A BRIEF HISTORY OF JAMAICA COLLEGE

OVER TWO CENTURIES OF TRANSFORMATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaica College has had a varied and interesting history, one of continuous transformation over more than two centuries of service to Jamaican students. The Jamaica College Commission was established in 1789, however Jamaica College, the school first opened its doors in 1795, as The Drax Free School in the vestry of the St. Ann's Bay Courthouse in the parish of St. Ann. It was named for Charles Drax, a St. Ann planter who had left an endowment of over 5,000 pounds sterling for the establishment of a free school in his will, some years before. In 1806, Walton Pen in St. Ann was purchased to house the school, and it was renamed The Jamaica Free School.

 

In 1879, under the governorship of Sir Anthony Musgrave, provision was made by law for the institution to come under the control of the Jamaica School Commission, and to be called The Jamaica High School. Also in that year, Reverend (later Archdeacon) William Simms was appointed as the new headmaster. In 1883, the new law also authorized the removal of the school to the Barbican Great House in St. Andrew. There it remained until 1885, when it was moved to buildings at Hope (the current site of the school). These were opened on July 9, 1885, and the first classes took place there in September of that year.

 

FIRST UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

In September 1890, a college, then known as University College, was opened in connection with the school. In 1902, roughly a century after the endowment of the Drax Free School, the Jamaica High School and the University College were amalgamated under the name Jamaica College. This made JC the first University College of Jamaica, long before the founding of the University of the West Indies in the mid 20th Century. However, although the main objective of the early Jamaica College was to prepare potential University Scholars, most of its students did not go further than fourth or fifth forms.

 

ESTABLISHED HIGH SCHOOL

By the 1930s, with an expanded student population, JC was actually functioning as an established high school. This role was formalized in 1957, with the introduction of the Common Entrance system, and the democratization of the Jamaican secondary education system, including  Jamaica College. From 1902 to 1967, JC was developed as a boarding institution for male students. Since 1967, the College has functioned as a day school and hosts boys from a wide cross section of the community.

 

OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC & ATHLETICS ACHIEVEMENTS

 The school holds a special position in the Jamaican education system by virtue of its tradition of outstanding academic and athletic achievement. Over its progressive history, it has produced a significant number of graduates who have become leaders in academia, business, law, medicine, engineering, sports and politics. It has a strong Alumnae Association with Chapters in many parts of the world. The history of Jamaica College continues to be written, as the school responds to a changing global environment with the determination to prepare today's students for tomorrow's world.

LEST WE FORGET

Jamaicans from all walks of life and from every colour and shade went to war and fought and died for King and Country including seventeen college men in WWI and ten in WWII.  A war memorial was erected at St. Dunstan Chapel, which commemorates the memory of the Jamaica College Old Boys who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

The names of the seventeen fallen True Blue stalwarts from WWI includes a D R Manley. This was Douglas Roy Manley, brother of National Hero Norman Manley, who also fought in World War I. Douglas Manley died and it is said Norman Manley always wore something black for the rest of his life as a sign of mourning for his brother. Interestingly Norman’s first child was named after his brother.

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SYMBOLS & TRADITIONS

Part of the mission of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York

is to preserve and celebrate the heritage and traditions of our great alma mater

JAMAICA COLLEGE PRINCIPALS

LIST OF PRINCIPALS OF JAMAICA COLLEGE 
From    To      Principal
1810    1815    Rev. G. Ledwich
1816    1818    Rev. L. Bowerbank
1818    1825    Rev. Urquhart Gillespie Rose
1826    1828    Rev. Geo. Watson Askew, B.A
1829    1833    Rev. T.H. Gegg, A.M.
1834    1838    Unverified
1839    1841    Rev. T.H. Gegg, A.M.
1842    1847    Rev. William Cooke
1848  1855     Rev. O. Handford, M.A
1856    1861    Rev. Morrison-Myers
1862    1883    Rev. John Leslie Main, B.A.
1883    1915    Archdeacon William Simms
1916    1933    William Cowper
1933    1942    Reginald Myrie Murray*
1942    1946    John William Sommerville Hardie
1946    1960    Hugo Carl Winston Chambers*
1960    1964    Vincent Harvey Ennever*
1965    1970    William H. Middleton
1971    1993    Ruel L. Taylor
1993    1995    Lloyd Bryan
1995    1996    Tim Akpeti 
1997    2006    Stuart Reeves
2006   2016    Ruel Reid

2016    Present   Wayne  Robinson 

THE JAMAICA

COLLEGE CREST

The left half of the school’s crest incorporates the red cross of England and the five golden pineapples that is to be found on Jamaica’s Coat of Arms. The pineapple symbolizes justice, trust and honor, and each pineapple plant gives its own life to produce a single fruit. Around 1681, Sir Christopher Wren had begun using pineapple finials on churches and since then, the fruit has been recognized as a Christian symbol. The pine cone has a long-held imperial significance. The Romans placed pine cones on their buildings and monuments to symbolize confidence in the administrative, judicial and defensive power of the state. 

 

This cross therefore demonstrates the school’s Christian background and allegiance and association to Jamaica.There is an open book in the top right section of the shield to symbolize Bible truth, justice, and the importance of scholarly focus and academic pursuits. A golden griffin against a dark blue background completes the right half of the shield. The Griffin, being the combination of the lion (king of beasts) and the eagle (most powerful and recognized bird of prey) represents the best of both creatures in terms of their characteristics and status – similar traits are to be displayed by each student. Finally, the shield is surrounded by a scroll with the school’s motto inscribed around the entire circumference

SCHOOL PRAYER


Bless, O, Lord this College.

Create among us the spirit of comradeship and loyalty to one another.

When we are called to rule, make us rule with justice.

Drive away from us all ignorance and hardness of heart,

All things dishonorable and unclean.

Build us up in body, mind and spirit

Till we come to the stature of the perfect man

,Jesus Christ our Lord.

AMEN


 

SCHOOL MOTTO

The most commonly used form of the school motto is “Fervet Opus In Campis”.  In full it is “Floreat Collegium, Fervet Opus In Campis”; May the college flourish, work is burning in the field. The inspiration for the school's motto stems from the harnessing of one's energy and motivation to enable success, especially in study. Students are taught that there must be the "Fervet Opus", that is figuratively, we must not only strike the iron while it is hot, but strike it till it is made hot. 

 

 

 

SCHOOL CHEER


Fervet Opus in Campis
When we shoot we never miss

When we cheer we cheer like this:

Hash and roast beef,
Mince and pie
N - O - M - E - R - C - Y

Are we in it?

Well I guess

JC! JC!
Yes, Yes, Yes!

HOORAY!

SCHOOL HYMNS

HYMN FOR BEGINNING OF TERM

 

Rank by rank again we stand,

From the four winds gathered hither

Loud the hallowed walls demand

Whence we come, and how and whither?

From their stillness breaking clear,

Echoes wake to warn or cheer.

Higher truth and holier good

Call our mustered brotherhood. 

 

Ours the years' memorial store,

Hero days and names we reckon;

Days of brethren gone before,

Lives that speak, and deeds that beckon.

One in name, in honour, one,

Guard we well the crown they won;

What they dreamed be ours to do,

Hope their hopes and seal them true. 

 

Brother, if with lure unblest,

Tempter wise the past betray thee,

Rise once more to war addressed,

Fair the field, thy God to aid thee;

Lo! Once more the morn begins,

Scatters as the clouds thy sins;

Rise, and bid thy morrow slay

Shades or shames of yesterday. 

 

Forward then to battle go,

Comrades sworn, one troth to render;

Life by fellow life upgrow,

Strong for war - for helping, tender:

Strong for war, whom Christ hath led,

Tender for whose weal he bled;

Pure, for mute above us moves

Wings of the Immortal Love.

HYMN FOR THE END OF TERM


O'er the harvest reaped or lost,
Falls the eve; our tasks are over.
Purpose crowned or purpose crossed,
None may mar and none recover.
Now, O Merciful and Just,
Trembling lay we down our trust:
Slender fruit of thriftless day,
Father, at Thy feet we lay.

Yea, but Thou, O Judge and Lord,
Yea, but Thou, O Strong and Holy,
Take, and in Thy bosom stored
By Thy pure hands changing wholly,
Turn to gold our things of nought,
Failing deed and failing thought:
Love, how faint, yet love we give;
Thou within us make it live.

Gracious task our heart shall bear
Now, for sweeter call hath found us,
Airs of home and days that were
Wind rewoven chains around us;
By the home from whence we came
Love shall trim her gentler flame,
Kindled new from undefiled
Ancient altars of the child.

Brothers, whom the wider life
Summons to a man's endeavour,
Bear our blessings through the strife,
Comrades once, and comrades ever.
Yours and ours one saving star,
Here and on your fields afar,
Lightens from beside the throne,
Where the one Lord makes us one

 

HOLY GROUND

The Holy Ground is a plot of ground dedicated to the memory of JC alumni who died in World War I and World War II. The ground  faces the main entrance to the Administration building. The Holy Ground is a strictly prohibited area, as it is regarded as sacred site.

THE 'PUNCEY' TREE

The “Puncey” tradition has been with Jamaica College for ages. Described as an “immortal lover,” many “College Men” have gotten acquainted with this tree in the past and many will in generations to come.

SIXTH-FORM STAIRCASE

It is an established tradition that all blue shirts who break the rules by attempting to ascend the sixth form stair case will endure a swift descent from whence they came.

SCHOOL HOUSES

DACOSTA

Orange

This house is named after Granville Monty DaCosta who was President of the Old Boy’s Association for 24 years from 1941 – 1965. Mr. DaCosta was an active member of the School Board and a generous contributor towards the College.

DRAX

Maroon

Drax House is named after the founding father of Jamaica College, Charles Drax an estate owner from Twittenham, England, who came to Jamaica from Barbados and who left funds for the establishment of the school.

HARDIE

Green

The house is named after the fourth Jamaica College Principal at the Hope Road location, Mr. W. A. Hardie. He served as principal from 1942 – 1945.

MURRAY

Blue

Murray House is named in honour of Reginald Myrie Murray, third principal of Jamaica College, since it has been at its present location. Mr. Murray served for  8 years, from 1933 – 1942.

CHAMBERS

Yellow

Chambers House is named after the fifth principal and first Old Boy who was principal at the Hope Road location. Mr. Hugo Carl Winston Chambers served for 14 years from 1946 – 1960 and the 10k memorial track event was named in his honour.

COWPER

Purple

The second principal at the hope Road location was William Cowper, who succeeded Archdeacon Simms and who was principal when the chapel was dedicated in 1924.

MUSGRAVE

Red

This house is the only house named after a woman. Lady Musgrave, wife of Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave, who gave generous contributions to the College and opened the buildings at the Hope Road location, on 9 July 1885.

SIMMS

Rust

Simms house was named in honor of Archdeacon William Simms who served as principal for 10 years, from 1883 – 1893.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS

Four buildings on the Jamaica College campus have been declared National Heritage Sites by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

The Simms Building

Built in 1885 of masonry and timber, it exhibits a combination of Gothic and Georgian features; the projecting central tower and wings are reminiscent of Georgian designs, while the façade’s soaring verticals, griffins, and pointed arch openings are Gothic. It was originally used as a dormitory for boarders; it now houses the administrative offices, staff room and sixth form classrooms.

The Scotland Building

Erected in 1889 of brick, mortar, and wood, with iron detailing on the balcony railings, it combines a variety of architectural styles including Palladian windows on the west elevation, a lower arcaded wrap around verandah, and a steep-pitched cedar shingled hip roof. It was first used as a dormitory; however it now houses classrooms and the P.T.A. Shoppe.

The Assembly Hall

Constructed in 1913 of concrete block and steel, it is wrapped by an arcaded verandah which helps to keep the interior cool. Its hipped roof of cedar shingles is partially concealed by parapet walls. It was originally used as an assembly hall, however it now houses the school’s top of the line cafeteria, which is operated by the great Jamaican franchise, Mother’s.

St. Dustan’s Chapel

Built in 1924 of reinforced concrete and concrete breather block, its north and south elevations have a stepped roof which creates a clerestory level for ventilation and diffused lighting. Its east and west windows are stained glass; the west is said to be a replica of St. Dustan’s window at Canterbury Cathedral in England.

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JAMAICA COLLEGE LODGE

The Jamaica College Lodge was the first school lodge formed in Jamaica. It was actually the first time an Old Boys of a school had formed a Freemasons lodge anywhere in the Caribbean.

The idea of the formation of this Lodge arose from the enthusiasm stirred up at the Drax Day celebrations in July, 1952. Some of the Old boys who attended the celebrations and who had seen the Light of Freemasonry, thought that the enthusiastic brotherhood displayed on Drax Day could be extended to more frequent associations by the formation of a Masonic Lodge - in learning the great principles inculcated by Masonry and assisting the school at the same time. The response of Old Boys was enthusiastic. When the list for Founders closed, there were twenty-one names, with six applications for joining and four for initiation. It is hoped that loyalty to the Lodge among its members will be no less than loyalty to a school, and play a part in producing enlightened and public-spirited citizens of Jamaica.

The Lodge is comprised primarily of Old Boys of Jamaica College, however we welcome past students from any institution. Charities supported by the Lodge include donations to Jamaica College and the Salvation Army. 

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