The accolades keep coming | Sunday Observer

The accolades keep coming

Winners of the Herman Loos Challenge trophy 1993
Winners of the Herman Loos Challenge trophy 1993

A school is recognised not just for its quality of education, but also for the glory it gains through extracurricular activities such as sports, student associations and obviously cadetting.

Ananda College, Colombo has indeed inherited a colourful history on its journey with the National Cadet Corps. The pioneer of Olcott Colleges, Ananda, has won 17 Herman Loos (HL) trophies to date, a record which any other school couldn’t ever dream of breaking.

In 1934 Ananda College won the HL trophy for the first time. Since then, it has bagged the prestigious award in 1938, 1945, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1960, 1979, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002. It is interesting to note that from 1990 to 1993 it has won the HL trophy continuously, the only school to do so. Its brother school, Nalanda had also won the trophy four times, but Nalanda had to share the trophy once with Trinity College, Kandy.

Lt. Gayan Chinthaka, the teacher in charge of the Prefects Guild of Ananda College says that the only person who could talk about the magnificent journey of the school in HL challenge, is Lt. Col. B.K.K.D. Wijesinghe who was the Cadet Officer at Ananda College from 1987 to 2002. Of the decade of 90’s, the school had won seven trophies, which could be another record in NCC history.

The splendour of winning during the 90’s was due to the commitment of the then Cadet Officer, Col. Wijesinghe.

“It is obvious that it was Col. Wijesinghe's efforts that pioneered the victories at the HL challenge as we have not received any HL trophy after 2002,” said Lt. Gayan Chinthaka.

Col. Wijesinghe became the Cadet Officer of Ananda College in 1987 soon after he joined the college as a teacher. It was Principal Kudaligama who recruited him as a teacher and then made him the Cadet Officer of the college.

“I learnt a lot from Principal Kudaligama. He was the one who uplifted the College once it was facing a lot of problems. He was an inspirational character and leader,” said the Colonel.

"In College, Principal Kudaligama was always in full suit. Even after school hours he would wear a tie," Col. Wijesinghe reminisced about his mentor.

How Col. Wijesinghe joined Ananda College also makes an interesting story.

He first met Principal Kudaligama in 1974 when he went to college as an exam supervisor. Principal Kudaligama noticed the discipline Col. Wijesinghe maintained then and invited Col. Wijesinghe to join the tutorial staff of the College.

“It was a time when joining Ananda College was like a dream come true to a teacher. But I said no,” said the Colonel.

Col. Wijesinghe had already set goals for himself. At that time he was Deputy Principal in a remote school and staying on in the post would make it easier for him to reach the Principal grade sooner. He had a daughter, but no sons. If he had a son, it could have made him eager to join a reputed boys’ school.

“How old are you?,” Principal Kudaligama questioned him.

“Twenty eight, Sir.”

“So why don’t you try for a boy?,”the Principal asked.

However, after a series of discussions with Col. Wijesinghe, the Principal finally won him over to bring him to College under one condition. “He promised to hand over the school cadet team to me. The moment I heard him say that I said "Yes, Iwill join you, Sir.”

Next week: Col. Wijesinghe and Ananda College Cadetting