It gives me immense pleasure to address this gathering here today. Standing here amidst the present day students of the school brings back a flood of happy memories. To all you Lady Irwinites, congratulations for being part of a heritage — which has seen the turn of times from the year when it was set up in 1935. It has stood the test of times and withstood many a storm in its 71 years of existence. Our family has been with the school for three generations — my mother was a Chemistry teacher in the school, I passed out from here and then my daughter in the year 1979.
My gray mane is testimony to the fact that I was a part of this heritage several decades ago. Yes, I left the school in 1951. The year of my joining was an important year in the history of the country and my life — the year 1947. India won her freedom and became a part of the free world and I joined the most prestigious girls’ school of our time and became a part of an institution. Yes my young friends, it was a matter of pride and honour to be in an institution which even half a century ago believed in holistic approach to learning. The students in Lady Irwin were trained in the body, mind and the soul in the true sense of these words — regular P.T. classes and games for physical fitness, excellent academic development for the mind and enrichment of the soul through the value system inculcated in us by our teachers.
In the world of education, Howard Gardiner is a name to contend with in the recent years. He extols the virtue of classrooms which take in the multiple intelligence of its students — verbal, bodily kinaesthetic (physical), visual-spatial, mathematico-logical, musical, interpersonal, natural and intrapersonal (philosophical). The Principals and teachers trained and honed all these intelligences in the students of Lady Irwin through the inter-house competitions in music, drama, debates, sports and the P.T. show. All this is evidence to prove that the school management was well versed with educational technology and pedagogy to give the school the edge it had over most schools of its time. Hence the alumnae of the school includes college professors such as Bharati Sarkar, Bani Roy and me, Pratibha Jolly, Principal of Miranda House, lawyers such as Justice Geeta Mittal, architects such as Manjari Gupta, to name just a few and teachers, medicos and professionals in different fields.
I don’t want to dwell too long in the past for someone has rightly said that ‘the past should be like a springboard and not a sofa’. So may the past of Lady Irwin be a springboard to the present of the school. And it is to this end that the Lady Irwin School Alumni Association was registered a year ago. As the President of LISA, I would like to thank the Governing Body, the Management Committee and the PTA of the school for the fine job that they are doing and would enlist their support in improving the facilities of the school — infrastructural and academic. LISA pledges its energy and resources to the betterment of the school — it has already provided two water coolers, a photocopier and a fax machine, renovated the gymnasium and commits to providing teacher training workshops for teacher development and extra classes for the secondary and the senior secondary students. The first teacher training workshop was conducted last week in the junior school by one of our alumna.
Let me not keep you from the cultural evening that is ready to unfold before you. We begin with a song by a few alumnae followed by a song and dance recital by the students of the school and finally the draw of the evening — an odissi performance by danseuse Padmashree Madhavi Mudgal who is also our alumna. So here’s to an evening of audio-visual extravaganza.