From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi

Padopads Harmony Secondary School, recently, celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with stakeholders commending the school management and teachers for offering quality education and being instrumental to human and national development.

It was pomp and pageantry during the celebration as old students thronged the school in their numbers in honour of the institution, they said has mould them into nation builders.

The 50th anniversary was celebrate with the theme,”Pdopads at 50; Building People of Strength through Knowledge and Light.” The celebration which also attracted Benue state Government, present and former First Ladies of the state, prominent sons and daughters of the state, old students, past teachers and principals, parents and well wishers, also witnessed various programmes including testimonies by the proprietors and old principals, awards giving among other and ended with a thanksgiving Mass.

The college was established in 1973 by Chief Padopads Awunah to impart knowledge and ensure a well refined and great generation.

Speaking at the event, the proprietoress, Mrs Mrs Awunah could not help but show her happiness that “This little mustard seed that was planted by my husband of blessed memory, Chief Padopads Awunah, on January 8, 1973 has grown to a mighty institution over the 50 years, producing men and women of diverse tribes all over Nigeria.”

Mrs Awunah appreciated everyone who has contributed towards the progress of the institution; particularly, Benue State Government who approved grants-in-aid for the school in 1976, a time when running the school became very difficult.

With a heart full of gratitude, she named some pioneer people who helped the establishment of the school especially Doctor Aker Gajir, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, Vincent Shirsha and regretted that they are not alive today to see their work.

She also acknowledge the great contribution of Chief Julius Aondoana, the Tor-Gwer who was a childhood friend of her husband, Chief Awunah and also happened to be an Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education, Benue Plateau State at that time, Mr. Augustine Pine, who was at the conception of the idea and nursed it to fruition and prayed God to bless them all.

“To my old students, I feel very excited at this great reunion. A few of us including Hon-Jerome Hwande and Mr. Emmanuel Azer who were your principals have lived to see this day. Most of the principals have passed on. May their souls rest in peace.

“I call on the old students look around their alma mata and appreciate the level of dilapidation. Today, Government’s grant in aid is only for the payment of staff and the onus of renovation or building of new infrastructure falls on the school but the school cannot afford to.

“I appeal to you to come to the aid of the institution by picking some renovation and completion of the new administrative block which you promised to build during the 40th anniversary celebration.”

The proprietor who thanked them immensely for traveling from far and wide to Makurdi to grace the event urged them to also gift the school with computer sets to equip the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) laboratory.

She further appealed to the state Government to take a look at multi taxation of these grant-aided public schools to prevent them from total collapse.

Speaking, Benue state First Lady, Mrs Eunice Ortom, said the celebration was more that a 50th year anniversary because “under the tutelage, lives have been changed, characters have been molded, careers built and established.

While noting that education is a powerful tool for the transformation of life, Mrs Ortom encouraged management to keep up the good work and the students to build good character while they also acquire knowledge.

Mrs Ortom, who noted that her foundation, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, (ESLF), places high premium on girl child education, made a cash donation in support of ongoing projects in the school.

The First Lady who presented awards to some deserving old students and inaugurated an ICT center constructed in the school urged the old students to always give back to their alma mater for the good of the younger generation.

“If you are happy if you are happy with how far you’ve gone in life and where you are now, you must take it back to somewhere. If you are proud of your humble beginnings, you will demonstrate it and if you have gained from the guidance of this school, I’m sure you will want the younger ones to gain much more. So help your alma mater develop this school,” she advised.

Former First Lady of Benue state, Mrs Regina Akume, noted that education is crucial in orienting young people towards being responsible citizens who contributed to the economic, social and political development of the society.

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She noted that when individuals are given the tools they need to effects change in their communities, that community invariably grows.

Mrs Akume stated that Padopads Harmony Secondary School in Makurdi was one of those instructions that emerged as educational revolution in the North Central saying the school has remained a beacon of light that has stood the test of time, producing outstanding men and women whom have been pillars upon which the society stands.

She particularly, commended the school for making moral ethics an important part of education in the schools saying in a society where stories are always depicting societal decay, violence, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, academic incuriosity among others, it was imperative to leverage on sound academic education with moral education to offer young people an education that is not lacking in any facet.

Mrs Akume who was a former teacher of the school recalls with nostalgia “I have great memories of my time here. I made many friends and acquaintances some of whom I’m still in direct contact with. If you are privileged to have passed through this great institution, as a student or staff, you are blessed. Padopads is a family and I am proud to be part of this great family,” she said.

The Principal of the school and National President, Padopads Old Students Association, (POSA), Mrs Regina Ahura, who sais the school is fulfilled having impacted on the world through their old students. According to her, the aim of the celebration was to bring the old students together for the good of the school.

“The old students of this school are found across the length and breadth of this world. In all careers, all professions, the students are not only serving the Benue community but the entire world.

Mrs Ahura, also an old student, noted the importance of old student associations in schools saying “We want to use the occasion as a launchpad to reunite everyone and establish a dependable association that all students will all be proud of.”

During the extraordinary assembly, former Principals of the school, Chief Helen Awuna, Jerome Hwande and Emmanuel Adzer urged the old students to connect and help one another wherever they find themselves and also help the school to enable it continue to achieve and impart greatness.

“To old boys and old girls, wherever you ate connect yourselves and assist each, united we stand, divided we fall, encouraged one another, pray for one another continue to be like a family,” Hwande said.

Some of the old students, Kizito Akuranya, Iorfa Ude, Anyammgura Joe-Peters, Iorshe Joseph, Comfort Iortyom and Justina Charles, relieved beautiful memories of the school just as they expressed excitement reconnecting with long lost friends saying the school moulded them into what they are today.

Kizito Akuranya of set ’93 said ” I lack words to describe this school. It imbibed so much in us, from knowledge to discipline, togetherness and more. We are grateful.”

“I lack words to appreciate this school. No matter where I am now, this school is my stepping stone. The school has really improved than when we were here especially in infrastructure. So I commend the management for remaining very focused,” Joe-Peyers Anyammgura said.

Apostle Simon Favour of set ’98 said, the event was a great moment for the old students. I came in here 25 years ago as a timid young boy but today, to the glory of God, God has helped me. I’m not where I used to be. Celebrating the 50 years anniversary is an opportunity for us to do more for our younger ones who are in school and those who would come in the future.”

For Justin’s Charles who graduated in year 2000, it was a feel of excitement. “We had a wonderful experience being here. The school taught me how to be bold, to stand out in my academic performance, it taught me not to be intimated and how to speak out for the truth. I appreciate my teachers. They were wonderful and for the students, I really thank God for giving us the opportunity to meet one another once again,” she said.

The head prefect of set ’88 Comfort Iortyom who recalled that the school had no parameter fence during their time said, “the fencing of the school was in our heart because our principal made us to understand why we were here.

“It was a whollistic preparation of a people. We were disciplined, they were straight with what they wanted to impact in us, we were taught to say the truth no matter whose ox is being gored so that wherever you are, you are an ambassador.

“Padopads made me a resilient person a strong person, a goal getter, whatever I believed in, I know its achievable and I go straight for it; I got that confidence from this school.

To the new students, Iortyom advised, “They should also be mindful that they are here to build bridges. As they learn, I want the student to see beyond the gates and structures of this school so they can be real ambassadors and look out for one another afterwards.”

They all encouraged the students to concentrate on their education, acquire knowledge, make friends and make themselves, the school and their parents proud.