It is with great pleasure that I present to you an overview of the academic year that is drawing to a closure. Even though Smt. Sigappi Achi is no longer with us, her blessings are always with us. Truly, time flies. These highlights and special events, each unique in its own way, have added flavor to the year gone by.

My pranams to our director Smt. Geetha Muthiah and all those present here. A decade has passed since HSV’s inception in 2004. It has been a historical year as we crossed yet another milestone – our first batch of class XII students, or should I say, girls, graduated at the ISC level. 3 confident young ladies, have stepped out to take on life. We are proud to share with you that Harini Sridhar who joined us in class XI has been accepted at Duke University where she will be pursuing medicine. A special mention here of the sincere efforts on her part as well as the team of teachers and her parents’ support. Coming from the American system, ISC had its own challenges for Harini. Sheer determination to excel has enabled her admission into this prestigious institution. Harini, we are delighted to have you as our alumni. Valliammai Muthuganesan, also from the Science stream, is awaiting news from universities in Singapore and Malaysia, where she too plans to pursue medicine. Valli is the first student to graduate from Hari Shree’s pioneer batch of 2004 consisting of 5 students. Having been a parent –principal for almost a decade, I am relieved. On the last day of the exam, I’m not sure who celebrated the most – Valli, the teachers or me?! Barkavi Mahesh from the commerce group is moving on to take up Hotel Management. Barkavi’s enrollment opened up the ISC chapter at Hari Shree.

Join me in wishing these spirited young ladies the very best. HSV was inaugurated by  Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati began its journey on his ideas of education and with his blessings. It continues to thrive under the blessing of Shri. Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy with the invaluable support of Shri. M.A.M.R. Muthiah at every crucial step.

Though numerous initiatives, programs and collaborations have been introduced and successfully implemented, for the want of time I shall present a selection in this gathering.

To sustain HSV’s vibrancy as a meeting ground for talent, we took up the hosting of the ASISC quiz 2013 – ICSE as well as ISC. This regional competition, in which schools from all over Tamilnadu participated, was conducted by no other than the ace quiz master, Ramanan who added thrill and glamour to the event. Having been the proud host for Debate & Declamation in 2011, Lawn tennis in 2012, Quiz competition in 2013, with the management’s continued support we will also be hosting the regional quiz in the new academic session.

We hosted the ICSE Frank Anthony Memorial All India Inter School Debate 2013 and had 7 participating teams from Tamilnadu and Kerala. This event that culminates at the national level, is an annual tradition of the CISCE and a platform for the students from affiliated schools to exhibit their eloquence in the English language.

The debating culture gained further momentum as a result of our new found partnership with the Global Education and Leadership Foundation, tGELF as it is known – A program initiative of the Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation whose vision it is to nurture young ethical leaders who will be future agents of change. This collaboration that resulted in us hosting Harmony 2013, tGELF’s regional level talent quest in Debate, Chess and Street Play, is a fruit borne of our Director, Smt.Geetha Muthiah’s association with the founders of this ambitious and inspirational project. This partnership is another effort in equipping our children to become contributors in an ever changing global society. 2 students who have gained immensely from tGELF’s opportunities for experiential and real world learning are Akshay Sivakumar and Siddarth PC from the Science and Commerce group respectively. They were selected from numerous applicants and were a part of a delegation of 14 students from India that visited Doha, Qatar to participate in the 3 day Doha Goals conference – a premier platform for world leaders to create initiatives for global progress through sport. The student delegation had an opportunity to interact with world leaders and with some of the greatest sporting legends of all time. The invaluable mentorship sessions by sporting champions and business leaders proved a boon for our boys. Through joint engagement and dialogue, the students were able to create a road map to build initiatives and partnerships for social improvement through sport.

Feedback from tGELF puts on record that these two young men were not passive observers but active players at the event, earning special mention by eminent sports personalities.

A highlight of the conference was the task force where students had to discuss solutions to challenges facing sports, namely corruption and racial discrimination. The proposal that came from the student leaders was to be presented at a G20 meet in Australia.

Boys, we are proud that you rubbed shoulders with icons David Duke, Abinav Bindra, Boris Becker, Michael Johnson, Nadia Comenichi and their likes. An enviable opportunity but you earned it.

While these agents of change crossed the national borders in their endeavours, closer to home the CHSV Interact Club members, sworn in during the installation ceremony in August, were busy doing their part for the community. The interactors’ very first project was the creation of a Tulsi garden in the Cancer Institute campus, Adayar. An interaction with Padmashree Awardee Dr.Shantha, chairperson of Adayar Cancer Institute focused on the changes our young minds would like to see in the world today.

The interact club members,  along with the prefectorial board, managed the annual fund raising event, the Christmas Carnival, and have jointly raised about a lakh that is to be disbursed to various organizations shortlisted by the students themselves.

Head table 2013 is an annual student leadership forum that provides young leaders a platform to experience real-world leadership through inclusive discussions, mentoring sessions and informal interaction with eminent thought leaders from different domains. HSV student leaders Head boy Akshay Sivakumar, Head Girl Yeshasvini and Sports Leader Srikrishna participated in this forum.

The Student Led Conference for classes 10 to 12, a first time venture this year, had as its goal, the objective of further promoting the children’s involvement in the learning process. An orientation to SLC which highlighted the objectives and expectations and a set of handouts is all that they received. From inviting the teachers and parents to the individual conference to selecting the subject/ subjects they wish to focus on in their presentation, every action and decision was left to the children.

The impact was encouraging but not impressive. While some students worked with absolute ownership and the understanding that its they who stand to benefit from this exercise, many were clouded with apprehension and dread and went through the motions, having lost the vision and spirit.

The teachers seemed reluctant to leave their comfort zone for they were not convinced of the program’s objectives. Habits are hard to give up and in many of these conferences, teachers/parents took over or had to take over and the student became a passive audience. But, we are not discouraged. The new academic session will see the return of the SLC, a more fine-tuned version of the previous one. Having learnt from the experience, I guess we will be able to deliver it more effectively this time round. To start with, the students will have one briefing and the teachers certainly two. Maybe, we should consider one for the parents too. Pushpa Gopal has been spearheading this initiative. Thank you Pushpa and please take note of these recommendations. You have the task of making believers out of non-believers for us to be successful as agents of change.

Two commendable student initiatives this year come from the same group of children. The current batch of children who have just stepped into grade 10 have been a gregarious and industrious group and the credit goes to them and their teachers, namely Mrs.Bharathi Parameswaran, for ushering in the Model United Nations. The SishMun at Sishya and CVMUN at Chettinad Vidyashram in which we had been delegates, provided the inspiration and confidence to conduct a model UN at Hari Shree.  The CHSV MUN, the first ever was an event totally managed by a core group from this grade. Their organizational skills, meticulous planning and efficiency impressed one and all. Though Bharathi acharya was on medical leave, her ongoing support to the children never wavered.  We thank her for her apparent devotion to her commitments. With that experience, we are gearing up for a model UN at HSV that will involve participation from other city schools and is to be conducted on a larger platform.

The very same group was the driving force behind the launch of the biannual newsletter- Madras Filter Kapi. This year’s second edition is available just outside the auditorium. There are limited copies. They are on sale to cover printing costs and not as a commercial enterprise. Please pick one. Your support is an acknowledgement of our children’s dedication and toil and will go a long way in encouraging them and their peers in pursuit of such undertakings. The children have been assisted by our parent volunteer, Mrs. Praveena Chandrashekar to whom we are thankful.

We are certain that such student led activities in the co-curriculum as well as the curriculum will promote responsibility and accountability for their own progress and success.

On the cultural front, HSV continued its tradition of celebrating the Margazhi season with grandeur. A bigger cast, an equally impressive and magnificent stage, elaborate props and  guests from the who’s who list of Chennai. Dasavatharam was a stupendous show that brought to fore the latent talent and sheer effort of our children, teachers and staff and the creative genius of the director choreographer Shri.M.S.Hariharan. Having applauded his creation, many had this question for him “How did you mange 170 children?” He has become a legend of sorts in the dance circle for his children management skills is what I gather. By the way, once he did joke that most of the teacher participants in the cast were equal to 2 children each.

A production of this magnitude was made possible only by the unwavering support of our Director, Smt.Geetha Muthiah. The management’s vision to promote Hari Shree as a thriving cultural space is also reflected in our continued collaboration with SPICMACAY, that brought 3 enchanting and varied programs – A Hindustani musical experience presented by Dr. Kamala Shankar, Classical Shanai recital by Sri.Ashwani Kumar & Sri.Sanjeev Kumar.

And the recent curtain raiser performance for SPICMACAY’s 2nd international convention that brought the illustrious dance couple the Dhananjayans to our stage. Each one of these cultural events has been a rare opportunity and a true blessing – to witness the performance is one thing but to interact with artistes of this eminence is another.

2013-14 has also been an impressive year for sports at HSV. The one man PT dept with Mr.Nirmal Raj as its sole member gradually expanded with Mr.Pandian. And with Mr.Joel & Mr.Senthil joining us, it has truly become a department. They are doing a wonderful job in ensuring that our children enjoy sports and are equipped with the right skills to prepare themselves for competitive events. The awards and accolades we have clinched in the sports arena is testimony to their efforts and our children’s progress. The sheer interest in sports has gone up, judging from the response to the summer sports camp, for which  a total of 102 children across all grades have signed up. An encouraging and healthy trend which if sustained by parents will help us wean our children from their gadgets or rather from their obsession with gadgets.

Another department that made its mark is the Art department. Mrs. Alamu, our new team member and Mrs. Nagapriya, made history by ushering in another annual tradition at Hari Shree – Varnajaala – literally meaning ‘play of colours’. The aptly named art exhibition of our children’s work, was simply breathtaking. The artistic skills, perfection of techniques, the repertoire of work displayed – every element was a true reflection of the children’s engagement and the teachers’ involvement in the classroom. Innovations and explorations in the teaching-learning process were aimed at a transformation in the way art is perceived. One exercise required class 3 children to exchange completed work with their peers and to engage in a peer discussion that would throw light on why his/her friend had chosen to present the work in a certain manner. Such exchanges helped the children understand alternative perspectives, interpretations and taught them to value every piece of work as an individual expression without being critical. Teachers, thank you for your aspirations and inspirations. Kindly keep the momentum going.

As is the custom at HSV, student welfare is one of our priorities. Though it is mandatory for schools to install closed circuit television cameras only at entry and exit points, the management has installed a total of 60 cameras to hike up security within the campus. The CCTVs have also proved effective in curbing the occasional incidents of vandalism.

It is a slightly different situation with the vending machine that has been introduced by the parent body. Put in place to cater to children who needed the service of a tuck shop, we are yet to review its impact. Now, that the initial novelty and frenzy has settled down, a thorough understanding of its need is essential for us to either continue its maintenance or to be relieved of it – a decision to be taken in the first quarter of the new academic year. Parents’ feedback in this regard is welcome for it will enable us to make an informed decision.

Lack of proper sports facilities at Hari Shree was an on and off woe in the past. Eventually, just as we settled down to enjoy our basketball and throwball courts, cricket pitch and jungle gym, the decision to raise another block to accommodate higher secondary levels razed them to the ground. We had to start from scratch again but it has been worth the wait, I am sure you would agree. In addition to the sports facilities on the ground, a hefty investment has converted part of our terrace into play space. This is to help us cater to the demand for play space that came with the decision to have more PT periods and unstructured play time. The construction work is largely over. The final touches are being made and we hope to welcome the children and you to a state of the art campus with a video conference room & auditorium but with its original charm and traditional flavor intact.

As part of the ongoing support system for the children requiring various intervention, we have also been looking into providing occupational therapy under the Hari Shree roof. Since many behavioural issues across all grades have been found to be linked to restlessness and/or hyperactivity and can be managed with OT for concerned students the PT teachers have been undergoing an orientation by a qualified therapist to incorporate special exercises and activities in PT lessons and also to offer them in isolation to a select group of children, all under the guidance of a certified occupational therapist.

This endeavour is in its nascent stage and requires further fine tuning, review and validation before implementation in the due course of time. Here, I wish to thank our school student mentor, Mrs.Mohana Narayan for her guidance and support.

In the span of ten years, HS has managed to successfully carve itself a niche as a progressive school for its willingness to embrace challenges and courage to reform / innovate in pursuit of excellence in all that we do. The value for lifelong learning and the belief that everyone is a learner forms the fundamentals of our philosophy. Naturally, teacher development is a prime agenda with us. The teachers are constantly motivated and guided to adopt or invent best practices and to share what works in their classrooms. An opportunity for learning is not one to be missed and it is an integral aspect of the school culture.,

One such opportunity came our way last year when the British Council invited applications from teachers who wished to participate in the Global Teacher Accreditation project. The aim of the project is to impact students and schools from across the globe. GTA is offered under the teacher development strand of Connecting Classrooms Program. The focus is on designing & implementing classroom based action research projects that have a direct impact on the student learning outcomes. The process involves identifying a problem, formulating the research question; designing an action plan and tools for implementing the action research and reviewing impact of implementation.

Mrs.Meenakshi Nagaraj, took up this challenge and looked at the effects of the three different types of learners in a classroom – Audio, Visual & kinesthetic and how teaching methodology should be adopted to reach out to these varied learners. Her relentless efforts have won her the Global Teacher Accreditation award. We are delighted she won it and even more delighted that she has promoted an awareness of her action research within the teaching fraternity at HSV and has been guiding and motivating many to try a similar strategy in their respective classrooms. We are proud to say that this year we have four more teachers who have qualified to be part of this program. Their very selection itself is an achievement. I too have the honour and proud privilege of being chosen as a GTA mentor and will be offering guidance and support to teaching professionals from Chinmaya Vidyalaya, AMM Matriculation, Mahatma Montessori & Vel’s International. These collective experiences will enable us to innovate in terms of curriculum designing while providing the inspiration for teachers to explore their professional potential.

As much as it is a time to commemorate our success and recount our achievements, I need to steal a few moments to contemplate about things that didn’t go too well. The major grievance this year came in the form of the school uniform and understandably so. An issue that irked you while leaving us, or rather me, sleepless. There was a time when any mail, by the way you were quite generous in sending us as many as possible, with the subject ‘School Uniform’, will raise an alarm in the office room. I am sure there used to be a tinge of sympathy in Anu’s voice as she reported yet another mail in the inbox regarding uniforms.  Believe me, the confusion and helplessness was mutual. We are glad to have sailed through this phase without any demonstration at the school gate. Thank you for the same.

Jokes aside, our sincere thanks to you for bearing with our seemingly untimely decisions and the ensuing confusion. The objective was to standardize the color and the design of the uniform. Hence the inevitable delay and our eventual insistence that it should be tailored by only a single vendor. It has been decided that we will continue with School Colours as the sole vendor for another year before we review your request to take it to a tailor of your choice.

Before I conclude, here is a peek into the new session which is promising and defining too. The introduction of the Humanities group with Art and revival of Business Studies are decisions taken to ensure our children have sufficient options to choose from as per their passion and potential.

In tandem with our vision to groom children as socially conscious citizens who wil want to impact society at large, we will be incorporating a social responsibility element in the form of an outreach program which will be an integral component to the annual excursions for classes 8 to 12. The children get to choose from options that vary in nature – We have the usual sight-seeing trips; the outdoor experience for the adventurous & a combination of adventure and community work in an indigenous environment for those who wish to experience the joy of giving. We are hopeful you will encourage your child to make a decision that will promote learning for life. However, the choice will remain with the children.

It has been 3 years since we were awarded the International School Award. We are poised to engage the children once again in learning that will take them beyond boundaries. Classes PP1 to 12 will be involved in projects on specific themes / issues that requires them to interact with people from various cultures and walks of life and to establish bonds with their counterparts in different parts of the world.  This other learning experience will also be complemented by class assemblies, guest talks and interactive sessions, special outings, socially Useful Productive Work & Community Outreach Programs.

In closing, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Shri. M.A.M.R. Muthiah, Chairman Chettinad Group of Companies and our Director, Smt. Geetha Muthiah for their continued support.

It has been a wonderful 10 years at HSV for me. I have been working with one of the most motivated teams, a real pleasure and a blessing!

On behalf of everyone at Hari Shree, let me wish goodbye to our outgoing students. We hope the skills you have learnt in your education at HSV equips you for what lies ahead. Stay in touch and share your success with us. We are positive you will do us proud.

Let us enjoy the holidays as we poise ourselves for an exciting and productive year ahead.

I call upon Smt.Shobana Balaji to take over.

Thank You.

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