The Telegraph
Sunday , August 27 , 2017

Parents don't need prizes, still...

- Grieving nurturers who touched the lives of others

South Point High School and Mahadevi Birla World Academy won The Telegraph School of the Year trophies from DD Purkayastha, MD and CEO of ABP Group, at Science City auditorium on Saturday. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal and Arnab Mondal

Calcutta, Aug. 26: Green was the colour of the auditorium at Science City as hundreds of "saplings", the VIPs in uniforms, along with their nurturers - parents, teachers, principals.... - came together in the morning for The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2017, presented by IIHM, in association with Adamas University.

While the young ones inspired the audience with their stories of courage and resilience, it was the parents, to whom this year's awards were dedicated, who were applauded loud and clear for nurturing the movement, now 22 years old, to spread and grow.

"It all began when we planted a small sapling. We had no idea that 21 years later it would grow into a few trees, perhaps an orchard, that provides a little shade and some nourishment for the soul. And our message today for everyone here is start something with a simple, small step, to create, to plant your own sapling. You will be surprised by how many people will join you to nurture your sapling, and grow your little garden. Many gardens make an orchard, and many orchards make a forest. Many movements make a major one," said Barry O'Brien, the convener of The Telegraph School Awards, and a trustee of The Telegraph Education Foundation.

The first people on stage at the ceremony, which had environment as its theme, were two such nurturers who took the grief of losing their younger son and poured it into touching the lives of others. Sujata Datta and Gourisankar Datta, parents of Somak Datta, two-time Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage winner, have started the Somak Datta Endowment in memory of their son. "Physically Somak is not with us but his soul will be there amongst the people who would be benefited from this help. It was what Somak would have wanted," said Sujata.

The first recipient of the endowment was Vivekananda Shiksha Kendra in Howrah, which will be using it to buy a sanitary napkin vending machine. "There are very remote areas in our country where people are not aware of proper hygiene, and many girls can't afford sanitary napkins, so I am glad that this will help them access such a basic need," she added.

Eva Katherina Kleekamm is a mother to not one but 21 children, whose education she sponsors. The German lady from Munich, who came to Calcutta 17 years ago, is fighting cancer but has no plans of going back home, because her home is here with her children.

Kleekamm gave away some of The Surrendra Paul Memorial Awards for Courage to young individuals who showed incredible grit in the face of adversity - monetary, familial and medical.

Chandrasekhar and Sujata Roy also stood proud and tall on the Science City stage amidst thunderous applause. Their son Swarnendu met with an accident in October 2016 and, three days later, when the doctors declared him brain dead, the Roys signed documents to donate the organs of their only son. Now their son lives on through the people who received his kidneys, liver and eyes.

The Roys received an Abhirup Bhadra Memorial Thank You Baba-Maa certificate, which salutes such brave parents, and gave away courage awards to students like Adisha Mukherjee of St. John's Diocesan Girls' Higher Secondary School. The Class II student, who is suffering from a rare condition called Thrombocytopenia-Absent Radius Syndrome and also a heart condition, touched everyone with the spring in her step and her radiant smile as she danced to Dil hai chhota sa on stage.

Her dream? "I want to be an astronaut. I want to go to space," said the girl, thrilled with the auditorium-full of attention.

The Telegraph School Awards had a new category thanks to another set of parents who wanted their son to live on through what he loved most - music. Indrajit and Arunima Sinha, parents of Anirban, a talented Hindustani classical singer who passed away at the age of 19 in 1994, have instituted The Anirban Sinha Award for Outstanding Talent in Music to encourage youngsters "who despite the compulsions of their studies and academic pressure are dedicating themselves to music". This year the award was given to tabla player Subhadrakalyan Rana of A.K. Ghosh Memorial School.

"Parents don't need prizes, they don't need awards, but parents need to be recognised so that other parents feel good and come forward. We dedicate this year's awards to the parents who have lost their child and despite living with the grief and the loss are trying to spread happiness and joy," said Barry.

A packed auditorium cheered on students who won scholarships, teachers who dedicated their lives to teaching, all-rounders and sportsmen and women, but the loudest cheers were saved for the last, the announcement of The Telegraph School of The Year trophy joint winners Mahadevi Birla World Academy and South Point High School.


Schools from the remotest corners with little or no resources to those in Calcutta enjoying the best of facilities shared space at the 22nd edition of The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2017, presented by IIHM in association with Adamas University, on Saturday at the Science City auditorium. Barry O’Brien (picture above), convenor of The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence and a trustee of The Telegraph Education Foundation, conducted the awards ceremony.

Text by Jhinuk Mazumdar, Chandreyee Ghose and Samabrita Sen. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal and Arnab Mondal

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