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140 years on, St Xavier’s school keeps history alive

A school might seem like an unlikely place to house a museum.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2010 12:38 AM IST

A school might seem like an unlikely place to house a museum. But in St Xavier’s High School in South Mumbai, the four-storey of the heritage building have some fine taxidermy specimens.

From bats to whale bones, at the school, which completes its 140th year in 2010, history echoes out of every cranny and corridor of the school at Dhobi Talao.

The flora and fauna specimens were collected over time by one of the school’s teachers, Brother Navarro, an avid naturalist.

With its Gothic arches and wooden floorboards, the government-aided school also boasts a splendid heritage structure. But over the years it has been bleeding as an institution.

“To regain our glory we need to get out of the trap of government aid,” said principal Father Baptist Pinto, referring to the debilitating lack of funds that means infrastructure development is a problem.

The school’s affiliation to the SSC board is also a reason for the ebb in its popularity, and the school is considering shifting to the ICSE board, he added.

St Xavier’s alumni list is a veritable gallery of who’s who from Adi Godrej who topped his batch in 1957 to Sunil Gavaskar who honed his batting chops on the school’s grounds. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, also an old boy, will be the chief guest at the school’s alumni dinner next month.

St Xavier’s College, next door, originally started out on the school’s premises before moving down the road, and continues to hog the limelight, though both institutions are run by the same trust.

The alumni are, however a determined lot. They are keen to resuscitate the school through financial involvement.

“I loved every minute of the six years I spent here,” said Ladislaus Pereira, as he recalled bunking school to watch movies at nearby Metro theatre.

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