Sad Times, Difficult Times: Kingswood Changing Beyond Recognition.


The traditional prizes and awards that were awarded from the earliest years such as the Crowther, Luterz, and Randles Shields, the Devadasan and Shanmugam tophies were taken off out of whim. Some prizes were not judged properly. The Prologue was presented without proper understanding. Whistling in the main hall became usual.

by Adeeb Jibran

As a small kid just starting to find his way about the house, for the first time I heard the word ‘Kingswood’. My grandfather told me about Kingswood and so did my father. The Kingswood that my grandfather told me about was Mr.Blaze’s last years at College, as he was standing at the final assembly which he had attended with a walking stick. The Kingswood that my father told me about was a bit different than what my grandfather told me. Back in the day, even the lady who washed the dishes in the hostel apparently spoke in English. But, by my father’s period Kingswood was already adapting to the culture of a typical school managed by the government; that, somewhere in the mid-1980s it had even be proposed that Kingswood be renamed as Mulgampola Maha Vidyalaya. But, even these testing times would not have been as difficult as what Kingswood began facing after 2012. By the time I left the school in 2015, the “Old Kingswood” we all knew and loved had come down a different road where it now stands uncertainly.

The Kingswood that I experienced felt firm, confident and assured till 2012, the year I sat for my O/Ls. But, this was also the time where a certain degree of uncertainty and difficulty came in the way of my school. Things began to slowly deviate from what had, over the years, become traditions of the school. One small area I felt this was when the school’s rugby jersey started changing every year, taking various designs and sporting crazy patterns. The Kingswood rugby jersey had always been a uniform product. But, now, things had begun to change.

We still sang the soothing words – “Hill-throne where nature is gracious and Kind”, words which easily help us to visualize the landscape of the school we entered and exited every day – but… though the school song was repeated every day before school started, the school had started to change — I felt that the students had suddenly lost a vital part of that strong feeling of being a part of Kingswood: Blaze’s school. I saw this transformation as I had heard how it had once been. The Kingswood which Blaze visualized has by now deteriorated, not because of anything else, but because we have no written tradition anywhere. Yes, Blaze didn’t want it to be written. He thought it will be followed by heart by the generations to comes who will be the “gentlemen” he thought the school would be proud of. But sadly things had changed drastically, and I felt that by 2012 it couldn’t have got any worse.

Between 2012 and 2014  we at Kingswood did not have a Principal. The school was administrated by the Deputy Principals to the best of their experience and knowledge.
Everything was scattered. The central grip that seemed to have held the school together was loosened. Students roaming here and there like free cattle became a common, daily sight. Till the last day I left school, as a habit, I used to leave school late, at about 6 PM. Till about 2012, Kingswood was a very busy place during and after school. Things were so hectic that in the ground we often didn’t have a suitable space for Under-14 rugger practices. The main hall was a den of activity with either drama, eastern music, western music or debating. The gym used to be packed with karate and boxing players. The Primary band along with the Senior band and cadets marching and running around were common sights for anyone who hung around after school.

But, then, between 2012 and 2014 came changes that hit the school system at the base. First, over 60 senior teachers were transferred to other schools almost overnight, and in one movement. These were said to be transfers that had not happen for a long time, but the removal of all the senior staff in that manner meant that the front-line of the school was taken away leaving no time for the practices, norms, traditions and customs of the school to be gradually passed down to the new-comers. These teachers were sent to other national schools in Kandy, while some were sent away from the city. This happened on top of the long serving Principal Chandrasekara also being promoted to a Ministry post.

In what may be a rare incident in the school’s history a Grade 11 student beats a Prefect and the Senior Prefect resigns, along with the entire court. This was a major drawback, as now the Grade 12s were promoted to the Prefects’ Court even though they didn’t have the experience that usually comes by working for a year as Monitors and learning the traditions and customs of the school. However, they tried their best to oversee the school and its 3500-odd students. Kingswood also lacked the depth and gravity that used to be attached to its traditions. The main days of the school calendar – such as the Prize Giving –  was done (as some of us felt it) for the sake of having them. The traditional prizes and awards that were awarded from the earliest years such as the Crowther, Luterz, and Randles Shields, the Devadasan and Shanmugam Prizes were taken off out of whim. Some prizes were not judged properly. The Prologue was presented without proper understanding. Whistling in the main hall became usual, while the tradition of the staircases leading to the administration offices from Commerce section and the one leading from the Science section to the main hall being not used by students lost significance. These staircases not being used used to result in some kind of order and discipline in these heavily populated blocks. That culture was now lost and Kingswood, gradually, started on the sad path of being “any other school”.

Moreover, “being Kingswoodian” was an itch that only real Kingswoodians felt. There is a famous story when a young Kingswoodian named Brian Leslie de Vos who signed up for World War-I duty took along with him the score of the Kingswood Song. There are other Kingswoodians who used to come back to school every year for events like the prize giving or the sports meet from far away places like England, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore. Even in the times we know, Kingswoodians carried with pride a knowledge of the school’s values, its family-like culture and the inclusive pulse that didn’t care for religious or ethnic divisions in developing a “Kingswood identity”.  But today that itch has, sadly, become a tickle which makes others laugh at the so-called Gentlemen of Kingswood.

But, I still hope that there is a way that we could revive that itch in every heart which enters Randles hill. After all, difficult times cannot last forever; and as some people share and reshare on social media – impossible is nothing.

Adeeb Jibran is a third generation Kingswoodian, a Prefects’ Scribe, school debater, announcer and First XV rugby coloursman.


What Happened to the Class after the Principal Sacked Us.

Anura Kirimetiyawa, from Batch ’69 contributes to Kingswood Tales. Mr. Kirimetiyawa resides in New Zealand at present, and writes of the following encounter his O/L class had with principal de Lanerolle in the mid 1960s.

downloadThis happened when we were in the G.C.E O/L Class – the year should have been 1966. Principal de Lanerolle was still the School Head, Mr. Weerasuriya – the Maths master – was our class teacher. Our class was one of the two classes immediately behind the Main Hall. Nowadays, I think, these classes are part of the A/L Maths section. In our classroom, there was a big cupboard that was always locked. No one knew what was inside, but everyone was curious about it. So, one day, a few of us — the more mischievous boys — decided to explore the cupboard. We stayed back after school, and after everyone left, we broke the huge padlock and opened the cupboard. It happened to be a costume cupboard with a number of costumes, capes, swords, crowns and things like that that were used in dramas. The few of us put on the costumes and started having some innocent fun.

Just then, Punchi Banda, watcher Hendrick’s brother, who had the job of shutting down the school every day, came to our class. He saw what had happened, and his eyes almost popped out. He was also worried, and he quickly got us to leave the room. Some of us took a few swords with us, on our way home. Next day, we came to school as usual. and everything was normal. The cupboard was also closed as usual. Then, class master Weerasuriya came in. “ආ! උඹලා කරලා තියෙන්නේ වැඩක් ඊයේ. හිටපල්ලා! ඔන්න මහ එකා මග එනවා!” he didn’t sound too happy. Soon after, Principal de Lanerolle walked into class. He brought two things to class – an inventory and a cane.

The items inside the cupboard was checked against the inventory, and a few items were found missing. Principal de Lanerolle said that he will not be punishing anyone, if the culprits owed up to the wrong. None of the class owed up. He repeated his offer, but still, there was silence from the class. In the end, the whole class was caned — 6 each on the palm of each boy, and the class was sacked. We were told that we can come back to school, but with our parents. Not bad news, at all!! And the next week or so, the few of us spent time in the botanical gardens, or wandering in all parts of the neighbourhood, after coming from home in the morning saying that we were going to school. The innocent boys soon came with their parents, met the Principal and were pardoned.

After about a week, even not going to school became boring and tiresome. So, the few of us — the real culprits — were now thinking of ways to get back. One of us, Peramuna, was dead scared of his parents. His father was a Principal in a school close to Pilimathalawa and the mother was a teacher: “They will surely tie me around the puwak tree and beat the hell out of me” he yelped. I decided not to tell my father. But, I got my brother Mahinda Katugaha — who had left school a few years before, and was in the good books of the school — to intervene. I got Mahinda aiya to speak to the principal, swearing that I was innocent. My brother of course knew better, but he went and met the Big Man, nonetheless.

The most interesting part of the story concerns my friend Jayakuru. Jayakuru had connections with the market community, and he had brought a mudalali from the market who was to act as his father. So, the mudalali had come dressed neatly in his two-pocket shirt, sarong and belt, and had gone with Jayakuru up to the Principal. When the Principal had told the mudalali of what had happened, he had really got into the “father role”, going into a passionate temper in front of the Principal, trying to beat the “son” for lack of discipline right in front of the Principal. Principal de Lanerolle had intervened, made Jayakuru apologize and worship the “father”, and chased him to class.

Jayakuru had then come out of the office, and stayed near the gangawerella fence until the mnudalali came, as he had pay him the promised fee. Soon after the mudalali had come, and the “son” had paid the “father” the promised 5 rupees. Taking leave, the mudalali had cried out to my friend: “මං එහෙනම් යන්නං පුංචි මහත්තයා! තව මොනවා හරි තියෙනව නම් මට කියන්න ආ!”

I left school around 1969. Later, I started work, and much later migrated. I still come back to Sri Lanka irregularly, and still, some of the old mates are in touch with me. But, my connection with school got loosened as the years went by, even though I sometimes go to watch the Big Match if I happened to be in Sri Lanka. However, the memories back at school are among the best I have had in my entire life — and this is only one of the more vivid experiences.


Kingswood demands your heart and soul

By Mrs. Agnes Winter

 283832_268505233165562_3882752_n‘No matter whether you are a student or a teacher Kingswood demands your heart and soul both. “None for himself, but all for the school.” Is true to its word. If you are not willing to do that, you may study or teach there for any number of years but you’ll walk out of those gates feeling empty and unsatisfied’ says Mrs. Agnes Winter, former English teacher at Kingswood, who writes to “Kingswood Tales”.

My Days and Memories at Kingswood

The first time I walked through the gates of Kingswood College one January morning in 1990 little did I know that it was to be the beginning of the most memorable and beautiful eighteen years of my life. As a young teacher who had studied in a girls’ school I was very nervous when I got a teaching position as an English teacher at Kingswood College. I still remember the Principal Mr Rabukwella’s words to me. As if he had read my thoughts he said, “Mrs Winter, we call our boys gentlemen of Kingswood, and we expect them to behave like gentlemen, if you have any problem come and see me.

I never had a problem. I taught English from grade six to twelve. Every year I looked forward to being a class teacher. As a class teacher I was blessed to share the students’ journey and to be a part of it. Most of all I took pride in moulding these boys who came from every walk of life into gentlemen. All through the years I watched the small boys grow into young adults. Men, who would one day walk out of the gates of Kingswood as gentlemen in every form and manner.

I have a great respect and love for Mr Rambukella. He was the principal of the school when I started at Kingswood. You only had to look at his face. The commanding feature was his moustache covered half of his mouth. You never knew whether he was smiling or not. The ladies’ staff room was just next to his office. We could see into his office through the glass of the side door. He rarely raised his voice. When a student was called into his office and when he shut the door and took off his watch at the same time we knew the student was in great trouble. His love for the school was immense. I was fortunate to be there and to be a part of the Kingswood centenary celebrations. I know what length of trouble and sacrifice he made to print the Story of Kingswood and his keenness to start the “Our Boys” magazine again.

Mr Rambukwella steered the ship of Kingswood with pride and honour. He gave nothing but the best to the school, and expected nothing but the best from his staff and the Gentlemen of Kingswood. There were four Principals during my time in the school. But it was Mr Ranjith Chandrasekara who led Kingswood in the path of glory. Nothing stopped Mr Chandrasekara from doing the best to the school. Whether it was landscaping or building a computer lab he found a way. He was a people person who understood the value of the old boys of the school and brought them together.

We as the staff enjoyed the times of the big match. We all did the duties with much enthusiasm. Our job as the staff was made easy by the Prefects Court who undertook the biggest workload of which maintaining discipline and order was a crucial part. My sincere thanks and respect goes to all the Gentlemen who were in the Prefects Court. They did everything with pride and devotion because they loved the school. Again proving, “None for himself, but all for the school.”

One of the biggest celebrations of the school was the Kingswood week. Starting with the religious ceremonies. The week following led to the Prize Giving. It was all a family affair. Everyone had something to do. I enjoyed writing the invitations and sending them out. And training and practicing the Prologue, which is still unique only to Kingswood. We as the staff took pride in the event of celebrating the achievements of the Gentlemen of Kingswood in all aspects. I considered this to be the most glamourous event and took pride to dress accordingly. I have never missed a single prize giving day.

Another unforgettable event would be the annual all Island Shakespeare Drama competition. We all practiced hard. And put a lot of hours and effort. This was a time when there was no internet to research we learnt about the play by reading and watching the BBC productions which we borrowed from the British Council library. Though we didn’t always win, it was important for a team to be representing the college. Then in 2001 Vihanga Perera who played the part of King Henry won two awards. One for the Best Actor. It was a huge achievement. But the best thing I remember was how Vihanga was reciting his lines all the way to Colombo. And then coming back in the night after winning the awards Vinhaga was again reciting his lines. I believe one main reason for winning the awards that year was team work and Vihanga’s dedication and devotion to his role. Vihanga became King that moment of time.

Khan’s Christmas Gift

I would like to end this narrative with one funny incident (which was not funny at the time). If I remember right it was 1993: Deshan Dissanayaka was the Head Prefect that year. I was the class teacher of 7D. Mrs Dawn Liyanage and I were getting ready for the annual Christmas Carol Service with the Christian students. We needed a Christmas tree to decorate. We asked around for one without any luck. Then one morning while I was marking the register in my class I asked the children whether anyone had a Cyprus tree in their gardens that we could have. Nobody had one.

Then from the back of the class Khan lifted his hand. He was jumping up and down in his seat, “We have one madam.” He said. Knowing Kahn too well I was a bit reluctant to believe him. “Ask him madam.” said Kahn again pointing to his friend Jayasundara. Before I could say anything Jayasundara said “Yes madam, he has one.” Anyway I told him to get permission from his mother and tell me the next day. The next morning the two friends told me it was alright and that we could have it anytime we want. When I told Deshan and Dawn they were suspicious of the two but we decided to trust them.

Just to let you know why we had so much doubt was, Jayasundara and Khan were the ones who got together and stole Mr Rabukwella’s chickens. And on Fridays when Khan left school early for prayers Jayasundara would also go. When I told him that it was only for the Muslim students Jayasundara told me that his whole family had got converted to Islam. He kept doing this until I got a tip from a student and got down his mother to the school.

On the day of the carols Khan told me that someone must come with him and cut the tree. So, I sent the Head Prefect Deshan and a few boys to bring the tree. Deshan came with the tree. It was a beautiful big Cyprus tree. I was surprised that his mother let us have it.

Deshan told me “Madam I didn’t like it one bit. We had to jump over a fence and cut the tree,” he said. And when Deshan had asked Khan as to why they had to jump through a fence to his own garden Khan had said that his mother was out and that he had forgotten to take the key. We had a wonderful Carol service with the Christmas tree.

The following days were very busy making the reports for the year end. The day before the school holidays I was in my class writing the reports when Wickrama came to the class and told me that there was someone to see me. While walking to the office Wickrama told me that the man is furious because someone had stolen his Cyprus tree. He didn’t have to tell me anymore. I realised what had happened. By the time, I went to the office I was sweating. There was a big tall man with a beard standing in the corridor. I slowly walked to him and introduced myself.

He told me that he had got to know that I had sent boys to his house while he was away and cut his Cyprus tree that he lovingly grew for six years. And now he was there to see the principal and complain. By this time, Dawn and Dashan too came to the scene. I couldn’t let him go to Mr Rabukwella. I would rather die first. And to make the matter worse I couldn’t tell the principal that it was the Head Prefect who cut the tree. After much pleading, we agreed to pay him RS 1500 after the school holidays. I am not going to tell you what I did to the two scoundrels. But during the school holidays I prayed and asked God never to see that man again. And I didn’t.

When you do your job whole heartedly and respect and guide those boys you will not be disappointed. They will respect and love you back. They are not perfect but they are a lovely bunch, these Gentlemen of Kingswood. KCK forever.


I Lived the Magic Mantra:”None for Himself, All for the School”

By Purindada Wijewickrama (2005-2012)

image552715Among knowledge, skills, qualities, attitudes, and many other attributes I would rather say the living pattern of a good man is taught to us by Mother Kingswood: “None for himself, But all for the School”. Never has a gentleman of Kingswood betrayed Mother Kingswood, every gentlemen urges that they are the children of Mother Kingswood. With all these memories and the affection which I got from Mother Kingswood I would like to see her moving from strength to strength.

Like every hill country morning it was also a breezing and sizzling one on 20th January 2005, but one unlike any other day of my life. It was the day that I was entering my whole childhood’s dream. Got up early washed myself faster than before and I was all set for the go. I had this awesome rumbling feeling inside my tummy that this is the day my whole life was going to change. With my Ammi behind me I entered through the gates to a whole new world: the place I would gradually come to embrace as a second mother, Kingswood, and here I was, the very first day of my school life in a white short sleeved shirt and lovely dark blue shorts. Since I was attending Vision International School which was my first school from my preliminary grades to grade 6 and the place that nurtured me initially, I was feeling really fresh and a newbie to my Kingswood uniform.

Entering through those massive iron gates gave me goosebumps as if I was entering the place I really belong to, after a long wait. As I was being admitted to the school out of the normal procedure, neither from the Scholarship nor through related party admissions, I was the only student to be registered on that day. I got this fabulous opportunity due to an invitation done by the President of Kingswood Old Boys Association Colombo branch Mr. Nayana Dehigama due to my performances in sports.

I stepped on that massive path towards the office, the school was full of students the same uniform that I was newly wearing running here and there and there were some older students checking bags. I and ammi straight away went to the office and straight to the Principal’s chamber and there in that cavernous cabin was one of the greatest personalities that I’ve ever met in my life and he was none other than my beloved Principal Mr. Ranjith Chandrasekara. With that strict looking moustache and well maintained physique Principle Sir was the first person to greet me into the College. Then Ammi took me to meet my Sectional Head: one of the greatest teachers I have ever met with her strict and genuine qualities: Miss Poholiyadde, whom everyone respected and was fond of. Then it was the time to meet my destiny for another 7 years and my first class teacher at Kingswood College. I was entering the English medium class and met my class teacher Mrs. Theja Nawarathna whom I respect a lot. She was the first teacher that found what I am capable of. On the very first day in the Grade 7A class in Kingswood College the fellow students were very helpful and I was introduced to each and every teacher that came to the class.

Time went really quick, and as it always does in a new place it is a bit hard on the first few days. I got to know a few students from Kingswood before I came in but all of them were in the senior classes. But in a few months I could fit in to the form and routine of the new experience I was having. Day by day, the interest and the love towards Mother Kingswood grew to the point where I could say that I was a devotee of hers.

As time went by studying, making friends, playing around and so on, came the exams, the common enemy of all students. I was pretty confident of what I can do and when the results came I was 4th in the class behind three genius brains and everyone was amazed because I was a new student to the school and to the class. Starting from then on, I could excel in studies where I could become the class first in grade 9.

In addition to education I continued my Sports career which enabled me to enter the prestigious school in the first place. When I was entering my main sports were Karate and Chess so I could easily enter through to the Karate and Chess teams. Within the time spent I could be a part of many victories that made Mother Kingswood proud. Talking about Karate I had the opportunity to be a part of the team which won National Schools All Island Karate Championship for 3 consecutive times. Within my school life I could win 6 National School Championship Medals, 3 All Island Championship Medals and 2 National Junior and Cadet Championship Medals for Mother Kingswood. And finally representing Kingswood College I was able to represent the National Karate Squad in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Chess was another amazing game where I was able to find a lifelong friendship clan, which is creditable to the College.  With this friendship bond we could Achieve 3 All Island Championships. Whether we won or lost we were practicing to cherish each and every moment we had in our childhood. Then again, athletics became my big time favourite. I started athletics to satisfy appachchi in the first place, but became my own thing after some time. This was the 3rd sport I could excel in on behalf of Mother Kingswood, and I was able to achieve 3 medals at the All Island Junior Nationals and get selected to the National Junior athletics squad in 2009. The best thing I could ever give Mother Kingswood in terms of athletics was achieving the National Outstation 100m Record for under-17 male event, that happened in front of my school mates and my beloved Principal in April 2009 which was a record of 11.19sec and still standing making Mother Kingswood proud every moment it is read.

The Kingswood week has left me with amazing memories. The Prize giving and the Colors Night were my favourites. I could myself witness 7 amazing prize givings and 7 sizzling Colors Nights. Each and every year new experiences happened to come my way. Mother Kingswood is a place where miracles happen and in that cluster of miracles I was able to twinkle a little bit. Mother Kingswood crowned me as the Junior Sportsman of the year 2009 and I was awarded the Most Outstanding Student of the year 2012, and these were the moments that still make me a part of Kingswood’s History..

With all these happy moments here comes the final era of wearing that prestigious uniform. With 9 As for the O/L examination I chose Commerce as my A/L subject stream. 2 years of hard studying and dedication, tremendous sacrifices were included in this final two years. Here I met the other great person at Mother Kingswood who had a deep impact in my life: my A/L Sectional Head, Mr. Kamal Abeywardane. He was the person who made me achieve my final target of the school time, pushing me in my studies to achieve something solid for myself and the school. With the immeasurable support from my ammi, appachchi and Mother Kingswood I could finally achieve the rare feat of a dazzling A/L performance by being the District topper in the Commerce Stream.

Tales about Kingswood would be going from generations to generations; many Kingswood gentlemen will talk about their memories. A school is a place where young men and women are instilled with skills and knowledge, but we call Kingswood “Mother” as she creates gentlemen to the society and where she can provide her nurturing to let these Gentlemen be the best among the rest. Among knowledge, skills, qualities, attitudes, and many other attributes I would rather say the living pattern of a good man is taught to us by Mother Kingswood: “None for himself, But all for the School”. Never has a gentleman of Kingswood betrayed Mother Kingswood, every gentlemen urges that they are the children of Mother Kingswood. With all these memories and the affection which I got from Mother Kingswood I would like to see her moving from strength to strength in happiness, seeing her children perform out there in the world adding meaning to her existence.



Short Notes on Four Principals

Principals come in all shapes and sizes, and this is no exception for Kingswood, too. From the earliest days of the founding father, Louis Blaze to the current Head of Institute, the aloof Mr. M.P Weerathunga, Kingswood has so far had 16 Principals in its 125 year history. This number excludes Acting Principals like Mr. Thambapillai (in 1958) and Mr. H.K Upasena (1998-2000) and Mr. Ananda Weerasuriya (2012-2014) who have, at decisive moments, taken the mantle of leadership into their hands. Of the Principals who lead the school in times good and bad, there are those who are remembered for their personality, a stand out character trait, or some idiosyncrasy, which memorably adds to that Principal’s profile.

L.E. Blaze

Louis Blaze, the founder, who was Principal of the school from 1891 to 1923, is often referred to as a mild mannered school master, gentle in speech and courteous in bearing. In his own words, he has begun the school as an “experiment in education”, for  Blaze seems to have despised the tyrannical relationship between teacher and student as he experienced in the general education set up in the late 19th century. Yet, Blaze seems to have been keen on discipline, one that reflects an overall balance and refinement in the student. Blaze is also known to have been a tactful, composed and calm individual, with a mind tempered by in depth reading and education. It is once said that a mischievous student had written on a school wall: “L.E.B is an ass”, to which Blaze had calmly added “L.E.B is an ass-driver”.

Another reputed Kingswood Principal was found in Kenneth Mervyn de Lanerolle, who head the school from 1958 to 1967. With a calm demenour complete with thick eyebrows, de Lanerolle is said to have been a strict disciplinarian in the old school form, who used to “do the rounds” as a daily practice. de Lanerolle’s route and routine was so meticulous that his dog is said to have accompanied the Principal; in fact, go ahead of the Principal by a few paces. This approach of the dog was a signal for all the mischief-makers in classes to get into order, and pipe down to discipline. de Lanerolle is also famously remembered when he awarded a Big Match win to Dharmaraja, after consulting the scoresheets at the end of a game that ended in a confused riot, setting a solid example of gamesmanship and discipline for the student to follow.

Kenneth de Lanerolle

Reminiscent of de Lanerolle’s order in more recent times is Mr. R.B Rambukwelle, who was Principal from 1989 to 1997. Rambukwelle was a short, stocky, solid individual with a terse, solemn bearing, rounded up with a proverbial musto in the David Boon style. He was fondly referred to as “Burusuwa” behind his back, while very few syllables would come to any mischief-maker in front of him. Rambukwelle took over from Mr. Nihal Herath (1985-1989), who had exacted student discipline to the dot, bringing back to Kingswood good order and a respectability that had earlier hit the rock bottom in the 1970s and early 1980s. Rambukwelle continued what Herath had begun, and his moderate, non-extravagant ways, pragmatism and integrity were the hallmarks of his years in office. Rambukwelle was a good student of the past and Kingswood’s own traditions, and he was instrumental in bringing back to the school’s culture Louis Blaze’s KFE: The Story of Kingswood in a new edition, to coincide with the school’s centenary in 1991. Rambukwelle was a soft but firmly spoken economist of words, who spoke no more than what was necessary and essential. Method was important to him, and he practiced what he preached.

R.B Rambukwelle

The post-Rambukwelle period, between 1997 and the present, has seen five Principals: at an average of a Principal every 4 years. This is in a context where Mr. Ranjith Chandrasekara (2000-2012) had been at the helm for 12 of those 20 years. Principals B.A Abeyrathne (1998), Nelson Rathnayake (1998-1999) and P.G.S Bandara (2014-2015) had relatively short lives. Abeyrathne’s appointment was petitioned against, while Rathnayake left school after the infamous coup against the administration in 2000. Principal Bandara was transferred on corruption charges. Of the Principals of the more recent years, the name Ranjith Chandrasekara will be remembered for a significant improvement of the school’s culture and material uplift. In Seeking a Continent: A Decade in Team Building and Team Management at Kingswood, Kandy, Chandarsekara is referred to as follows: “[he] was a man who knew his limitations and played to his strengths. He showed good signs of being able to manage resources and to take initiatives on the stride… he got Kingswood up and running, showing intent and enthusiasm… Chandrasekara’s cardinal virtue was his strength in reading situations and in adapting to the changing game. He was remarkably perceptive of seeing the bigger picture or the scene-to-be and in shifting gears” (pg. 65-66).

R. Chandrasekara

Chandrasekara was a managerial whiz in a very difficult and testing time. He was a maverick and a game-changer, and often ready to bypass the red tape that stood in the way. This radical spirit was both positive and at times negative, specially when viewed from a traditional perspective. But, he had in him a tireless commitment and a sense of direction from which Kingswood benefited in the early and mid 2000s. The man also had a genuine love and commitment to the school, and was keen to learn and study the culture, the history and the traditions of the institute. Chandrasekara, as such, is a good example for teachers and administrators of more recent dating, who come to school from outside and try to adjust the school’s culture to suit the culture of places where they came from; and who try to implement policy and make decisions without knowing the traditions or the history of a Kingswood practice. One example is how Principal Bandara, without being properly informed – and not having the sense to inquire either – removed the three shields from the school prize giving. The Crowther, Luterz and Randles shields are part of the school’s 125 year history and are traditionally awarded  at the prize giving. He also suspended the publication of the souvenir which is annually distributed at the prize giving. The unwillingness to study and to learn the culture thus has resulted in the negative.



The Kingswood Skipper Who Declared the Innings with 2 Overs to Play

image531371This is a Big Match story: a giant leap by a small made man. We don’t know what part of it is legend, and how far the truth is “truth”, since these kind of gestures quickly become fables and myths: the stuff from which heroes emerge. But, nevertheless, here it goes.

The story’s setting is 2004, during the month of March, that year’s traditional Big Match between Kingswood and Dharmaraja, the island’s third oldest contest of the sort, then, 98 years old.

During my stay, Kingswood was seldom known for its giant-killing feats in cricket, but more as a ‘competent’ side that could play out a game for a respectable draw. The 2004 team was no different, led by Samudu Wijesinghe and the team didn’t have many playmakers or charismatic, “extraordinary” players: a quiet team, one would say, from whom the season expected nothing too extravagant. Only a couple of the previous year’s (senior) players were eligible to stay; and even they were mostly the ‘less used’ players of the year before. There was also much talk among the boys that there was an element of dissent within the team on Samudu’s being captain. Being an average middle-order bat and an innocuous off-break bowler, Samudu’s ability to lead from the front was amply questioned by his critics. A season without much event – largely drawn out – then, climaxed with the Big Match.

The Dharmaraja XI of that year boasted of several dashing fellows; chief among them being a gentleman called Chamara Kapugedara, who was at the border of completing 1000 runs for the season. His name had been bloated by sports writers all season along, and part of our concern that year was to see who this ballooned cricketer was in the first place. The match, to say the least, was heading for a tame draw on the second evening – which, as we knew, was the main intention right from the beginning. Kapugedara scores a stylish half-century in the first innings which the Rajans dominate. With minutes to stumps on the last day, with no more than a maximum of two overs possible, to the surprise of the gathered, Dharmaraja walks out for their second inning. Kapugedara – with a season’s aggregate of 988 runs – is sent up the order to try and knock off 12 runs in the allowed space.

From what is later discovered – and that, too, through dressing room leakage and “CCTV footage” – the Kingswood skipper and the team had decided to ‘allow’ Kapugedara an aim at the rare milestone. It is seldom the case where a team would come out to play for two overs in a game that is already destined to be drawn. But, Samudu had already decided to send down two overs with (what a fellow who had been to the match that day called) “a funny field placement with open gaps in the in field”. Kapugedara, in fact, nicks one behind to the Kingswood stumper Minimuthu Dissanayake; but, giving a rare twist to the adage ‘it is just not Cricket’ Samudu’s men do not appeal for the catch. Years later, Minimuthu tells me how he watched from behind as Kapugedara stylishly followed up with three boundaries, to gallop past the 1000 run mark.

Years later, Samudu (L) enjoying some sauce and “yellow drink” with some of his former team mates and friends: Malinda Ratnayake, Rachitha Liyanage and Hemal Kumarage.

The decision taken by Samudu and his team to ‘facilitate’ the curl of the Rajan batting, today, gets circulated in several versions. Each myth has its own story, but what is concrete about this ‘unsung moment’ is that the Kingswood skipper’s upholding of the laurels of gamesmanship; thus recording in the pages of cricketing history a moral for all to celebrate. Though the stadium was baffled that evening under fading light, the dressing room testifies that Samudu’s was a conscious strategy. What is more important is that all that season Samudu was an under-pressure skipper, whose abilities were questioned. And here he was, staking everything and taking an initiative in the realisation of any schoolboy cricketer’s dream.

It is the 1000 runs in that season of 2004 which first brings Chamara Kapugedara to the national limelight. This achievement, and based on yet another string of high scores the following year, earns Kapugedara an early national berth. The fact that he has not been able to live up to his early potential at the national front is entirely Kapugedara’s problem. Over the past six years or so, Kapugedara has been in and out of the national side; with flashes of talent that hasn’t converted into much.

The last we hear of Samudu Wijesinghe the cricketer is, a week after the ‘act of sport’, when he leads Kingswood to an unlikely win in the limited over game. This, too, is a thrilling win through a classic fight back: a win by a solitary run. Samudu has since settled to a more assured life in the field of Insurance and like a true artiste has not bothered to clarify the grey areas of this whole episode. His cricket team – hardly a match winning XI –, however, has given each and everyone of those who believe in his ‘sportsmanship’ a moral in goodwill to be shared with their kids for the rest of their lifetime. Samudu still plays in the Mercantile League and with success, too. Some of the photos he  shares on Facebook still reminds us of the fierce competitor he used to be in the college playground, playing soft ball Cricket with us, half a lifetime ago. But, couple that with the Big Match story, above, we learn what we ultimately play the game for: for a place in history and in the halls of fame — but, inducted there for the right reason: for being the “best”, in the moment it counts.


Kingswood Trumping the Herman-Loos

Thilina Guluwita (1990-2003)

bustThe following is reproduced from a very passionately written detailed account of the Herman Loos championship win by the Kingswood Cadets in 2003. Our initial thought was to summarize this long article, but we felt that it would only take away the precision and discipline in detail the writer banks on. The original article, with many memorable photographs can be found at TD Guluwita Hermann Loos article .  

Kingswood’s records in All-Island Boys’ Cadet competition also known as the “Herman-Loos” trophy were unbreakable; since they won the inaugural  championship in 1917 and then went on to score a triple championship for the years 1919,1920 and 1921. But ever since, Kingswood cadets were unable to recreate the history of the 1917 – 1921 era for nearly a century even though they got selected for the championship tournament several times getting through the battalion championship.”Herman-Loos” trophy competition as I’ve known was a competition between 26 NCC (National Cadet Corps) battalions in the country each represented by two Boys’ cadet platoons which makes it a competition between 52 schools altogether. Now it has expanded to Navy, Air force and Police counterparts since about a decade ago.

Year 2001 was a milestone in Kingswood Cadet history marking it’s centenary year since they started a cadet platoon in the College back in 1901. Kingswood had the celebrations for its 100 years of cadetting with the blessings of a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Asanka Darshana Bandara Dambakotuwa promoting himself to the highest NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) rank in the cadet corps (Who eventually won the Best Student prize in the year 2001 Annual Prize Giving).

Soon after the centenary celebrations in year 2002 Kingswood won the battalion championship advancing to the Herman-Loos championship under the leadership of Sergeant S. N. Rathnayake (Salinda Nuwan) and the guidance of Captain Sanath Weerasekara having great preparations throughout the year.

The platoon comprised of several promising cadets including Senior Corporal Janaka Attanayake, Nafsat Mulafar, Lance Corporal D.S.P. Gamage (late). However, Kingswood had to to be consent with the 6th place. The irony of this competition is any place other than the first place (even 2nd) was considered as last. And the champion platoon also addressed as the “President’s Platoon” (ජනාධිපති ශිෂ්‍යභට ඛණ්ඩය) will be considered as a platoon of 25 Sergeants among the cadetting community.

Having lost the morale in year 2002, the newly promoted leader of the 2003 platoon, Sergeant Janaka Bandara Attanayake  once again lead the platoon to 1st place in the 2NCC battalion competition putting St. Anthony’s College in 2nd place; both platoons advancing to the Herman-Loos championship competition in February/March 2003. Sergeant Salinda Rathnayake was promoted to the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM); the 2nd highest NCO rank in cadet corps.

This is where I come in to the picture. I used to advise and shout at both Salinda and Janaka during our O/L classes as the class monitor for missing classes due to continuous practicing. On the verge of our A/L examinations, on fine sunny day in March 2003, I met CSM Ratnayake (Salinda) and Sgt Attanayake (Janaka) in the famous private tuition class “Sudharamaramaya” and asked me whether I would like to be a part of the “Herman-Loos” cadet platoon mainly focusing on the “Director’s Test” which comprises mostly of academic and General Knowledge related parts of the competition. Since I was going to be free after the examinations in April, I gave a green light opening the possibilities of being part of one of the senior cadet platoon which was a complete new experience for me.

After going through one of the crucial 3 weeks of A/L stressful examinations, I was asked to come for practices starting from May 2003. Then came the toughest period of my lifetime with 5-6 hours of drill, PT practices under the scorching sun, early morning running from Kingswood College to Katukele and back shouting “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven… All good soldiers Go to heaven” without breaking ranks, passing all the girls schools around 7.00am, spending nights revising what we learnt, testing each other’s memory and educating them about the latest news and world events to ensure all the 25 members of the platoon are up to date.

August 9th marked the day for releasing our A/L results which secured a University Entry for me but still had two more months of hard work left for the competition. There were times I had 2nd thoughts about committing to this massive task and even had several discussions with my classmate Sergeant Attanayake who always encouraged and supported me in these difficult times. Capt. Sanath Weerasekara couldn’t spend a lot of time with the platoon over these 5 months due to his commitment as the commander of Youth Corps in Rantembe. But he was able to join our crucial activities like firing practices, 3 day camping at Pallakele Rifle Corps grounds and final drill practice sessions at Gannoruwa Army Engineering Regiment grounds. And for the 1st time in my life, I was playing the lead role (or any role for that matter) in the cadet drama which was also a part of the competition as a Judge who was supposed to give a verdict on a conflict between a human (ඥානරත්න)  and wild animals lead by the Tusker (හඳපානාගල සද්දන්ත).

We left the school for the ultimate competition on the dawn of 6th October 2003. We reached the Rantembe Training Center grounds around 8am. We walked over the threshold of the camp entrance putting our right foot as a symbol of good luck. We registered the platoon and got number 21 as the draw number which also happened to be my rank number out of the 25 members of the platoon. We were given a billet on the far right side of the camp and started cleaning and painting it for the inspections starting the very next day. I was able to have the very first experience performing Mess Duty where 2-3 cadets had to arrange the meal tables for the entire platoon.

7th October 2003

I remained in the billet to perform billet inspection duty on the very first day of the competition when the rest was taking part in the Drill competition which turned out to be of better performance than last year.

8th October 2003

Firing competitions were held in the morning and 17 Cadets including Sgt. Attanayake, Cpl Gamage and myself were able to score 5/5 perfect scores. In total Kingswood scored 101/125 being the best platoon in the firing competition.

9th October 2003

The most important day of the competition. The day of the Director’s test. 6 teams were deployed in to the grounds each having 4 members to be sent to take part in 6 different question panels. Since we couldn’t get up until Capt. Weerasekara banged the front doors shouting at everyone after 1 hour we were supposed to get up, breakfast was cancelled including the morning tea. Lunch was only provided after all the tests were over by 3.30pm where we were lying under trees singing few songs which only the four of us could hear.

10th October 2003

P.T. competition was held which required the entire platoon had to perform 6 exercises in synchronism. I shot myself up once when all the others were in squatting position losing few marks for the team. In the evening we staged our drama which eventually placed us 2nd behind St. Anthony’s College.

11th October 2003

It was the day for the Confidence Course (or commonly known as the Assault Course) which tested the fitness and endurance levels of the platoon members. We started off crouching and sprinting under a bunker for 10-15 meters, ran for like 100m and climbed a ladder to walk on a wire tighten between two trees about 5m higher from the ground level  and get down, then run further to climb a 5m high steel structure and get down from the other side, run for about 300 meters through few obstacles then going through a monkey ladder where we have to hang by our hands to reach the end, then jump off a wall with the help of Sgt. Attanayake who was pushing us over the obstacle staying at the bottom. Then there was some further sprinting and we had to jump over a pit with the help of a hanging rope (Tarzan Rope) and reach our finishing line sprinting through the parade ground.

I was running at 9th place when I jumped over the pit hanging on to that rope but the image of the parade ground pumped a lot of adrenaline in to my blood and in a few seconds time, I started running like Usain Bolt in 100m sprint to pass Cpl. Hasitha Thalawatura and Cpl. Niranjaya Chandrasena to the finish line who were still in the middle of the ground when I dropped spread eagle with the 5 others who already finished it. Everyone finished within the given time frame and when we were marching back to the billet all alone through the graveled path and suddenly out of nowhere came a few hundreds of bright yellow butterflies who flew across our ranks, someone shouted “those are the 1917 platoon members who sensed our victory this time”. Like he said on the very same day during the first parade practice session in the Rantembe NCC Parade grounds around 1830hrs it was announced that Kingswood College has won the “Herman-Loos” championship for year 2003. Bandaranaike College, Gampaha came in at 2nd place with Royal College, Colombo in 3rd place. We have won the 1st place in Director’s Test, 2nd place in the drama competition and the best-marksman award by Cdt. SP Gunathilake. It was one of the happiest days of my life having won the Championship for our school after a very long period of 82 years since 1921. It was the first ever day I cried in happiness and everyone was hugging and crying on each others shoulders expressing their gratitude and unity as a platoon.

The next few days went on with less stress and pressure where the passing out parade preparations were taken place and on the 15th of October 2003, the ceremonial passing out parade of the “Herman-Loos & De Soyza (Girls’ competition)” took place. We were stationed at the edge of the ground before the parade and we were greeted by our CSM Salinda Rathnayake and some senior cadets, Senior Prefect Viduranga Nathawitharana, who traveled all the way from Kandy to witness this historic moment. When the 2NCC Adjutant Capt. M.L.G. Pinto shouted “ජනාධිපති ඛණ්ඩය…වමින් පෙළ…. ගමනේ… යා….!!!” I had goosebumps and hair was rising in the back of my neck with all the excitement and victorious thoughts.

Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku (Minister of Education) was the Chief guest of the ceremony and the “Herman-Loos” trophy was handed over to Capt. Sanath Weerasekara and Sgt. Attanayake after decorating our uniforms with the Silver Championship medal on our chests and commemorating the Kingswood Cadets Platoon as the “President’s Cadet Platoon”. The competition was concluded with the passing out of Cadets in the midst of the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” tune. This victory enabled me to receive school colors which filled a void in my extra-curricular activities.

These five months have taught me very good lessons about stamina, team work, endurance and discipline which helped me in lot of difficult situations in the next few years in the University, Industry and the future ahead. I can never forget the Cadet life even though it was only 5 months for me and 2003 Herman-Loos camp was my first and last of such adventures.

With the strength, support and encouragement of the “2003 President Platoon” Kingswood went on to win the championship in years 2005, 2006 and 2011 being the most recent.

2003 President’s Cadet Platoon Members

Captain Sanath Weerasekara – Platoon Officer

  1. Sgt. Attanayake AMJB – Platoon Leader
  2. Cpl. Gamage DSP
  3. Cpl. Thalawathura HD
  4. Cpl Chandrasena NK
  5. L.Cpl Amarathunga ME
  6. L.Cpl Chandrasena WADS
  7. Cdt. Mahakumarage G
  8. Cdt. Warakaulla MP
  9. Cdt. Mulafar MZ
  10. Cdt. Nugaliyadda JB
  11. Cdt. Jayawardane JR
  12. Cdt. Wasantha Bandara
  13. Cdt. Attanayake B
  14. Cdt. Pilapitiya DH
  15. Cdt. Ruwan AGA
  16. Cdt. Gunawardane I
  17. Cdt. Rathnayake DB
  18. Cdt. Gunathilake SP
  19. Cdt. Herath CJ
  20. Cdt. Fahad M
  21. Cdt. Guluwita TD
  22. Cdt. Hettiarachchi CSJK
  23. Cdt. Bandara N
  24. Cdt. Amarakoon R
  25. Cdt. Supun Nilanga

Special thanks to Gihan Mahakumarage (Platoon Sgt. of 2006 President’s Platoon) for filling in me with the names I missed.

Signing off,

Cdt. Guluwita TD (President’s Cadet Platoon 2003)

B8197 – NCC Sri Lanka