Bandura Holy Cross High School: Since 1912
Tomas Olif, a bishop from West Bengal, built a church in Bandura, most likely some time in 1845. It was named 'Maria'r Nirmol Hridoy Girja'. But, somehow the people started calling it the 'Saint Francis Xavier's Church' from 1869, for unknown reasons. The church was razed to the ground by a 14 hours long cyclone on 17th May, 1869. Many more church houses were erected in its place; including one in November 1878, which was razed by another storm in 15th May 1883, and another in 1889 that was destroyed by an earthquake on 12th June 1897. The Honorable Bishop Peter Hearth CSC from Dhaka then, started to build a house only for worship. It was completed in the month of March or April in 1898, and was used only for worship and meditations till 1912. Till 1976 since 1912, the building was then used for educational purposes for thousands of children of the area and came to be known as the Bandura Gabindapur Holy Cross High School.
It was 1909, when the administration of the 'Gabindapur High School' had approached Bishop Hearth with a proposal that he move into the school with his belongings to take over the administration. But, they had a few clauses such as: the school could not be relocated, the name of the school could not be changed, the school would be governed by a governing body comprising of people from Gabindapur, etc. Without posting any replies to the proposal, Bishop Hearth left this country on the 5th January, 1910. He was succeeded by Honorable Bishop Lineborn.
Bishop Lineborn in April of 1910 visited Gabindapur for assessment purposes. He decided to relocate the church to the Golla village, two miles away from Gabindapur. On 22nd September, 1911, he put forward a proposal to the 'Gabindapur High School' including the clauses: the school would be renamed to 'Holy Cross Bandura Gabindapur High School', the governors of the school would have to renounce all their governing powers and grant them to the Bishop, the administration would have to grant the Bishop a sum of Tk. 150/= to relocate the school to the Golla village, and, the administration would be held responsible for all the debts till 1st December, 1911.
Srijagathchandra Ray Choudhury, a month later, as a representative of the locals in the village met with the Bishop Lineborn and let him know that all the clauses were agreed upon except: parts of the school would have to remain in Gabindapur and that the costs grant for the relocation of the school would have to be Tk. 25/= and not Tk. 150/=.
Bishop Lineborn had agreed upon the denomination of the sum for relocation, but was adamant in shifting the whole school to the new location. After long negotiations, it was agreed upon, that the school would be renamed to Holy Cross Bandura Gabindapur High School and that the Bishop would retain the whole property of the school unconditionally, on 24th November, 1911. News of the new school was revealed in the Bandura church on the 15th December, 1911. Inauguration of the school took place on 8th January, 1912 with 157 students admitted attending classes two through seven. Father John J. Henessy CSC was appointed as the first Headmaster and Brother Eugene CSC was appointed as the teacher. Classes commenced for five months in Golla through a lot of inconveniences and hassles. Inevitably, the school had then relocated back to Bandura.
The re-relocation had not been easy. Classes started at 6:30am on 11th June 1912 in the church premises. The whole teaching process had suffered as there were no provisions for partitions between classes.
In 1913, only grade eight was opened as a new grade, as not even a single student was found to enroll in grade nine. Through demands of the locals, a new hostel was built for the Hindu students on the premises. The total student population was 198 that year, and it increased to 230 in 1914, of which 65 percent of the students were Hindus and the rest were from Christian and Muslim backgrounds. A new building was built in 1914 as well to the east side of the min-building, and later came to be known as the Annex Building.
The tenth grade was introduced for the first time in 1915. An application was made to the Kolkata University then for permission to enroll students to appear for the Matriculate examinations. The university had then granted the permission on a temporary basis for three years. The permanent provision was granted in 1918 November 20 based on a report submitted by inspector Gopal Chandra Sarker.
Brother Peter was the Head Master of the school from 1919 to 1921. Brother Walter took over from 1922 and served the post till 1929. Brother Andrew filled in the spot from February 1929 to May 1940. Brother Andrew's administration was known as the Golden Period for Holy Cross. Under his guidance, the school had risen to heights in academics, sports and the literature realm. Brothers Bid, James, Hobart, and Fulgense had in turn taken up the post of Headmaster in the period of 1940 to 1955. Brother Ivan CSC took up the post in January 1956.He was later posted elsewhere from Bandura in 1961. Brothers Hobart (second time), Tomas, Donald, Robert, Ivan (second time), and Brian took over as headmasters since then till 1969. Brother John Rosario served the post later from 1970 to mid 1975. He was the one and only Bengali Headmaster in the school's history. Brother John Stephen CSC has been the headmaster since Brother Rosario's leave.
Brother Stephen started renovation work on the school on 26th November, 1976. The main building along with the annex building was demolished and a new three storied building was erected in their place. Eighteen new classrooms and six residential sections were added within two years. A new auditorium is on its way to completion.
The institution that started off in 1912 January 11, 6:30 am in the morning with just 157 students, is still going strong to this day. Now, more than 800 are enrolled in its secondary section alone. It has overcome all the storms in its way and has immersed as one of the top ranked schools in the country. It will keep going with no slowing down even in the future.
Brother Chandon Benedict Gomes, CSC, the current Headmaster, expressed sadness that the school would have been even more successful if the location was better and not in a rural area as the one it is now. Yet, he is happy for the excellence it has achieved over the years in all fields of academics, sports and other extracurricular activities.
Students, who have started college lives themselves brand themselves as lucky to have had such an education. They at first had no idea about the competition they were about to face coming out of the rural school. Yet when they have nearly completed their first years in the cities, they are more than happy to have had all the resources they were provided with at The Holy Cross School.
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