R-Day prize for garden girls

Jaigaon, Jan. 28: The girls of Chengmari Tea Estate High School in Nagrakata returned today with the second prize for the Republic Day march-past in Calcutta after vying with 15 other institutions from across the state.

The headmaster of the school, Shibkumar Jha, said his institution was the only one from Jalpaiguri district to participate in the march-past, taking the salute from governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi. “We had sent 60 girls, with three teachers accompanying them, to take part in the march-past a month ago. They were put up at the Salt Lake stadium and trained in marching skill by jawans of the Eastern Command at the Maidan,” the headmaster said. He added that Basantapur Jhareswari Bani Bhaban School, West Midnapore, had topped the competition.

He said the marchers were led by Saroja Majhi, a Class IX student who stays with her parents in Rangamati tea garden.

“We became runners-up although we participated for the first time. We were happy to show off our skills to the governor,” said Saroja.

The girls were presented with a gleaming trophy and certificates by Brigadier P.K. Sanyal of the Eastern Command.

“We were stunned by the vastness of the city and we were very glad that we had an opportunity to see Calcutta, something we had never dreamed of,” she said.

The chairman of the school management committee, D.S. Parmar, who is also the manager of the tea estate, said almost all the 2,000 students were the children of garden workers. “I am proud that they brought glory to the school despite the little opportunities they have.”

Today, the students alighted at the Carron station where a reception was hosted for them. The girls walked all 3km with their trophy to reach the school.

The secretary of the school’s managing committee, Kumar Thapa, said the students would be felicitated at a special function later on. He added that all the expenses were borne by the school education department.