THE HISTORY OF T.N.A. I GATHERED THROUGH INTERVIEWS
Compiled in 1991 by Naresh Kumar Agarwal Class IX for the School Magazine. Source: Mr PB Chakraborty, Miss B Subba, old TNA magazines. Comments added: June 15, 2004
“Rome was not built in a day”, neither was the task of establishing our Academy accomplished overnight. The history of development of Tashi Namgyal Academy reaches way back to 1905. The school, as its name suggests, was founded by the late Chogyal (King of Sikkim), Sir Tashi Namgyal. It was his foresight and generous support to the Academy that helped this institution emerge as a leading school in the state providing balanced education.
Before 1925, the school was a Nepali primary school, and there was a Bhutia primary school at Burtuk, about 3 kms away from Gangtok.
In 1925, the Nepali primary school was converted to a High School affiliated to the Calcutta University. There is not much to mention until 1950.
Tashi Namgyal High School, as it was then named, was housed in two two-storied stone buildings standing below the present football ground. These two buildings (both of which are now demolished, with new multi-storeyed buildings in place – Naresh 2004: mentioned in my Junior Years Class I) served as classrooms. Infant classes were held downstairs in the building to the north and the hostel was upstairs. There were hardly twenty boarders but the number gradually increased every year. Students from class I to IV used to sit on wooden boards in the classroom floors.
Colonel Young Husband and his regiment of 1904 A.D. used these two stone buildings as their garrison. They were making a forced march into Tibet to discuss with the then Dalai Lama the possibility of opening an Indo-Tibet trade route.
The football ground was a grassy lawn, beside which was situated the teachers’ common room. A little distance from it was the office of the Headmaster-cum-the clerk. There was no library.
An old stone house with tin roof was the hostellers’ dining room. Boarders used to have their meals twice daily in this dark, squalid room. Today, the Academy Science Block has taken its place.
Another old house opposite to the Swimming Pool was the church attached to the garrison. The Principal’s residence today was the residence of the Civil Surgeon attached to the then political office of the Government of India (the present Raj Bhavan).
Till 1950, the school had only 150 students and the staff consisted of only 19 teachers. It was a tenth-class school with no extra-curricular activities. However, irregular football matches used to take place. Occasionally, boarders staged Nepali plays in the hostel.
In 1951, Kailash Nath Katju, the then Governor of West Bengal had come to Gangtok and visited the school.
Until 1955, there were only three graduate teachers in the staff. They were Mr BN Singh, a post-graduate (the only MA in the state and thus nicknamed MA Sir), Mr EG Menon and Mr PB Chakraborty. For a few years, Sanskrit was taught as a language subject.
Except the Headmaster and the hostel superintendent, all other teachers stayed outside the campus.
In 1956, the Government of Sikkim felt the need for improving the status of the school and appointed Mr VN Langer (MA (English), M.A. (Economics), LL.B.L.T., a Housemaster from Daly College, Indore) as Principal. The school was given a measure of autonomy by the Government so that Mr Langer would be able to shape the school according to his ideas and ideals.
The school began progressing ahead under his able guidance. Teaching aids were bought and a temporary Science Laboratory was set up in a classroom.
In 1958, a new two-storied building (the main school building) was built to accommodate more students. It was in this year that India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited the school and addressed the students.
By and by, co-curricular activities were introduced and many qualified teachers appointed for effective teaching.
The school was divided into four houses, namely A, B, C and D. Later, these houses were named Phensong, Karponang, Yuksam and Zongri at the suggestion of Mr PB Chakraborty.
As days rolled by, the school began to hum with various co-curricular activities such as inter-house elocutions, debates, dramas and sports.
Mr Langer introduced a monthly school news bulleting to highlight school activities for the information of the public, with its editors as Mr PB Chakraborty and Mr AK Pradhan.
Every year, a gala cultural function and inter-house sports were held before winter vacation with enthusiasm and gaiety. Mr Johnson Isaacs and his colleagues usually organised the sports activities.
In 1960, a step for the Academy’s progress was taken by having the school auditorium built for performance of cultural programs. Prior to 1960, co-curricular activities were conducted in the hall upstairs in one of the old stone buildings.
Probably in the same year, the school was upgraded to Higher Secondary School and laboratory equipment was bought.
Every year it was found the many boys in each class were without books almost up to mid-session. And what a contrast between today and bygone days regarding supply of students’ text books; today the Academy has its own co-operative store to provide essential items to students on payment.
Before 1956, there was no question of age group. In classes VIII upwards most boys were grown-up young men. Bhutia and Lepcha boys would not have their haircut and so the teenagers had a rather effeminate appearance.
In 1964, a new hostel for students came into being (as indeed was the need). It was a significant step towards the Academy’s progress. Thus the Academy developed step by step as the years rolled by.
The year 1966 proved to be an important turning point in the Academy’s history of development. According to the government’s decision, the then TNHS School was shifted elsewhere (now it is a Senior Secondary school) and a Kindergarten-cum-Junior School based on Public School lines came into being. It was for this reason that the 1991 term is being celebrated as the Silver Jubilee Year of the school, counting 25 years since 1966.
The school then became co-ed. Consequently, new co-curricular activities, such as afternoon games, Sunday outing, daylong hikes in the hills and boarders’ evening classes were introduced by the Principal. The students wore grey suits from Monday to Friday and the navy-blue blazer on Saturday and special occasions. The new school consisted of nine classes up to class VII. The school timing for classes I and above was from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. More and more teachers were appointed to meet the need of the school regarding effective class teaching. Everyday the school hummed with various activities involving the students as well as all the members of the staff. The school badge was different from what we have today and the motto was ‘Service Through Knowledge.’
The geography models made by Dr SK Srivastava (who joined after 1966 – Naresh 2004: Dr Srivastava is now the principal of TNA) and his students won the attraction of anyone who saw them. In carpentry workshop, Mr Srivastava showed his talent and skill. Art classes were introduced in 1966.
Miss B Subba and her colleagues taught the two KG classes efficiently, and very capably organised cultural programs to be performed by tiny tots during the Annual Day.
Mr DK Pradhan taught music to junior students and late Rinzing Lama taught Sikkimese group dance.
Dr Srivastava and Mr PB Chakraborty infrequently undertook daylong hikes along with a team of interested students.
Every year, a higher class was added and in 1970, the Academy became an eleven-class school. Science Laboratory functioning in three separate rooms in the main school building was fully equipped and a gas plant for Chemistry Laboratory was set up.
Mr Langer built the school on a firm foundation. He enforced strict discipline and punctuality and believed in having a better quality of students than a larger quantity. He instilled into the minds of the teachers feelings of amity and harmony. He left the Academy at the end of 1971 (In 1972, the Government of India awarded the Padmashree to Mr. Langer for his distinguished services in the field of education in Sikkim). The first batch of XI class students sat for the ISC examination in 1971.
In 1972, a large two-storied boys’ hostel equipped with box rooms, infirmary, dormitories, dining room, recreation room and the hostel superintendent’s quarters was built near the principal’s residence, to accommodate the increasing number of boarders.
The Girls’ Hostel was set up in a big room upstairs in one of the very old stone buildings and the library shifted to a room downstairs in the boys’ hostel. The school canteen was set up above the auditorium lounge.
Dr FS Fanthome (IAS, retired civil service officer) became principal of the Academy after Mr Langer and he too piloted the Academy’s advancement capably. He was a scholarly person with many qualities of head and heart. He remained in the academy for four years and a half until 1976, after which, late Madhusudan Singh became the school principal.
Mr Singh was a person of artistic taste and a lover of nature. He set up a deer park close to the boys’ hostel and a beautiful pond in front of the auditorium lounge (Naresh 2004: I remember the pond as a kid. It has since been razed). He introduced the Korean martial art ‘Tae-kwon-do’ and playing of band music to interested students. The late Mr Ranpal (Naresh 2004: Mr Ranpal died of a heart attack in early 1993 when we were preparing for our ICSE exams), taught band music to interested students. Mr Singh was very humane and harboured much affection for students. He introduced the annual science exhibition, although exhibitions of wooden and clay models, as well as of paintings were held annually during Mr Langer’s tenure. He also introduced Boy Scouts and NCC as co-curricular activities. Mr Pathak was in charge of NCC since then till the mid-term of 1991. Mr Singh laudably achieved in his introduction of the Annual Mini-Olympics after the fashion of the World Olympic Games on a miniature scale limited to the four houses of the school. This colourful function is still observed today. He also set up a Science Block in 1979. He gave the school a flag to hold high, the present tie and uniform and composed the TNA song in English. Mr Ranpal tuned it. The song was, and is, still sung on special occasions and during morning assembly everyday.
During Mr Singh’s tenure, the Academy was upgraded to a XIIth class school and both ICSE and ISC examinations were held every year in March. Mr Singh became Director of Education in 1981 but he passed away after a short time.
After Mr MM John‘s tenure, Mr KNP Nair took over the principalship in 1982. He was a humble and affable person with a fine sense of humour. He left the Academy after a year and Mr FJ Fanthome (who taught at St. Joseph’s college, North Point, Darjeeling, Doon school, Dehra Dun and at La Martinere, Calcutta as Vice Principal) became principal.
Mr Fanthome efficiently guided the school in co-operation with the staff. During his tenure, the school was graced with two new school buses, which are now busy in their daily rounds transporting the children to school from all nooks and corners of Gangtok. Two buildings, one beside the science block and the other near the Auditorium were constructed. The ISC results in 1987 were the best ever with a 100% pass. Life in TNA took a new turn with the construction of a swimming pool in the old netball court. The main field was expanded, a gym was set up (Naresh 2004: When the gym was being set-up, I went there with a few of my friends. While playing with the putty, the glass on one of the windows came off and broke. I was very scared but decided to report it to the Principal. I was shaking when I confessed the deed before him. Mr Fanthome just said, “Never mind, beta. I’m glad you reported it yourself. We’ll get it replaced.” This went a long way in convincing me that if you stick to the truth, there is nothing to be scared of) and the school was placed on the map of the Indian Public School’s Conference. December ’87 witnessed the 48th Indian Public Schools’ Conference in the Academy. Mr Fanthome left the school in 1989. He is now the Chief Executive and Secretary of Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE).
Mr Pramod Sharma (who taught at the Doon school, Dehra Dun, Mayo College, Ajmer and at schools in Nigeria and Afghanistan) became the principal in 1989.
The academic session 1991 was celebrated as the Silver Jubilee year of the school. Apart from its normal activities, IPSC Badminton Tournament, Silver Jubilee Treks and Exhibitions by Class IX and other classes and Silver Jubilee Marathon were organised. The main function of the year was a major production, “The Sound of Music”. Four shows were performed successfully and it won loud applause from the audience.
A number of computers were installed during Mr Sharma’s time (Naresh 2004: that gave me my first inspiration to become a Computer Engineer), the four house entertainments were introduced and a new boys’ hostel constructed above the ground. His tenure saw construction of New Junior School Building in 1993. (Naresh 2004: Mr Pramod Sharma was the Principal when I left TNA in 1995. I worked closely with him as School Captain in 1994). Mr Sharma left school in 1996 to join Principalship of Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. He is now the Principal of Mayo College, Ajmer and Chairman of the Indian Public Schools Conference.
Dr SK Srivastava (senior master TNA, principal, Namchi Public School) is now the principal. In 1997, Girls’ Bagpiper Band was introducted. In 1998, the TNA Auditorium was renovated and construction of New Annex Block next to Junior School started.
The school has a large and beautiful campus with a number of buildings, parks, gardens and playgrounds providing all the facilities expected in a public school.
Turning over the pages of TNA’s history, we find that the establishment of this prestigious institution has been the result of the commendable effort put up by our predecessors. The students of this Academy are studying with the intention of gaining true knowledge keeping the motto Learn to Serve in mind. This is so that they may, when they complete their studies, come out as perfect citizens of the Indian Nation. Tenacia is living up to the fame and recognition it has been credited with.