THE HISTORY OF CALABAR HIGH SCHOOL
In 1839, William Knibb, Thomas Burchell and James Philippo, 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 and was first sited in the little village of Calabar, near Rio Bueno, in Trelawny. The name Calabar was brought to Jamaica by slaves from Nigeria, W. Africa, where there is an old river-port city by that 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 1912, through the instrumentality of the Revds. Ernest Price and David Davis--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.
In 1952, Calabar Theological College and Calabar High School moved from their location at Studley Park to Red Hills Road, where 60 acres 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 subsequently 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. As a result of the massive increase in population in this section of the city the School has grown by leaps and bounds. 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 presently 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).
Calabar High School was renowned almost from the start. It established a reputation for scholarship which has been maintained over the years, as seen in the large number of major scholarships--such as the Jamaica and Rhodes Scholarships --which have been awarded to Calabar students. The school pioneered in the teaching of Science, Spanish and Agriculture. Sports, particularly athletics, have always been important and the Inter-Schools’ Athletic Championships (“Champs”) Trophy has been won 12 times since 1930.
Calabar was the first school in Jamaica to have a swimming pool and won the inter-schools swimming competition repeatedly for many years. When the school was relocated to Red Hills Road in 1953, the boys helped to construct the new pool there.
Throughout its history, Calabar High School has consistently demonstrated an exemplary commitment to providing quality secondary education for boys in a Christian atmosphere, and has remained one of the most sought-after schools by parents who desire to have their sons educated in an environment which embodies the motto: "The Utmost for the Highest."