25 June, 2020
Welcome to the new scholastic year 2020-21!
It’s a very unusual situation where we ended the scholastic year 2019-20 and are beginning the academic year 2020-21 within a lockdown period. We aren’t certain of the nature and period of the partial lockdown that is presently on which doesn’t allow physical reopening of the school. Given the present pandemic situation and also our first experience with online teaching and remote learning we began the new scholastic year with a staggered reopening of our school with online classes on 15th June 2020.
We are in the middle of the second week of the beginning of the new academic year via an online platform. It’s good to see the enthusiasm of our children as they interacted with their teachers and colleagues after a long break. Overall, it was a good start to our online teaching and interactions barring a few technical and connectivity issues which we did anticipate given the first experience of this kind and the big audience that we handle. I must also commend the parents for providing the necessary support, space and the environment for their children for this kind of learning. We pray that we succeed in sustaining this teaching-learning environment over a period of time as the situation demands of us.
The lockdown has been a trying period for us all –families, religious communities, the employed to those who lost out on jobs, the migrants, doctors, health workers and the administrative personnel. The list is elaborate. We as educators have been equally affected albeit in a different way. Many institutions stepped up their preparation for ‘Emergency Remote learning’ that is presently taking place in virtual classrooms called homes. This is something new to the majority of the teaching staff across the country. Webinars, in-house virtual training sessions of staff, planning across states and Salesian schools have kept all and sundry busy with no break for vacation. We do not know where and how this will end. Yet, we cannot stop learning and reinventing for our sake and for the students entrusted to our care.
The much talked about term is the NEW NORMAL for schools where teachers and children can bridge the gaps created in these uncertain times. The NEW NORMAL which ensures firstly, that the foundational ideas for a healthy education aren’t compromised and made obsolete, and second, that we address the issues that merit urgent attention post lockdown considering the present scenario. Issues such as psychological and emotional support to children who have been impacted in direct and inconspicuous ways to enable them to get back into the rhythm of learning, inculcating a nurturing culture of our environment and eliminate the virus of ‘selfish-indifference’, creating a well planned and well designed accelerated learning program to cater to children who may have experienced extreme hardship, domestic violence, long journeys and seen the adults in their families fearful and distressed, build a strong support system that ensures that the weak and the vulnerable, do not drop out easily from being educated further.
Our theme for this year is “Committed citizens rebuilding a fragile world.” It is a blend of the Strenna 2020 of our Rector Major Fr. Angel Fernandez to the Salesian world, “Good Christians and Committed Citizens” and the present fragile situation that has erupted with the pandemic crisis.
I wish to welcome the new Supervisors, staff and students to the school this academic year while extending our heartfelt gratitude to the Supervisors in the Secondary section who have completed their term in office and to our retiring staff.
There is a great challenge awaiting us as we welcome a new academic year and experience a new normal in education. Let’s embrace it if we wish to stay relevant and effective.
With every good wish,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes sdb
(25th June 2020)
6 April, 2020
The Principal Fr. Bernard Fernandes gives some tips for a healthy purposeful living during the days of the corona virus lockdown.
Link to the video message: https://youtu.be/PZ7eWu9GG98
Below is the text of the video message:
We are halfway through the lockdown period declared by India and the state of Maharashtra on account of the prevalent situation caused by the Corona virus pandemic.
A few points on the forced break that has befallen us. I am sure some of you would have already worked out ways and means to make the most of this opportunity rather than drown into a hopeless feeling of ‘sheer waste of time’.
I will share with you a few of my practices that have helped me tide over the initial phase of the lockdown. And for this my audience is the set of stakeholders of any educational institution but primarily it is our teachers, though the points that I mention hold good for any one – teacher, parent or student.
Firstly prepare a daily plan or schedule. It helps you focus and prioritize. This is what I told our weaker SSC students before they broke for their study leave. A plan helps shake off boredom, lethargy and idleness. It gives you a goal to achieve. A regular schedule would include time for prayer, hobby, recreation, work, rest and relationships. However we are beyond a regular schedule these days and we need to think out of the box. Look at it this way – you have more time, less distractions and minimum structured activity.
As a teacher who is asked to work from home, there is no better way than compiling the resources that are available in abundance. Look at these resources closely. You will not get an opportunity again later. Categorize them. Begin your own mini library and get yourself organized. It’s time to take a look at the data accumulated on your computer, laptop or even your mobile. It’s time to delete the mundane and organize the data that is precious.
Read. This is what we always tell our students and our children. Pick up the book you always wanted to but never had the time. If it is your own book, highlight and take notes. You will be surprised to see what ideas struck you when you revisit your library later!
Pick up writing skills. Write your own diary. Pen down your thoughts of the experiences of a lockdown. Years later, it may come in as a good resource for the future generations. On my part, besides my library or my diary, I do maintain the cut outs or prints of some important articles or circulars that go into the house chronicles. For example, the guidelines from the Cardinal Oswald Gracias for the celebration of mass, the Holy week and Easter week. It is something unusual that we have experienced in our lifetime. This will go down as my history, our history!
This is the best time to take a look at some of your old passions and hobbies which otherwise you will not get the necessary time. I have taken up to polishing my guitar skills and learning some finer points of music. I have prepared a plan to move on to advanced guitar chord progressions and I am enjoying this challenge. Some of the skills you acquire now may one day come in handy when you are given the responsibility to oversee a class assembly or a school program. These skills are never lost on us.
There are many more things that could be suggested. But I leave you with the last one which is dear to my heart and I believe it fits well into the Don Bosco’s Preventive system of education – keep connected. It will help prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations; this system of regular communication will help forge bonds, create trust and openness. In one of my latest circulars to our staff at Don Bosco Matunga, I wrote: Do not stop your communication with parents (even if you have stopped sending homework and assignments). This is our moment to be of assistance and encouragement to them in engaging their children in useful and creative ventures. Given the lockdown and the lack of movement, many parents are on the edge and find it challenging to guide their children at home. As educators we need to provide them good resource material and tips to accompany their children in their growth.
So to all of you, wherever you are, stay Connected! In prayer and in deeds. And we will overcome this pandemic together.
God bless you!
2 April, 2020
In the recently concluded ICC women’s T20 cricket final, one Australian woman cricketer stood between India and victory – not that the performance of the other team members wasn’t praiseworthy. It’s just that Alyssa Healy’s ruthless 75 paled into insignificance the handsome contribution of other Australian players and denied India a record victory to lift the ICC women’s World cup trophy for the first time. Alyssa’s “extra push” helped her gain the momentum that was so very necessary in the World Cup final to completely outplay India in the match and help her country win the tournament. This ‘extra push’ or burst of energy is what separates champions from the ordinary. It is the elixir that provides the finesse and excellence to our works.
This was discernible in the year gone by, especially in the post-Christmas period with the completion of the Annual day celebrations that attracted accolades and praise from many. Then there were the Primary and Kindergarten cultural days that provided the extra spark of creativity and cheer, and of course the many exploits in sports as always. This year was extra special with our u-16 cricket team making it to the Harris shield finals (played on the haloed Brabourne stadium) for the first time in the history of Don Bosco Matunga. The entire team at Matunga – management, staff, students and parents – can take pride in all that makes Don Bosco an institution prestigious and blessed.
Corona virus – the latest pandemic as declared by WHO – has hit us hard. Quarantines displacing and distancing families and loved ones, indefinite closures of world events and a hard hit economy are but some of the major blows received. One lesson that surely comes across forcefully is that life is fragile and needs to be treated with care. Bonds can be broken overnight, ties snapped and dreams shattered. The need for us to treasure life and not take it for granted. To live life to the full every moment.
As the year draws to a close after having ‘journeyed together in joy and holiness’ we are indeed privileged and honored for the mighty and the ordinary happenings, the special moments of bonding with family, school and friends.
The end of the year is a moment to relax and unwind. The summer vacation period will soon be upon us, and before long we would have dived into it. Use the vacation for recreation and leisure, bonding and growth.
Wish you the very best as we end the scholastic year and a happy summer vacation!
With every good wish,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
18 October, 2019
The closure of the first term exams marks the end of the initial half of the scholastic year and the beginning of the Diwali break. It’s a sojourn that’s much needed and welcome for our busy bodies and restless souls.
Without doubt the first term in the school has been defined by a plethora of programs and activities besides academics- the hallmark of a healthy teaching learning ambience. The joyous abandon of the children while at play or study, the renewed and passionate commitment of the staff and various stakeholders in our journey and the public recognition of our efforts at excellence are indicative of a steady growth in values and our mission. We are proud and overjoyed with the many individual and school awards at the city, state and national level that we have receive this year be it in sports, art, culture and academics. It has been the result of a continuous and consistent effort of the school team of leaders, staff and the stakeholders.
Everything around us is not perfect – and we will never experience an ideal situation that we wish. At the world level, we have been experiencing the struggles on climate action, environment protection and political balance. I came across this beautiful reflection in my daily inspiration mail. “At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed him. Songbirds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear him.…Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God?…When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.” I thought it is relevant to the situation and the festival that we are soon going to celebrate – Diwali.
It is a call not for passive acceptance to the bleak situation around us but an invitation to be perceptive listeners and doers of the divine will. It is a call to faith, trust and action; above all to find God. To quote again from the daily inspiration notes, ‘Who is God, and how can we find him? One answer to this question is that something of the light of God already lies deep in each of our hearts. At times, this is to be felt only in a deep longing for goodness, justice, purity, or faithfulness. But if such a longing turns to faith, we will find God.’
May we find this God, people and mother earth in the festival of Lights that we celebrate this Diwali!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
The first issue of the school magazine in the new scholastic year is dedicated to the teacher. So let me begin with a teacher’s anecdote. The June 2019 issue of Scoonews titled ‘Teacher warriors 2019 – Big Hearts that shape little minds’ covered the life-stories of some amazing individuals who are raising the bar of education for underprivileged children across India. One of these is Mrs. K R Ushakumari teaching in the Kunnathumala school for the last 16 years, encouraging children to learn and equip themselves for jobs to lead better lives. Listen to her story.
At 7 am on weekdays, K R Ushakumari gets ready to work. Her journey to school is not the same as that of a teacher in the city. She rides her scooter (she brought the scooter recently that has helped her escape a long walk) from her house in Amboori for 25 minutes and parks it on the Kumbikkal Kadavu river bank. Then she gets on a boat and rows across the river, often with a boatman. And that is only half the journey to school. After the boat ride, she then treks through the hills of Kunnathumala for four km to reach the school. She is the lone teacher at Agasthya Ega Adhyapaka Vidyalaya, Kunnathumala, in the Biosphere where tribal children come to learn from their dear teacher. She says that P N Panicker, the Father of the Library movement in Kerala is her mentor and inspiration. ‘He inspired me to go to villages to teach children who did not have access to schools.’ The difficult terrain to reach school and being the lone teacher in charge of classes I to IV are her biggest challenges. Her pride and satisfaction are her students who are working now and settled with good careers. ‘Some have done TTC, some BSc and some have got government jobs. When I joined the school, there was not even one student who had passed 10 grade but today they all manage to pass class 10 exams,’ Ushaskumari says proudly.
That’s the passion and the delight of a teacher –to ensure the growth of her student and see him/her succeed in the greatest challenge called life. Wish our committed teachers here at Don Bosco Matunga and teachers elsewhere a happy day that is theirs to cherish!
In school, we have achieved a hundred per cent at the March 2019 SSC examination, and this at a time when we noticed a drop of 12% pass percentage at the city and state level. This again is a reflection of a team effort – staff, parents and the students who worked together to address the challenges of the weaker pupils and that of a new curriculum. My hearty congratulations to all our SSC students and wishes for an absorbing and fulfilling career!
We are already two and half months in the new scholastic year, and the grind –that is part of the syllabus structure – and flexibility gel well to spark creativity and vigour. The extracurricular programs and the evolving infrastructural developments provide the boost to the curriculum that boasts of an all round development of the child. The recognition and awards for the school are testimony to the robust curriculum design and passionate staff. Yet again on 24thJuly 2019, our school was awarded the MSSA instituted ‘Mr. Niranjan R. Ganjawalla Challenge Trophy for the Best All Round Boys School in Sports’ in Mumbai.
To our great family, we welcome our new administrator Fr. Elson Barretto and the other new staff members. We bid a fond adieu to our outgoing Vice-Principal and administrator Fr. Roy Noronha. His contribution to the growth of this institution has been immense and we are deeply indebted to him.
Let’s continue working in unison and embrace this new academic year with trust and belief in God’s benevolence. Together let’s march towards greater glory and excellence!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
1 July, 2019
We journey together this year!
I wish to begin this message with the title of this article that reflects the theme of this new scholastic year, ‘Journeying together in joy and holiness.’ It’s not that we have not journeyed together before in our mission and vision. In fact, this institution and its values stand tall because of the labour of love of people who came together for a common cause. However, this year we are called to reflect deeper into this aspect of unity and bonding in joyous sanctity. We are called to be joyful, to be holy. Someone has said it beautifully, “Your holiness makes you as conspicuous as the sun in the sky.“ You cannot hide your godly character. Love cannot be hidden any more than light. Least of all, it cannot be hidden when it shines forth in action.
So then, why are we waiting? The passing away of one of our dear students of Std X, Saideep Rapolu (who answered SSC in March 2019, and passed when the SSC results were declared in June 2019) is a harsh yet tangible reminder of our imminent exit from this earthly life, sudden or otherwise. We are sad that this had to happen to a young student who was on the threshold of a bright and challenging career. God’s ways are not ours to question. However, difficult and inconsolable family moments such as these make us sit up and take notice of the shortness of our life. We have to act and we need to make a difference today. By being humane and compassionate. By reaching out in service of others. That’s where holiness lies. As Don Bosco said, ‘Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way!”
In school, we have achieved a hundred per cent this year at the SSC examination, and this at a time when we noticed a drop of 12% pass percentage at the city and state level. This again is a reflection of a team effort – staff, parents and the students who came together to address the challenges of the weaker students and that of a new curriculum. My hearty congratulations to all our SSC students and wishes to them for an absorbing and fulfilling career!
Our students have come back to school with enthusiasm after a long restful summer vacation. There are many surprises in store for them by way of extracurricular programs and infrastructural developments. Sometimes they will have to be ready for a grind for that is part of the syllabus structure and curriculum. Isn’t this a part of our life too? However, flexibility is also a part of us, and we know that such moments spark creativity and vigour. The committed staff at Don Bosco Matunga is equipped for an engaging and eventful year with our energetic and evolving young minds. To our great family, we welcome our new administrator Fr. Elson Barretto and the other new staff members. We bid a fond adieu to our outgoing Vice-Principal and administrator Fr. Roy Noronha. His contribution to the growth of this institution has been immense and we are deeply indebted to him.
My wish for each of us to embrace this new academic year with trust and belief in God’s benevolence. Together let’s march towards greater glory and excellence!
-Fr. Bernard Fernandes
2 April, 2019
Good bye to another scholastic year 2018-19!
With the closing of any event is associated the many happenings and memories. Here at DB Matunga the list is inexhaustible with the unfolding of innumerable programs – big and small, glamorous and staid, media driven and class focused- round the year. In all this we need to be grateful and be wary of (using Pope Francis’ term) ‘losing our memory’. We need to guard against ingratitude and indifference- two attitudes that kill our soul and deny healthy enthusiasm for learning and growth; more, we lose our way!
Addressing the Christian faithful at the beginning of Lenten season, Pope Francis says, ‘Well-being, even spiritual well-being, has this danger: the danger of a certain amnesia, a lack of memory. I feel good like that, and I forget what God has done in my life, all the graces He has given us, and I believe that it is my own merit, and I go on like that. And then the heart begins to turn away, because it doesn’t listen to the voice of the heart itself: memory. The grace of memory.’
I will attempt now to refresh our memories of the wonderful happenings here at DB Matunga- I’m sure you will have many more! In recent memory, the grand Annual thanksgiving day that brought together the past and the present (pupils, staff, parents, well wishers and Salesians) besides the unbridled expression of the abundant talent on the campus. Coupled with this were the cultural days of the Kg and the Primary section, and the Primary activity annual day where every child made it to the stage. The mega Christmas Panorama event that attracted us to a spirit of giving and sharing- our beneficiaries this year being the needy school children of Don Bosco Nepal. The safe and enjoyable outings of the students and the staff that ensured deeper bonding and camaraderie. The numerous awards of public recognition to the esteemed institution and for excellence in sports; and of late a sustained excellence in Science research. The sports facilities that have multiplied in the campus with the addition of two new turfs – one for football and the other for hockey- this year. The SSC results that have been outstanding and the school academic results equally laudable. Classroom instruction and activities beyond academics which have evolved and that are noticeable in the progress made by our students.
There are many other blessings to remember! Suffice to say that we were magnificently blessed and rewarded. With a grateful heart we thank God, our Madonna Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco for watching over us, guiding us and protecting us.
We break for a summer vacation to relax and reinvigorate, so as to return in the new academic year without letting our resolve slip to pursue greater excellence and wisdom. Wishing you all a well deserved summer holiday!
Fr Bernard Fernandes
21 December, 2018
An Ohio neighbourhood celebrated Christmas early this year in September. The reason – a two year toddler with brain cancer was given just another two months to live and would not live to see the Christmas Day.
When they got the diagnosis that their son Brody would likely not live to Dec. 25, Brody’s parents Shilo and Todd Allen decided to move their family’s Christmas up to September. They put up a Christmas tree and decorations. However they soon realized that they needed more decorations and there weren’t many for sale in September. So they started a Facebook page called Team Brody and asked neighbors for help. The community responded and help started pouring in. Neighbors put up lights, Santas, and giant snow globes on their front lawns. But the support didn’t stop there. Christmas cards started arriving at the Allens’ home.
“In his mind it is just Christmas,” said McKenzie Allen, 21, Brody’s sister. “He woke up one day and the Christmas tree was out. He doesn’t know it isn’t really Christmas. He is just enjoying it.”
On 23 September Brody got a Christmas parade, a party and a Rozzi fireworks show Sunday, and he couldn’t have been happier. Some people dressed up in Christmas regalia. There was Christmas music, Christmas lights, Christmas trees and Christmas snow.
On Oct 19, 2018 Brody lost his battle to cancer aged two. “He did not suffer. He was surrounded by his family and I have no doubt many angels. While our sadness is immeasurable and we will miss his smiling beautiful soul, we are also comforted in knowing that today our son has touched the face of God.” wrote his dad on Facebook
A heartwarming Christmas celebration isn’t it? It teaches us important life lessons. I pick up two from here. One, we do not have to wait for Christmas to make it happen in our hearts and in our neighborhood. Christmas joy and giving can happen anytime. The spontaneous celebration of Christmas in the community in Ohio must have been the sweetest and most purposeful of all for Brody’s neighbors. Is this not what we have set out to achieve in a big way this year as a school community with our theme ‘My neighbour, my responsibility’? The Care and Share Christmas Panorama program this December is our commitment to the education of the needy children in our Salesian school in Nepal. Earlier on, there was a spontaneous outpouring of assistance to the flood affected people in Kerala and the generous monetary contribution to our soldiers at Flag Day collection. These organized outreach programs are much needed exercises in charity, and they should train us to sensitivity to the needs of others as it happened in Brody’s neighbourhood. A few days back, the US and the world mourned the loss of George H W Bush Sr, ex-President of USA. At the eulogy his son Bush Jr, also ex-US President, said his father taught him public service was noble and necessary. Said he, “He strongly believed it was important to give back to the community and country… he recognised serving others enriched the giver’s soul.” All us may not end up in public service, but surely each one of us, in our own little way, can be magnanimous and kind to a fault always.
The second point that seems insignificant in the story, but that which tugs at our heartstrings is the ability of a child to bring together a community of people with varied likes and dispositions, who otherwise would have been oblivious to each other’s presence, to celebrate love at Christmas. The story of Christmas is about a babe that brought freedom to the captives and mighty to their feet. Christ’s birth heralded peace and joy, happiness and warmth, love and forgiveness. The nativity drew together shepherds and kings, sheep and angels. Slowly but surely this baby Jesus would later bond nations and people’s in love, peace and freedom.
My dear friends, I wish you this warmth of bonding and bliss of giving at Christmas…and always!
Have a joy filled Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
6 November, 2018.
The first term has breezed by and the Diwali Vacation is upon us. Deepavali- the Festival of Lights – is a joyous festival and we wish each other light and wisdom during this festive season. Light to brighten the path made obscure by greed, power, intolerance and hatred. Wisdom to brave decisions to overcome greed with generosity, power with service, intolerance with acceptance and hatred with goodness. At schools, homes and neighborhood we have committed ourselves to bold resolutions to ensure a safe and green Diwali to protect our degrading environment. May all of us be blessed with fortitude and resolve to pursue these decisions.
The school is a home away from home for our children. Here abiding values and habits are learnt and reinforced, relationships and habits nourished and strengthened, physical and emotional well being are provided for, and intellectual maturity is a relentless pursuit. The first term of the scholastic year was an exercise in all these and much more. Awards in sporting excellence, green values, academics and all round progress are but indicators of the invigorating atmosphere prevalent on the campus. They are but reminders of what education can achieve.
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, actress, and pianist. She died on Aug 16 this year and the world mourned her loss. Paying tribute to Aretha, former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama had this to say, “America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”“She helped us feel more connected to each other,” they wrote, “more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”
Each of us long and strive for this lasting, yet at times, evasive bond of collective humanity. In schools we work towards this connect and values. The festival of Diwali provides the graced opportunity to extend the connect and experience something more enduring – a culture and history worth a retell!
Fr Bernard Fernandes
4 September, 2018
With the advent of a new scholastic year much has happened on the world stage that caught our attention and influenced our thinking and growth. The FIFA World Cup with its absorbing matches and silent heroes drew us to the TV screens with a lesson or two in passion, team work and self belief. The Thai cave rescue of the twelve boys and their soccer coach gripped our attention with narratives of human valor, enduring spirit and sacrifice. The fury of the monsoons had a telling effect on our city of Mumbai and of late caused an unprecedented damage to the people and habitat of Kerala. The forest fires, floods and earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and collapse of ice glaciers the world over indicate that all is not well with the climate and the life we are living.
In the school, the inauguration and blessing of the new football turf on 20 Aug has set the pace for greater sporting developments and provision of the best facilities for our children. At the SSC Board examination, more than the cent percent result, the outstanding grades of our students are a cause for celebration and applause. There is a noticeable passion for greater excellence among the stakeholders- staff, students and parents – who strive to work together assiduously towards a common goal. Achieving better and significant outcomes in reading, writing, speech and drama, developing a deeper understanding of concepts in the knowledge of Science and English, building a concerned outlook towards environment, and fostering deeper values of tolerance, outreach and acceptance in society are some of the focal points this year where we wish to further spell out our mission and vision.
We have the release of the first issue of our school magazine DB Courier this new academic year that coincides with the Teachers day celebration. In an age when the teacher’s role is debated and which at times pales into insignificance with the inundation of online resources and technology, it’s time we go back to our roots and understand the irreplaceable human bonding element in a guru-shisya and teacher-pupil relationship. I wish to relate it to an article ‘Ground beneath our feet’ (the Hindu -Sunday 29 July 2018). It speaks about ‘grounding’, or ‘earthing’, which is a new-age therapy that is fast gaining ground. Its proponents argue that when the bare skin of our feet connects with the electric charge of the earth, we are ‘grounded’, that is to say, the free radicals creating havoc in our bodies are neutralized. The result is emotional and physical health. Modern lifestyle factors such as life in high-rise buildings, sleep on elevated cots (as different from beds spread on the floor) and the wearing of shoes with rubber soles have contributed to our lack of direct skin connection with the earth’s surface. Electrons from the earth may be the best source of antioxidants for our bodies and they have zero negative secondary effects, because our bodies have evolved over eons of physical contact with the ground. Our modern lifestyles have broken this natural connection with the ground and taken our immune system by surprise, depriving it of its primordial source of energy. Perhaps a barefoot walk in the park or a roll on the beach is just what we need to realize the effects — and re-establish our connection with the Earth.
This theory may be raw, debatable and researched further. However the point cannot be missed. We need to get connected once again with our roots and tradition if we wish to remain healthy in the field of education. May the teacher’s day remind us to return to our traditional and eternal values of respect and esteem for the educator if we wish to be grounded in our endeavor for a deeper bonding in our schools. Our teachers care and wish to be cared in return. Let’s not disregard this opportunity to shower them with our deepest affection.
Happy teacher’s day!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
04 September 2018
17 June, 2018
Dear staff, students and parents,
Welcome to a new scholastic year 2018-19! It is a coincidence that the school reopens alongside the kick off of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. We at DB Matunga, a sporting giant in sport in the city of Mumbai and the state, look forward to this sporting spectacle with excitement and enthusiasm because it offers us learning experiences and models in sport and life. Each of us will have, and identify with, our own soccer heroes and hope that they lift the coveted World Cup. At the time of penning this article Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal has set the quality bar for the tournament scoring a superlative hat trick in the match against mighty Spain. The press has gone gaga over his creditable performance and has extolled his prodigious performance. The BBC news correspondent wrote: Ronaldo continues relentless pursuit of greatness. This speaks volumes about one of the world’s greatest players and his focused drive for excellence. It is a challenge to each of us this new academic year in our sphere of work and duty. It is a call not to settle for mediocrity and seek the path of least resistance, but be relentless in our search for excellence.
The school SSC results this year has been a case in point. It proved that goals are achievable and that excellence is within our reach. If only we set our minds and hearts to this task! A record 215/289 students achieved distinction this year in the 100% SSC results. Of these 53 scored over 90%. We congratulate our students on this commendable performance and salute their mentors and guides.
The Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation provides a Strenna every year – it is a message to pervade our works and energies with an underlying theme. This year Fr Angel Fernandez’s exhortation reads, “LET US CULTIVATE THE ART OF LISTENING AND ACCOMPANIMENT.” It is a call in a special way for educators to accompany young people and discern their generous hearts. The theme for us in our school this year ‘My neighbour, my responsibility’ embraces the Rector Major’s message. With large and tolerant hearts let’s welcome each other’s beliefs and differences. That’s the way forward for us today.
I end with a quote from Pope Francis to reinforce the point I stressed earlier in my opening remarks. “The greatest challenge in life” he said is “to avoid being mediocre and fainthearted: if a young person settles for a life of bland mediocrity…he or she will not live a full and authentic existence.
We must ask God to give today’s youth the gift of healthy restlessness. Restless to hunger for a life of fulfillment and beauty.”
My wishes to all for a memorable and significant academic year ahead. Let’s be restless to dream the impossible and pursue the relentless march to greatness!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
2 April, 2018
Dear staff, students, parents and well-wishers,
This January I had the good fortune to sit in the hallowed Wankhede stadium and watch our u-14 cricket boys play their finals against Rizvi School in the Giles shield finals. It was a dream come true for many of our young cricketers to play on the turf where their idols won the World Cup for India, and also dished out some memorable record breaking performances. Dreams don’t happen by chance; we need to make it happen. Leafing through the “Democracy’s XI” – a cricket memoir worth a read – I came across the author Rajdeep Sardesai speaking about his father Dilip Sardesai. I quote: Dilip would practise on the terrace of his building. In the monsoon months, he would get other boys in the area to throw him a wet tennis ball to improve his reflexes. ‘We would bowl and Dilip would bat till late in the night under the lights on the terrace,’ recalls Mayuresh, a neighbour from those days. The terrace training taught my father a useful lesson imbibed by the batsmen of that generation: keep hitting the ball along the ground to avoid getting out. ‘It was on the terrace that I perfected the art of batting straight because if I hit the ball in the air; then I had to go down four floors to get the ball and then climb up again!’ my father pointed out. The wet tennis ball practice would also become part of the informal coaching manual of many an Indian batsman in the future. Dilip’s story is our story – at different levels of intensity. It will be interesting for each of us to ask ourselves how much self-discipline we exercised through this year to ‘keep hitting the ball along the ground’, to go through the rigors of the ordinary and the routine to achieve the extraordinary; to remain focused on our goal! The scholastic year 2017-18 draws to a close. It was our platinum jubilee year. We had our aspirations and targets to make it a memorable and cherished one. I must confess that we did achieve our goal and we feel elated that it happened. So many memories. We rode waves of emotions. Found ourselves adept to entertaining and colourful celebrations. And without doubt the abiding memory of the visit of our Rector Major Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime has to be placed high up there. Thanks to the Jubilee celebrations we had a plethora of events that opened our campus and unfolded the Salesian educative system to wider audiences. It was a reciprocal learning experience for students and educators of the different institutions. Alongside ran also the mundane and the routine, the day-to-day calendar events of study, recreation, activity and sports that is so much a Salesian trademark. Indeed there is never a dull moment here at Don Bosco, Matunga. We never tire of acknowledging the immense sacrifices and labour of the pioneers of this place to gift us this institution and along with it the countless facilities. We remind ourselves too that we do not grow complacent, drag our feet and settle for the mediocre. Behind the grandeur and the accolades could be momentary lapses and failings. An honest appraisal as individuals and as an institution will provide us the checklist for growth and excellence. The end of the year is the right opportunity gifted to us! Wish you all a happy, relaxed and well deserved summer vacation! Warm regards, Fr. Bernard Fernandes Principal
2 January, 2018
In the annals of Don Bosco High School, Matunga, a milestone has been completed. 75 years of the iconic institution … and counting! We move on … to greater heights, newer challenges and dreams. The jubilee celebrations that spanned over a year – the culmination saw the visit of our dear Rector Major, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime – were befitting of a glorious institution as Don Bosco’s. The task to carry forward the legacy is even more exciting and challenging. We end the year 2017 and look ahead to 2018. We do not close a chapter in our life, but rather continue the story built over many years with fresh lessons of the past year. An interesting Ted-talk episode entitled ‘How to get better at the things you care about’ speaks of moving beyond stagnation in whatever we do. The speaker presents a research of effective people who alternate between two zones – learning zone and performance zone. The learning zone is when our goal is to improve. Then we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven’t mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them. That is very different from what we do when we’re in our performance zone, which is when our goal is to do something as best as we can, to execute. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes. The danger, the speaker says, is to remain in our performance zone, where we become sluggish and stay trapped in our own comfort zone. We need to move beyond our immediate performances and through learning, maximize our future performances. He cites the example of the star singer Beyonce. When Beyoncé is on tour, during the concert, she’s in her performance zone, but every night when she gets back to the hotel room, she goes right back into her learning zone. She watches a video of the show that just ended. She identifies opportunities for improvement for herself, her dancers and her camera staff. And the next morning, everyone receives pages of notes with what to adjust, which they then work on during the day before the next performance. It’s a spiral to ever-increasing capabilities, but we need to know when we seek to learn, and when we seek to perform, and while we want to spend time doing both, the more time we spend in the learning zone, the more we’ll improve. May the New Year present us the opportunities, notes and desire to move into zones of learning, adventure and sustained performance.
Happy New Year 2018! Affectionately,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
18 December, 2017
Dear Friends, Sudha Murty of Infosys foundation, makes a bold narration in her latest book ‘Three thousand stitches’ of an incident that shaped her dreams and career. Growing up in Dharwad, Karnataka, Ms. Murthy says she was determined to become an engineer, but the concept of a girl doing so was unheard of. “If girls had to study then people thought that they should either pursue an MBBS and become a doctor or pursue mathematics and go for teaching. the idea that a girl wanted to be an engineer was as surprising as a lion walking onto this stage, for instance.” The operative phrase of course, was the question of who would possibly want to marry a girl who was an engineer. Even her father – a doctor himself – felt engineering was a man’s domain. She persisted, however, and the principal of the local engineering college told her father that while he could not deny her a seat on merit, he was unsure how the boys would react to seeing a girl the class. “Tell her that since we’ve never had a girl here, there are no toilet facilities for girls in the college.” She said, “I decided to do it anyway. I said I will train my body and from 7 am to 11 am, after I had walked from home to college, I wouldn’t drink water at all. I would come back home in the afternoon and then may be drink a litre of water.” Those days of intense focus impacted her deeply. “I realised from those years what it meant to have a toilet, and that’s why the Infosys foundation (which she heads) has made sanitation a priority, building over 14,000 toilets. Ms. Murty was allowed a seat in college on three conditions: that she would always wear a sari, never visit the canteen and never talk to boys. She followed the first two, but not the third, reasoning that it would not be right to go through years without speaking to her 149 male counterparts. Eventually, she found that anything they could do, she could do better, finally finishing at the top of the class. The story of Christmas began with moments of rejection – Joseph and Mary turned away from every inn at the time of the birth of Jesus, and King Herod putting a price on the head of baby Jesus for fear of losing his kingly throne. However, Joseph and Mary made the best of the slightest and slender means and opportunities before them – a stable for Christ’s birth, and flight into Egypt at the behest of an angel in a dream. Rejection turned into blessings with angels singing the praises and glory of God at the birth of Jesus, shepherds praising and glorifying God for all they had heard and seen, and Jesus returning to rule every heart. Rejection from friends, rebuffs from colleagues and missed opportunities at school and workplaces. I am sure some of us must have had our plates full. However, these same moments can be our blessings. Often when we lose Hope and think this is the end God smiles and says, ‘Relax child, it’s just a bend, not the end!’ To notice the bend calls for deep humility, simplicity and grace. The baby Jesus in the stable provides all these, and much more, in abundance. We approach the manger with trust and child-like confidence this Christmas. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018 to all of you.
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
June 30, 2017
We are into the third week of the new scholastic year and the novelty seems to be losing its sheen already. Or is it? There is no cause for alarm though. For newness, if embedded in deep rooted beliefs and conviction can help bypass the routine and the mundane. Our institution is constantly evolving to effect excellence and create healthy learning environment. Presently the Science and the English departments of the Secondary section – the other faculties will follow suit in the coming years – are putting on their thinking caps to devise a curriculum that would assist the students in their thinking skills, creativity and practical applications, as also achieve the desired learning outcomes. Speech and drama have been integrated in the curriculum and this gains more significance with the introduction of professional training program – ACE productions of the Raell Padamsee group – in speech and theatre for students of Stds. I to VI this academic year. Differentiated learning in the classroom continues to be the focus of our teaching and learning styles, and the Platinum Jubilee Project ‘Mental Health Program of the school’ aims at giving the additional impetus needed to motivate and assist the weak and needy child in the classroom. The SSC results of the school this year has been a shot in the arm for the educators, students and parents. Besides the 100% this year (306/306), 67% of the students secured a distinction and that is commendable. It is an affirmation of the efforts and sacrifice of the staff and the students over these years. We welcome our new Rector, Fr. Crispino D’souza, to this institution. He is no stranger to the happenings and developments on the campus for he has served this institution as a Principal for eight long years from 2001-2009. We wish him a homely stay among us. I take this occasion to thank the outgoing Rector, Fr. Wilfred D’Souza, now transferred to Don Bosco, Borivili, for his role and efforts in guiding our institution over the last five years. Last year, we initiated the platinum jubilee celebrations of the school, and we are proud to have showcased the immense treasures and memories of the school through the events organized during the academic year. We conclude the celebrations this year in November in the presence of our beloved Rector Major Angel Fernandez Artime. The momentous occasion cannot be more memorable and blessed than this! Wishing all of us a happy and enriching year ahead!
Wishes and prayers,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
Dear friends, Harry Belafonte the affable Carribean singer is one of my favourites. Lately I was reading a beautiful article Harry and Sidney: Soul Brothers. It was written on the occasion of Sidney Poitier’s 90th birthday in February. Coincidentally Harry Belafonte turned 90 on 1st March 2017. It was an ode to and appreciation of the friendship between two Hollywood royals. Poitier and Belafonte didn’t meet until they were 20 years old, and yet Belafonte still considered Poitier his first real friend in life. As Belafonte put it, he lived a “nomadic” life as a child, shuttling back and forth between New York and islands of the Caribbean with his mother as she searched for work. “I did not get rooted long enough to develop what many people have the joy of experiencing, and that is childhood friends.” The two men met at the American Negro Theatre, where Poitier worked as a janitor while studying with the company and where Belafonte worked as a stagehand. This was where they became performers. The two men quickly broke through to each other, in part because they had so much in common. Not only were they the same age, they were both born to parents of West Indian heritage. They shared the charmingly ordinary experiences that young friends share, like sneaking into the theatre on the same ticket, each seeing half of a show, then filling each other in afterward on the half the other had missed. They called it “sharing the burden and the joy.” And yet, by leaning on each other, supporting each other, pushing each other, and yes, competing with each other, they would both find tremendous popular success. Each man often took roles that the other had turned down or didn’t get. There are varied reasons I wish to narrate this story over here as we end yet another scholastic year. If we look back, we have achieved much during the year holding each other’s hand, nudging one another, leaning on each other. Above the din of myriads of activities at Don Bosco Matunga – study, sports, jubilee celebrations, inter school competitions – we need to remember that something precious was happening in the quiet background. There occurred nurturing of friendships, cementing of bonds (educator-pupil, pupil-pupil, parent-educator, parent-pupil), and evolvement of stakeholders in stature, strength and wisdom. These experiences have left behind in their wake countless stories of success and challenges. We were happy to “share our burden and our joy” with each other. The annual day celebrations that witnessed ‘Our story’ warmed the cockles of our hearts. Just sitting and reminiscing the past, listening to glorious testimonies of one’s association with the institution- some choked with emotion, others elated at sharing their experiences while still others who just revelled in all the richness on offer with pride and gratitude, and rejoiced at their bonding with this large family called Don Bosco. Don Bosco is a brand that is peerless, and our association with it make us famed and coveted – and many will vouch for this fact. However, the converse is true too. By our deeds and example, we make Don Bosco great. When tennis ace Roger Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th Grand Slam title in January this year defeating Nadal a headline caught my attention “Roger Federer is peerless but he and Rafael Nadal have made each other great.” Don Bosco is unparalleled. However we can be wonderful ambassadors as much as champions to take forward the Salesian educative legacy and make Don Bosco greater. To this end, each of us at Don Bosco Matunga have tried to play our role and did our bit. Succeed to a great extent we did, and we thank God for the graces received to achieve our goal and live our vision. We march ahead with a spring in our step, firm belief in our potential and proud of our ‘Bosco’ inheritance! Happy and a relaxed summer vacation to all! With every good wish, Fr. Bernard Fernandes Principal 30 January, 2017 Dear Friends, At the onset of a new year – or for that matter, any new venture – each of us nurse a secret anxiety: What’s in store for me this time around? We sure do have our plans, our dreams, our resolutions and expectations. Yet the disquiet lingers. Here at Don Bosco High School, Matunga, we have our goals and targets defined for the new year. Part of these lie in the plethora of activities and events lined up to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of the school before the curtain is brought down on the celebrations in November 2017. The Jubilee year is a special and significant one for us here at Don Bosco, and we are fortunate to be a part of the celebrations to mark the 75 years of the presence of the institution at Matunga, Mumbai. The school embarked on the Jubilee celebrations on 16th Nov 2016 at a grand curtain raiser that featured a number of students and the entire staff of the school. The Chief Guest at the program, Fr. Godfrey D’Souza, Provincial of the Salesian Mumbai Province, acquainting the students and the gathering with the 75-year long history of the school said’ “In classrooms, the destiny of the nation is shaped. Schools create self-dependent adults and enlightened citizens.” Don Bosco Matunga upholds this belief. I wish to go back to where I started. Our dreams. Our hopes. Our plans. A short account will not be out of place. We may not be as strong or as resolute in our approach to the new year and new beginnings as the prompting goes. But it may help us to stop and think. In a powerful letter, poet Calvin Smith pens his hopes, dreams for his future black son. He speaks about unequal opportunities and biased beliefs. Yet he says to his boy, “This world was built, it can be rebuilt. Use everything that you accrue to reimagine the world… I hope the world you inherit is one in which you may love whomever you choose. I hope you read and write and laugh and sing and dance and build and cry and do all of the things a child should do.” Each of us need to script our story for this year. A story with a difference. A story that is noteworthy and deserving a recall. A story that believes in others and feels for others. The world around us provides us a landscape of opportunities to go beyond the mundane and the ordinary and celebrate our potential to the fullest. Time for us to create new beginnings by picking up the gauntlet …or are we a tad too anxious? An eventful and adventurous journey into the New Year 2017! Sincerely, Fr. Bernard Fernandes 31 August, 2016 Dear friends,
I wish to begin with the story of a photographer because his passion reminds me of the delights of a dedicated teacher and of the lessons we can all draw if we follow closely and wisely our life’s calling.
For Pulitzer-winning Jerusalem born photographer Muhammed Muheisen, trust is the most important part of his job – perhaps even more important than his camera. “Trust is not something you can buy, or get in no time,” he says. “It’s a long-term investment. It’s a feeling I work hard to earn.” Lately, he was awarded the $10,000 Oliver S Gramling award for journalism for his remarkable images of refugee children – images that are largely the result of his ability to connect with his subjects. “I have spent four years walking, talking and asking, with no language except respect and curiosity, about the lives of the people I photographed,” he says. “Day by day, I felt their trust growing, just as I saw the children growing before my eyes. I became part of their lives, as they became part of mine.”
Does this ring a bell? For teachers called to a noble profession nothing can me more satisfying and fulfilling than the sight of their students grow before their very eyes and become a part of them. The number of students the teacher encounters are numerous. Yet each one is special and unique. And each one has a special place in a teacher’s heart. The bond is strong and indeed powerful. That’s intrinsic to the noble teaching profession. It’s increasingly becoming a challenge though. With increasing demands on time and an avalanche of social media platforms, the quality moments spent for and with one another are indeed a cause for concern. It is disheartening yet not hopeless. Somewhere we need to inject a passion for renewed vigour, create a boundless desire to teach and learn, and rediscover the joys of a classroom. All this can come about with a firm belief and conviction that we can meet the challenges head on.
75 years is indeed a memorable milestone in the annals of our school. Thousands of students have passed within its hallowed portals, and an even greater band of proud and dedicated teachers have graced it with their presence. The imposing and majestic structure bears witness to the many exemplars of love, service and sacrifice. We, on our part wish to celebrate, albeit in a small way, this spirited presence of Don Bosco Matunga for three quarters of a century. Our effort may not reflect the depth and volume of the works over these past glorious years, but surely it is a symbolic gesture of gratitude to the Almighty and the pioneers for this wonderful marvel of history.
I come back to the man of our story. When asked the most important thing he has gleaned from his time in challenging places and risky situations, Muheisen says: “I have learned to feel lucky and appreciate everything I have in my life. When I see how happy people can be from the limited resources they have, when I hear children laugh and I walk towards them to find out what magic has made them happy … We don’t need much to be happy; that is what I have learned.”
Surely God has gifted us in abundance. The resources are plentiful and at times we are spoilt for choice. Praise the institution that is Don Bosco, and be happy that we have been privileged to be a part of its illustrious story! To our teachers- in particular those who are going to retire this academic year: our AHM, Ms. Beatrice; Primary Head teacher, Ms. Winifred and Secondary Assistant teacher, Mr. V.K. – many thanks! Happy Teacher’s day!
With much affection, Fr. Bernard Fernandes sdb Dear friends, DON BOSCO LIVES ON… Welcome to the new scholastic year. It’s been a long vacation this summer and we now get back to a much needed normal routine of school life. While you were away, these were some of the developments on the campus:
- An entire new block of the Kg section on the mezzanine floor of the residential building.
- A makeover of the corridor walls facing the quadrangle.
- A restructuring and re-cabling of the 2 computer labs to accommodate the newly introduced online Career guidance program for Stds. VII to X.
This scholastic year is special since we celebrate the platinum jubilee – seventy-five years – of Don Bosco High School, Matunga. We are grateful and proud that Don Bosco came to this part of Mumbai way back in 1940’s from where it was able to spread its wings of cheerful presence and hope to thousands of youngsters in different parts of the city, state and the country – Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka… We thank the pioneers who sacrificed their time, energy and talents to live their vision and mission – to educate the masses; especially the poor and needy of the neighbourhood. We now continue reliving and redefining the dreams of our visionaries and predecessors. For this we have to express our goals and identify our passions. Someone gave this useful advice and I quote: Instead of the oft used and mouthed ‘follow your passion’ it is important to ‘foster your passion’. We need to understand this more closely. What does it mean to be passionate? Passion is not a one-off activity. Rather it needs to be nurtured and fostered. There are three suggestions to practice this: • Move towards what interests you • Seek purpose • Finish strong I believe the first step is quite uncomplicated. However, we need to invest in time and guidance to identify something that interests us. It’s the second step that needs a paradigm shift in our outlook and thought. In seeking purpose, I need to ask myself: ‘In what way do I wish the world were different? What problems can I help solve?’ We notice that this is different from the question we repeat to ourselves and others so often, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ Now, to seek a purpose is a tough ask. For most of the time we are taught at home and in school to choose a career that will help maintain our status in society, be famous and secure in life. Yet, if at a very young age, we know the difference between gratification of personal desires and caring for others, receiving and service, ‘my’ world and ‘our’ world, then we will begin to work towards a better and different world. We will be more passionate. Study shows that those who have an enduring passion answer affirmatively to the statements, ‘In choosing what to do, I always take into account whether it will benefit other people’ and ‘I have the responsibility to make the world a better place.’ Lastly finish strong. Work as hard on your last day as on your first. Do not throw in the towel at the first hurdle. This is because your commitment to a goal is of paramount importance. No matter where you go next, you have an opportunity to make the most of where you are now. For ‘every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.’ Let’s build our goals and dreams for this year – goals that will be driven by an enduring passion for truth, love and beauty around us. Goals that have the imprint of the great educator we hold so dear, Don Bosco! 75 years for an institution is a long period, and Don Bosco High School, Matunga, has withstood the test of time. We have come thus far, and my dear staff, students and friends, this is where we are now presently – no matter where we move next. We have a job at hand, a goal to achieve – to let DON BOSCO LIVE ON! Gratefully yours, Fr. Bernard Fernandes Principal Older messages Archived Principal’s Message – 1 Principal’s Desk Archive 2