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Three cheers for schooldays

moments, memories and more

Actress Swastika Mukherjee travelled back in time on Sunday, not for a film but to relive her schooldays in the company of “applauding, screaming and cheering” students rooting for their schoolmates, and at times for their rivals, too.

“When we would go back to school (after winning prizes), our principal would say, ‘Girls, we are very proud of you, but you should have behaved yourselves’,” reminisced the Tolly star, a special guest on the final day of the Dabur Red Paste presents TTIS Challenge 2013, powered by Hero Cycles, at Swabhumi.

Swastika’s anecdote rang true a little later when a teacher from Vivekananda Mission School (VMS) warned the students “to control themselves, else no snapshots”.

The VMS gang, of course, had every reason to cheer. The school had just been declared the Champion of Champions in a grand comeback in the ninth edition of eastern India’s biggest fest that saw around 2,000 students from over 110 schools participating.

“When I started coming to TTIS Challenge in 2010, we were the champs and we are back on this stage... to receive the trophy was one of the most nostalgic moments,” said Shreosi Mondal, Class XI .

For Ralph Mao of Don Bosco School, Bandel, it was “the first and the last chance”. “Attendance is compulsory on the last day before a vacation, but I took special permission from the principal so that I could participate in TTIS Challenge,” said the Class XII boy who kept the audience spellbound with his flips and floats in B-Boying and X-Factor. “When school reopens, the first thing I will do is to go and show him the trophy. I hope he will be proud.” Ralph was declared the Champion of Champions (student).

Manish Chhetri, who was adjudged third in B-Boying, proved that the spirit of the fest lies in camaraderie by walking up to Ralph to congratulate him.

It is these moments that will be theirs to cherish forever. “However big you become you look back and feel so nostalgic and beautiful and you miss that time….” said Swastika, who came with daughter Anwesha, a Class IX student of South City International School.

The students know it too and made sure to give it their best. Kalicharan Shaw of Hirendra Leela Patranavis School was one of the first to be at the venue and among the last to leave on all three days of the TTIS Challenge finals.

Be it coordinating between organisers and judges or lending a hand backstage, Kalicharan did everything with a smile. The Class XII student’s reward came when he received a Star Tiger memento. “Tomorrow is the last day of my school life and TTIS has been an integral part of it,” he said.

If Rishab Baid of MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School, who participated in Fusion Dance, felt his greatest reward was “the crowd cheering for us”, Swastika felt it was teamwork that made it special. “It’s not an individual win, you are making your school proud,” said the alumnus of St. Teresa’s Secondary School.

Such is the enthusiasm among schools that last year’s champion, Kalyani Public School, is already thinking about next year’s performance. “It’s such an addiction to perform well that we are already thinking about what to do next year,” said choreographer of fusion dance, Amitabha Das.

Doing his school proud was the youngest performer on the TTIS stage, Class V student Rajarshi Halder who played the tabla in X-Factor and came first. “I will take my prize to school tomorrow. My mother could not believe that I had come first,” said the 11-year-old as his seniors hoisted him on their shoulders.

Mainak Nayak, a first-year student of fashion designing at NSHM, returned to the Challenge arena, not to compete but to be a part of it and showcase his designs.

Giving Gen Y tough competition with her enthusiasm was Archana Maitra, 66, who came all the way from Joka to see her twin granddaughters dance. “I like seeing them perform and when I was a teacher in school, I too would accompany the girls to events.”