Brummana High School
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|Brummana High School|
This school was established in 1873, by the Quaker Theophilus Waldmeier (a Swiss missionary). Historically Quakers were among the pioneers in developing a modern form of learner-centred education which prized the worth and development of the whole child and student. With other educators, Quakers recognised that schooling involved far more than academic study. Today much internationally accepted good practice in education follows these principles. BHS remains a school which aims to follow the ideals and values of its Quaker founders.
Brummana High School has been licensed and accredited by the Lebanese Ministry of Education to be a coeducational, boarding and day school for students in the classes of the infant, primary, intermediate and secondary schools in 1947.
Theophilus Waldmeier, a German-Swiss missionary, first came to Mount Lebanon in 1867, during the time of the Ottoman rule, and was engaged as inspector of branch schools in Beirut, the mountains, and Damascus.
Some time between 1869 and 1874, Elijah G. Saleeby opened the first school in Brummana, a remote village overlooking Beirut (three hours from Beirut on horseback), called the "Darlington Station" because it was backed with Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) subscriptions from Darlington, England.
In 1873, Theophilus Waldmeier opened a girls' school in Brummana, with money sent to him by his friends in Switzerland. Before the end of the year he was sent further money from Switzerland to open a boys' school at Brummana. Many of the buildings of Brummana date to the time period; they were made of local stone and red tile.
In 1874, Theophilus Waldmeier visited England to raise money for the school from the Society of Friends, and he himself became a Quaker. When he returned, he purchased 20,000 square yards of land called "Berket al-Ghanem" (The Pool of the Conqueror) which was a hillside of pine, fig, and mulberry trees with two fountains of water on the edge of Brummana.
The Friends' Syrian Mission (a committee of English and American Friends) approved the purchase and authorised the building of a boys' school. In this same year, Elijah G. Saleeby handed over the "Darlington Station" school to Theophilus Waldmeier.
In 1876, the Boys' Training Home (now Brummana High School) was opened in a leased house in Brummana until the new building was ready. The land name was changed from "Berket al-Ghanem" to "Ayn al-Salam" (The Fountain of Peace). Within five years, the school had grown to 300 students, bringing literacy and new ideas to the isolated mountain area.
When in 1878 the new Boy's Training Home building came into use, it housed the only dispensary in Mount Lebanon. As the medical work increased, in 1881 alternative accommodation was found in an old silk factory which was converted into a hospital with 15 beds on the ground floor and a dispensary and outpatient accommodation in the upper storey.
In 1882, the Girls' Training Home at Brummana was opened.
Education at Brummana High School was based on the principles of the Society of Friends, which stress non-violence, equality, the spirit of service and encouragement of the pursuit of higher standards through enlightened methods. Furthermore, the fundamental Quaker belief that there is something of God in every individual, made it mandatory for the school to prepare its students intellectually and technically, while imparting the spirit of service so that upon graduation they are equipped to be good servants of their communities. The school did not indulge in mission activity, and the students' beliefs in their own religions were never challenged or deprecated. Teachers from outside the Society of Friends were expected to be in sympathy and to teach in accordance with the aforementioned principles, particularly emphasising moral values, intellectual excellence, respect for the individual, and self-reliance.
In 1889, the village of Brummana was linked by a new carriage road down the hill to Beirut below, but many students still arrived at the school gates by foot or donkey. At the turn of the century, BHS built the first tennis court in the Middle East.
- Bible Class with Thomas Little 1888
- Camels bearing stones to build stairway 1889
- Croquet in the school yard 1890
- Girls School in 1899
When in 1914 World War I began, the Ottomans took over the school hospital and occupied the school buildings which were not re-opened until 1919. Despite the famine relief operation set up in the school's kitchens, approximately 400 out of 2000 Brummana villagers died in the great famine of 1915-18 (compared to 50% of the population of Lebanon).
After the war, Lebanon was put under French mandate, and two decades of peace and prosperity followed. In 1928, new classrooms were constructed, in 1930, a new hospital pavilion to accommodate 36 beds was completed, and in 1936, the BHS Old Scholars Association was set up.
World War II began in 1939, and when Hitler occupied France in 1940, Lebanon came under the Vichy Government, until the Allies freed it in 1941. The Second World War seriously affected the life of the school. The French followed by the British took over the school hospital. The British made the school their military headquarters for a year. Despite the war, the school stayed open with 22 boarders and 100 day students.
Lebanon became independent in 1943, and during the peace of the next three decades, the school's reputation for excellence and friendly diversity became known throughout the entire region. BHS grew to 750 students, nearly half of them boarders. The school pursued a balanced program for mind and bodies and this culminated in the following:
- 1950 - A new swimming pool
- 1952 - A new Primary block
- 1953 - The first international tennis tournament
- 1960 - A new craft block for woodwork and metal work
- 1967 - A new boarding house opened by HRH Duke of Edinburgh
- 1971 - A new health centre - Clare House
- 1973 - New science labs
Around the 1960s and 1970s the school's curriculum was mainly in the English language. The school's athletics programme placed emphasis on basketball, volleyballm track and tennis. The students consisted of Arab and children of Western expatriates from across the Middle East, with members of the Bahraini, Jordanian, UAE and Saudi royal families, with a small smattering of American and British nationals. The parents of the America and European students worked in Lebanon. Most students go on to the American University of Beirut for their further studies.
In 1975, when war once again overtook Lebanon, this period of growth ended and the school lost many of its boarders, staff, and day students. In 1985, the British Quakers turned the management of the school over to a local Board who kept the educational program alive throughout difficult times, as well as taking in refugees and keeping out militia.
A. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Brummana High School was founded by Theophilus Waldmeier, a Swiss missionary, who came to Lebanon in 1872 and who later became a Quaker and joined the Society of Friends. The Society of Friends arose in the mid 17th century in England from a religious experience of George Fox. The School is owned by the Friends Service Council in London and operated by a local Management Committee. The principal and many teachers were of British nationality and members of the Society of Friends. The education provided by the School was based on principles as understood by the Society of Friends, which stress lack of involvement in political activity, lack of discrimination, no acknowledgment of national or racial divisions and promotion of the spirit of service. They imposed no restrictions on the pursuit of higher standards through enlightened methods. Furthermore, the fundamental Quaker belief that there is something of God in every man, made it mandatory for the School to prepare its students intellectually and technically while imparting to them the spirit of service, so that upon graduation they become well equipped to be good servants of their communities. The School did not indulge in mission activity and the students' beliefs in their own religions were never challenged or depreciated. Teachers from outside the Society of Friends were expected to be in sympathy with Friends' principles and to teach in accordance with them, particularly emphasising moral and intellectual self-reliance and respect of the individual and to help the students to develop in strength and independence, treating them with gentleness but with firmness and without fear, partiality, favour or indulgence. In 1985, the Society of Friends totally withdrew from the School operation and handed the responsibilities to the Brummana High School Cultural Society, composed of old B.H.S. former students. Since that date, the B.H.S.-C.S. has been totally and independently responsible for the School.
B. THE BRUMMANA HIGH SCHOOL CULTURAL SOCIETY, B.H.S-C.S. The B.H.S-C.S. is responsible for the total educational and administrative operations of B.H.S. In this regard, the authority of the Society is final. The sphere of its responsibility encompasses, planning for current and future programs, monitoring of and guiding the activities in progress, recruiting personnel and exercising quality control over all the operations.
C. STATEMENT OF POLICY As custodian of Brummana High School, the B.H.S. Cultural Society is well aware of the serious responsibilities of the School in creating optimal conditions for its students for moral, educational and cultural growth and achievement, in line with the century old B.H.S. traditions as well as the high expectations of the School constituency. In the realm of moral growth and development, although the B.H.S. Cultural Society has no affiliation with the Society of Friends, it strives to maintain the basic traditions and spirit, which characterised the operation of the School for over a century and which appear in summary in the historical account. Therefore, it calls on the B.H.S. student body, teachers and constituency to abide by these traditions which emphasize honesty, kindness, truth and service, while at the same time assuring old scholars and friends of the School that the B.H.S. traditions, which they hold dear to their hearts, are upheld and will be maintained as long as the School remains in operation.
At the educational and cultural levels, the School strives to offer a comprehensive preparation for the adult world beyond school days. There is no good activity in that adult world for which the School should not feel it its duty to prepare students. In the first place, the School promotes acquisition of information and knowledge, while at the same time it trains students in wisdom, thinking, reason, understanding and intellectual curiosity, more important personal qualities than knowledge alone. The School also strives to let its students achieve the physical, cultural and artistic fulfillment of which they are capable. Finally the School promotes self-reliance and independence and builds in its students the ideals of service and self-government. The motto of the School is "I serve", and it is for service to the world outside that the School tries to train its students.
Peace returned, and in 1998, at the request of the parents, staff, and old scholars, the British Quakers resumed management of the school, working through a new local Board to begin the process of post-war development.
In 1999, the school commissioned a major educational study as the basis for a 5-year development plan. The Science Block was extended to 3 floors, and the Science Block and Upper School Computer Laboratory were completely refurbished and fully re-equipped. In 2004, Rizkhallah House was fully refurbished to house the Infant Section and the Main Teaching Block roof was replaced. Thanks to the generous donations of old scholars, parents, and friends of the school, the process of renewal is continuing.
Brummana High School houses one of the oldest Scouts Group in Lebanon, Brummana One Group, or Br1, founded in 1952.  Br1's mission is to contribute to the education of young people based on non-formal education.
Br1's mission is to contribute to the education of young people , through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law , to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.
Achieved by involving young people in a non-formal educational process using a specific method that makes each individual the principal agent of his or her development as a self-reliant, supportive, responsible and committed person.
Founded back in 1952 in Brummana High school by C. Antoine Asmar. The group organizes I huge number of events including:
- Br1 Annual Folk's Gathering Dinner, takes place in the 1st Saturday of every year.
- Br1 Summer Camp, a two week camp that take place at the end of every summer.
- Br1 Survivor Camp, an outdoor survival's skills camp that takes place at the start of every summer.
- Br1 Ski Camp, that takes place mid February.
- Br1 Snow Camp, a survival skills camp in the mountains of Lebanon.
- Br1 River Camp, a survival skills camp on a river bank in the Lebanese Mountains every summer.
- BHS May Festival, where Br1 helps in the organization.
- OSA Convention, where Br1 helps in the organization.
Many other event are also conducted every year.
Notable Former Scouts
- Ch. Antoine Asmar, Group Founder.
- Ch. Khaled Saab, Former Member of the Lebanese Parliament.
- Ch. Nazih Khatter, Current Head of the BHS Old Scholars Association.
- Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein
- Dom Joly, comic
- Émile Lahoud, former President of Lebanon
- Maxime Chaya, explorer - first from the region to reach the North and South Poles on foot; first Lebanese to climb Mount Everest
- Prince Idris al-Senussi, Libyan royal
- Omar Maani, Mayor of Amman, Jordan from April 2006 to March 2011
- Tammam Salam, Lebanese Prime Minister
Bin Laden family
- The students included Khalil bin Laden and Saleh bin Laden.
- According to five former administrators and students at Brummana, in the mid-1960s Osama bin Laden attended for less than one year. They did not say or recall why Osama bin Laden did not stay at Brummana. According to author Adam Robinson in his biography of Osama Bin Laden, Bin Laden: Behind the Mask of the Terrorist, the Bin Laden family chose in 1973 Brummana High School for their son, Osama, because it was considered the most acclaimed of Lebanon's private schools. Robinson claims that Osama was shocked at first that the classes at BHS were mixed-sex classes. Bin Laden's attendance at BHS was also mentioned in the book The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll. Dom Joly maintains he was at the schools with Osama Bin Ladin.
- Coll, Steve. The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. New York City: The Penguin Press, 2008.
- (No. 421/April 24, 1947)
- Coll 134
- Brummana One Scouts Group http://www.br1group.org
- Coll 135
- Coll 140
- Coll 140-141
- Robinson, Adam. Bin Laden: behind the mask of the terrorist, page 62
- Robinson, Adam. Bin Laden: behind the mask of the terrorist, page 63
- John Freeman (March 30, 2008). "BOOK REVIEW: Meet the bin Ladens". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved September 5, 2010. "Coll has done some serious digging and turns up some new information about bin Laden's adolescence, which wasn't as wild as previously assumed. Coll correctly places bin Laden at the prestigious Quaker Brummana High School in Lebanon, which several of his siblings attended"