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The Alma Mater

Stewart School, Bhubaneswar. The spark associated with these three words, have yet been and will ever remain, one of the most cherished. When I try to explain and understand the reasons – I realize, that there aren’t any that help to rationalize the feelings and yet there is this inevitable intuitive delight associated with the 10 long years of schooling and almost 24 years alumni status. Glorious indeed!
It was an honour to have been a part of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations- comprising pan Indian dance formats, Shakespearean plays, Science Exhibition and much more. I remember my moment of pride of having designed a burglar’s alarm for the Science Exhibition – where time spent over a few weeks to create a palatial cardboard house was memorable.

Here we are. In no time are staring at the Golden Jubilee celebrations. The last 25 years have gone by in a jiffy. It is difficult to internalize that we are no longer a part of the school premises involved in multifarious activities including innocent pranks and teenage mischief.

Most of us, many times would be keen to believe that we are still carrying the old school child fervor and freedom- till we are stumped by school uniformed kids who amusingly remind us of the generation gone by or the new generation that has arrived. Well, sometimes current Stewartonian school kids with the sky blue/grey attires [I stay close to the school so I bump into them with fair regularity] take us back into a joyous reverie ride.

What is it that gives joy? The lasting and dependable friendships. The unending stories of bunking and bantering. The great teachers- who have made what we are. The bus & cycle rides. The building and the playgrounds where we have spent a significant portion of our lives. The mango trees which have given not only sour and most tasty mangoes but shelter many a time. The succulent jamun berries which have stained many a shirt. The acacia trees with full yellow blooms or the bright flaming red gulmohurs which were a delight to watch. Its each one of the above and each as important as the other.

One could write a dramatized and well garnished note worth a few pages on each of the above experiences which have made Stewart School, Bhubaneswar a glorious place. The reasons why every Stewartonian carries with her/him a conviction that her/his school days have been the best. In fact, it is a treat to watch when different batches vie for the ‘most colourful [read naughty] batch’ title or for that matter how the most sober of the students proudly sign-off their heroic pursuits twenty years later.

The Stewart School we have known has stood for freedom and ample mental space to grow as an individual, ready to face the world, take the plunge and come out with myriad of colours. Thanks and kudos to the most adorable and able teachers; and the ICSE curriculum [many of us still play the ICSE vs. CBSE game with close CBSE friends- and will do so till the end of time. One of those mischievously innocuous insularities which give us a sense of connectedness and ‘irrational’ pride]. We were jack of most things and sowed the seeds to be master of some- bindass friendships where friends take up where they left a decade back without a flutter of doubt when they meet an old friend; some awesome alumni in all spheres of life- sports, corporate world, bureaucracy, social service, armed forces and aesthetics who- make all of us proud. The perfect potion for an enduringly endearing delight. All this and more fleets by us in a fraction of second when we think of our favourite Alma Mater.

That was the nice, goody goodie part of the story. That’s what makes me ponder on this august occasion of the Golden Jubilee. Has the school become like the legendary mango tree or the banyan tree- which nurtures generations selflessly. With which every single individual has a sort of intriguing association of love and goodwill, and of countless small small stories of an assortment of hues which lie cherished in different nooks of the memory and the mind. What would the school be happy to have in return? What is to be done to ensure that the wise and the caring mango tree with its delicious mangoes continues to delight generations yonder in posterity?

This takes me to the contents of an informal chat between the Dean of Harvard Business School and a friend of mine recently. What he said rings loud. To paraphrase- the continued growth of an institute would be ensured if each one of the 5 pillars [or stakeholders] - viz. the Trustees & the Board, the faculty [teachers], the staff, the students and the alumni- feel included. As I reflect on this pithy yet profound message- I am convinced that in it lies the golden rule to build a seat of learning. .

To elaborate on this- whose responsibility is it to include all the stakeholders and how is it to be done? Probably it is the responsibility of each one to make the others feel included and make themselves counted. Probably there are no rights here, only responsibilities. Responsibilities if remembered well will ensure the cherished dreams, which are an integral part of all, are nourished continuously to retain its flavor and spark forever. Also, I would like to add to the above five pillars, two more pillars/stakeholders, for whom we have a responsibility, they are the former faculties/teachers & staff and the community at large - whose energy we will always need to draw upon and whose continued goodwill and blessings we would always require to flourish.

The incumbent Principal in a short span [of less than 100 days] has demonstrated commendable poise, sagacity and leadership in trying to bring along all the stakeholders together [and make them feel included] on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations. How do we convert the camaraderie of the occasion to a lasting and meaningful partnership with all the SEVEN pillars and stakeholders, will determine our contribution as individuals and as a whole to each other and our Alma Mater. Let us hope that this ‘reunion’ paves the way for a brighter future, enroute the Platinum Jubilee celebrations 25 years hence. Three cheers for a greater and more Glorious Stewart School, Bhubaneswar in all times to come.

A short ditty to sign-off with:

Short tiny steps
Half unsure, half eager
Amongst others tiny tots
Some laughing louder, others
Wailing with equal abandon
That’s day One, @ 1-B

Since then, its been a journey
Of years a score and fourteen
But as I look back
My shoulders
It just seems yesterday
That day One @ 1-B

Time has come to
Ponder, as to what to do
To immortalize dear school
In the memory of selfless
Parents who took us there
And teachers who taught us

Srijat Mishra
Class of 1987

Written on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Stewart School, Bhubaneshwar.

Oct 7, 2010


  1. Good one Munna,
    Recall the sibling rivalry on being the naughtiest, having lost the tag of being the smartest. Nostalgia are definitely there in the jammun, the mango, the gulmohor. The latter always reminds of 'nali nali ehi krushna chuda aha dakai mote dakai. The mango tree behind the hostel always reminds of stone throwing children.


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