Friday, May 15, 2015

Reminiscences of a Past President of Sishya PTA

In June this year (2012) my umbilical chord with Sishya as the longest surviving Sishya Parent/ Grandparent was cut when my eldest daughter Kavita decided to take my grand children out of the school for some practical reasons. It was a 34 year old association with the school. My eldest daughter Kavita was admitted to the LKG class in Sishya in 1978, followed by her sister Sowmya in 1980 and my son Balaji in 1986. Before all of them passed out of the school, my brother Seshadri’s son and daughter had joined the school and before they passed out my grandson Arul joined the school in 2001 and his sister Nila in 2007!

During those long years, it was inevitable that I got roped into helping the Sishya PTA, an active body which was supporting  the school in adding many new facilities. It was Sangeeth Chopra, one of the earliest Past Presidents of the PTA who roped me into PTA to help in conceptualizing and executing a fund raising programme called EXPOSISH 88 – an ambitious exhibition cum fun activity to raise funds for an auditorium which the school badly needed. With Mrs. Sunita Shahani as Chairman of the organizing committee, and Shiela Sriparakash as the designer, the team consisting of the stalwarts of the PTA got into action and pulled off a great show held on the play grounds of the School. The event recieved total support from Mr.K (Kit) Thomas, the Founder of Sishya..

Apart from helping the PTA nett Rs.5 lakhs, a princely sum those days, EXPOSISH 88 also brought me close to Mr. Thomas– a great educationist and a wonderful leader who commanded high respect from both parents and students.

After the event he persuaded me to join the Sishya PTA Executive Committee. Even then Sishya PTA was dominated only by ladies. Mr. S.Subramanian of RGN Price & Co. and I were the only male members in the committee.  I took over as Treasurer of the PTA, a post then jointly held by Mr. N Murali of the Hindu Group and Mr. N Venkatramani of India Pistons.

Mr. Thomas persuaded me to become the first `male gender’ President (as Thomas called me then) of Sishya PTA for the year 1992-93. I still have the unique distinction of being the only `male gender` Past President of Sishya PTA, as no other male parent became President of Sishya PTA since then.

The enterprising mothers of Sishya kids, have been doing a great job of running the Association with aplomb. Unlike many other schools, Sishya PTA has always been and continues to work closely with the School management in providing facilities. With funds raised from the annual Sishya Fete which has become popular not only with Sishya families but even with other schools as it is now a  glittering event with sponsorships galore! At the last FETE held in June this year (2012) the  PTA raised an impressive amount of Rs 15,80,000.  When the PTA raised Rs.1 lakh during my year as President in 92-93, I thought we had created a record. Obviously, Sishya PTA has come a long way since then

What was my contribution to Sishya PTA? It was an informal body, where I tried to introduce some professionalism. When I became the Treasurer, for the first time since inception of PTA we presented audited accounts at the AGM. I introduced the concept of a `Fete Convenor` during my year as the President, a job done by a team of parents, ably lead by Past Presidents like Leela Sasidharan and Sangeeth  Chopra. I remember Mrs Antia was the first designated FETE Convenor of Sishya PTA. As an advertising man, I also helped Sishya bring out its first professionally designed school brochure. In 2002 I produced the first video film on the school- with my son wielding the megaphone as the Director and my daughter Kavita writing the script.

In fact, in the last known video interview I had with Mr. Thomas, a few weeks before he passed away he shared with me his dreams for the School. In his slow inimitable style he spoke  about letting the classrooms of Sishya be used for teaching underprivileged children in the neighbourhood, in the evenings! A concept which has been integrated into the new Right To Education Act (RTE) by the Govt. of India, making it compulsory for every  school to reserve some seats for the underprivileged children in its neighbourhood. I have fond memories of many conversations with Mr.Thomas when he used to expound on his ideas on school education and how students should be trained to become confident individuals who can face any situations and succeed in life.

I now have the privilege of enjoying the friendship and respect of Dr Salim Thomas, the present Correspondent of the school, who ensures that all Past Presidents of Sishya PTA ,without fail,  receive invitations to all important events of the school. This gives me an opportunity to meet many old friends made during my active Sishya PTA days

 The activities of the PTA not only provide an opportunity for the parents to make new friends but also cement old relationship, apart from the feeling that you are contributing your mite to the growth of the school. I thoroughly enjoyed my association with the Sishya PTA and even today carry happy memories of the association! I wish the PTA all the very best and convey my Greetings to the school on completing 40 years, and hope the young mothers running the PTA continue to work closely with the Management so that the students, their own children, reap the benefits!

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