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St. Thomas High School

by Jyotsna Kamat
First Online: June 16, 2007
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

St Thomas High School Honavar (established in 1905) This first high school in private sector in North Kanara district is verily a land mark. There used to be no other English school except the Government High school at Karwar established in 1868. Even for bright and well-to-do- family members, English Education was a dream in this 'Robin son Crusoes' 'Island of N.K'as many used to say. With rivers and rivulets all over, crossable only by boats and country-craft, nearest railway station, more than a hundred miles away, bad muddy roads and bullock carts as the only mode of transport, Honavar was far away yet from modern civilized world.

But the Christian Missionaries were there. They were ready to face any trials and tribulations to spread the Lord's message as visualized by Jesus Christ. Basel Mission was the fore most, organization among these which besides converting the 'gentiles' into gentle Christians, established schools, started printing press, brought out text books and dictionaries, and opened a tile factory- and handloom factory to provide employment to locals. No surprise they thought of opening a high School at Honavar which under early British rule was the District Headquarters of undivided Kanara district.

Vikas Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Teachers of St. Thomas High School
Teachers of St. Thomas High School
Town of Honavar, Year 2004

Mr. Munch, a German was the first Headmaster of the Basel Mission High school, established in Honavar in 1905. A good teacher and organizer he won the confidence of students and locals alike. But World War I broke out in 1914 with Germans emerging as enemies of the British. Mr. Munch was taken a prisoner along with his wife and a babe in arms. He was taken to Ahmed Nagar prisoner camp. He used to attend school on a horse. Long after the War, he used to reply affectionately to his past students who cared to write letters from Honavar.

Rev. Lutz, who was a Swiss, took over as manager but also had to leave because of German lineage, brusque and out spoken ways.

P.N. Menon became the first Indian Headmaster and manager. After the war, the School management was handed to Mar Thoma Mission of Travanore. This was branch of Syrian or St. Thomas Christian Church and the School came to be known as "St Thomas High School'' from its earlier name of Basel Mission High School since 1919.

The early students studied in thatched huts. But later they had a planned building.

Vikas Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
St. Thomas Highschool Campus, Honavar
St. Thomas Highschool Campus, Honavar

Late Mr. P.N. Menon has certain interesting anecdotes about sympathetic British officers. Mr. Tupper, the district collector was highly appreciative of the functioning of the School. Tupper Hall built in Honavar is in his remembrance. Mr. J.T. Lawrence I.C.S (Indian Civil Service) member of Governor's council, who said he had only five minutes to spare, spent more than an hour at the school in the company of staff and students! Mr. Mountford, southern Divisional Commissioner came visiting at Mr. Menon's request. He got engaged in teaching to Matriculation students! When leaving Mountford was approached to arrange for shifting of the fish market, in front of the school, to make way for play ground. He jokingly replied that instead, the boys for exercise could run on the public road near by! Mr. Menon replied in the same jocular spirit that the police should not molest boys for causing traffic hazard. The play ground was sanctioned in no time.

To day, that imposing play- ground has witnessed countless boys playing for nearly 3/4th of a century. Many ex-students of this School have contributed liberally towards renovations, repairs and new buildings. St. Thomas High School has a rich legacy of devoted teachers and grateful students. It has excelled both in academics and sports. It has representation of students from all castes and communities, (many, rare ones) which are a legion round about Sharavati region. It has several award-winning teachers at state and national level, who toil to this date.

See Also:

Town of Honavar
Kamats' Home Town


Sailing in SharavatiThe Ruins of BasavarajaDurga Near Honavar PortThe island of Mavinkurve as seen from Honavar beachOn the Colonel Hill
View of the Kasarkod Tile FactoryView of old Honavar Bundar (port)A Merchant Ship (machwa) from old HonavarHandmade transportation boats parked at Honavar Harbor
A Column for a ColonelCoir Products being transported in a boatSt. Thomas Highschool Campus, Honavar


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