Berbice High School
|Berbice High School|
The Boys' School was established on 5 September 1916, on the ground floor of the residence occupied by Rev. J. A. Scrimgeour, BA. Mr. C. A. Pugsley was the school's first Headmaster. Nine pupils were enrolled on the founding day. The Daily Argosy of 8 September 1916, reported that "The courageous venture upon which the British Guiana Mission of the Presbyterian Church of Canada has embarked in New Amsterdam will be watched with greatest interest and sympathy by all whom have paid any attention to the educational problems of this colony. The High School which has been opened, although interested primarily for East Indians, makes no stipulation as to race or creed. Its purpose is to provide in the county of Berbice a public Secondary School."
Over the next two years the number of students grew until there was need for a separate building. With the generosity of the public and the Government, the first section of this building was opened in February 1918. Work continued on this project and, in 1920, the building known as the "Boys Building" was completed.
Encouraged by their success the Canadian Mission Council of the Presbyterian Church of Canada established a School for Girls. It was housed in the lower flat of the Missionary's Residence under the charge of Mrs. McLeod, wife of the Minister. When the Church acquired the "Brick Building" Miss McKay was appointed as the first Principal and the school, as well as the Girls' Dormitory, were moved into this building.
The two schools continued their separate existence until 1924 when a move for closer co-operation was made with pupils of the Fourth and Fifth Forms working together to prepare for the Cambridge Junior and Senior Certificate Examinations. By 1931, the Berbice High School for Girls was moved from the Brick Building on the corner of Ferry Street and Princess Elizabeth Road to the building formerly occupied by the Missionary. The Brick Building was then sold.
In 1933 upper forms of the Boys' and Girls' Schools were amalgamated. Complete amalgamation was completed in 1941, when the enrollment reached 190 pupils, and the school became known as the Berbice High School. As enrollment continued to grow, the need for greater space became imperative. The Science Building was remodeled to provide a few non-Science classrooms. When this measure was unable to stem the tide of an ever increasing demand for student places, the Presbyterian Church of Canada dispatched a representative to look into the situation and to investigate how far the Government was prepared to help in solving the problem.
Dr. E. H. Johnson, Secretary for the Board of Overseas Missions, succeeded in getting the Government's consent to contributing 50 per cent of the cost of putting up the buildings in a "Master Plan" for the Berbice High School. A concrete structure of eight classrooms and washroom was the first phase in this Master Plan.
Enrolment in 1966, the year control of the school was handed over to the Government, was 741.