One hundred and three years ago on the 3rd June, 1913, the auspicious birthday of King George V enamored the inauguration of the school of St. Mary’s by Lady Earl, wife of the British Commissioner, Sir Archdale Earl. The classrooms were ceremoniously opened with the silver key kept on a velvet cushion. The glamour of the event was enhanced by the solemn blessing of Reverend Father Chrysostom SDS.
Walking down memory lane of the School, one hundred and one years ago, during the First Great World War, touched by the gentle dew of divine inspiration, valiant RNDMs from the plain of Chittagong, East Bengal under the leadership of the Vicar General, M.M. of the Eucharistie (Marie Palatin, French) crystallized the SOS call to ascend the Khasi Hills of Assam. The first RNDM pioneers were M.M. Jesus Adolescent, (Isabelle Hewson, NZ), M.M. St. Bertille (Annie Murphy NZ), Sr. M. St. Dionysius (Constance Mill NZ), Sr. M. Ste. Erestine (Louise Marmy, French) and a young girl, Mary Bernard.
Initially, their coming was to be a temporary replacement to take care of the orphanages and the schools started by the Salvatorian Sisters of German origin
Gradually, the school like an insignificant rivulet has imperceptibly meandered through tumultuously rivers of trials and discouragement. The intrepid daughters of the Venerated Euphrasie Barbier, however, left no stone unturned to empower the students of the entire North East Region. In fact, they were ignited by their preferential option for the first generation tribal learners. Their language of love and dedication won the hearts of one and all irrespective of age, race and creed.
The children especially the orphans were so conversant with concerts and cultural activities that whenever Church and Governments dignitaries visited the School they mesmerized by their immaculate stage performance.
In June, 1917, Sir Archdale and the Director of Public Instruction of Schools, Mr. Cunningham were satisfied with the progress of the School and had nothing but appreciation for the work of the Sisters.
When the new Governor of Assam, Sir William Morris visited the school on 4th October 1921 he handsomely contributed Rs 200 towards the welfare of the legendary multi-ministries – the St. Anne’s Workroom, the Orphanage, the Hostel and the Dispensary all rolled in one. In the same year, His Grace, the Archbishop of Calcutta visited the School and was very appreciative on the advancement of the School and the yeomen service of the Sisters.
Till 1927, the venue of St. Mary’s School was across the road where the present Don Bosco Technical School stands. The Salesian Fathers who came to work in Assam in 1922 needed the entire Lum Tyngkong for their expansive workshops. This necessitated that RNDMs vacate the school and residence. The shift to the new venue, Merryville took place in February, 1928. In the mean time, the school was simultaneously upgraded to an ME (Middle English) level.
The additional property at Meryville auctioned in 1934 became the venue for the much needed land to construct the new spacious building which can accommodate both the ME and the Matriculation. St. Mary’s School started processing for affiliation to the Calcutta University in 1935. When the Gauhati University was carved out in 1948, the School was automatically being affiliated to it. Prior to 1934, children who could afford joined the Mawkhar Welsh Mission High School established in 1890 approximately.
The present system of affiliation to the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE) started with the advent of the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) in 1973-74.
In the days of yore, the comprehensive syllabus of the School included athletic, singing, music, dancing and vocational lines. On many occasions, the excellent performance of St. Mary’s Girls-Guides outshone even the ICSE schools of the town. Students were adept in elocution, debate, quiz and cultural activities. St Mary’s spiraling reputation kept mounting from year to year up to the present day.
Before the turn of the millennium in 1998, St. Mary’s High School took a leap into the rung of the Higher Secondary School in Arts; this was subsequently followed by the opening of the Commerce Plus Two in 2005. The introducing of the Plus Two Stream in 2016 consummates the dream. The horizon of the journey of course will be in God’s hands.