Hyderabad Public School: A Century of Leadership and Excellence
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Rachel Dammala
Hyderabad: Nobody knows the exact month it was founded, but what started as a learning centre meant only for the sons of jagirdars in 1923 became Hyderabad Public School in 1951 after the jagirdari system was abolished.
Founded by the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, who took inspiration from the renowned Eton College of Britain, HPS opened its doors to the public in 1951.
The school began with just five students and six teachers under its first principal H.W. Shawcross — under whom the first batch appeared for Senior Cambridge 'O' levels in 1929.
"Despite the change in the kind of students - the rich, nobles or the meritorious and ones with scholarships, the standard has never wavered in the past century," said HPS Society president Gusti J. Noria, an alumnus himself.
Around the early 2000s, many noticed a slight change in the HPS and attributed that to a lack of balanced ownership from all stakeholders — the management, the staff, students, parents, etc. But before it could spiral downwards, the alumni came to its aid.
"Senior society members thought it would be prudent to induct some old students as they wouldn't have an agenda other than the welfare of the school. Six or seven of our old students who were brought in… Slowly, we were able to correct things like discipline and stopped nepotism in staff recruitment. Then, there was zero tolerance for any substance abuse, began paying better and made several such changes, returning the school to its glory," said Noria, who served as vice-chair for 12 years, on the board for two years and is currently serving as president.
Asked what was the one thing that HPS could call a constant, pat came the reply: Leadership.
"There's an inculcation of leadership right from primary school's prefectorial system, where three to four classes join together. There is always a competition for leadership. Attitudes are transformed at an early stage for leadership roles and through cultural and cosmopolitan exposures that students get through discussions, diversity, competitions, and debates," he said.
"Equality is another ingredient - there is never a distinction between sponsored children and general students — we didn't even know who is who, it is all well integrated. The management ensures that everyone's education journey is joyous rather than a path filled with obstacles," he said.
HPS aspires to be among the top schools globally by 2050, in education, leadership and service. The school aims to introduce an international curriculum to prepare its students for global mobility and to attract foreign students. It will provide holistic education, with an emphasis on developing a spirit of enquiry, critical thinking and communication skills, alongside community engagement.
"Leveraging digital technologies on smart campuses, we will invite the best guest faculty from across the world. Our differently-abled-friendly facilities will include best-in-class classrooms, digital infrastructure, vocational activity laboratories, science laboratories, hybrid library and learning spaces, and amenities for sports and the arts. By 2050, 'I Studied in HPS' will become a famous brand on par with the world's top schools, with the tagline, 'Want the best? Look to HPS!'," Noria said.
Memories: Celebrated alumni reminisce about their time at HPS
Although I graduated from HPS over 30 years ago, the memories are still vivid — of the people who inspired me, and my classmates, who remain my closest friends. High school was about being a member of the Vijayanagar House and participating in all the extracurricular activities… becoming an well-rounded student.
For those of us who were present in school when the 50th anniversary was celebrated, it's an exciting moment to be part of the centenary celebrations. We are, in a manner of speaking, Rip Van Winkles, but my Rip Van Winkle moment began more than a year ago when I was invited to be part of an exercise consulted for faculty, students as well as old students like me, the really old ones. I hope all of us can contribute to ensuring the future is as glorious as the past was.
So excited, can't wait to be there with my family and kids. We're all looking for a week of celebrations of the occasion, celebrating friendships, and memories — from different generations.
Our school has a glorious tradition and a solid present and I think we scripted a wonderful future for it. If we link hands, this will become a reality and it will be important for India, for us, to produce the kind of citizens and leaders that the country needs to truly live up to its constitutional philosophy. We can do no better than to think and give the words of the school song and if we do, in the end, the school will grow in fame and we will all gather to sing its name.
The school did not create bookworms, it created personalities, it allowed us to express ourselves in whichever area we were interested in, and that's its greatness, secret and culture. I believe this strength should be preserved for eternity.
It has been so long but I still remember everything so clearly. It was wonderful - the freedom, the space, the faculty, the teachers, the friends I made for life, the sports day, the Independence Day and Republic Day marches, having to climb that long flight of stairs to the lunch house that serves bread, mutton and 'aloo', which was my favourite. Now, I keep hearing the names of the alumni popping up around the world, making the country proud.
Among those of us who chose to join the military as a profession, the NCC was the trigger. Mr Krishnan, Mr Devdattam, Mr Sai Sundar, Mr Sambasivarao, and Mr P.L.M. Murthy form the core group of instructions. Mr Krishnan held a special place amongst them, because he commanded the annual NCC parade with excellent military bearing.
It's been such a long time since I went out of that 'out gate' and thought I was leaving for good, but my heart kept pulling me back at every possible opportunity, coming in again and again just imagining the YMCA bus coming in through the in-gate to drop us off. I went to the backfield and felt very emotional about the time we had there, the assembly hall, we used to read the news and do the odd talk over there and the science block brought back so many memories. And then we look back and see what the people who graduated from the school did in every area and field, fills my heart with a sense of pride. We have a WhatsApp group and still talk like we're in school.
When I was in middle school, I made a balsa glider and threw it. It hit Mr Jayanad's door, our science teacher. He came out, saw me play with it, and asked 'are you interested in this?', I said 'yes'. We had a conversation and he helped me set up aeromodelling at HPS. It's all about learning to learn. If you're hungry to learn, HPS has great faculty and executive. The leadership does everything in its power to make dreams happen.
It taught me to be an independent thinker and give all that I have to every pursuit that I make. And I think that's something I carried with me throughout my life.
Prabhu Pingali, Director of Tata Cornell Institute; Chairman, Board of Icrisat, Batch of 1971
It's simply incredible to reflect on the impact this institution has had and the lives it has shaped. I have the fondest memories of my time at HPS — from playing cricket in the backfield to living in the 'east wing', to the friendships forged and of course the academics, in my case, perhaps, little academics. HPS has shaped who I am and how I see the world. Our school song and motto capture the spirit and guide us all even today — 'Tu Shaheen hai, Parvaaz hai kaam tera, Tere saamne aasmaan aur bhi hai'. It's not about achievement, but that push for excellence that everyone does and this is what has given me the confidence and perspective to pursue my passions and live a life of purpose. My biggest congratulations to everyone from the HPS community.
The school gave me exposure to all walks of life, an opportunity to participate in all sports, especially cricket, where I went on to play for the state under-19 and some of us toured England while in school. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself and my abilities, and taught me the art of 'teams-manship' which has stood me in good stead in my 32 years of IPS service. I have vivid memories of the large spaces of the school, the big grounds and the multifarious facilities, the naughtiness of the boarders, the flights taking off and landing at Begumpet airport playing cricket in the backfield, the good friends for life I made and, the teachers who taught me.