‘What a pleasant surprise it is for me to see that the new management of International Community School has chosen to retain the old building, the building where my father and mother lived and where we, as little children, grew up and studied in what was then called the Danish School,’ stated Mr Michael Vogt whose father was the headmaster here.
‘We were about 15 children, all of Danish origin who were settled here in Kotagiri, and we studied in this school, perched on what was then called, Danish Hill.
I recall the treks that we would take to Kodanad and the Catherine Falls and Dolphin’s Nose across the forests,’ explained Mr Vogt to Mr Senthil Rangaraj, Managing Trustee of ICS. Apparently, in those days, most of the learning happened outdoors. Mr Vogt pointed to spots where huge trees stood. ‘Down the Kota Hall road was a Blue Gum tree which was about 80 metres tall and took at least ten people to stretch their hands around it! It must have been cut down over the years, in little parts.’ Today, a small residential colony exists there, oblivious of the august settings of yesteryear. Truly remarkable days those must have been, if the Queen of Denmark were to have spent a weekend at the Danish School (now, International Community School) as a 22 year-old. ‘My memories of the Queen staying at the far end of this bungalow are vivid. We were told that the royalty was here on a tour and her next stop was the wildlife sanctuary.’
A marine biologist and a teacher trainer-educator, Mr Vogt took a brief tour of the Science lab at ICS and left behind several pointers for the Science teachers, mostly focused on ‘helping children to learn about their natural surroundings first,’ before going out to explore the world. ‘Everything comes down to fundamentals. If you know how the forests and fauna intersperse and interact around you, you can easily know how they engage, anywhere in the world. It’s simpler to comprehend the African or American environment after you first learn the local dynamics of Nature.’
To mark the occasion of The ICS’ians Alumni Meet, Mr Vogt, along with the old students, planted shade-tree saplings on the ICS campus. ‘I am happy that the school has chosen to stay on the path of holistic education,’ stated the ‘old student’, while addressing the ICS Alumnus in front of the historical school block where two schools of different flavours but common purpose, were founded, decades ago.