Travelling down the memory lane, the story of Holy Cross Senior Secondary School, Pension Bada comes alive in this spectacular yearwhen it has journeyed through its initial beginning way back in 1963-64 till date (2013-14). The highlights of the growing stages are worth recalling. The pains and the groans to give birth to an educational institution are unforgettable yet tangible memories, which as a matter of fact have formed the firm foundation.

The congregation originated, in India in the year 1886 at Amravati, a small town situated in the present day Vidarbha Region, Maharashtra State, by the Sisters of the Cross of ‘Chavanod’ (one of the communes in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. A commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to townships or incorporated municipalities or Parish in terms of the Church). The French Sisters filled with zeal started their first school in this poverty ridden district of Maharashtra which was a Marathi medium school that exist even today.The French Sisters then, even while trying to learn the Marathi Language from the local Pundits (educated Brahmans) thought of simultaneously educating the poor and the downtrodden, especially the girl child being highly oppressed in the society then had attracted their attention. The first few Convents thus spread out in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the southern region of India. However Madhya Pradesh was never thought about by the Sisters of the Cross during the initial days of the setting up of and spreading theirCongregation in India. The congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod have their presence in countries, starting from France since 1838 to other countries like Switzerland(since 1862),India(since 1886), Sri Lanka(since 1951), Congo (since 1958), Tanzania(since 1979), Nepal(since 1985), Israel(since 1986), Cameroon(since 1987), Peru(since 1989), Romania(since 1992), Colombia(since 1996), Kenya (since 2000), United States (since 2002), Ecuador(since 2006)and Uganda (since 2006).

In the early fifties, there was an awakening of the church in Madhya Pradesh. The PallontineFathers (Priests) were entrusted with the mission of developing the church in this part of the country by the ‘Holy See’ which is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome. The Pallontine Fathers therefore sought the aid of sister congregations to help them in opening Health Centres, Social Centres, Hostels, Boardings and Schools. In such of their endeavours, the invitation by the then Apostolic Administrator Msgr. John Weidner to the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod, at Amravati came like a bolt from the blue. The superiors then, in the ‘Sisters of the Cross’ at Amravati had not even dreamt of expanding their congregation anywhere in Madhya Pradesh and especially in a very small town of Raipur, as it was in those days. Nevertheless reciprocating to the invitation of Msgr. John Weidner, in 1954 a comity of 3 Sisters of the Cross from Amravati were assigned the responsibility of helping the Pallontine Fathers to establish a Boy’s School, adjacent to the St. Joseph’s Church, Byron Bazar, Raipur which is the present day Holy Cross Byron Bazar School.

When the Holy Cross Boy’s School at Byron Bazar, Raipur was imparting education to the boys, the Sisters who had been teaching there, felt it imperative to start a School under the aegis and management of the Sisters of the Cross, exclusively for the girls.Encouraged by the Pallontine Fathers and the Apostolic Administrators Msgr. Weidner and Msgr. Hunold, the Sisters in the administration in due course spotted a piece of land in Pension Bada Raipur in the year 1961 that was scattered with heaps of coal and other junk, trash etc., belonging to a Coal trader named Mr.Farishtawho had been using it as his stock yard. Eventually, the said land was purchased and the ownership deeds etc. got finalised in the year 1963. The Sisters of the Cross from the Byron Bazar premises moved to the Pension Bada premises in 1963 and thus was laid the foundation of this School which is known today as the Holy Cross Senior Secondary School, Pension Bada. The School actually started with a three room structure built using bricks and mud where the pre-primary classes were taken by the Sisters. A boundary wall around the premises also came up much later following several theft attempts by miscreants in those days. No words could express the pain, the physical labour and the suffering which the Sisters initially faced in giving birth to this institution which, to say the least, includes the activities of door-to-door selling of hand stitched Pillow Covers, Handkerchiefs, Table covers etc., undertaken to raise the funds for the development of the infrastructure. The School Building as it stands today owes its genesis to such efforts of many blessed souls who shall never be forgotten however if a peek were to be given into the evolution of this institution, the efforts of the initial Sisters of the Cross is deeply inspiring. Sisters while moving into the small town of Raipur then selling kerchiefs, Pillow Covers and Bandanas etc. had been consciously contacting families having small children and were thereupon creating an awareness among them about the need of educating the girl child so also the importance of the knowledge of English that was being imparted from a then newly started English medium Girls School. Groups of Sisters, Teachers and several other well-wishers also helped in collecting the funds, bit by bit, and gradually the infrastructure of the school started taking shape.

It would be pertinent to give here a brief recollection of the significant chronological events in this institution that also brings to the fore the evolution of the Holy Cross Senior Secondary School, Pension Bada, Raipur.

Initially the School had started in the year 1963 with only pre-primary classes for girls. However in the year 1971 Sister Wilfrid Mary, the then principal, came up with the idea of opening the Nursery section. The School was affiliated to the Madhya Pradesh Education Board and the first Batch of the then Higher Secondary Class XI students appeared for their Board Examination in the year 1974. Sister Wilfrid Mary met with a road accident on 26th September 1976 that eventually left her incapacitated due to serious head injuries. Thus from October 1976 to 30th June 1982, Sister Angelica was the Principal of the School. During this phase, financial constraints and hardships led the management of the School to accede to the demand of a co-education school and boys were also given admission. (During the same period, the Holy Cross Boys School, Byron Bazar, Raipur although then managed without the assistance of the Sisters of the Cross, also diversified to a Co-ed School and girls were given admission). Despite Holy Cross, Pension Bada having been diversified from a girl’s school to a co-ed School, the hallmark of the management continued to be that of moulding the character of the students through value based education. It had its vision, mission and goal, all well spelt out, trickling down to the very fibre of the institution. The School carved a niche for itself and eventually it achieved the status of being one of the leading English medium Schools in the erstwhile state of Madhya Pradesh. On 1st of July 1982, Sister Phillipine held the fort as the Principal of the School. Admissions in the School swelled up and with that the infrastructure was also upgraded. The School now possessed well-furnished Laboratories and a literarily rich Library. The new Primary school building with the School Auditorium came in to being under the able supervision of Sister Pushpica who was the architect of this newly extended wing. On 1st July 1985 Sister Cynthia was appointed as the Principal who remained in service till 30th June 1994. From 1st of July 1994 Sister Sarita took the reins of the School and several renovations and maintenance activities of the School building and the premises was undertaken like the changing of the Class room Tiles, repairs and maintenance of the furniture, painting of the School building, water proofing of the old School building terraces development of the School Playground and the erection of a new Cycle Stand. In 1995, the management decided to convert the School back into a girls school in a phased manner and it was decided that boys would no longer be given admission so as to eventually make it into an exclusive school for girls. In 1997 with Sister Sarita, having been given a different yearlong assignment by the management, Sister Nita Fernandes was appointed Principal for a short period from 1st July 1997 to 30th June 1998. On 1st July 1998, Sister Sarita returned back as Principal of the School and continued to oversee the infrastructural advancements required for the School which led to the development of a new façade for the School with a well-developed entrance and a public friendly Fee Counter. With the formation of the new State of Chhattisgarh on 1st November 2000, the affiliation of the School was migrated to the Chhattisgarh State Board of Secondary Education in 1st December 2000. Meanwhile on 25th November 2000, the Chhattisgarh State Government also appointed Sister Sarita as one of the members of the Board and the School was privileged to be given this honour. The last batch of the boys of the erstwhile co-ed schooling system passed out of the School in the year 2007-08 and thereafter the School achieved its original Girls school status.

The same year also witnessed the introduction of the Commerce faculty and the commencement of Commerce studies with the first batch of Commerce Students passing out of the School in 2009. Also in the same year, after undertaking a referendum exercise with the parents in the school premises, the management on the basis of a majority option, decided to switch the School’s affiliation from the Chhattisgarh State Government Board to the Central Board of Secondary Education. Accordingly, Sister Jolly, the Manager and Vice President of the Raipur Crucelian Society was chiefly instrumental in the creation of the new extension wing of the School that encompassed a well-equipped Computer Laboratory, a Library and six classrooms that eventually helped in bestowing the School with a Secondary affiliation in the year 2010 by the CBSE, New Delhi which was later on upgraded to Senior Secondary Status in the year 2012. The Biology and the Chemistry Laboratories were also renovated to meet the requirements of CBSE. Further due to persistent seepage problems in the old building terrace, the erection of a sloping Steel roof based on Steel rafters and trusses over the old concrete terrace with constructive use of the covered space within, was undertaken which got completed in March 2012. Thus a new IP Laboratory, an activity room, a huge store room, a comprehensive science laboratory and 2 Commerce classrooms have come into existence. This expansion was appropriately named as the new Jubilee Wing of the School in the wake of the Golden Jubilee year 2014.

Thus the institution although has undergone turbulent times, it stood for its spiritual heritage with a value based education catering to the needs of the masses irrespective of caste and creed. New admissions in the higher classes had been kept at minimum to achieve the ideal teacher-student ratio in line with the norms formulated by the CBSE. The staff has also played a vital role in moulding the students- the ‘Girl child’- and preparing them to be enlightened and face the challenges of the future.

Last but not the least, all efforts of the past as also of the future in the evolution of this institution is incomplete without the grace of the ALMIGHTY, who has given to this institution more than that had been prayed for. The institution has therefore definitely made an impact on our modern Society and is reason for innumerable students, present and of the yesteryears, to be proud of.



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