On Saturday, May 17 this year both past and present students of the St John’s Grammar School will congregate on the school premises to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their alma mater. History of school
St John’s Grammar School was founded on May 16, 1954, by prominent entrepreneur Mr John Hayford Mensah (also known as Kodwo Wangara), with the assistance of MP and Trade Minister Mr P.K.K. Quaidoo, Nana Essilfie Bondzie, Mr Charles Ocansey and Mr S.M. Arko.
Mr Mensah’s dream institution had very humble beginnings. It boasted only four students in its maiden year. They were accommodated in temporary structures at Kokomlemle, then a predominantly residential suburb of Accra.
This was at the cusp of independence in the Gold Coast, and education was a priority for the founders, who had strong nationalist inclinations. Whereas most secondary institutions were single-sex schools, JOHNSCO was designed to create more opportunities by being co-educational.
This was not the only unique feature of the school.
Apart from the traditional subjects, French, Latin and Greek were taught in the school, hence the designation “Grammar School” with the motto Virtute et Industria (virtue and hard work). Today, the mission statement of the school is no different from what its founders envisaged: “To provide relevant education to all Ghanaians at all levels to enable them to acquire skills that will assist them to develop their potential, to be productive, to facilitate poverty reduction and to promote socio-economic growth and national development.”
In 1964, a decade after its inception, JOHNSCO relocated from Kokomlemle, which was then succumbing to the urban sprawl, to Achimota on the Accra-Nsawam road, considered to be a more suitable academic environment. A year later, it was absorbed into the public school system.
In 1968, the government acquired the entire land and buildings on the school compound, so in 1970, Mr Mensah moved the preparatory (primary) school to new buildings behind the Achimota Brewery Company Limited. The Grammar School then expanded.
Mr Mensah acted as both Manager and Headmaster of the school in 1965. Enrolment/staffing
Interestingly, the school, which began with four students, now has a total enrolment of 1,973. Out of this number, 1,057 are males and 916 are females. There are currently 550 boarders made up of 248 females and 302 males. The school has a staff of 117 out of which 78 are teachers and 39 non-teaching staff member.
St John’s is currently headed by Mr Emmanuel Ofoe Fiemawhle, who has just taken over from Mrs Gloria Laryea, the immediate past headmistress who headed the school for nine years. Academic performance
The school offers General Arts, General Science, Agricultural Science, Business, Vocational, which comprises Visual Arts and Home economics. Students’ academic performance in the Business and General Science programmes happens to be the best in the school.
By dint of hard work by both students and the teaching staff, the school has gradually evolved to become a grade ‘A’ School.
Its West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results rank with those of the best schools in the country. The average percentage of passes in the recent years is 90. Achievements
St John’s has gone through many stages of growth and at the age of 60 the general expectation is positive growth, which will benefit the individual and the country at large.
Generally, there are a great number of products of this noble institution that have become eminent citizens of this country. With pride, they continue to serve the nation in many endeavours. They come as politicians, lawyers, medical doctors, engineers, bankers, journalists, educationists, members of the security services and many more.
Influential personalities the school has produced include the Vice Chancellor, KNUST, Prof. Otoo Ellis, Deputy Regional Minister, Greater Accra, Mr Isaac Nii Djangma Vanderpuye, Prof. Alex Dodoo, Associate Professor of Pharmacy, University of Ghana Medical School, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, General Overseer of the Royal House Chapel, Dr Mrs Naana Agyeman Mensah, Country Director of the Hunger Project, Mr Joe Fabin, Managing Director of Sollatex and Dr Ben Abdallah, a former minister (PNDC era).
The school places a lot of emphasis on co-curricular activities, which form an integral part of the students’ training. Some of the students have excelled in various sports at the Greater Accra Inter-Schools (GASSA) and national sports competitions. This has enhanced the reputation of the school.
At these levels, the following names stand out: Samuel Owusu, now with the Ghana Air Force, who was voted the Overall Best Sports Boy at the national level in 2004, Robert Kotei, a Level 300 student at the University of Ghana, Legon, who won a national award in 2010 after breaking the then national record set by his own grandfather in the 1970s. Old boys
The role of old students in any institution is worth mentioning as they try to give back in diverse ways what they gained from their school. It is therefore heartwarming to note that St John’s Grammar Old Students (JOSA) has been playing an active role to support its alma mater.
The school has benefitted from JOSA in their capacities as resource persons for programmes such as career guidance and orientation for the first year students and as facilitators of regular deworming exercises for students.
Currently, they have started the construction of a multi-purpose block, which will have facilities for a school clinic, a pharmacy shop, a residence for the school nurse and a secretariat for the old students. This project will be inaugurated for use during the 60th anniversary celebrations.
Besides, the Parents Teacher Association (PTA) has also contributed over the years to make life more comfortable for both students and staff. The school has benefitted from major projects such as mechanised boreholes, which supply water to the whole compound, Aqua Privy toilets for both boys and girls and a multipurpose storey block with the first floor serving as an examination hall and the ground floor a canteen for the day students. Needs
In spite of all these, the school is still in dire need of some major facilities such as a decent and permanent accommodation for the headmaster, a staff apartment that can house about six or more members of staff, an expansion of the school assembly hall and above all the Ministry of Education/Getfund should endeavour to complete two of their projects which have been at a standstill.
Source: Graphic Online