Every Saturday our blue bus rolls by / Every Saturday we Loyolites in blue get on” to go to school for NCC parade, wrote Rajiv Narayanan (1985), then in Std VIII. Rajiv’s poem reveals that aeromodeling was taken seriously, and so was shooting. “When they whistle after theory class / We Loyolites jump up from the grass” suggests that the class was held outdoors. I counted about 70 cadets in a photograph. And yes, the Troop Commander was Mr C.T. Varkey.
  • It was the year of the Asian Games in Delhi and the sports fever was quite high in Sreekariyam. In school sports, there was a Loyolite in the state hockey team, one in the state athletic team and two in the state cricket team, not to speak of several in the district teams, including eight in the Trivandrum district basketball team. Loyola were the district champions in basketball.
  • But Loyola was runner-up in the school’s own basketball tournament, losing to St Thomas 63-85 in the final. Varghese Varghese (1983) in his analysis of the ninth Loyola basketball tournament wrote

[t]he St. Thomas team are older in age and experience, and are taller too. We Loyolites, as an average are of medium height and in basketball, height has a great advantage. lacking this we should patch this up with accurate shooting, for which we have not yet got the knack. Quick and short passes with drive-ins can often change the tide of the game and the St. Thomas players dominated in all these fields. But in outside shots, we Loyolites are far superior…. Coaching is another factor which decides the fate of the game. This coaching given by Mr P C Thomas though very useful was really very brief and short. The lack of dedication and interest taken by the players is responsible for this. We have yet to master the art of man to man defence.

  • Students of Std VII went on a half-day study tour to the neighbouring Central Tuber Crops Research Institute.
  • The School Day was held in November, as in the previous year. This was probably a hangover from the past, when the academic year (till 1979) was from January to December. “About 350 students, i.e. 1/3 of the whole school” appeared on the stage. Earlier, “about 85%” of the students had taken part in the school’s own youth festival, according to the Principal’s annual report.
  • Loyola organised an inter-school youth festival for neighbouring schools. “About 150 students from five neighbouring U.P. and L.P. schools participated,” said the Principal.
  • On the social work front, the school was active. The Principal’s report says, “Students donated Rs 1,000 to Sisters of the Poor, Rs 3,000 for the rehabilitation of the blind and Rs 10,000 to the Cheshire Homes. They donated text books and uniforms worth Rs 6,000 to poor children studying in neighbouring schools.” A later publication put the figure at Rs 5,000. The school offered full or half fee concessions to 61 students.
  • The construction of the silver jubilee block (building) was in progress. It probably began in 1982-83. If so, some of you may see this as the biggest contribution of 1982-83 to Loyola history.
  • Principal Fr Varkey conducted a day-long seminar for parents, on child psychology. Dr Manoranjan Rao, a scientist at VSSC wrote “Topics like Motivation, Responsibility, Jealousy, Sex education etc. were also dealt with. Also certain case studies were analyzed by the participants who were divided into ‘groups’ for this purpose. The ‘group discussions’ were carefully ‘guided’ by the Principal…” Fr Varkey’s ‘human relations approach’ seminars were popular in not just Trivandrum, but far away Bombay too, revealed one letter from a parent in the metro.
  • Old boys outside Trivandrum wrote letters to the school. Rajiv Vijayan (1980) wrote from IIT Madras “Dear Fr Varkey, I reached IIT on 12th July. Our classes began on 19th July. I am staying in Mandakini Hostel….Here I have met four ex-Loyolites–Lagichan, Joseph Mathew, Roy Mathew and Vani Prasad.”
  • The School Magazine of the previous year did not have students on the editorial board. In 1982-83, five student editors appeared: Paul Augustine, Sajit N., Anand M., Sankar Krishnan and Sanjay Kumar (all 1983). Though the editorial board did not mention his name, the statutory declaration said that Fr C.P. Varkey was the Editor.
  • I have not confirmed this, but it looks like the medal for the school topper in the SSLC exam was named after Renji Mathew in 1982-83. The previous year’s school magazine mentions it as “Loyola Medal”.

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What are your recollections of 1982-83?

How different is Loyola today (or the Loyola you studied in)?

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5 Lessons from Blogging about My School

In nine months,

  • 145 e-news subscribers and 15+ blog subscribers via RSS
  • a few comments on every post
  • a prominent position on Loyola’s leading community at Orkut
  • links from Loyola bloggers,
  • 19,000+ pageviews, and
  • 3,750+ absolute unique visitors.

In the first year of blogging about the school, could I have asked for greater acceptance and recognition?

As year 2007 ends, here are a few lessons, sweet and sour.

  1. Loyolites are hungry for news about the school, teachers and old boys. Even though the biggest discovery of my blog was probably the composer of the school song, it got overshadowed by two news reports: Deepa Madam Moves On, and IAS Exam: 3 Loyolites in Top 10. There is a lesson in this for Loyola Old Boys’ Association, the school, and other ventures based in Trivandrum.
  2. Readers come to read online, not act offline. Your blog can pump out ideas (like digitising school magazines, Great School Campaign), but you should not expect readers to take the initiative for implementing them. At best, readers will do activities that can be done online; primarily, supplying intellectual inputs. They don’t lead, they follow. For getting things done, you have to write to people personally, ask for funds privately, and mobilise action offline. Like the Joseph Uncle Campaign. You will get support, not leadership. The blog is in a wired enclave.
  3. You can’t please everybody. One of my beliefs when I started the blog was that the content would be attractive to not only Loyola old boys, but also old boys of other schools in India, especially Kerala. People who read about the school song will think of their own school song, people who read about Loyola’s buildings will think of their own school building, and to go back to their school, they will come to this blog, that was my train of thought. The meagre feedback I sought from non-Loyolites suggests that they do not find the blog attractive. “You are writing about your school, and I can’t identify with it,” said one. But the bigger surprise was that there were Loyolites who did not find this blog appealing. Why? The language is not casual (none of the “Hey dude! Gr8 to c ya”), the matter-of-fact tone is dry, there is no nostalgic “Loyola is great” tom-tomming, the topics are too intellectual…you can add your grouse to the list.
  4. Blogging steals time, like television. As a blogger based far away from Loyola, I knew that I could not channelise a news river from the school. That’s why the blog was to revolve around the social history of the school, rather than what was happening in Loyola now. Blogging about people, places and the past wouldn’t be difficult, right? How wrong I was! Writing a new and interesting article every fortnight drains your energy and time. Replying to comments, answering queries via e-mail, planning and co-ordinating specials (like on Fr Pulickal), writing posts…phew! Where’s the time to market and monetise this blog, to make it self-financing?
  5. To be a happy, amateur blogger, find a niche and be regular. I chose Loyola’s social history as the pivot for my blog, after months of research on blogging. When I floated the idea, there was silence from some quarters and opposition from others; not even one person welcomed the choice of topic. All wanted me to blog, but friends (including Loyolites) and relatives groaned and asked, “Haven’t you grown out of this Loyola thing?” But within months, the same friends and relatives were applauding. Whatever success the blog has achieved is mainly due to (a) the niche topic; (b) the regularity of postings; and (c) basic writing techniques.

I enjoy every interaction that arises via the blog and thank all of you for your encouragement through online visits and offline phone calls, blogpost comments and e-mails. Two among you have been regular and unwavering in your support from day one — Jiby (online) and Roshen (offline). I cannot thank you enough. Syam appears villainous on screen but is a hero backstage — he scouts energetically for the Loyolites’ Blogs section.

My blogging goals for 2008

  1. Deliver good content and regularly.
  2. Build the great school campaign and spark a few more ventures.
  3. Make the blog self-financing, at least to pay the webhosting charges ($10/month).
  4. Do all this more efficiently, i.e. in less time.