The school playground is not only where you got your first knee scratch, it’s also where you first learnt to interact with other children. Your school informed your adult life, your career and your character.
Your teachers were those beacons of light that showed you the way forward.
School colours:Black and Gold.
Flag : Gold/ Black/ Gold.
School motto : Country before self (Thamata pera rata)
Houses : Shantha, Weera, Meththa, Shoora.
Type of school : Multi ethnic, multi religious school.
Starts at : 8.00 a.m.
Closes at : 2.00 p.m.
College uniform : Grade 1 to 9 – Blue shorts, White short sleeved shirt, Black shoes, Black socks. Grade 10 to 13 – White longs, White short sleeved shirt, Black shoes, Black socks. Tie with school colours is worn at special occasions. All prefects wear the prefect badge.
School prefects : There are three different categories.
(i) Volunteers are chosen from Grade 12.
(ii) Guides are chosen from Grade 13
(iii) Senior prefects are from Grade 14 (which is the time period spent by a student at school after sitting their Advanced Level exam for the first time).
By Sunalie Ratnayake
As you drive or walk along Gregory’s Road, Colombo 7, there is this set of buildings that stand proudly inside an iron fence that you cannot miss. You also cannot miss the statue that is reminiscent of a person very much honoured and loved by Sri Lankans of all time.
It is the statue of Sri Lanka’s first ever Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake, standing tall in the midst of a huge square pond, surrounded by flowers of many different colours and varieties. The office building stands a bit taller behind the statue. This is none other than D.S. Senanayake College, which was built in memory of an honest and great man – D.S. Senanayake. Of late, a massive blue structure has been added to the premises, which is the swimming pool.
D.S. Senanayake College was inaugurated in a prefabricated building on February 10, 1967 in memory of D.S. Senanayake. The college initially consisted of 167 kindergarten students and five teachers. The first ever building of the school was built on a half acre piece of land.
[Founder Principal R. I. T. Alles and Principal Ashoka Senani Hewage]
Building the college was a dream of one person, the then Minister of Education, I.M.R.A. Iriyagolla. This was during the regime of Dudley Senanayake. Iriyagolla’s dream was realised by the vision and enthusiasm of R.I.T. Alles, the founder principal. Alles was ably assisted by a much-dedicated team of teachers and a loyal and ever enthusiastic body of parents.
A land that was covered with trees and shrubs and gave the appearence of a jungle in posh Colombo 7, was cleared by parents and teachers. Gradually, Alles, his teachers and parents transformed a school that began as a shed into a massive national educational institution that has produced men of calibre, who have excelled in many a field.
The college was to be an alternative to Royal College and to accommodate the idea, it had to be built up.
The college today
In a short span of thirty-nine years, the college has seen rapid growth which is still sustained by the untiring efforts of successive principals that the school has been blessed with. The college currently has over 150 classrooms. Advanced Level classes in different disciplines – Science, Commerce, Double Mathematics, Arts and Aesthetics. Most number of students study in the Science stream and there are 10 parallel classes for year 12 and a further 10 for year 13 in the Science stream.
The college which consists of a large playground, a fully equipped cricket ground, science laboratories with all facilities, computer laboratories that are fully networked, a gymnasium and a swimming pool, also has 230 members in its staff and well over 6000 students.
A special feature that caught my attention as I entered the premises, was the shrines of worship of all the four religions -Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Christian for the benefit of the children. I was deeply moved by the beauty of students of different ethnic and religious groups studying in peace and harmony at this unique place.
Beacons of light
The current leader and guide – in other words – the principal of the college is Ashoka Senani Hewage, an old boy of Dharmaraja College in the hill capital. Chithra Wickramesinghe is the assistant principal and Hema Perera is the primary School principal.
“D.S. is a different kind of school. In fact, it is unique because here all ethnic and religious groups live under the same roof, in peace and harmony. This is exactly what the world requires. It is a global need which we practice at the college,” says D.S. Senanayake College Principal, Ashoka Senani Hewage, who is in his seventh year of service as principal (from 1999) of the college.
During Hewage’s period as principal, the college has achieved many things. A hostel was built for the scholarship holders (grade six students) for the first time, so that children who attended the school from rural areas could be accommodated. The main school grounds at Vidyala Mawatha was upgraded as well. After having completed the Rs. 26 million rupee swimming pool project in 2003, Hewage together with the Old Boys’ Association and School Development Society decided that it was time to consolidate on the essentials – to focus the resources on education. It was this vision that gave birth to Walk of Wisdom, the D.S. Walk of 2004, the proceeds of which were spent on enhancing education at the school.
In addition, Hewage explained the ‘Twenty-20 Vision’ of the college, which happens to be a stream of dreams expected to be realised by the year 2020, which is not too far away.
“We concentrate not only on studies, but also on the physical resource aspect of our students as well. As an outstanding result of it, the gymnasium which consists of squash, badminton, table-tennis, basketball, gymnastics, weight-lifting and much more, was built,” Hewage said.
Further explaining the Twenty-20 Vision, Hewage said, ” the great vision consists of five major sections- infrastructure, student development, teacher training and development which is to motivate the teachers and make them productive, networking for old boys and parental responsibility.”
Also, the very enthusiastic Hewage said that the first floor of the four storey old boys’ building built in Baudhaloka Mawatha will be transformed into a fully equipped teacher training center, wherein in-house teacher training facilities will be available. This will be the first ever fully equipped teacher-training center in the island.
Colombo Deputy Mayor, Azath Salley who is a distinguished old boy of the college says, ” D.S. Senanayake College is where I spent most of my time as a student and is extremely important to me. It helped me to decide who I wanted to be and prompted me to do wonders in life. I am very proud to be an old boy of D.S. Senanayake College and as a politician, I make it a point to mention my alma mater in every speech I make wherever I go. We were brought up as a family and the outstanding quality I observe with awe is the behaviour of a college student, outside the walls of the school as we have been taught that discipline comes first .”
” I cannot afford to forget mentioning my principal Alles, who was the founder principal of the college. A former teacher at Royal College, Alles always had a close rapport with parents and he is beyond anything and everything. He loved the school, teachers, parents and above all the students whom he always addressed as ‘putha,’ ” Salley said.
” I am very fortunate to be an old boy of DS and during my school career Principal Alles led by example for us to follow and we in fact made it a point to be models of the motto which is ‘country before self’ without being selfish, when it came to situations in day to day life. In fact, the college values have been upheld in building up my future and I am ever so greatful to my alma mater,” says former Sri Lankan cricketer Aravinda De Silva.
“I’m proud to be an old boy of DS and I’m even prouder of the fact that the school has seen many developments in such a short span. The most important thing, is that we as students have seen the development of the school while in school, and the values are still protected,” says President of the College Old Boys’ Union.
The cricket team of the college has been very successful and has produced many a world-class cricketer such as Aravinda De Silva and Hashan Tilakeratne who were members of the Sri Lankan cricket team that won the 1996 World Cup. It is currently the sport that commands the highest level of interest at the college.
In the very recent past, the college became champions winning the Astra Trophy for under 15 Division I cricket, and becoming runners up in the under 17 Division I, tournament.
When it comes to the track and field, the college has always been in the forefront. In 2004, the athletes of the college proved themselves as one of the best athletic teams in the island.
In 2004, the college badminton team dominated the badminton arena by a great display of skill and talent. They came second at the badminton tournament organised by the School Badminton Association. They also, became runners up at the D.S. Senanayake Challenge Trophy Tournament, the same year.
The cadet platoon has taken part in many competitions and has become champions at the Leadership and Adventure course. The Eastern Cadet Band has established themselves as the best band in Sri Lanka, winning the P.W. Jayathilake Memorial Challenge Trophy for the fourth consecutive year in 2004. The baseball team, since its inception has achieved great victories at national level tournaments.
Respect, humility, equality and service are the key values of D.S. Senanayake College. Discipline is the attribute that weaves all these values indestructibly around the sons of DS. DS was also the first school in the entire island, where teachers were bonded to students with the appellation “Putha,” the teachers thus naturally gaining a parental respect and affection from students.
“Aiya-Malli relationship was formed here, where students themselves mutually bonded in fraternity and respect. DS exemplifies equality in a manner not yet paralleled. In this unique place, all classes, creeds, races and religions co-exist in absolute harmony. It stands out from the rest as the only national school with shrines of all four main religions. It is no exaggeration to say that DS celebrates diversity.
[Courtesy: The Sunday Leader Feature – “Great Halls of Learning that helped shape Sri Lanka’s citizens”]