Celebrations take alumnae back to joyous schooldays | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 02, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 02, 2008

100 Years of Dr Khastagir Girls High School

Celebrations take alumnae back to joyous schooldays

(Left) Former students release balloons while (right) former adviser to a caretaker government Dr Sufia Rahman, third from right, cuts a cake at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day long anniversary celebration of Dr Khastagir Girls High School. (From right) Women's rights leader Dr Maleka Begum, former student and headmistress Badrunessa Begum and headmistress Hasmat Jahan, extreme left, are also seen.Photo: STAR

The two-day long colourful programme marking the 100th founding anniversary of Dr Khastagir Girls High School, the first high school for the girls in Chittagong, offered scopes for several generations to share their old memories.
The celebration that ended on Saturday amid enthusiasm and festivity will surely be a treasured one in store for hundreds of former and present students in the days to come when they chuckle at their favourite pastime the sweet memories of the two-day reunion.
While roaming on the campus, after long time, the former students became highly nostalgic and swayed into emotion as memories of schooldays began pouring down their minds.
“I wish I could have been young again, if I had the power of reducing my age. If only I could get back my golden childhood; if only I could become a student of this school again,” said an emotional 80-year-old Badrunnesa Begum, a former student and also the former headmistress of the school.
Badrunnesa, who admitted to Khastagir School in 1937 after studying at Sakhawat Memorial School in Kalkata, was surprised to see the beauty of the two-storied school building on her first day at the school.
Surama Chowdhury, president of Shatabarsha Udjapan Committee and also daughter of Badrunnesa, passed the matriculation in 1963 from the school while Surama's daughter Faiza studied at the school too.
Like Badrunnesa, around 2,000 former students and several present students joined the celebration. They participated in different vibrant sessions chalked out by the organisers.
Former students of all ages couldn't suppress their emotion when they meet their classmates or school friends.
The campus wore festive look when joyous former students were singing and dancing non-stop, griping firmly and warmly each other's hand forgetting the difference of age, participating in debates and joining reminiscences in popular 'Adda'.
A sense of pride also was evident in their faces for being a part of this proud institution that bear a glorious history and academic success to produce hundreds of scholars in a century.
Dr Tahmina Banu, head of the Paediatric Surgery department of Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), said, “I'm short of words to express my joy of meeting my classmates as the event has given us such a rare opportunity.”
Dr Sufia Rahman, former adviser to a caretaker government and a former student, said no memory of her life is as sweeter as that of Khastagir campus over four decades ago.
“The memory still inspires and helps me to proceed in life,” she said.
Dr Annadacharan Khastagir, a leader of the then Brahmma Movement and a progressive person who made his four daughters highly educated in English, established a vernacular medium school at Jamal Khan Road in the port city in 1878.
Eminent lawyer of then British colonial era Jatra Mohan Sen (widely known as JM Sen), who married Binodini, third daughter of Dr Khastagir, made the school exclusively for girls in 1907 and renamed it as Dr Khastagir Girls School in memory of his wife and father-in-law after Binodini died in 1906.
Later, the school through the annals of history earned name, fame and respect for its academic excellence, extra-curricular activities and development of girls' education as well.
JM Sen donated seven acres of land and a building to upgrade the school into a high English school, which was later acquired by the government and named as 'Dr Khastagir's Govt High English School For Girls'. Sushila Sen Gupta was the first headmistress.
Since its journey with only three students named Anna Sen, Prem Kusum and Juni, the school produced hundreds of scholars during the last 100 years.
Revolutionaries of British era Bir Kanya Pritilata Waddedar, Kalpana Datta (Joshi) and Nibedita Nag, Language Movement veteran Joushan Ara Rahman (wife of Language Movement veteran late Mahbub Ul Alam Chowdhury), litterateur Moitri Devi (famed for “No Honnotey”), writer Umar Tul Fazal, Fahmida Amin, sculptor Novera Ahmad, politician Ivy Rahman are also former students of the school.
“The school earned fame in British and Pakistan periods for its strict administration, quality education and cultural or other co-curricular activities and still it is the leading girls high school in the port city,” said Mahmuda Khanam, a former student.
Eleven former students were honoured for their achievements in different fields at a reception on the second day with former headmistress Suraiya Akhter in the chair.
They are former adviser to the caretaker government Dr Sufia Rahman, former headmistress Badrunnesa Begum, country's first female Brigadier General Dr Suraiya Rahman, Dr Fatema Nargis Chowdhury, Principal Nilufar Jahur, Taleya Rehman, Dr Rafia Rahman, Prof Nilufar Huda, Suraiya Jannat, Sakeba Ali and Ekushey Padak recipient Prativa Mutsuddi.
All the dazzling lights were switched off and around 2,000 candles started lighting gradually on the campus on Saturday night to ring a bell of ending the celebration with the participating students, teachers and guests chorusing Tagore's 'Purano Sei Diner Kotha'.

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