The Bishop of
Chotanagpur confirmed Mr. F. E. La Valette who had been
officiating as Principal since 1944, in the post of Principal on
1st January 1948. A conscientious worker and one who had worked
wonders to keep the school on its foundation he accepted the
responsibility as an honour. The task was challenge but he was
not one to cower. It was a feat to bring back the school from
Allahabad to Namkum and resettle it and he supervised and
managed it efficiently and successfully.
Classes resumed in the ground floor, the timings were as before:
Rising Bell - 6:00 a.m.
Breakfast - 7:00 a.m.
Morning Prep - 7:30 a.m.– 8:30 a.m.
Assembly - 8:30 a.m.
Classes - 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
The hostel and Infirmary were shifted to the first floor. Along
with the warden, a few masters were also given accommodation on
the first floor. To the right of the Portico, the school office
was reset and the Principal’s office adjoining it opened into
the corridor leading to the hall. The Principal resided in a
portion of building facing the school. Adjoining his quarters,
in the same building at present the junior block, the private
boarders were lodged. In places a barbed wire fencing and in
places a hedge of the common ‘lantana’ served as a boundary for
the school campus.
Namkum was the same as before but after the stay in Allahabad
the boys took time to readjust to the loneliness and the
pristine environment. Slowly the school settled into a set
pattern. One can only surmise the problems the authorities must
have faced with improper accommodations, inadequate teachers,
etc while the school was in Allahabad. In fact, as a measure of
economy from July 1943 the Boys’ and Girls’ School were fused
together only for daily lessons. The post effects of the
Allahabad stay could be tangibly felt in the discipline of the
school and in the academic results. Back in Namkum, it became
necessary to tighten the reins in order to restore stability and
order in the school. The Principal, Mr. La Valette threw himself
into the task of building up a good reputation of the school. To
assist him, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed as Head Master in 1950.
Priority was given to regular teaching and maintaining
discipline. The Principal and Head Master, both, personally
supervised and ensured that there was no laxity on the part of
the students or teachers. The time table was adjusted so that
Mr. Fitzgerald could be physically present in the classes when
Urdu or Hindi was being taught, as both these periods usually
ended in an abrupt and uproarious manner. In time this practice
of the Head Master became a tradition that was not restricted
only to the classes of the second languages.
To existing norms some new rules and regulations were added.
Violation of any rule meant immediate summons to the Principal’s
Office which was akin to “being summoned before the judgement
Throne”. Corporal Punishment was the order of the day; and the
morning Assembly held in front of the main building was the time
selected mete out the punishments and read monthly reports.
With the view to keep abreast of the times thought was given to
introduce the Matriculation Examination of Patna University. The
idea, however, was abandoned. The syllabus remained unchanged
but it became compulsory to pass in the second language.
Extra-Curricular activities were an integral part of curriculum.
Saturdays were scheduled for relaxation and entertainment. After
two teaching periods the boys were engaged in games and socially
useful and productive work like gardening, cleaning the campus,
etc. The Saturday afternoons were spent in watching movies shown
on a projector. In asbestos covered shed which stood where the
office stands today these movies, especially brought from
Calcutta, were projected.
The school graduated into its 25th years in 1952. An air of
achievement pervaded the school’s atmosphere. A special
thanksgiving service was held to celebrate the Silver Jubilee,
the Sports and Speech Day programmes were conducted with greater
pomp and ceremony. The good results of the Senior Cambridge
examination further raised the morale of the staff and students.
Restored firmly on its foundation the school’s driving ambition
was now to move “onwards and upwards”. Till then both the
Westcott Schools were held in awe and considered inaccessible by
the local population. To encourage more admissions the Governing
body granted permission to admit upto 50% Indian students; and
also dayscholars. This proved to be a significant opening for
the school as well as the Ranchites. From a total strength of
102 boys in 1949 the numbers rose to 214 boys by 1956 of which
161 were Boarders and 53 were dayscholars. The decision to open
Class-I in 1957 was another major step in increasing the number
of students; now right from the age of six years, boys were
given admission. There was a rise in the number of day staff
also as more teachers from Ranchi were given appointment in the
school. Cycle rickshaws were the chief mode of conveyance and
most of the dayscholars and daystaff commuted on them. From
Ranchi to Namkum the fare to and fro was Rs.60/-p.m. Most of the
local people still did not know much about Namkum and the
school; therefore very few ventured to send their wards.
In 1958 the South Eastern Railway commenced digging the land
belonging to the Boys’ School in order to lay down the Broad
Gauge Line from Muri to Ranchi. The Broad Gauge Line heralded an
era of rapid growth and advancement for the town of Ranchi and
Westcott Boys’ School was one of the first to reap its benefit.
Earlier, at least two members of the staff were deputed to
escort the boys going on vacation upto the Muri Junction and for
this purpose an entire coach on the Lohardaga - Purnia train
used to be booked for the boys. With this new development it
became vitally important to construct a boundary wall. A wall
barely a meter in height was set up and a wooden gate was fixed
at the south-western corner of the campus.
Namkum, in those days, did not appear like a proper village also
for there only two-three houses across the railway tracks in the
Tetri Toli. A single shop situated just behind the station
supplied rations to the school which were brought on bullock
carts. For fresh vegetables, egg, meat, fruits, etc. the school
relied on Mr. Bindeswari, the supplier.
Owing to M. La Valette’s financial wizardry all debts of the
school had been liquidated by 1957 and the financial position of
the school had become secure. To accommodate the increasing
number of students and teachers more constructions were
undertaken. Extensions were made to the school building, the
staff quarters, and kitchen was extended and improved, a study
hall with asbestos roof was built where now the auditorium
stands, the library was extended, sanitary fittings were made
and another science laboratory with new gas plant was built. For
the servants a bathing room was built and close to their
quarters a well was dug. There could be no doubt that the school
was well embarked on the road to progress. Every year students
were presented for the Cambridge Examination, for which the
school had become a centre, and apart from a few exceptions the
results were satisfactory.
The private boarder scheme was still being followed, the chief
reason for its continuation was it helped balance the finances
of the school, for a large percentage of students availed free
ship. The private boarders popularly called “Parlour Boarders”
paid a fee of Rs.90 p.m, while the “ordinary” boarders paid Rs.
60/- p.m. On the basis of this categorization the parlour
boarders had access to better food and separate lodging.
Invariably this scheme had led to and given rise to
discrimination and discontentment in the school. Several times
earlier the matter had been steadily rising surfaced in the form
of an open protest and the school faced its first crisis in
1962. The school was closed and emergency meeting of the
Governing Body called. It was decided that discrimination
amongst the boys should not be made. All the senior boys were
shifted into the dormitories in the main building while all
junior boys were housed separately and given into the charge of
Mr. Fitzgerald. The school reopened but it took time to settle
into its normal course. A direct outcome of the insurgency was
deterioration in the standard; the overall performance in the
Examinations was poor. After a short phase, new admissions again
started coming in and by October’1966 the school had 470 boys of
which 135 were dayscholars.
Every passing year new targets were fixed and satisfactorily
achieved. The number of students being presented for the
Cambridge Examinations had increased. The Principal himself took
keen interest in the Sciences, which inspired the students to do
likewise. In place of Urdu, Bengali was introduced. Interest of
the boys in the language subjects was far from satisfactory. On
the games field, a variety of inter-house, inter-section and
even inter-school competitions had enhanced the interest. In
1969 the school purchased its first bus and a garage was also
constructed. Some more staff quarters came up. A new Dinning
Room was also built. By 1970 another chassis was purchased for a
van which could be utilized in various ways. The school bus
playing the Ranchi roads increased the accessibility of the
school and brought a sharp rise in the total strength of the
The school was still pre-dominantly Anglo-Indian in its culture
and ethos but a radical change was occurring. Slowly but surely
the school was adapting and merging into the mainstream. Every
transition is usually accompanied by trauma and distress and the
early seventies was such a phase which the school faced. The
records reveal little, therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint
the exact cause of the insurgence in 1972. It is however clear
that discontentment amongst the students was primary reason for
this revolt. What led this discontentment to gain such
unmanageable proportions was obviously the support and
involvement of a few members of the faculty. The school was
closed sine die. The hostel was evacuated and residential staff
were also asked to leave the campus. In December 1972 when the
Principal tendered in his resignation the Governing Body
requested him to continue till further arrangements were made.
It was and still would be totally unjust to lay the blame on any
one person or situation; if the Principal was at fault it lay in
his dedication: So much had he immersed himself in the affairs
of the school, it’s growth and development that he had lost
contact with the life-blood of the school-the boys, while the
latter bottled up their grievances the former remained ignorant
and the outcome was calamitous.