The Founding of the School
This educational institution, started in 1810 as an elementary school, is one of the oldest in Kolkata. It was attached to the Church of Our Lady of Dolours at Baithakkhana, Sealdah.
In 1855 the school came to be known as St. John Chrysostom’s School in honour of the Archbishop Primate of Goa who visited it. It sent up students for the Lower Primary Examination.In 1902 St. Ann’s Orphanage was inaugurated. It incorporated the already existing school and got recognized as an Upper Primary School. Although Bengali was the medium of instruction great attention was paid to the teaching of English.From 1913 boys were trained for the Junior Cambridge Course. English became the medium of instruction. In 1920 the school was accorded recognition as a High School by the University of Calcutta. The first batch of students for the Matriculation Examination was sent up in 1922. Fr. Lawrence Rodriques S.J took charge of St. John Chrysostom High School at 126, Bow Bazar Street in the early 1930’s. It was a boarding and a day school. The place was very congested. There was no playground. The ground floor of the school building was occupied by a printing press. On the first floor were the classrooms and on the second floor, the boarding.
Fr. Lawrence felt the need for developing and expanding the school. So he began to look for a better place and found a plot of land in Ballygunge, belonging to St. Xavier’s College, on sale. With the permission of the Archbishop of Calcutta he bought this land with the money he gathered by organizing raffle on Sundays.
On a crisp winter morning of January 1937, St. Chrysostom School was shifted from Baithakkhana to Ballygunge Circular Road and rechristened St. Lawrence High School. As the first group of teachers and students entered the compound of this newly built school they could not but be overawed by the sheer size of the new school building, the beautiful flower garden, the large play ground and the imposing row of tall eucalyptus trees along Ritchie Road. The School in its new location got a new patron “St. LAWRENCE” and a new motto “LIKE GOLD IN A FURNACE” which was changed to ‘‘For God and Country’’.
Fr. August Cordeiro, S.J. took over the administration of the School with a new title, Rector-cum-Headmaster. In January 1953 a new Jesuit residence came up in line with the school building. In 1958 another block on the Western corner of the property was erected by Fr. A. Wautier S.J. to accommodate the Primary Section. The school was upgraded to class XI, Higher Secondary, in the same year.
The process of consolidation in academic and other fields was continued and extended during the time of Fr. T. Richir, S.J. who also introduced the NCC Air wing, designed the school uniform and initiated the annual school concert. Following the adoption of the 10+2 pattern of education St. Lawrence High School opened the Higher Secondary Department in July, 1976, recognized by the West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education with Science and Commerce streams. A novel feature was the opening of a Bengali stream in Commerce and a Bengali section from class I to 10 in the Primary and Secondary sections in 1980.
Earlier, to respond to the increasing space requirements, the Boarding section (which for many years occupied the top floor of the school building) was relocated in 1981, to an entirely new complex erected on the site of the old swimming pool. The school chapel was also shifted to the hostel building. In 1984 the school library cum reading room known as Rabindra Granthagar was inaugurated. In 1986 a computer room was opened to provide computer literacy to students. In 2014 Wavreil Hall was inaugurated for conference and meetings.
Many are the towering personalities whose tireless labours, selfless dedication and single minded devotion nurtured the school and contributed to its growth. Over the years number of successive Jesuit Principals contributed to the growth of St. Lawrence to mention a few are Fr. Aloysious Carvalho, SJ, Fr. Andre Bruylants, SJ, Fr. Adrien Wavreil, SJ, Fr. Anil Mitra, SJ, Fr. Sebastain Nallail, SJ, Fr. Kurian Emprayil, SJ.
St. Lawrence High School as an educational institution acknowledges the significance of values in shaping the character of a child. Ever since its inception, the institution has spared no effort to cater to the upliftment of the poorer sections of society irrespective of caste, creed or social status. St. Lawrence High School makes a special effort to promote unity in diversity and try to instil in every student a sense of justice and service of the less fortunate. The institution is proud of its alumni, St. Lawrence Old Boys Association (SLOBA), which runs a charitable dispensary and involves itself in various projects of the School heralding the Jesuit motto ‘‘Persons for and with others’’.