Set against a back-drop of sparkling snow-capped peaks, the distinctive grey and scarlet of Loreto Convent, Tara Hall, whether kissed by the brilliance of a summer sun, or veiled by the frosty whiteness of winter snow or bathed in the deep hues of a vivid monsoon sunset, is ever a source of pride and joy to all associated with it. But let us turn back the pages of time to 1892 when, in response to a pressing request from the Archbishop of Agra, Dr.Van Den Bosch, O.C. for a school to provide a good education to Catholic children, Mother Gonzaga Joyce and a few Sisters arrived in Simla, the summer capital of the Viceroy, to plant Loreto's banner in this hill station.
The journey had been fatiguing and arduous, the roads winding perilously round cliffs or along ridges with an abyss on either side but the elderly Superior was a soul of prayer and had all the gifts or organization which mark a pioneer. The only comment left by her companions reads : "Those who travel first on any road get all the hardness bumps and jolts, but they have the honour of leaving beaten, smooth tracks for those who come after them. At first the Sisters took up the day school below the Bazar which had formerly served as the Catholic Church and had been managed by lady teachers. Some time later "Firewood" was rented and the nuns took in boarders as well as day pupils. Later again, the "Mythe" a larger house with more extensive grounds, was rented for a year.
Finally it was in Kaithu, on the edge of the town, that Mother Gonzaga found what she wanted - the two properties of Tara Hall and Belle Vue offered for sale together. Here the Sisters established themselves on 30-11-1895, overcoming the hazards of space, restraints of finance, problems with domestic help, inclement weather. The early Nuns owe a debt of gratitude to their good friend Fr. Callistus, O.C. who was always at hand and never missed a Mass. If the Franciscan spirit of poverty and simplicity left its mark on Tara Hall so did the Franciscan spirit of Joy. Plays and concerts did their shares in fashioning. The young minds and in a short time the pupils were distinguishing themselves in the Music Examinations of Trinity College and the Royal Academy, London. Debating the literary clubs flourished and games were played with zest Of special delight were picnics to places of scenic beauty.
The school population was largely Catholic and the Sodality of our Lady flourished among the Senior Girls. In 1889 the Mother Superior opened "St. Joseph's Day School". For six years the two schools ran side by side but when Tara Hall sought recognition, the Ministry of Education granted it on condition that the two schools should amalgamate and be known as "the Loreto Boarding and Day School". This benefited both sets of students and enabled the nuns to be used far more advantageously.
St. Patrick's Day School was opened in March 1946 at Willoiw Bank, The Mall, with 4 pupils. We transferred to the Chalet in July 1947. Numbers grew, improvements were made in the house. Finally in 1977 the Sisters withdrew and it was disposed of to the Evanmgelical Church. Meanwhile Tara Hall advanced from strength to strength, additions being made in the form of classrooms, laboratories, a Concert Hall and a Library. It advanced from the High School Examination of the Punjab to the Cambridge Overseas Examination. However, December 1975 witnessed a dramatic change - gone were the days of dormitory chatter and dining room clatter, of splashig in washrooms and excitement at favourite puddings for, regretfully Tara Hall was compelled to close the residential school, bringing to an end a very special era of its history.
With this began a new epoch - As a day school Loreto Convent could accommodate larger numbers till today we have 1150 on the rolls. This points to the veried social spectrum represented, to the variety of children and to the variety of opportunities, from Computer Sciences to Social Service, which Tara Hall affords them. Loreto Convent, now a hundred years old, stands as a monument to the perseverance and success of those pioneers who paved the way for generation upon generation of young women to become fully human persons, with a sense of personal worth, a good relationship with God, self and other - women of honesty and integrity, agents of change in a changing world - a mission as immense as a mightly Himalayas that stand guardian to Tara Hall, Shimla.
TARA HALL" A CENTURY OF EXCELLENCE TARA Hall celebrated its centenary on a grand scale with an Old Girls' Reunion. Five years ago,in 1995, the daughters of the Sacred Heart took over the management of this institution with the same objective as that of the Loretto nuns - to educate the girls child and to mound her into a responsible citizen. Over the years, Tara Hall took the identity of Sacred Heart Convent School. But its basic values of sincerity, justice and freedom - the path on which the educational tradition were set up - remain as before. They maintain the motto - "Those who travel first on any road get all the bumps and jolts, but they have the honour to light the torch, to lead those who come after them. The student strength is around 1,300 with 42 qualified teachers who are supervised by the nuns. The School was converted into a day scholar's school in 1976.
Affiliated to ICSE,the school is divided into two sections within the campus. One is the junior section of students from KG upto class V with a separate sister in charge. The other is the senior section till Class X. The subjects taught include science, social sciences, English, Hindi and Computer Science. The school has a well-stocked library and has well-equipped laboratories. The students are encouraged to participate in academic as well as co-curricular activities.
The latter comprise competitions in athletics, quiz, education, debate, dance, drama, flower arrangement and the annual function. The school is continuing its endeavour to improve the infrastructure. New course as well as modern facilities are also being ushered in. The school plans to have its own auditorium in the future.
Loreto Convent School Shimla,
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