The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Old boys’ heave-ho for alma mater
- Games and gym, books and computers: Facelift flurry on ex-Xaverians’ agenda

Cricket, hockey, tennis and yoga, high-speed Net connections, computerised libraries and more — all adding up to a great turn from the good ol’ boys for their alma mater. Alumnorum Societas (Alsoc), the St Xavier’s Collegiate School alumni association, turning 25 this year, has set out to transform the face of one of Calcutta’s oldest and most revered portals of learning, with a whole line-up of “presents” for the young faces still under the 143-year-old school’s nurturing wing.

“We have proposed a number of improvements, which are still subject to final permission from the school,” explains Noomi Mehta, honorary secretary of Alsoc, which has around 1,000 life members and 1,500 annual members.

Fundraising for the facelift is underway, and work on two or three projects is to start as soon as the blueprints are approved.

The most ambitious of the proposed facilities is the Centre for Sporting Excellence. The existing open gym is to be enclosed with either walls or shutters, re-floored, lit up and ventilated, with a viewing gallery in place. Locker rooms and a canteen have also been suggested. Facilities for net practice, football drills, hockey, gymnastics and tennis sessions are on the cards.

“In any sport, it is essential to spot talent when the child is still in school,” says Mehta. Numbers will be restricted, so students can get the proper guidance. The training will be available against a “small fee to make the students serious”, the revenue from which will be used to maintain the other proposed projects. An indoor-games centre, with table-tennis boards, carrom and chess are part of the plan. “Exercise machines will be installed, in synergy with the needs of the sports centre,” says Mehta, a rugby veteran. Yoga classes are in the pipeline.

Also on the drawing board is a revamp of the senior and primary school libraries, physics, chemistry, biology and computer labs, audio-visual room, staff room, indoor-games room and bathrooms. The school administrative systems will also be computerised. The library makeover is to include a selection of CD-ROMS and two computers with Net access. Improving the range of books and periodicals and cataloguing of the existing collection have also been suggested. A new sound system and overhead projector are part of the plan for the audio-visual room. Improvements to the staff room — with workstations, computers and meeting areas for parents and teachers to speak with privacy — have also been designed.

Alsoc has proposed a revamp of the drinking water supply in school (to make it available across the building) and renovation of all 16 bathrooms. The Silver Jubilee celebrations will be held on February 22 on the school grounds. A 15-minute film by Ashok Vishwanathan on the activities of the alumni association will be launched. “This is all part of Alsoc’s attempt to give something back to society for the foundation we have received from the school,” signs off Mehta.

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