History of St. Joseph’s, Wadala
ST.JOSEPH HIGH SCHOOL EVOLVES
The story of St. Joseph’s commences in 1917 when Wadala was just a cluster of villages in the midst of marshy fields and salt pans. It was in such surroundings that Fr. Domingo Desa with a single teacher and two assistants from the parish helped to take care of the few boys and girls he had gathered together in two elementary classes, accommodated in a dingy little room, adjoining what was then the chapel of Our Lady of Dolours.
It had been an uphill task from the beginning and it has to be said to the credit of Fr. Desa’s successors, that they looked after the tender sapling with devotion and care. In 1937, thanks to the determined efforts of Fr. Augustine Fernandes, St. Joseph’s was recognized as a Municipal-aided English medium Primary School. It had 175 students on its roll. Two years later, it was recognized as a Municipal-aided Middle School with the student population rising to nearly 300. The School celebrated their Silver Jubilee in 1942. It was only in1943, however, that Fr. Augustine Fernandes managed to secure the land on lease from the Municipality. Class V was added to the existing classes. Between 1944 and 1947, when the school functioned under the care of Fr. A. Rebello, with Sister Eugenia FMA, as the Principal, Class VI was added to accommodate an aggregate of 481 boys and girls.
A NEW MANAGEMENT-
The year 1947-48 was a turning point in the history of the school. In the year of India’s Independence, the Management of the school was taken over by the Salesians. Fr. Edward SDB and Fr. P. Spratt SDB were appointed Principal and Vice-Principal respectively. True to Salesian tradition, the new Principal did not let grass grow under his feet and with nearly 600 students on his hands, soon raised the number of classes to seven while simultaneously taking a number of steps to tone up the standard of the school. He set before himself two main objectives, to convert St.Joseph’s into a High School and to secure Government recognition.
Fr. Rego plunged himself into the fray with his charismatic drive and purposefulness. He had to depend entirely on the goodwill of parents, friends and well-wishers. Assisted by his staff he went door to door asking for donations and loans. After years of struggle, he had the satisfaction of seeing his dream begin to take shape, when in 1952, Mr. G. N. Desai, the then Mayor of Mumbai laid the foundation stone of the new school building. In the following year, the number of students having touched the 800 mark, the students of Stds. VIII & IX were introduced. The new building, a single storied structure with spacious classrooms, a science laboratory and a fully equipped auditorium was declared open in 1954 by the late Msgr. V. Dyer, the then Vicar-General of Mumbai. The architect of this building was Mr. C. S. K. Raj.
RECOGNITION AS HIGH SCHOOL-1954-
Curricular and extra-curricular activities prescribed by the Education Department were duly introduced and the necessary maps and charts and other educational aids acquired. Recognition came in 1954 and in 1955 St. Joseph’s sent up its first batch of 28 students for the Government SSC examinations. In June of the same year, St. Joseph’s which had been till then a co-educational institution, was converted into an exclusively boy’s school in view of the Auxilium Convent High School, that would cater to the girl students. The new school building, spacious as it was, was no longer adequate and in 1959 an additional floor was built.
The Pre-Primary Section was housed in the present ‘Shelter Don Bosco’ building for several years till it was shifted to its present location after the new wing was completed.
Fr. Victor D’Souza came in as Vice-Principal in place of Fr. Perez. The neat and streamlined new wing of the building, to complete the L shape, stands as an eloquent tribute to his vision and zeal.
June 1966 witnessed a radical change in the Management of the school. The authorities concerned appointed an independent Principal in the person of Fr. Jos Menezes, with Fr. Fernandes continuing as Parish Priest and Fr. Victor D’Souza continuing as Vice-Principal. Under the stewardship of Fr. Menezes, who literally devoted his every waking moment to the mission entrusted to him, the school made rapid progress towards the goal of providing ideal conditions for the all-round education and uplift of the young. Nearly 1,500 boys were now seeking the light of knowledge under its roof.
Under the able guidance of Fr. Jos Menezes, in the academic sphere, St. Joseph’s had established an enviable record. In 1963, one of its students, Mr. Rajiv Arora, stood first in Mumbai city. In 1967, the Golden Jubilee year, the school secured 100% success at the SSC exams. St. Joseph’s quite apart from giving due importance to discipline and moral formation, always laid stress on extra-curricular activities. The Past Pupils Association was re-organized in 1973 through the efforts of Fr. John Samala and gained steam when Fr. Desmond Paes took over the reins in 1975. Aided by the Headmaster Mr. S. D’Silva and Headmistress Ms. P. P. Navalkar, the school made rapid progress.
THE DIAMOND IN THE CROWN- 1977-
A musical nite at the Shanmukananda Hall was the hallmark of the celebrations to commemorate this Diamond Jubilee of the School. Fr. Desmond Paes at the helm of affairs (1975-78) was responsible for the celebrations. With Fr. Jos Menezes back again in the saddle in 1978, St. Joseph’s had an audio-visual hall and a well-equipped library cum lunch room set up in 1979. The Staff Bonus Fund was also introduced by him to encourage the teachers.
In 1983, Fr. Adolf Furtado was appointed Principal and Headmaster. During his tenure, St. Joseph’s entered the world of Computers in 1985. Boys were trained in Karate and in Table Tennis by the Senior National Champion Mr. Kamlesh Mehta, a past student of the School. In 1987, Fr. Corlis Gonsalves took over as Principal and Headmaster. St. Joseph’s now had a variety of activities like Yoga, Swimming, Speech and Drama, etc. for all the boys from the K.G. to Std. X. He was the first one to put up a musical as part of the Annual Day Celebrations.
THE PLATINUM JUBILEE-
Fr. Egidius (Issu) Falcao took over in June1991. Under his dynamic guidance the Platinum Jubilee year was ushered in by lighting the Platinum Lamp in 1991.St. Joseph’s had a new look- a new computer hall, a new audio-visual hall, the renovated laboratory and the beautiful facade for the school hall. The highlight of the celebrations was the participation of all the students in the Annual Day celebration. The finale ended with the song sung by the staff and students pledging their love and loyalty to the school.
Under the care and guidance of stalwart Principals like Fr. Vivian D’Souza in 1994, Fr. Donald Fernandez in 1998, Fr. Anthony Pinto in 2002, and Fr. Bernard Fernandes in 2009 and ably assisted by Ms. Nicole Britto, the Headmistress and Vice-Principal, provided ideal conditions for the all- round development of the young. Each Principal left an indelible mark on the progress of the school.
THE CENTENARY YEAR
Fr. Godfrey, an Alumni himself, took over in June 2014, and had cordial and regular interactions with staff, students, parents and Past Pupils. Along with the new Headmistress, Teacher Sangita Bhattacharya, several new measures were introduced to enhance learning in school. The Centenary Celebrations mobilized the Past Pupils, Teachers, Students, PTA and interested parents. The Past Pupils contributed significantly to enhance the infrastructure of the They also undertook an ambitious campaign of on Organ Donation called ‘A Million Pledges’: Some ambitious programmes were launched in the Centenary Year like the Guidance Program for Students of Std X of various schools, Interschool Athletic Meet, Grand Alumni Reunion, Annual Day celebration at Shanmukananda Hall, The Josephite Festival, The Peace Run and many more. Past Managers, Principals and teachers were felicitated and thanked for their contribution to the school. A Time Capsule was installed with school memorabilia which is to be opened 25 years later.
The school continued marching forward under the guidance of Fr. Godfrey and Teacher Sangita. Special attention was given to weaker students by introducing Occupational Therapy, a revamped SETSS program for children with Learning Difficulties, Bridge Course for the Secondary Section and the NIOS for students of Std. X. A beautiful KG park, a state-of-the-art Astroturf Football Ground and a refurbished Basketball Court gave the school a grand new look. All augurs well, as the students of St. Josephs’ stand to gain the very best in their early years of formation.
In June 2018 Fr. Diego Nunes took over as the principal of the school. New ideas new vigour was enthused into the school. Cricket, hockey, athletics were introduced. ‘Adoption’ an innovative program for the academically weak students of std X by their teachers was successfully implemented. The onward March continues with
St. Joseph’s blessing.