The Old Cottonians’ Association
If a school is generally known by its Principal & Staff, Cottons is known by its Old Boys. The Cottonian of 1890 prophetically remarks: “This is the beginning of the nest network, which we wish to see, springing from a knot in the Old School, and extending all over India and thence to all the countries where Old Cottonians may happen to have their lives thrown. This bond is shortly to be cemented by a gathering of Old Cottonians wherein we hope to see old and new aligning themselves in one long rank, old alternating with young”.

It seems very strange that though the School was founded in 1865, it took 52 long years for an Association of Old Students to be formed in Cottons. Rev. A.E. Scipio, the then Warden, formed the “Old Boys’ Association'' in 1927 and the First Meeting was held on 23rd December 1927 in the School. In its early years, the Warden would monitor the Association and would preside over all the meetings. The Bursar would be the Secretary and Treasurer. The Warden makes it a point to correspond with every Old Boy personally.

In 1936, the Old Cottonians planned for a New Organ for the Chapel. It was then decided that the New Organ should be a Memorial to Mr. A.G. Haines twenty-five years of faithful service to the school. On Saturday, 16th March 1940, the first strains were heard on the New Hammond Electronic Organ played by that great Music Master Mr. Maurice Lanyon. It was dedicated on 21st April 1940 by Bishop Pakenham Walsh, who had been warden when Mr. Haines had joined the staff.

In the early years, the attendance was excellent as most boys were still around in India. With most of the boys migrating to Australia and the UK, the crowd started thinning out. It is normally difficult for a student who has just passed out to think of getting concerned about making his career and settling down. It is sad that most boys come back to the Association only when they are at the end of their professions and then become a member or when they come in to get their children admitted. Most of the other schools make it compulsory for the boys to become a member of the Old Students Association at the time of handing over the Transfer Certificate. In our case, it's only those who are really interested in participating in the affairs of the OCA that come and join up.

It was during the Wardenship of Rev I L Thomas that a Constitution was formed, and the Association became an autonomous body. As far as my knowledge goes, the OCA is the only Alumni in India that runs independent of the School with its own Managing Committee and its own funds.

The OCA regularly organized the St Peter’s Reunion Dinner and get-to-gethers every year but surprisingly, there was no increase in the number of members.

The Swimming Pool was shut for several years. The OCA collected funds and donated the Filtration Plant to the School. Other than these activities, there was not much going on in the OCA.

In 1993, the OCA set out on a massive membership drive. A specific membership Committee was formed under the convenorship of a Committee Member. Each Committee Member was allotted a portfolio to handle. Till then, it was the Secretary who took the entire workload on his head and the other members would just attend meetings. This distribution of work led to streamlining of the Association. Some of the Committees formed were the Membership, Magazine (now Newsletter), Entertainment, Sports, Fundraising, Public relations, each headed by a Committee Member. This decentralization really helped in improving the efficiency of the organization. In 2000, we introduced the web page and the same year, all our records were computerized. We have moved with the times. The AGMs were conducted on a very professional basis. A comment was made by our Patron at our AGM saying that he was happy to see that the entire general body was conducted so smoothly, our Government should take a few tips from us.

One of my predecessors Mr. Khaleel R Mekhri served for 19 years as Secretary of the Association and 1 year as its Treasurer. After going through 7 years myself, I can understand the magnetic pull the School had for him. Even today, coming almost every other day to the office to check the mail etc., I never tire of remembering every nook and corner of the school. The places where we used to play marbles, meeting behind the Tennis Courts to settle a difference of opinion. The Tuck Shop was a favorite haunt during the breaks. The strict discipline ploughed into us remains even today. My father, who passed out in 1943 was fortunate to have been under “Streak, Canon Elphick”.
Nikhil Tiwari (Class of 1974, Pope House)
Excerpts from Platinum Jubilee Souvenir (1927 – 2002)