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History of St. Stanislaus College
By Naomi Collins - October, 2002
Message from Mr. James Fanfair, Headmaster
I count as a blessing and honour to serve as Principal of such a prestigious institution whose genesis has Christian foundations. Despite the College’s Christian tradition as associated with its motto ‘Aeterna Non Caduca’ – ‘ Not for this life only but for Eternity’, it has graduated scholars from different backgrounds and orientations during the many years of its existence. There indeed has been a variety of changes over the recent past. However it is vital in the present millennium that the college recapture some of its rich history. If we are to succeed in our quest to improve our ‘state and status’, all stake holders must work together to ensure that the quality as well as the quantity of our performances improve as stated in our philosophy. The school philosophy is “to ensure that the staff and students work singularly and collectively towards the full social and academic upliftment of the College and the country as a whole”. History is the study of man and his achievements in the past. By the study of history we seek to improve the present by studying the success and failure of the past. It is my prayer that the reading of the History of St. Stanislaus College will help us to improve our future.
Message from Dr. Kenneth Khan, Headmaster 1972-1980
I was honoured when asked to give a Message to this fledgling History of St. Stanislaus College. Such a document is long overdue and I feel confident that it will help bridge the gap between tradition and progress.
A wise man once said that we must return to our roots and remember the lessons of our history, if we are to avoid a repetition of the mistakes of the past and if we plan to move ahead with confidence in the future. I welcome this document which will enable students to know more about where they come from and where they are going. St. Stanislaus College is unique in that it was started by the Society of Jesus and has left an indelible mark on the lives of countless thousands of its Alumni. Despite the abrupt severance of the Jesuit connection in 1980, it has continued to make a significant contribution to the educational landscape of Guyana. It is a truism that every student, past and present, has been affected for the better, but it is often forgotten that a graduating student has also made his/her contribution to the quality of life at Saints. The institution is forever changed and we hope that future generations will look back in pride at their Alma Mater whose character they have helped shape in one way or another.
Significant Dates in the History of St. Stanislaus College
History of St. Stanislaus College
(Contains excerpts from ‘The Story of St. Stanislaus College’, St. Stanislaus Magazine, Nov. 1966)
St. Stanislaus College began as a Roman Catholic school run by the Jesuits. In fact, it was a Catholic school for one hundred and ten years, until it was taken over by the Government.
On May 1st 1866, the Catholic Grammar School was opened. It was situated in the presbytery next to the Church of the Resurrection, which was on the site of the present Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Brickdam. The school was opened in May 1st,1866, with Fr. Theobald Langton in charge, and two boys, Marshall and Pairadeau. Fr. Langton died of Yellow Fever during the August Holidays, but the school was re-opened under Fr. S. Bond, with seven boys. Fr. C.K. Wilson took over the school in October 1866, and on November 3rd, the school moved to new premises on Main Street.
In January 1868, Mr. C. B. King went to the school as an assistant, and in September 1869, he took over the school when Fr. Wilson was transferred to Victoria Parish. The school then moved to Waterloo Street. In 1871, the school returned to the Cathedral Presbytery. In 1872, the Vicar-General Fr. E. Whyte was in charge. Also in 1872, the school received a Government grant, which was subsequently lost.
In 1873, Fr. Foxwell was Headmaster. In September 1874, Fr. Hartnell took over, and he introduced boarders to the school. This was to cater for Venezuelan boys who came to Demerara to be educated. The frequent change of Headmasters and the location of the school show that it was undergoing problems, and by 1878, the school was closed temporarily. The Jesuit General selected Fr. Charles Wilson to re-open the school, which was done in early in 1880.
In October 1880, Fr. Barraud became Headmaster. At that time there were fifteen boys at the school, as well as an assistant master. Fr. Barraud remained as Headmaster for twenty years. The numbers of boys increased to 27, and reached 72. Fr. Barraud writes: “In those early years Mrs. Deguara wife of the assistant master, was employed to teach the small boys, while Fr. Rigby and after him Fr. Barber took the Mathematics. Somewhere about 1890 Fr. O’Donnell joined myself as second master, taking charge also of the mathematical work. Meantime the Deguaras had gone to the States, and first Miss Waddell and Miss Maria de Silva, and then Miss Waddell and Mrs. Child had charge of the small fry, Mrs. Child remaining on along with Brother Reynolds, who had come from British Honduras. The school never paid its way, the income being insufficient, and so had a claim on the Government grant.
For seventeen or eighteen years our premises were on the ground floor of the Presbytery. Although so dark on a rainy day that the boys could not use their slates, they were not on the whole bad quarters. There were three classrooms, and later the Guild-room was utilized. Some two or three years later before the end of my time a new school was built beyond the Cathedral chiefly with money begged for that purpose”.
At about 1897, the school moved from the Presbytery to a new premises (located at the site of the present St. Mary’s School), although the preparatory classes remained in the building near the Presbytery, and the school used the old playground until 1901. The temporary chapel alongside the Cathedral was used as the elementary school until the destruction of the Cathedral by fire in 1913.
In 1894 the Catholics of British Guiana sent a petition to the Governor, Sir Charles Cameron Lees, asking for financial help to erect a suitable building in Brickdam. The appeal failed, and it was not until 1907 that the College moved to the present Brickdam site. In 1901, a silver medal was awarded to S.I. Cyrus who was to become the first ‘Guiana’ Scholar. The uniform at that time included a straw hat with a yellow hatband, and the initials S.S.C. were monogrammed in gold on a shield on the blazer pocket.
In 1907, the Catholic Grammar School became St. Stanislaus College, named for St. Stanislaus Kostka, a patron saint of youth. In this year the buildings that stood on the eastern end of the present Brickdam site were utilised. The statue of St. Stanislaus (which had been presented to the school by the boys as a testimonial to Fr. Barraud) was moved from the Camp Street building and placed before the entrance to the new building. Fr. Pollen was in charge of the school until 1911, and Fr. Beauclerk, the Mission Superior, was in charge of the Junior School. The number of boys at the college was now about 100, and this figure remained until 1924. In 1911, Fr. Besant took over from Fr. Pollen, and remained until 1917. The College Scout troop was started during the time of Fr. Besant by Fr. Robinson, and the boys were very prominent in trying to control the disastrous fire which, in 1913, destroyed the Cathedral.
Between 1918 to 1925, there were three changes of Headmaster, Fr. Miller, Fr. Whiteside and Fr. McCowan. Fr. Weld was Headmaster from 1925 to 1932 it was in his time that the main wing of the present building was built. He was eager for the teaching of Science to begin at the college, and was instrumental in obtaining Fr. Adamson, a science graduate to do so.
The opening of the main wing (now called the Weld Wing in honour of Fr. Weld) took place in 1928. It was a very handsome building with open galleries (see Appendices 1&2). However, it was discovered that driving rain flooded the corridors, so blinkers were added to protect them.
The College made great strides and the academic standards improved steadily. Fr. Marrion, the next Head, developed the work started by Fr. Weld who was consecrated Bishop. The Marrion Forum is named in his honour. The science laboratories were improved, and a new playing field was obtained.
A house system was started to promote rivalry in sports. The houses were called Etheridge, Butler & Galton after Bishops Etheridge, Anthony Butler, and Theodore Galton respectively. Later, in the 1980’s, a fourth house was added, called Weld after Bishop George Weld. The house colours are: Etheridge – red, Butler- blue, Galton -green, and Weld - yellow.
Fr. Smith succeeded Fr. Marrion in 1941. Fr. Brian Scannell became Headmaster in 1949. It was during his term of office that a new wing was built with six classrooms and two laboratories. This wing (now called the Scannell Wing) is an extension to the Weld Wing, and runs parallel to Hadfield Street. It was opened in the Christmas term of 1952. Fr. Scannell retired because of ill health in 1958 and was succeeded by Fr. John Hopkinson, who introduced the grey uniform, and, among many other things formed the plans for another wing. This wing, called the Hopkinson Wing in his honour, was completed in 1972 (see Appendix 4 for layout of buildings). The College celebrated its 100th anniversary in May 1966 with a week of celebrations.
In 1972, Fr. Kenneth Khan became Headmaster. The Workshop was built in December 1974, and the College Farm in September 1975. The college became co-educational in 1975, with an enrolment of 36 girls, 12 in each first form. In 1976, after being a Catholic institution for 110 years, the college became a government school. In 1980, with the removal of Fr. Kenneth Khan as headmaster by the Ministry of Education, the Jesuit connection ended, and the Jesuits on the staff were assigned elsewhere. The last Jesuit on the Staff was Fr. Fred Rigby (see page 13).
From 1980 to the present time, all headteachers have been appointed by the Ministry of Education. Mr. Clarence Trotz became the first non-Jesuit headmaster of the College since 1872. He served from 1980 to 1982, with Mr. Dinband Khusial serving from 1982 to 1984. Mrs. Hazel Sargeant, the first female headteacher, served from 1984 to 1988, Mr. S. K. Singh served from 1988 to 1990, and Mr. B. Tihal from 1990 to 1992. In 1991, the 125th anniversary was observed. The commemorations included a mass held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, at which the chief celebrant was former headmaster Fr. J. Hopkinson.
Mrs. Zohora Singh was headmistress from 1992 to 1996, Mr. Murdwaj Singh from 1996 to 1999, Mr. James E. Fanfair from 1999 to 2004 and Ms McGarrell from 2004 to the present time (2005).
Life of St. Stanislaus Kostka S.J. 1550-1568
Stanislaus Kostka was born on October 28th 1550, in Rostkovo, Poland. His father, John Kostka, was a Senator of the Kingdom of Poland, and his mother, Margaret, was the aunt of a Chancellor of Poland. Stanislaus was the second of seven children. He and the rest of his siblings were first taught at home under the care of a tutor.
In July, 1564, when Stanislaus was fourteen, he and his older brother Paul were sent to Vienna to attend the Jesuit college there. They were accompanied by their tutor, Bilinski, and three servants. Among the students at the college, Stanislaus was conspicuous not only for his amiability and cheerfulness, but for his religious piety. It was at the college that he first formed the idea that he wanted to be a Jesuit. He remained at the college for three years, until it was shut down. The Emperor had died, and his successor was Lutheran, so the college was forced to close. Stanislaus and his brother, along with their tutor went to live in a fashionable house in Vienna, continuing their studies privately.
Stanislaus and his brother were different personalities. Paul was a man of the world, with plenty of money, and wanted to enjoy all the amusements Vienna had to offer, while Stanislaus was very religious, with a strong sense of right and wrong. This led to a battle of wills between them. Paul constantly bullied his brother and ridiculed his piety. Stanislaus put up with the ridicule and violence, but stood by his principles. He considered Paul’s way of life wrong and refused to join him. Eventually, Stanislaus fell ill, so ill that his tutor thought he was going to die. Stanislaus asked for a priest to administer the last sacraments, but the landlord, who was Lutheran, would not allow a priest into the house. One night, Stanislaus had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who spoke to him and told to become a Jesuit. In the morning, Stanislaus was found to be well.
For many months Stanislaus had wanted to be a Jesuit, but he hesitated. If he mentioned it to his brother, it would bring on more jeering and bullying. In addition, because his father was a nobleman, he regarded it as a disgrace for his son to become a priest and a Jesuit. After his recovery he hesitated no longer, and applied to the Provincial of the Jesuits asking to be admitted to the Society of Jesus. The Provincial, knowing that trouble from Stanislaus’ father would follow, refused to admit him unless he obtained permission from his father. However, Stanislaus was advised by a priest that the only way he could realise his ambition was to apply to Fr. Peter Census, the Provincial of Upper Germany, who was at Augsburg, and therefore not so close to Prince John.
On the morning of the day he left, he told his servant to notify his brother and tutor that he would not be back for dinner. He then began his journey, taking the first opportunity to exchange his gentleman’s clothes for those of a beggar. When evening came and Stanislaus had not returned, his brother and tutor formed a search party started to follow him, but were not able to catch up with him.
Stanislaus walked the 300 miles from Vienna to Augsburg, were he pleaded with the provincial, Peter Canisius to allow him to enter the Society. After hearing his story, Peter Canisius agreed to accept Stanislaus into the Society. However, Stanislaus felt that he was still too close to Poland, and that his father would demand that he return home. He therefore asked to be sent to Rome, and, after a journey of a thousand miles, he arrived in Rome in October, 1567. He was then admitted by the general of the order, Francis Borgia to the Jesuit novitiate (a period of training in religious life and prayer).
According to the testimony of the master of novices, Stanislaus was a model of religious perfection. In spite of his delicate constitution, he did spare himself the slightest penance. After ten months in the novitiate, Stanislaus became ill on August 10th1568. At three o’clock in the morning of August 15th, he said that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints were around him, and he quietly and happily died, a few months short of his eighteenth birthday.
Stanislaus was beatified in 1605, and canonized on December 31st, 1726. St. Stanislaus is a patron saint of youth, and many religious institutions have chosen him as their patron saint. His feast day is celebrated on November 13.
Hymn to St. Stanislaus
Saint of our youth! Thy heart to gain,
AETERNA NON CADUCA – ‘Not for this life only, but for eternity’
St. Stanislaus College Crest
The Saint Stanislaus College Crest is derived from the coat of arms of St. Stanislaus Kostka’s family. Their family was traced backed to a General in the 10th century who invented a special type of horseshoe by which his troops defeated the Russian army on the ice, hence the horseshoe on the coat of arms. When the family became Christian, a cross was added to the horseshoe.
Head-teachers of St. Stanislaus College
The Saint Stanislaus College Association
The SSCA was formed in 1942 to support St. Stanislaus College, the alma mater of the members of the Association. The support of the College was, and continues to be, the raison d’etre of the SSCA.
Supporting the College has involved giving financial support for the repair and maintenance of the College’s physical plant; the provision of non-teaching services such as security; support for co-curricular activities such as scouting and the sports programmes; and the sponsorship of prizes for the annual prize-giving ceremony. In the past, some of the major projects undertaken in support of the College included the establishment and operation of the College Farm at Sophia, the construction of the Hopkinson Wing, the construction of the Pavilion at the Sports ground and the organization of a school cafeteria service operated by Demico Qik Serv. More recently, the physics and chemistry laboratories were refurbished; and the roofs of the Scannell and Weld wings were replaced. Currently, a major project for the rehabilitation of the College sports ground and pavilion is being financed and executed by the Association.
The Association has always tried to promote and maintain an appropriate school ethos. To this end it has sponsored the annual College magazine for decades, and though the magazine has not been produced for a few years, the Association hopes to resume its sponsorship. For this to become a reality, the College – students, administration, and staff will have to prioritise its production. In this regard also the Association was very instrumental in the re-introduction of ties at the College.
The Association always attempts to support the administration of the school in various intangible but important ways. It has recently been instrumental in the establishment (by the Minister of Education) of a small committee to draft the terms of reference for a School Improvement Committee. The Association has committed itself to this process, once it resumes.
The SSCA has collaborated with other alumni organisations to support the College. Principal among these projects were the college computer laboratory; the scholarship programme, tenable at the University of Guyana, which covers tuition costs and provides a book allowance; and the replacement of windows on the Weld Wing. These projects were all financed by the Toronto Chapter, and executed by the SSCA. There is also a very vibrant Barbados Chapter and the recently formed New York Chapter.
Contributed by Mr. Raj Singh
Presidents of the St. Stanislaus College Association
College Thoughts from Abroad -by Fr. Fred Rigby
It is now over thirty years since I came from England to Guyana to teach at the then-Jesuit college of St. Stanislaus. Fr. John Hopkinson was the Headmaster in 1969, to be followed by Fr Kenneth Khan soon afterwards. Several Jesuits were still on the Staff: Fr. Feeny, Fr. Earle, Fr. Lynch, Fr. Darke and others.
I was asked to teach French and Religious Knowledge - and later, Spanish -, and it was a most happy time. The students - all boys then - were generally attentive and well-behaved and there was little or no problem with homework. It was a great help for me to visit the homes of those in my Form; parents were usually pleased to discuss their boys' progress, and it enabled me to see, among other matters, if there were facilities for quiet study.
The College playing field was much used at the time, so there were sessions of football and cricket to supervise. Not being particularly expert at either, my role was generally just to keep an eye on the smooth running of the game.
When I was Form Master of one of the Lower School classes, there was a system of 'sides' in each class. Half were Arawaks, half were Caribs, and points were obtained for good attendance, punctuality, school work, tidiness, good behaviour. At the end of each half-term, the winning side was given a day off, so I borrowed the College minibus and drove my winners to Mahaica to spend a day at the seaside with a picnic lunch. On the return trip, there was much singing of the French songs we had learned at school. It was a wonderful way of strengthening the bonds between students and teacher.
The early 1970s passed peacefully; students continued to do well in G.C.E. 'O' Levels and 'A' Levels, but changes were coming. Co-education was introduced into the educational system in 1975. We began by admitting a percentage of girls into the First Form, gradually increasing the number each year. The first girls to come must have found it rather daunting, but they bore up bravely and survived.
President Forbes Burnham was now in 'nationalisation mood', gradually taking over everything in the country. The 'exodus' had begun; spaces began to appear on the school benches. In 1976, Burnham took over all the schools and forbade the teaching of Religion in schooltime. It was the beginning of the deterioration of educational standards in Guyana. Many good teachers emigrated and their place was often taken by 'Party' teachers, more interested in politics than in teaching. It was a great pity to see the crumbling of a long tradition at Saints, going back to its foundation by the Jesuits in 1866.
In 1979 came the tragedy of the murder of Fr Bernard Darke, bayoneted to death on Brickdam outside the Ministry of Home Affairs on a busy Saturday morning, July 14. I had been with him in the Staff Room shortly before, writing end-of-term reports. On finishing, I cycled back to 29 Brickdam and it was there I heard the shattering news. His funeral at Brickdam Cathedral filled every bench and the College Scout Troop, led so ably by Fr. Darke for many years, turned out in force.
By July 1980, I was the last Jesuit on the Staff, so my Superiors reluctantly decided to end their teaching commitment to Saints, and I was posted to the Pakaraima Mountains to do pastoral work among the Patamona Indians. What a difference from the strict timetable at Saints! I much regretted leaving the College after so many enjoyable years of teaching and school friendships but that is life. Change all around.
I now thought that my connections with Saints were over, but in the last few months, I have been pleasantly surprised. In January of this year, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had to return to England for treatment. Somehow, word spread among the Barbados and Toronto chapters of Saints former students, as well as in Guyana, and e-mail began to arrive by the dozen. It was wonderful to hear again from so many of my former students, some of whom I had not seen or communicated with for twenty to thirty years. It was fascinating to read their memories of classroom incidents which I had forgotten, and to appreciate their complimentary comments about the teaching they had received at Saints, to hear that many of them were now trying to inculcate those standards of honesty, integrity, loyalty, hard work and reliability that they had learned during their years at Saints.
So, looking back over the past thirty years, I have much for which to be grateful, both during my time teaching at Saints and in recent months. My greetings go out to all former students who may read this article and remember me, and to the present Staff and students now at the school. May the situation at Saints steadily improve and, with the assistance of the Guyana, Barbados and Toronto chapters, may Saints once more become a school of excellence.
Fr. Fred Rigby SJ 11 Edge Hill, LONDON SW19 4LR
Friday,11th May 2001
St. Stanislaus College, one hundred and thirty nine years old (1866-2005), is a Senior Secondary School owned and managed by the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Education. In 2005, a Board of Governors was set up to manage the College in its entirety, viz. maintenance and repairs, day to day operations, including hiring and firing of staff (except for HM and DHM). It receives an annual subvention to cover budgeted expenses and the wages and salaries of staff, but must raise any additional funds. The College aims at imparting to students intellectual, technical and social skills and forming citizens who are imbued with reverence of God, and a spirit of love for their country.
The philosophy of the school – “to ensure that staff and students work singularly and collectively towards the full social and academic upliftment of the College and the country as a whole” is linked to the school’s Motto ‘Aeterna Non Caduca’ – ‘Not for this life only but for Eternity’. The school offers an education that emphasises academic excellence and respect for all; it aims at fostering cooperation, a spirit of sharing, caring and working for the good of all.
The school term, divided into three terms, commences in September and ends in July of the following year. There are thirty nine school weeks in an academic year; each week has thirty five periods, that is, seven periods per day, with each period lasting forty minutes. School assembles at 8.50 a.m. and dismisses at 3.00p.m. There is a morning break from 10.20 a.m. to 10.40 a.m. and lunch break from 12.00 to 12.50 p.m.
Admission to the school is normally through the Secondary Schools Entrance Examination. The normal five years’ course of studies leads to the Secondary Education Certificate Examination (CXC Examinations) and the G.C.E (London) Ordinary Level. There is a further two years for the G.C.E. Advanced Level (London) and/or the Caribbean Examinations Proficiency Examination (C.A.P.E.).
Departments in the School: Home Economics, Industrial Arts, Science, Languages, Social Studies, Mathematics, Business, Agricultural Science, Allied Arts. The school curriculum includes Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, Spanish, French, Social Studies, History, Geography, Agriculture Science, Principles of Accounts, Principles of Business, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Integrated Science, Art, Physical education, Music, Food and Nutrition, Home Management, Clothing and Textiles, Technical Drawing, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Electricity, Electronics and Information Technology.
Sports play an integral part in the lives of students. On the College premises in Brickdam, there are facilities for playing basketball, volleyball, badminton and table tennis. The College playground in Carifesta Avenue provides facilities for cricket, football, hockey, circle tennis and athletics. Both boys and girls participate actively in games. Scouting is also offered for boys and girls. There is a Bible Club, an Islamic Society and a Hindu Society, adding a touch of religious flavour to the lives of students. Many of the sporting activities, elocution competitions and debates are conducted on a House basis; there are four Houses: Butler, Etheridge, Galton and Weld.
The school is ably assisted by parents, individuals, the St. Stanislaus College Association, and the Toronto, New York and Barbados Chapters of the College Association.
(Contributed by Dr. K. Khan)
About the Author
Naomi Collins attended St. Stanislaus College from 1988-1993. She is a Civil Engineer, but has always been interested in history. Her interest in Saints stemmed from the long association of her family with the College: her sisters, brother, father (Aubrey Collins), uncles and many cousins are alumni. In fact, her great-uncle, Jocelyn Greaves, was a student there circa 1910. The author currently serves on the executive of the Saint Stanislaus College Association; which her uncle Lindsay Collins (President, 1972), mother Joan Collins, and sisters Andrea and Joanne have previously done.
‘The Story of St. Stanislaus College’- St. Stanislaus Magazine, November 1966
‘The Story of St. Stanislaus’- St. Stanislaus Magazine, November 1968
St. Stanislaus Magazines: 1949,1953,1961,1966,1968,1969,1972,1973,1974,1975,1976,1977,1978,1979,1980,1982,1993,1995.
‘St. Stanislaus Kostka’- http://www.newadvent.org.cathen/14245b.htm
Image of St. Stanislaus College crest obtained from: