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History of the Schools

St Joseph’s School, North Point

St Joseph’s School, North Point, Darjeeling, was established by the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal in 1888 at a place locally known as Sunny Bank in Darjeeling town. There were eighteen boarders and seven day scholars on the rolls. As numbers increased extensive property was procured by Fr Henri Depelchin, S.J., the founder, on the town limits at North Point. The laying of the foundation stone at North Point took place on April 27, 1890. Brother Eugene Rotsaert took care of the construction work and in December 1891 the building was declared fit to be occupied. Fr Depelchin blessed the new school on December 08, 1891.  Classes began for the first time at North Point on February 18, 1892.  By 1947, the year of independence, the number of students had increased to four hundred and twenty-two, including ninety-three university students.

Changes in the school department were dramatic. There was a steady increase in the numbers of day scholars, while more striking was the growing international character of the school. In 1954 there were twenty eight nationalities studying in the school and the college. In 1950, Fr Maurice Stanford, became the first Canadian Jesuit to be named Rector, succeeding a long line of Belgian Jesuits. In 1975 the school moved from the Senior Cambridge system to that of the ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education).

The vision of the school was and is to promote the total development of the individual by striving for excellence at the level of one’s potential. Every graduate of North Point is expected to become an agent of change, one who respects all cultures, languages, and religions and above all one who recognizes the unique image and likeness of the Creator in every individual. 

St Joseph’s School has 23.19 acres of land for expansion and development. In 2005 under Fr Kinley Tshering, the then Rector, the Our Lady of North Point Building and the Leo Forestell Primary School Building were completed, as well as the construction of the LD, PD and UD Pavilions. Also, under his direction, the new Auditorium has been completed, with a capacity of 1500 seats, as well as  a new housing colony for the teachers. 

According to the EW Survey of School, conducted by Education World Magazine, the school has been acknowledged as one of the best Boarding/Residential Schools in the Country. As of today (2014) the school has a student body of one thousand two hundred including five hundred boarders. The school celebrated 125 years of its existence in 2013, when on November 10, 2013, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India inaugurated the jubilee celebrations.

St Peter’s Higher Secondary School, Gayaganga

St Peter’s Primary School was established in 1933 at Gayaganga, Dist Darjeeling, by Fr August Bossaers S.J., a Belgian Missionary. The School was upgraded to high school in 1963 and to higher secondary in 1990.

Initially, the school was under the Diocese of Darjeeling but after the bifurcation of the Diocese on June 14, 1977, both the Primary and Secondary School came under the Diocese of Bagdogra. Thus the Founder Body of the School is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bagdogra, but the school is managed by the Jesuits of North Bengal.

St Peter’s School is situated in the midst of tea gardens and so it caters to the children of the those who work on those gardens.  It is a Christian Minority School under the Grant-in-Aid scheme of the Board of Secondary Education of West Bengal. The School is basically a boys’ school but in the Higher Secondary Section girls are admitted. The Higher Secondary Section has got all the three streams: Arts, Commerce, and Science. The number of students in the primary section is seven hundred and secondary section two thousand two hundred.

St Vincent’s School

St Vincent’s School, Hatighisa, was started by the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal under the care of Fr Joseph Brennan, S.J. in 1968 with around twenty students. The classes were conducted on the corridor of the Fathers’ residence and under the trees. Soon the number of students increased and a four-room school building was built in 1969-70 and a multi-purpose hall in 1973-74. In 1972 the school was upgraded to class 8. In 1978 Fr Anthony Milledge, S.J. built another wing for the Junior High School. The school got its first recognition as a 4-class Junior High School from the Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal, vide No. 1-SE(S) dt 1.1.2002 (No. S/Recog/2002/274 dt. 7/5/2002). In view of obtaining permission for starting classes 9 and 10, Fr Marcel Benedict put up a new sixteen-room building in 2003 and received the school’s recognition as a full-fledged Madhyamik school vide  Memo No. 1027-SE(S)/3S-13/2008 dt. 28.10.2009 (No. S/Recog/2009/126 dt. 20/11/2009) when Fr Sebastian Minj, S.J. was the headmaster. The primary section which was managed by the Daughters of the Cross from 2004 was handed back to the Jesuits in 2014.

The school campus is made of 19.13 acres of land for future expansion and development. The Rector of St Joseph’s College, North Point, Darjeeling, is the owner of the land. In fulfillment of the government requirements for recognition of the school, the Rector has transferred 3 acres of land to the school.

The School caters mostly to the tribal children from the neighboring tea gardens. There are 716 students in the Primary Section and 795 in the High School Section as on 31 August 2014. Efforts are being made to upgrade the school to Higher Secondary.

The School is supported by St Joseph’s School, North Point, Darjeeling, in meeting the deficit salaries of the staff. 

St Alphonsus School

Bro Botet, S.J. started St Alphonsus School on St Mary’s Hill, Kurseong, where the famous St Mary’s Theologate was located. In 1928, it became a Middle School and English was the medium of instruction. In 1933, it matured into a High School under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. In the year 1937, Fr Michael Wery, the Headmaster bought the famous Claredon Hotel at the present site. The first batch of eight students apprered for the Matriculation in 1937 and seven were successful. Fr Wery nurtured the school with tremendous love and care for the boys who still revere and love him. He did not have much money and had to really rely on divine providence to see the school through. The prayers of Fr Wery saw that the late Bishop Eric Benjamin, the first local Bishop of Darjeeling, would be from St Alphonsus.

In the 1960’s, Fr Abraham Murray, S.J. took charge of the school. He built a beautiful building with the cooperation of the students as their work education in 1967. The unique way of educating poor boys with dignity and pride for themselves was the poultry. School children were involved in running the poultry and the proceeds went into their education. The love of Fr Abraham for the poor is well known and the school continues to keep that spirit. 

As the school grew and times changed, Fr Kinley Tshering, S.J. was appointed Headmaster straight after his ordination at a time when the school was going through a critical period. In his tenure the school grew from seven hundred students to over one thousand seven hundred and now it is at one thousand nine hundred. He introduced the Higher Secondary Section and admitted girls in the science stream as they had no other place to go to in Kurseong. As the numbers grew, he got land and a building from the DGHC above Wery Niwas where the Primary is located today. Fr Edward Gurung, S.J. after Fr Kinley built a new Primary building on the same spot which is very well run now by the Apostolic Carmel Sisters who were brought in by Fr Gerard Van Walleghem, S.J.

When the school was established, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Darjeeling Diocese was the Founder Body. In 2011 as per the agreement between Bishop Stephen Lepcha, the Bishop of Darjeeling, and Fr Peter Pappu, the then Provincial of the Darjeeling Jesuit Province, the school was entrusted to the Society in perpetuity, thus transferring the rights of the founder body from the Bishop of Darjeeling to the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal. The school has 1.5806 acres of land for its expansion and future development and a separate building is under construction for the Higher Secondary.

Gandhi Ashram School

Gandhi Ashram School was established in 1992 by Fr Edward McGuire, S.J., under the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal, at the 6th Mile Bridge, Tashiding, in Kalimpong. The aim of the school was to give education through music to the rural poor, especially to the children of coolies who worked on repairs and road building. Concentration in music helps the children to perform better in class.

In 1993 Fr McGuire, S.J. started the classes in a small cottage like the ones that are dotted along the slopes of Kalimpong. A hall soon came up to practice music and finally the school building as it stands today. From morning to late in the evening music drifts through the hills. Students from here have performed in the four corners of the world and continue to delight everyone with their performances in and around Darjeeling.

The School is only up to Class VIII. After class VIII, while they continue to be an integral part of the Gandhi Ashram family, the students are sent to other well established schools in Kalimpong town where they continue their education and complete their board examinations in ICSE and ISC. The school depends on charity as they charge no fees. 

Fr McGuire, while listening to the radio, quietly passed away on August 15, 2005. Since then Fr Paul D’Souza has been continuing this noble mission with the same degree of enthusiasm and dedication. 

On account of extensive damages caused to the school building by landslides, Fr Paul has purchased 5.57 acres of land in Ngassey Busty for relocation of the school campus.  It is hoped the new campus will become fully operative by 2015.

Loyola School

Loyola School was established by the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal in 1998. It is the first Jesuit Mission in the Diocese of Jalpaiguri at Uttar Salbari. 

Most of the students are the First-Generation-Learners. Their parents did not have any opportunity of schooling. Most of the tribal children come from extremely poor families, where their parents work on the tea gardens. 

The first headmaster of the school in 1998 was Fr Peter Pappu. During his time the school was just a primary school. It was in 2009 when Fr Pramod Dabhi was the Headmaster, the school got its recognition up to Class VIII Vide No. S/Recogn/2009/42 dated 20.05.2009 and in 2011 up to Class X Vide No. S/Recogn/2011/25 dated 18.02.2011 under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. Today the number of students is 800.

The immediate needs of the school are additional classrooms and up-gradation of school to Class XI and XII. The School has 11.22 acres of land for its future expansion and development.

St Joseph’s School, Mungpoo

St. Joseph’s School was established in 2006 by the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal (DJNB), for the children of the labourers of cinchona plantation in Mungpo, 30 Kms east of Darjeeling town. Situated between 3500-4000 ft, Mungpo is well known for its cinchona and medicinal plant cultivation. This was a dream project of Late Fr. Van Wallengham SJ, a Canadian Missionary to Darjeeling Jesuit Mission, who came to India in 1951. He wanted to provide the same quality education provided by North Point School famous for its world class education in the Darjeeling district, to the poor children of the laborers of cinchona plantation in Mungpo. Initially, the North Point alumni helped with raising seed funds for the construction of the school. A school building was constructed with walls made of wood and bamboos leaving the rest of the construction incomplete. The first batch of twelve students appeared for their ICSE exams in March 2018 and every single one of them passed with flying colours. The school is an English Medium School with students coming from as far away as an hour’s drive.

Due to age and the hilly weather of extreme cold and winds of Darjeeling the bamboo walls and other wooden structures which were in a dilapidated condition and needed immediate attention. Fr John Wilfred Lobo, as soon as he took over the Province as the Provincial in January, dismantled the old dilapidated bamboo structure and now the school is receiving a face lift. A concrete school building is being constructed at Mungpoo. The new construction work began in February 2018.

Jisu Niketan School

Jisu Niketan School was started as a Temporary Health Home with about 50 children and their widowed mothers living around the old Siliguri Railway Station in 1974 at Jesu Ashram. Two young women were hired to teach them ABCs, singing and dancing. As time went on the children living on the riverside, especially the children of the stonebreakers and of Leprosy and Tuberculosis patients, were admitted. Terre des Hommes from Switzerland helped for many years to provide the children with food. Mr Claudio Romano of Switzerland carried on after them. Today the school is helped by the Phil Nevett Foundation, London, and the Jesuit Mission Office, Nurenburg.

In 1991 the school was shifted from the Health Home to the Chaprasi quarters, which were used as the living quarters for the male staff members of Jesu Ashram. In 1993 Fr Cherian Padiyara, the then Provincial, separated the school from Jesu Ashram and appointed Scholastic Shaji Joseph as the Head Teacher and Fr Mike Hawkins as the Headmaster. In the same year the school was officially named as Jisu Niketan Primary School.

In 1996 the RNDM (Our Lady of the Missions) sisters were requested to look after the school with Fr Mike Hawkins acting as the Animator. The sisters were relieved of this responsibility from the year 2013.

In the course of time as the number of students kept on increasing from 50 to 200, the chaprasi quarters could not accommodate all the students. Hence a one-storey building was put up in 2003 on the Matigara Property to replace the temporary building which had become rather dilapidated. The school is located at the Jesu Ashram Campus for better management and administration. Fr Marianus Kullu is the Headmaster of the school.

St Xavier’s School

St Xavier’s School, Uttar Panialguri, was in response to a long-standing plea of the people of the Terai and Jalpaiguri to have a good Catholic English Medium School in the area. Situated along the national highway 31C by-pass going to Assam, about 9 km from Alipurduar town, the School is a Co-educational Christian Institution established and administered by the Darjeeling Jesuits under the umbrella of Xavier Educational Society of North Bengal, a Government Registered Society.

The school was established in 2011 with just 5 students in pre-kindergarten under the headmastership of Fr Joseph P. Victor. Today the number has grown to 300 up to Class IV under the Headmastership of Fr Santy Mathew Padappananikel. The classes were held in a small shed from 2011 to 2013 when the first block of the main school building was under construction. With the completion of the first block, the classes were shifted to the new building in 2014.

The two aims of the school were: (i) to give the students from Bhutan, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar, the facility to get quality education in English; (ii) to educate the poor children especially the Rajbansis and the Tribals who otherwise would not go to any school in the neighborhood. The strategy for achieving these aims was to have two shifts: (i) the Morning shift for students seeking English Education and (ii) the afternoon shift for students who cannot afford to go to any school.

The school has 7.2 acres of land for its future expansion and development. The immediate plans are: (i) construction of a school hostel for boys and girls; and (iii) development of sports facilities.


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