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Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

175 Years Of Lawrence School, Sanawar: With parade, prizes, students, alumni & parents conclude celebrations

The school retains its old world charm with occasional colonial reminders like the bust of infamous Major Hodson, but the character is decidedly Indian now.

Students of Lawrence School Sanawar participating in march past on Tuesday. (Express Photo by Man Aman Singh Chhina)

The crisp morning air, heralding the imminent onset of winter, on the hilltop on which Lawrence School, Sanawar, is situated added to the excitement of the students, alumni, parents and faculty members of Sanawar, who have gathered to mark the final events in the 175th founders day celebrations of the school on Tuesday.

The school has come a long way since 1846, when Henry Lawrence envisaged an asylum for orphans and other needy children of British Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers serving in India. Around 175 years later, the school retains its old world charm with occasional colonial reminders like the bust of infamous Major Hodson, but the character is decidedly Indian now. The King’s Colours parade has been replaced by the Colours of the School, and the Tricolour flies high at the school ground which is named after a 1971 war hero and student, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, Param Vir Chakra (Posthumous) and serves as the parade ground now.

Tuesday’s ceremony began with wreaths being laid at the statue of Khetarpal in the stadium marking a tribute to all old students who have died in line of duty. The national archives of India reveal documents from the Adjutant General’s branch of the Army HQs and trace the original charter of the school to its present state after Independence. The correspondence between the various headmasters and principals of the school, then known as Lawrence Military Asylum and later as Lawrence Royal Military School, with the Army reveal how paper battles were fought to ensure adequate financial funding for the school. Such was the paucity of funds, that one document dating back to October 1869 reveals that the proposal to increase the salaries of headmasters of boys’ and girls’ schools at Sanawar to Rs 500 and Rs 400 per month, respectively with an increase of Rs 50 per year for five years, was turned down by the Governor General of India “with regrets”.

Documents also show that the endowment left by Henry Lawrence to the school amounted to Rs 20,000 and with other contributions over the years it stood at Rs 30,500 in the year 1918.

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Back to now, the school is seeing construction activity in the campus for nearly Rs 150 crore in the shape of buildings for girl students and other projects.

The past two days have seen various activities being held in connections with the 175th anniversary, including athletics meet, tattoo making, amateur dramatics, old Sanawarians dinner and release of postage stamp and first day cover.

Tuesday witness a march past and trooping of the flag drill by the school boys and girls, who were trained by Army Instructors from nearby 14 Gorkha Training Centre in Subathu.

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The Chief Guest of the event was Punit Renjen, Global Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte, a Sanawarian of the 1979 batch.

The parade was commanded by Adityaveer Singh Chandel while Krishjeet Singh was the Flag Ensign. Jai Singh Cheema was the Band Leader with the band showing its adeptness by playing tunes like Sam Bahadur, May Blossom, Swanee River, Colonel Bogey and Saare Jahan Se Achha among others. Old Sanawarians of various batches, from ripe old 1956 to new vintage 2022, also marched past the Chief Guest.

The parade was followed by the prize distribution ceremony in which 20 people were felicitated for outstanding achievements from all walks of life. The Chief of Army Staff’s cup for Best Cadet for the year 2021-22 went to Nihal Singh Sidhu while Neeli Sharma trophy and cash award for performing arts went to Kahkashan Sehgal.

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Harshita Verma won the Thimayya Cup for organisational ability and Barkha was awarded Jajodia award for dedication to community service. The Teachers’ Excellence Award for outstanding Class 12 examination was given to Davesh Chandra Verma. As the days’ events progressed on the parade ground, numerous old students could be seen standing next to Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal’s statue and getting their photos clicked. A fitting reminder on the 175th anniversary that while the school may be named after a colonial personality, it’s heroes are very much Indian.

First published on: 05-10-2022 at 07:36:27 am
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