Calabar High School - History

History

Early beginnings

In 1839, William Knibb, Thomas Burchell and James Phillippo, the three leading English Baptist missionaries working in Jamaica, moved for the creation of a college for training native Baptist ministers. Out of this effort, Calabar Theological College came into being in 1843, sited in the little village of Calabar, near Rio Bueno, in Trelawny Parish. The town Calabar was named by the Spanish after a town in Nigeria of the same name.

In 1868, Calabar College was removed to East Queen Street, Kingston, where a "normal" school for training teachers and a high school for boys were added. Shortly afterwards, the high school was closed and the teacher-training activities ceased, leaving the practising school—now Calabar All-Age on Sutton Street—and the theological college, which was relocated at Studley Park (on Slipe Pen Road) in 1904.

High school established

At the beginning of the 1900s, there were very few high schools in existence to educate the sons of the working class and the rising middle class. It was to meet this need that, in September 1912, through the instrumentality of the Revs. Ernest Price and David Davidson—Principal and Tutor, respectively, of Calabar Theological College—Calabar High School came into existence under the joint sponsorship of the Baptist Missionary Society of London and the Jamaica Baptist Union.

The high school opened September 12, 1912, with 26 boys and the foundation was firmly laid in the Christian tradition. Rev. Price was the first headmaster. Within a year enrolment had reached 80 and the school had received government recognition. An early benefactor was Miss Elizabeth Purscell who, in 1919, bequeathed the adjoining property, on Studley Park Road, in trust for the school. The school offered boarding facilities on nearby premises —the Hostel— to facilitate boys attending from outside the Corporate Area of Kingston.

Relocation

In 1952, Calabar Theological College and Calabar High School moved from their location at Studley Park to Red Hills Road, where 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land (then called "Industry Pen") had been purchased for the re-siting of both institutions. At the time, this was a thinly populated, undeveloped area and many people thought the move unwise. The new school was built to house 350 boys but before long extensions became necessary. Boarding facilities were provided up to 1970. When boarding ceased, dormitories were converted to workshops.

In 1967 the Theological College moved to Mona as a part of the United Theological College of the West Indies and the High School took over the vacated space. This is the section of the premises which the boys now call "Long Island."

At about this time a portion of the Calabar lands was sold, to be used for commercial and residential development. A privately run Extension School was added in 1971.

In 1978, the school adopted a shift system incorporating the day and extension schools, at the request of the Ministry of Education. There are over 1600 students on roll with eight forms in each year group between grades 7 and 11, and four forms in grades 12 and 13 (sixth form).

Accomplishments

Major scholarships —such as the Jamaica and Rhodes Scholarships— have been awarded to Calabar students. Sports, particularly athletics, have always been important and the Inter-Schools’ Athletics Championships (“Champs”) Trophy has been won 21 times since 1930.

One major accomplishment is in the Schools' Challenge Quiz, where Calabar is the only school to win the competition three years in a row, and has been to the most finals in one decade, six (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012).

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