Kalimpong, March 2: The Scottish Universities’ Mission Institution, one of the oldest schools in the Darjeeling district, will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a three-day event starting on March 10.
The school, which was started by the Scottish missionaries in 1886, has catered for the educational needs of not only the students from the hills, but also from neighbouring Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal.
During the programme that will end on March 12, hundreds of Sumians, the members of the school alumni, are expected to gather to reminisce and thank the institution for stoking the flame of learning in them.
Principal of SUMI, Nava Ratna Pradhan, said the celebrations would begin on March 10 with a candlelight service and a prayer for the Sumians and the teachers who had departed.
“A special prayer for the school will also be held at the Mac Farlane Church in the morning of May 11,” he said.
The church in Kalimpong is incidentally named after the founder of the school William Mac Farlane.
The students of the school will put up cultural programmes during the event in which other institutions of the town and the members of the alumni will also take part.
SUMI was set up with funds from the Scottish Universities Mission Association, an association of four Scottish universities under the guidance of the Church of Scotland.
The institution started functioning as a training school for teachers and catechists on April 19, 1886 with 12 students.
“The student strength now is about 2,500. We have classes from the primary level to Class XII. We are the only school in the hills to offer agriculture as a vocational subject in higher secondary,” said the principal.
According to him, the school had very little time to prepare for the celebrations because of the political situation in the Darjeeling hills.
“We started our preparation about a week back after receiving an assurance from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president (Bimal Gurung) that our celebrations will be exempted in the event of a strike,” said Pradhan.
Tshering Tamang, a senior teacher of the institution, said the school was planning to organise many more programmes during the year. “We will organise more events in June, August and November. However, the programmes are to be firmed up. We will also be honouring the past and present teachers during the three-day event,” he said.