|Thursday, 4 November 2004|
Girls' High School Kandy passes 75 years
In 1873 "the want of a 'Superior' school in connection with the wesleyan Mission work was urged by Revd. Samuel Langdon and it was unanimously agreed that a Day and Boarding school should be commenced at Katukelle".
The school was opened in May 1879 at the Welseyan School Chapel adjoining the Girls' Boarding School, Katukelle under the management of Mrs. Langdon. Miss. Payne the next Principal arrived in Colombo on 31st July 1879 but left the school in February 1880.
In May 1880 Miss. Hay came from England and the school which had a mere 10 on roll at its inception increased to 70 and was registered to obtain a grant-in-aid from the government.
As numbers increased in 1881 the school shifted to the more commodious precincts of the Mission in Brownrigg Street, but boarders remained at Katukelle. Classes were held in a hall behind the church.
There were long desks and forms without backs and heavy pews from the church were moved weekly when classes had to take their turn in writing. There were no games, Guiding, debating or netball, not even a library.
With the dawn of the 20th century under the guidance of Miss. Sansom who served for 19 years, Kandy High School became one of the leading educational institutions in the island. On March 21, 1917 the First Company of Girl Guides was formed in the island.
Miss Sansom prepared the way for this and Miss. Jane Claverley, the Vice-Principal was the First Captain. This was followed by the 1st Brownie Company and the Ranger Company in 1918 and in 1921. In June 1920 plague broke out in Kandy and 262 students were ordered to leave the premises over - night.
The kindergarten and Std II shifted to Trinity College, Std 3 and 4 were housed in the YWCA opposite the Police Station and the bigger girls at the YWCA near the Kandy Lake. Miss Calverley had a busy time cycling from one place to another supervising the classes, so she invested in a scooter which created a sensation in those conservative times.
1920-1946 Exodus from Brownrigg Street YMCA, YWCA and Trinity College
Seven bullock carts and a lorry carried the school furniture back again to the former premises at Katukelle on 21st, 22nd and 23rd October 1920. Classes commenced on 28th October. In 1920 Miss. Mallet who was appointed Principal revolutionised the school curriculum.
The introduction of the school uniform, tie, badge and the House and Prefect System to the Island were hers. Miss Ruth Allen the next principal who piloted the school during world War II had a flair for languages and introduced Latin to the Form VI classes. As part of the air-raid practices trenches were dug in the school and military huts were transformed into classrooms.
The first Ceylonese Principal Miss Paul from Mt. Holyoke College and the University of Columbia initiated the Science course in from VI and created the main building which was designed by the architect of the Peradeniya University Shirley 'D' Alwis.
In 1951 the school which was a Grade A school opted to join the free education scheme. It was during the last of the great methodist Principals Mrs. La Brooy that the Mission decided to hand over the school to the government and classes in the Sinhala and Tamil media commenced in the A.L.s.
Mrs. Jayasinghe the first Old Girl to be appointed principal gave due recognition to all four faiths and introduced a practical bias to the school curriculum. She was followed by her sister, a former school Captain, who had her entire schooling at Kandy High School. The school song was translated into Sinhala and the Western band was formed in her time.
During Mrs. Ekanayake's tenure of two decades the school expanded in size and numbers and the landscape too changed, with the construction of the Centenary Building, the library block and the La Brooy building.
As this educational institute was among the first 21 National schools, it was difficult to take in all who sought admission, so Grade 1-5 classes were gradually frozen from 1973.
In 1990 Mrs. Amunugama who laid stress not only on academic studies initiated Colours Eve., Hostel Day and 'Sanka Natham'. Since fostering unity among the communities was her dream, she brought together all four faiths in worship.
The kindergarten was re-opened once again in 2001 after 28 years and in 2004 Grade 01 was shifted to Dodanwela.
125 years have lapsed since May 1879 but the mission of the pioneers of our school "to train girls to be women of character, to fit them to meet the strains and stresses of a wider life in the world, to mature women, willing to serve their homes in or out" has not changed.
Unity in diversity
Our school is one of the very few schools which represents a cross - section of our pluralistic community where children from multi-ethnic and multi-cultural backgrounds are trained to live together as one human family.
'Follow on! Follow on! Follow on!'
- Sunanda Perera, Vice Principal
Produced by Lake House