Our History I
In 1925 the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica and The Wesleyan Methodist Church joined force, pooling their resources of £3,000 each to establish the Jamaica High School for Girls. They drew up a “Basis of Union” and agreed that the school would cater for both boarders and day girls and would be located near Kingston. In early 1925, they secured from Cecil Lindo, 8 acres of land surrounding the substantial and spacious Cecelio Lodge House – with gardens, tennis courts and a large hockey field. They were able to refurbish the house to establish dormitories, class rooms and staff rooms. The mission of the school was “to provide a secondary education for Boarders and Day scholars.” It would aim at the Christian education of each girl keeping in mind the “fourfold development, physical, mental, spiritual and social so as to
The crest of the St. Andrew High School for Girls was designed by an old girl, Ms Joan Humphrey. The design features a shield on the left of which is a white cross on blue background – the flag of our patron saint, St. Andrew and on the right is the flag of St. George (England) with five pineapples. The motto “Life More Abundant” is displayed on a ribbon below the shield. The mould for the crest was presented to the school at the Old Girl’s Association’s first reunion dinner on April 6, 1940. 1
equip her with a healthy body, a well-trained mind, religious habits and ideals, to gain her own living and to serve her community worthily.” The school’s first uniform was a white blouse with navy and gold striped tie, “middy” navy skirt and straw hat. Guided by its motto of a Life More Abundant, the history of the School records the tremendous effort and success of the school family – teachers, students, parents, administrators, old girls and friends in its development over the years. The School has also had the distinct advantage of strong leadership throughout its history with each headmistress bringing her individual strength and vision to bear on the School’s development.
The Gartshores 1925-1957 The first headmistress, Miss Jenny Gartshore, suggested the school Motto – “Life More Abundant” inspired by St John, Chapter 10 Verse 10: “I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abudantly”.This set the tone for the holistic learning experience designed for the students throughout the decades. Miss Jenny Gartshore served for one term only as, early in 1926, she married and migrated. Her sister Miss Margaret Gartshore assumed the position and served the school for 31 years with Miss Doris “Stocky” Stockhausen as Vice Principal.Together they established a culture of discipline and excellence that has been the hallmark of education at St. Andrew. Miss Gartshore, diminutive in stature was a “giant “and memorable leader. Standing on a footstool she trained and conducted the school choir, establishing the tradition of the School’s participation and excellence in National Performing Arts competitions.
Major Milestones of the Gartshore Years: 1925 -1926
The first Board meeting was held at Cecelio Lodge on June 8
September 21 The Jamaica High School for Girls opened with 21 scholars (10 “day girls” and 11 “boarders”). A dedication service was held on the lawn. September 21 continues to be celebrated annually as Commemoration Day.
The building expansion programme was initiated with Lady Stubbs, the Governor’s wife, laying the stone for the building of the new hall and classroom block.
In October the school qualified to become a government grant-aided secondary school. There were 153 students of whom 51 were
boarders. The Jamaica Schools’ Commission asked that the name be changed to St. Andrew High School for Girls. 1930 -
St. Andrew Preparatory School was established as a department of the high school.
The school uniform was changed to a dubonnet tunic, belted with a pleated skirt worn with a white shirt. A dubonnet beret was an important feature of the uniform. The distinctive colour gave the girls of St. Andrew their public nickname – Red Ants.
The school had 270 students – 68 boarders, 202 day girls. The building and expansion programme which would take several years was estimated to cost £6,000.
The block of buildings to the west, known later as the Old Science Block, was built to house laboratories, recreation room and the library. With completion of the renovation by the SAHS Foundation 2012-15, the block was renamed the Mary Dawson Science Block on Commemoration Day 2015. The stained glass window featuring the school shield was made in Scotland, donated to the Library by Rev. Wade and dedicated to the memory of Rev. J.F. Gartshore, secretary of the Board of Management on November 3, 1944. In 1964 the window was moved to be the new library’s centerpiece. The stained glass window has travelled to Scotland for refurbishing and in 2011 the window’s image was incorporated into the logo for the new Emrie James Museum.
There was significant government Education Policy change which included an islandwide thrust to increase the number of students who could access secondary education. St. Andrew High School expanded into a 3-stream school in response to this objective. The school population changed from one consisting exclusively of students who were fee-paying to include those who had gained “free places” or “grant-aided” places and who were placed at the school as a result of their performance in the Common Entrance examination. An additional laboratory was created by utilising the recreational room. Four new classrooms (rooms 37-40) to the north-west and the new hall were built. In celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the school’s founding in 2015, this classroom block, now with a second storey for Grade 11 was named the Ashmeade/Darlington Block in honour of vice principals Dahlia Ashmeade and Norma Darlington. The School Hall was also named on Commemoration Day 2015 as the Margaret Gartshore Hall in memory of the second and longest serving principal. 6 Cecelio Avenue which houses the Prep School was purchased. In 1958 under-age separation was completed, producing two schools St Andrew High) and St Andrew Preparatory, which since inception in 1930 had been a department of the high school.
Mary Dawson 1957-1968 Fondly known but never adressed as ‘Mary D’, Miss Dawson was a science teacher and headmistress for a decade. She had been science teacher at St. Andrew High for a number of years previously, but in 1947 she had returned to England. With poise and calm she led the school through the period of national independence and the challenges posed by the introduction of the Common-Entrance examinations. She was a firm disciplinarian, but always patient and caring. Throughout her tenure she wore her academic gown every morning to Devotion and on all academic occasions and was renowned for knowing every girl in the school by name. She spearheaded the development of science, initiating the teaching of physics by organising for girls to attend classes at Calabar High School until the school’s physics lab was ready in 1963. She oversaw the building of the Library (1962), the closure of the boarding facilities (1965) and the swimming pool which was finished after her departure in 1968. On retirement she returned to England and Nottinghamshire, the town of her birth, and kept in close contact with the school and her former students. Miss Dawson kindly bequeathed her four Albert Huie paintings to the School, one being the famed ‘Old Office Building’.
Major Milestones of the Mary Dawson Years:
Craft, commercial and home economics are introduced into the curriculum.
The Common Entrance Examination was introduced resulting in an increase in government grant-inaid to cover the tuition fees for those students awarded “free places’ and “grant-aided places”. St. Andrew separated into two schools - St. Andrew High School (a secondary education institution), Forms 1-6 /Grades 7-13 and St. Andrew Preparatory School for children 4 to 11 years (kindergarten to Grade 6).
The renovation of the Science block created additional laboratories for teaching science chemistry, biology and botany. Miss Dawson, a botany teacher, spearheaded this early commitment to science education which has generated through the years many successful careers in medicine and science. The School’s tradition of excellence in science education continues today and Miss Dawson’s contribution is honoured with the 2015 Commemoration Day naming of the block - the Mary Dawson Science Block.
The distinctive dubonnet uniform was replaced by a tunic of red and grey plaid worn with a white blouse and a straw hat. Sixth Formers wore a white shirt with a skirt and tie of the plaid fabric. The hat was eventually removed as part of the uniform.
The school started working towards the building of a new library to facilitate the ever growing population. By 1964 an elegant library was constructed from funds raised by parents and “old girls” of the school. 1965 - After 40 years the school closed its boarding facilities to create space for a burgeoning student population. Dormitories on the top floors of the office and the main classroom block were converted into additional classrooms and readied to facilitate newly introduced subjects—craft, commercial and home economics, The boarders dining hall on the ground floor of the office was converted to provide more administrative office space. An era ended with the boarding school’s closure. For over 40 years SAHS had been home to boarders from across Jamaica in addition to those from Cayman, Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Belize and the Virgin Islands. For many graduates their fondest memories of school are wrapped up in their boarding years—tales of the ghost dubbed the “Pink Lady”, Sam the caretaker who fielded patties to eager boarders, teachers fondly called “Stockie”, “Stewie” and Miss Batt who also lived on the campus and the toe-tapping sounds of ska and big band music wafting across from the nearby Glass Bucket dance club.
The school had expanded to 880 students and from three streams to four. A new block, Rooms 37-40 incorporating a new physics lab was built with the assistance of the Ministry of Education. The library was extended, the kitchen upgraded with a store-room and the tuck shop enlarged to provide covered areas with seating accommodation.
Mrs. Fay Saunders 1968-1974 A former president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Mrs Saunders was the first Jamaican headmistress at SAHS. In 1974 she resigned to take up an appointment as Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education. SShe introduced the A-line 3-colour shift uniforms - blue, gold and lilac -which were a departure from the traditional dubonnet or red theme. Sixth Formers wore white shirts with matching skirts and ties of one of the three colours. The Fay Saunders Counselling Center Counselling Center built in 1983 and named on Commemoration Day 2013, honours Mrs Saunders’s contribution to the school’s development.
Major Milestones of the Fay Saunders Years: 1971 -
The uniform was changed to a tunic in three solid colours - blue, gold and lilac.
The Annual Prizegiving was changed with the introduction of the Awards Ceremony and a separate Graduation and Valedictory ceremony and dance for the 5th and 6th formers. Two new Houses were established in honour of the “dynamic duo” - Principal and Vice Principal - Margaret Gartshore and Doris Stockhausen.
Miss Joan Reader 1974-1988 An outstanding mathematics teacher, Miss Reader served as Vice Principal for 10 years before her appointment as the 2nd Jamaican headmistress in 1974. Her 14 years as Principal oversaw an important period of Education Policy change which demanded extensive physical development and modernization. An avid Girl Guide leader and shrewd administrator Miss Reader and her Vice Principals Mrs Dahlia Repole (1975-1989), Miss Dahlia Ashmeade (1978-1995), Mrs Norma Darlington (1989-1960) oversaw the implementation of the 2nd shift in 1978 – a Ministry of Education initiative to cope with a burgeoning post-independence school population, and an increasing expectation that secondary education would be provided for the 12–16 year old cohort of the population. The 1,320 students registered were accommodated on two shifts within the limited physical facilities with a vice principal assigned to each shift - Miss Ashmeade (1st Shift) and Mrs Darlington (2nd Shift). This period posed many challenges for students and teachers. Miss Reader ably assisted by vice Principal Dahlia Repole worked on the development plans to address the inadequacy of the physical infrastructure. She successfully oversaw the expansion of the school’s facilities to accommodate the enlarged student population. Miss Reader’s contribution to the school was honoured with the naming of the M. Joan Reader Vocational Block built in 1988, an important building which expanded the school plant and helped it to return, after 10 years to a single shift system.
Major Milestones of the Joan Reader Years: 1977 -
The construction of the Audiovisual Centre was spearheaded by the Golden Jubilee Committee to mark the school’s 50th Anniversary and was accomplished with assistance from the Ministry of Education
The Fay Saunders Counselling Centre was constructed to facilitate the increased need for student guidance, and the Canada Room of the Library was added.
Construction of the M. Joan Reader Vocational Block was started. Built to upgrade the facilities for art, craft, food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, computer science and business education, the building was completed for the start of the 1988-89 Academic Year. Constructed with a Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) loan, the new vocational block made possible the return to a single shift system.
Mrs Dahlia Mills-Repole 1989-2000 In 1989 Mrs Repole became the first Old Girl to serve as Principal. A former SAHS biology teacher Mrs Repole returned to the school from study in the USA. Dr. Repole resigned in 2000 to take up the position of principal of the Excelsior Community College. Her Vice Principals were Ms Dahlia Ashmeade who retired in 1995, Mrs. Sharon Reid (1995-2000), Old Girl,Yvette Boothe-Smith (1989-1996) and Mrs. Esther Tyson (1996-2000) who both left SAHS for principal appointments to St. Hughâ€™s and Ardenne high schools respectively. Mrs Repole developed programmes which focused on staff development and improving students academic performance. Mrs Repole brought the dubonnet back to St. Andrew High with another uniform change which persists up to the present. The dubonnet tunic is worn with a light grey shirt with sleeves piped with the dubonnet fabric. Sixth Formers wear dubonnet skirts with grey jackets; the collar and sleeves have dubonnet piping.
Major Milestones in the Dahlia Repole Years: 1990 -
The uniform was changed to a dubonnet skirt with a grey blouse with epaulets.
A major initiative of Mrs Repole was the development of a separate tertiary department utilizing the commercial sixth form unit. The St. Andrew Business College provided graduates with additional options to obtain training and certification at the middle management level. This unit was upgraded to the St. Andrew Community College in 1993 and established links with the University of Technology offering year one of the Diploma in Business Administration. The College was however closed in 2001 as the space was needed to accommodate the regular school population and the increased curriculum offerings.
Mrs Sharon Reid (2000-present) With the appointment of Mrs. Reid in 2000 yet another era of inspired leadership began. A SAHS vice-principal since 1995 Mrs. Reid’s administrative team included Vice Principals, Mrs Paulette Logan (lower school) and Mrs Allison Bowes (upper school) who assumed their positions in January and November respectively of the same year. Mrs Reid’s administration continues to build on the legacy established by previous principals placing St. Andrew High School at the forefront and cutting edge of education in Jamaica. Through collaboration with the stakeholders the School continues to advance to meet the needs of the current generation of SAHS graduates. Supported by Old Girl Zahra Orane, she has spearheaded the development of two 5 year strategic plans utilising the Balanced Score Card (2005-2009, 2010-2015). Through strong Christian faith, excellent organisation and a shrewd business sense Mrs Reid, ably supported by parents, and project co-manager Mrs. Maureen Chang, has ensured the expansion and modernisation of the school’s infrastructure and programmes to enable the students to be educated to face the challenges of the 21st Century.
Major Milestones of Sharon Reid Years to present:
The dubonnet and grey uniform was modified to a dubonnet tunic with a grey blouse.
Information Technology separated from the Mathematics department and was established as an independent unit to ensure the integration of information technology across the curriculum.
The Performing Arts Department established to unify the focus and encourage further development of the Performing Arts.
A third floor added to the science block accommodated the increasing numbers of sixth form students. The old home economics lab also converted into the school’s bookshop Essentials.
The Student Resource Centre introduced to identify learning needs and develop programmes to facilitate student learning and progress. By September 2005 the
Student Resource Centre had designed the Learning Enhancement Programme which was added to the Grade 7 curriculum. The programme gave students the opportunity to hone their learning skills and maximise their potential. The cafeteria was built for improved student accommodation. 2005 -
The SAHS Foundation was established on September 21, Commemoration Day during the 80th Anniversary celebrations. The Foundation spearheads the School’s fundraising effort to maintain the SAHS Legacy. Working collaboratively with alumnae, the St Andrew Old Girls Association (SAOGA), overseas alumnae chapters, the PTA and the School the Foundation is building the School’s Endowment Fund and undertakes Special Projects for the School’s Development. The Garden Theatre with accommodation for 1700 was completed. Now major school functions could be accommodated on campus.
Completion of the renovation of the Office Building – the oldest building on campus. The renovation designed by Old Girl architect Ann Hodges modernised the interior whilst retaining the integrity of the original architecture of the exterior. A much needed boardroom was created adjacent to the headmistress’s office.
Construction of the Dahlia Repole Complex to house the Learning Enhancement Centre which began in 2007 was completed in September and officially opened on Founders Day, September 21. Dr. Dahlia Repole the first Old Girl to hold the position of headmistress (1989-2000) returned to school for the opening and commemoration.
Cecelio Park opened in September. This green space adjacent to the Garden Theatre is landscaped and designed to provide an area of peace and quiet reflection for the students and teachers.
The Emrie James Museum (EJM) was officially opened in April. The EJM is Jamaica’s first purpose-built school museum and honours Miss Emrie James’s 42 years of sterling administrative service to the school. Located on the upper level of the Alumnae Tower on the campus, the Museum captures the school’s history with exhibits, events and an active online 11
presence which has garnered the interest and participation of alumnae, students, other schools and the community. 2012 -
Two renovation projects were completed in the summer and dedicated on Founderâ€™s Day in September. The SAHS Foundation completed the refurbishing of Lab 35 â€“ the first of 4 labs built in 1944 scheduled by the Foundation for renovation. Lab 35 was renovated with alumnae and corporate donations from Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), the Petroleum Company of Jamaica (PCJ), Scotia Bank Foundation, Grace Kennedy Ltd and the Grace Kennedy Foundation which provided lab equipment. The PTA expanded and refurbished the Fay Saunders Counselling Centre to assist in meeting the increasing demand for student counselling services The land adjacent to the School which housed the Fay Simpson Preparatory School was purchased following the retirement of Mrs Simpson and closure of the school. Plans for the property include provision of rental accommodation for teachers and boarding facilities for students.
The school moved into a new phase of technology immersion with Mrs Reidâ€™s introduction of the innovative Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which allowed students to bring their own computing devices, including smart phones to school and use them for learning. This was accompanied by the installation of a School Information Management System (SIMS), increased WiFi capacity on campus, a Google education account enabling email accounts for all students and the design of a new website integrating all stakeholders - students, parents, alumnae and the SAHS Foundation.
The Library was enlarged and renovated in the summer with a successful fundraising drive and building effort led by the PTA.
The 90th Anniversary of the Schoolâ€™s founding was celebrated throughout the year under the patronage of alumna, Professor Emerita the Hon. Elsa Leo-Rhynie OJ, CD. In June the School Flag, designed by Deputy Head Girl 2014/15 Kathryn Lawrence was hoisted for the first time to launch the year-long celebrations. Summer renovations were completed in time for Commemoration Day:- the Old Science Block built in 1944, a three-year project of the SAHS Foundation; and, the Hall renovated by parents, students and alumnae with some assistance from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Commemoration Day, September 21, was marked with the service followed by the renaming of six buildings and the inaugural singing of the newly arranged School Song ‘Life More Abundant’, written 50 years ago by Mrs Kathleen Hickling, then a parent and Board member. The tune was written by Mrs. Jasmine Bayley-Hay (friend of SAHS) and alumna Marjorie Whylie CD, with orchestration by Jon Williams, a past parent. Renamed buildings honour founders, past principals and vice principals: • Margaret Gartshore Hall • Doris Stockhausen Building • Janet Gartshore Administrative Building • Mary Dawson Science Block • Ashmeade/Darlington Block • Founders Memorial Library
Founded in 1925, St Andrew High School for Girls in Kingston Jamaica, is one of the island's pre-eminent high schools.