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Exciting reunion looms

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, May 29, 2014

XAVIER College today is one of the biggest and most modern high schools in the country.

Situated in Ba, the learning centre boasts a $2.1million 1600-seat auditorium, an 800-seat hall, a modern gym with $50,000 worth of equipment, a library with more than 30,000 reference books, a standard size 400m athletic track, three soccer fields, two netball courts, volleyball court, basketball court, tennis court, four badminton courts and six table tennis platforms to promote sports and games.

The computer lab, audiovisual centre, art room, social science room, industrial arts building and science labs are very well equipped and second to none.

This is a far cry from how the school was first established in 1953 with 24 male students.

Under the tutelage of Catholic priest Father Cryan, 13 out of the first 14 students who attempted the then Senior Cambridge Examination passed. This set the benchmark for future generations. And, true to form, the trend continues at Xavier College today.

Under the present principal, Brother George, the school's excellent academic record continues with more than 90 per cent pass rate in external exams.

With the view to inspire the current student body, prominent former scholars from the 1970s are preparing to get together at the school on June 6, 7 and 8.

Organisers of the get-together are former students who have mostly settled abroad and are keen to rekindle old friendships and discuss ways they can assist the school.

Chairperson of the organising committee, Auckland-based physician Dr Sulochana Chand, used social media site Facebook to connect with students from the '70s.

Working with Vinita Bhairo, a Brisbane-based attorney, she managed to reach former students who had reached the pinnacle of their respective careers across the globe.

Together with Ranjan Charan, head boy from 1973 and now a California-based attorney who is in charge of the logistics of organising the reunion, Dr Chand has managed to contact more than 200 people, all keen to get together to reminisce and see what they can do collectively for the school they say developed them into the citizens they are today.

Kirit Patel, chairman and CEO of the Motibhai Group of Companies including Prouds and The Fiji Times Limited, said Xavier College had not only instilled in him an entrepreneurial spirit but had also invoked in him a desire to do community work.

"For me, Xavier has played a very important role in my life and will always have a lasting place in my memories as it fostered in me a broader way to view life," he said.

"Given this, I have a very affective and continued commitment to Xavier College, which over the years has been ranked as one of top schools in Fiji."

Mr Patel joined the Rotary Club of Ba and became president and then Western Division governor, spearheading charity drives and campaigns to assist the less fortunate in the sugar-producing town.

He joined Xavier College in 1969 and departed in 1972 to pursue studies at the University of the South Pacific and then the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Prior to joining Motibhai, he worked for four years with Price WaterhouseCoopers.

Xavier College's mission states the school is "committed to developing youths into upright, creative and loyal citizens imbibed with love and concern for others, with spiritual sensitivity and a sense of personal freedom and to equip them to earn a living and contribute to the economic, social and cultural progress of Fiji in a homely and multicultural school environment".

On June 6, more than 200 former scholars will gather at the school to celebrate the mission exemplified in their lives.

They will talk about the many incidents — hilarious and otherwise — that have contributed to their individual development.

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