Mackenzie High School (Guyana)
Mackenzie High school is one of the top secondary schools in Guyana situated at Purple Heart Street, Mackenzie, Linden. The Admission basis of the school is based on the Secondary School Entrance Examination (also known as Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment).
|Mackenzie High School|
Vi Labor Et Ludus
|Purple Heart Street, Mackenzie, Guyana|
|Type||Public, Boarding school|
|School district||Region 10|
|Principal||Mr. Gary Roberts|
|Colour(s)||Green and White|
Eligible students can be admitted to the school through the National Grade Six Assessment by he/she must reach the school's pass mark at the fore-mentioned examination.
Its history dates back to 1945, when it came into being, as, up to then, students from that riverain location had to travel to Georgetown if they wished to pursue secondary education.
The journey undertaken by children, in those days, was not by road but sailing some 65 miles along the Demerara River.
However, their parents were dissatisfied with that situation and a group of them, after World War II ended, explored the possibility of a schol in the mining town. The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of Mackenzie Undenominational School, now Mackenzie Primary School, met Mr. William Grant, Mr. Sam Blackett, Mr. Dawson Carr, Mr. Charles Gittens, Mr. F. Cheddie, Mr. W. Wright, Mr. William Nedd, Mr. O.D. Cambridge and the lone woman, Mrs. Beryl Joseph. Parents initially undertook to employ and pay the teachers but, one year later, DEMBA accepted full responsibility for maintaining Echols High School with 26 children on roll.
The official opening day, on Arvida Road (now Republic Avenue), was recorded as November 19, 1946, with the first principal being Mr. E.U. Wilson.
Shortly after, he was succeeded by Mr. Eddie Gunraj, who also hailed from the city.
Ms. Patricia Blair was among the first teachers to be employed from the Mackenzie area and another principal in that period was Mr. Milroy Victor, who, subsequently, was Principal of Central High School in Georgetown.
In their tenure, the appropriate uniforms for both boths and girls were in junior and senior categories but all carried the ‘Echols High School’ badge on their berets or caps.
Dr. Dennis Craig, later well known as Vice-Chancellor of University of Guyana, took up the principalship in 1952 and, by the time he left Echols, in 1956, the number on register had grown to just under 200. GROWING SCHOOL POPULATION The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) building that was near the Recreational Hall (now housing the Linden Museum) was used for general assembly, as the two were among those occupied temporarily by the growing school population.
While the curriculum covered a number of subjects, Science, Art or Physical Education were not taught until, in 1957, when Mr. D.D. Sim became principal and the programme was reformed. Candidates from Echols no longer took College of Preceptors (CP) or Senior Cambridge examinations but switched to the General Certificate of Education (GCE) ‘O’ Level, from London University and the school became a centre for those tests.
On September 11, 1959, with Sim still in charge, then Minister of Education and Community Development, Mr. Balram Singh Rai formally opened the now renamed Mackenzie High School (MHS) on Purpleheart Street, Mackenzie, where the main building is now located.
That structure was built by Sprostons Construction Company to the architectural design of Messrs Mence and Moore.
Through a trust deed, in 1959, as well, DEMBA handed over the property and the facilities within, together with the responsibility for policy and administration, to a Board of Trustees appointed by office. They were the Chief Justice of British Guiana, President of the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society (RA&CS) of the colony and the Managing Director of DEMBA.
Then Managing Director of DEMBA, Mr. J. G. Campbell remarked, at the opening, that “education is fundamental to the development and growth of a country. DEMBA has clearly and tangibly demonstrated its belief in this principle.”
“With this completion of the new Mackenzie High School, this secondary school will be the most up-to-date in British Guiana,” he pledged.
In his speech, the General Manager of DEMBA, Mr. J. N. Fraser particularly noted that the company had, not by accident, provided a fully equipped Science laboratory and a storeroom with space to accommodate a second when required.
It happened at a time when the company was building a complex chemical plant nearby to produce alumina and would continue to require employees trained in technical subjects.
Recognition of the four founding members of the MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL Board was reflected in the house system, through which houses were named after Mr. William Grant, Mr. O. D. Cambridge, Mr. Dorsett Carr and Mr. Sam Blackett.
Mr. William Ogle replaced Mr. Sim, a Canadian, before Mr. John Cummings succeeded to the principal post in 1965, a year prior to candidates from MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL beginning to sit GCE ‘A’ level exams. The first batch that sat achieved a 100 per cent pass rate.
Prior to then, students who qualified to enter sixth form had to seek admission to a senior secondary school in Georgetown, from where they wrote the ‘A’ levels and DEMBA offered scholarships for the purpose.
Cummings died tragically in a road accident on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway in November 1971 and Mr. Seigfred Lyken and Mr. Josephus Bakker, in that order, acted briefly as Principal until Mr. Clifton A. McDonald was appointed to the position in September 1972. It was during McDonald’s stewardship that the student population grew substantially and necessitated more classrooms. As there was a dire need for a concert hall, too, the MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL Board, under the chairmanship of Mr. Clarence London, a senior DEMBA manager, in collaboration with the Gray Dramatic Group, decided to erect an edifice to meet the two needs.
On October 17, 1973, the nationalised Guyana Bauxite Company (GUYBAU), in keeping with one of its goals, offered interest free bridging finance for the undertaking.
In 1974, MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL produced its first Guyana Scholar, Alfie Collins, based on his showing at the GCE ‘A’ levels.
The next year, a three-year project saw the opening of the Linden Concert Hall and School (LICHAS) building, on July 6, 1975. It houses forms one to three in 10 classrooms on the upper flat above the concert facility.
MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL fell under full government control in September 1976 with the advent of free education and the board lost much of its authority. In 1979, MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL began sending candidates to sit the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Basic and General Proficiency tests, originally in three subjects, English, Mathematics and Geography.
James Kranenburg became the second MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL Guyana Scholar in 1981 and, in 1985, Nigel Blair was only the third student to be so honoured from that institution.
Mr. Stanley Johnson acted as Principal when McDonald retired in September 1983 and Mrs. Gloria Britton got the appointment in 1985.
The first female head of MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL, she maintained the principles of guidance and counselling that she introduced there on becoming Guidance Teacher in October 1978.
Mrs. Janice Gibson took over from Britton in 1992 and stayed until 2005 as the second woman principal. On her retirement in 2005, the former had been the longest serving head in the school’s history, with a tenure lasting 13 years.
Her successor was her deputy, another female, Mrs. Cheryl McDonald, who retired in 2011. Presently, MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL is headed by Mr. Gary Roberts who was the Deputy of Mrs. McDonald. On November 15, 2005, a new MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL Board, with 15 members, was commissioned by Mr. Vibert Hart, Head of the Schools Boards Secretariat in the Education Ministry. In retrospect, almost 30 years after it lost much of its power, the new body is empowered to recruit staff, make appointments, enforce discipline and appraise teachers among other tasks.
Over the schools 67th year of existence, it has maintained its status not only has the premier secondary learning institution in Linden but, undoubtedly, has kept its reputation among the top secondary schools in the country.
Over the years in an effort to promote competition amongst students and teachers, MACKENZIE HIGH SCHOOL has maintained a House System. The house system was initially named after the founder members of the supervisory board namely Mr. William Grant, Mr. Sam Blackett, Mr. Dawson Carr, Mr. Charles Gittens, Mr. F. Cheddie, Mr. W. Wright, Mr. William Nedd, Mr. O.D. Cambridge and the lone woman, Mrs. Beryl Joseph.
The four Houses are namely:
- Blackett House
- Cambridge House
- Carr House
- Grant House
The houses are each represented by a significant colour, namely:
- Blackett House represented by Blue
- Cambridge House represented by Green
- Carr House represented by Yellow
- Grant House represented by Maroon
- 1946-1952 Mr. E.U. Wilson, Mr. Eddie Gunraj and Mr. Milroy Victor
- 1952-1956 Dr. Dennis Craig
- 1956-1960 Mr. D.D. Sim
- 1960-1965 Mr. William Ogle
- 1965-1971 Mr. John Cummings
- 1972-1983 Mr. Clifton McDonald
- 1985-1992 Mrs. Gloria Britton
- 1992-2005 Mrs. Janice Gibson
- 2005-2011 Mrs. Cheryl McDonald
- 2011–present Mr. Gary Roberts