Bishop Anstey High School

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Bishop Anstey High School
Bahs crest1.jpg
Bishop Anstey High School Crest
145 Abercromby Street
Port of Spain

Trinidad and Tobago
Type Anglican (Government-assisted) high school for girls
Motto Non sine pulvere palmam
( Not without dust the palm-No reward without effort)
Patron saint(s) St. Hilary
Established 1921
Color(s) Red, black, navy blue

Bishop Anstey High School (also called Bishop Anstey or St. Hilary's), is a government-assisted all-girls secondary school in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, that was founded by the Anglican Bishop Arthur Henry Anstey and opened on January 13, 1921. The school is governed by a Board of Management appointed and chaired by the Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago. Its assets are controlled and managed by a corporate body known as The Bishop Anstey Association.

The founder's intent was to ensure that girls should be given the same opportunities to an exceptional education that had already been given to boys for nearly a century; girls should be given such educational opportunities regardless of their racial and/or socio-economic background; girls of all religious persuasions should be welcomed, but taught according to an Anglican ethos in order to encourage them to fulfill their true potential.

The school's first principal was Miss Stephens, known to the girls and their parents as "Madam". In order to realize the founder's intent, Miss Stephens established a social and academic rigour that, over the years, has become the school's hallmark of tradition and excellence.

The Bishop's Girl: Local legend says that Bishop Anstey High School produces the "Bishop's Girl". Criteria established for this designation are as follows: intelligent, strong-minded, decisive, well-balanced in her pursuit of academic as well as aesthetic explorations, comfortable with the realities of social change and willing to take risks to achieve whatever may be important to her. The "Bishop's Girl" traditionally believes that her sister-Hilarians are kindred spirits. As such, they will challenge her intellectually and at the same time support her in facing down the barriers she will (inevitably) encounter as she makes her way through personal growth towards success and public recognition.[1]

School Song = Non Nobis Domine

School Hymn = Who would true valour see

School Uniform[edit]

The original uniform was a heavy long serge pleated skirt, shapeless white blouse - that had to fall nine inches below the waist - knickers, black laced-up shoes, a red and black striped tie and a broad-brimmed Panama hat.

The social revolution that seemed to take place in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1950s was also marked at Bishop Anstey by a significant change in the school uniform. During this time, the original uniform was replaced with a fashionable six-gore moygashel linen skirt (which was easier to launder), a smart white blouse that sat on the hip, the red and black striped tie that usually sported a huge "Frank Sinatra" knot, casual softer shoes with white socks and the pièce de résistance - the BAHS hat. Made of heavy navy blue wool, this hat was contributed to the uniform when it was brought back from England by a much-admired History teacher, Valerie Kelshall.

Emblazoned by the BAHS badge, the hat was presented to the girls with the traditional injunction that it should be worn at all times when they were in uniform beyond the school compound. Their first reactions to the hat reflected deep dismay and guarded hostility because of its proper "English-school-girl" look.

Before very long, however, the enterprising "Bishop's Girls" had adapted it to become a small, head-hugging, cloche-style hat that attracted public admiration and acceptance. Its appearance caused quite a stir around the island.[2]

Admission and Student Tenure[edit]

Students enter Form I on the basis of their grades from the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination, which is organized and adjudicated by the Ministry of Education, Trinidad and Tobago. The latter examination is used to facilitate the placement of students in secondary schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The SEA comprises three papers in the subjects of Creative Writing, Mathematics, and Language Arts; it covers the national curriculum for Primary-level education with a focus on Standards 3-5.[3]

Currently, students coming in to Bishop Anstey for the first time are divided into three (3) classes according to the alphabetical order of their surnames. In this way, the school refrains from grouping students according to academic ability levels as they go through high school. In adherence to the Ministry of Education's requirements, Bishop Anstey follows the Secondary Education Modernisation Programme (SEMP) Curriculum from Forms 1 to 3. During their fourth and fifth years, students follow the CSEC syllabus in preparation for the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and University of Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level exams in various subjects, along with a compulsory core of English Language, English Literature and Mathematics.

Today, constraints of space and staffing limit the school's intake of students into the Sixth Form (Lower VI and Upper VI) to three (3) classes totaling approximately 60-70 students. As a result, entry into the Sixth form is highly competitive, and is based in part on academic qualifications (students' CXC results and teachers' assessments of their intellectual promise), attendance records, overall conduct, and involvement in school activities. Sixth form students follow an intense and rigorous syllabus in preparation for the Advanced Level CAPE and University of Cambridge GCE exams.[4]

House System[edit]

Originally, the Bishop Anstey High School student body was divided into groups or "Houses". These Houses were named for British men who had gained fame as a result of their historical exploits in (and often exploitation of) Trinidad—men with names like Warner, Woodford and Abercromby.

It is not clear whether the House System has endured throughout all the years of the school's existence. Today, there are some "Bishop's Girls" who stoutly maintain that during their time at BAHS there was no House System. Nevertheless, the House System exists today. But the names are no longer those of British men. The Houses are now named after the main mountain ranges in Trinidad and Tobago; their names represent the peaks of achievement to which the students can aspire. One can only assume that changing the names became obviously necessary when Trinidad and Tobago gained independence in 1962.

Today, the Houses' names are: Cerro Aripo [Green], Chancellor [Red], Cumberland [Orange], El Tucuche [Purple], Tamana [Black], and Trinity [Blue].

Each House has a Captain and Prefects, and is assisted by a Teacher. The school encourages the students to participate in various House activities; these include competitive sports, the Annual Bazaar, and Carnival activities.

The BAHS House system provides worthwhile opportunities for students to interact with each other across different year groups, to be involved in various extra-curricular activities, and to gain invaluable leadership training. In keeping with tradition, today's "Bishop's Girl" is expected to become an active House member and to wear her House badge.[5]


Each year, January 13 - that is St Hilary's Day in honour of the School Saint - is celebrated by a religious service at which "Non Nobis Domine" (the school hymn) is always lustily sung. Usually, this service is followed by a cricket match between members of the Form Six classes and the teaching staff. Here, the Form Six students portray caricatures and embellish themselves with absurd articles of clothing and paint. These activities are followed by the prestigious Miss Anstey pageant where the contestant who best reflects the traditional Bishop Anstey spirit - of intelligence, poise and charisma - is awarded the crown.

The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual national event held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and is well known for participants' colorful costumes and exuberant celebrations. Currently, it is customary, on the Friday before Carnival, for competitive festivities to be held at the school. These include Traditional and Contemporary Calypso competitions, Ole Mas and Pretty Mas competitions and the Midnight Robber Talk competition. In addition, the Old Hilarians Association (past BAHS students) holds the Bishop’s Fete annually, during the country-wide run up to Carnival. The other Old Hilarian Get Together is the annual Old Girls' Lunch.

These traditional celebrations have become time-tested occasions for "Bishop's Girls" to celebrate their alma mater's lasting impact on their lives, to revive old acquaintances and to enjoy reliving past memories. The traditions established at Bishop Anstey often remain central to friendships that inter-weave several generations and span the globe. The Bishop Anstey legacy is known to have inspired many extremely successful careers. More importantly, the recognition and celebration of these traditions over so many years now inform and bolster some major fundraising initiatives that provide resources for the ongoing development of capital-intensive expansion projects that support the inevitable changes needed on the school compound as the years have gone by.

Excellent Achievements[edit]

Music: The award winning Bishop Anstey High School (BAHS) Choir is composed of sixty girls with a wide-ranging musical repertoire of classical and contemporary music, West Indian folk songs and calypsos, as well as music derived from the African and Indian heritages that are reflected in the multicultural diversity of Trinidad and Tobago.

The choir was founded by Helen-May Johnstone and when she retired, her tradition was maintained by Joyce Spence who immediately followed in her footsteps. Over these many years, the choir continues to be well known for its high level performances in the National Music Festival of Trinidad and Tobago. Lorraine Granderson is the current choir-mistress and musical director.

In July, 2005 and 2007 the BAHS Choir had the honour and privilege to perform at the annual Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales. On both occasions there was also a guest performance to a sell-out audience in London. In 2010 they performed at the Rhapsody's Children Music Festival in Vienna, Prague and Salzburg.

In July 2013, following a tour of South Africa, and with the assistance of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, the BAHS Choir's performance impressed audiences in London.[6]

Art: Most recently, Bishop Anstey High School students won most of the prizes at the Eighth Biennial Art Competition held by the Women in Art in collaboration with the National Museum and Art Gallery, the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism and the Ministry of Education.

Bishop Anstey is recognised for its achievements in sports and academics. There is also a wide variety of clubs that all students are encouraged to join. For example: - Dragon Boat - Choir - Netball - Football - Film Club - Track and Field - Animal Welfare - Rugby - Asian Culture Club - Cheerleading - Water Polo - Competitive Swimming - Learn to Swim Classes - Spoken Word - Christian Fellowship Club. And many more!

Some Bishop Anstey Alumnae (Hilarians)[edit]

The following women are considered to meet the criteria established for the "Bishop's Girl" in the first section, fourth paragraph:

  • Monica Barnes S.C. - Jurist.
  • Pat Bishop (1940 - 2011) - Artist, choreographer, ethno-musicologist et al.
  • Yvonne Bobb-Smith, PhD. - eTutor, University of the West Indies.
  • Joslynne L. Carr Sealey - Musician.
  • Janelle "Penny" Commissiong - Miss Universe 1976.
  • Mira Dean-Armorer - Judge, High Court of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Nancy de Freitas (née Howard) - Associate Professor, Art and Design, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Gabrielle A. Hezekiah, PhD. - University lecturer in Cultural Studies.
  • Carol James (née Ward) PhD. - Biologist and Senior Sustainable Development Advisor to the United Nations Development Programme.
  • Louise McIntosh ( - 2009) - Music teacher, founder of the Pan Pipers Music School.
  • Minette Marya Mohan, PhD. (1958 - 2012) University Professor in Physics and the first girl to win a National Scholarship Gold Medal, 1976.
  • Eva Sansavior, PhD. - Fellow in French at Oriel College, University of Oxford.
  • Dana Seetahal, S.C. (1955 - 2014) - Attorney at Law
  • Teresina Sieunarine - President of the Autistic Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Frances-Anne Solomon - Filmmaker.
  • Marjorie Thorpe, PhD. - former Chair, Public Service Commission (2013 - 2016)


BAHS Principals[edit]

The first BAHS principal was Amelia M. Stephens (tenure: 1921–1938) who was recruited abroad. She was followed by Dorothy Shrewsbury (tenure: 1938–1950) who, although she was born in Trinidad, was recruited abroad for the position. The third principal was also recruited abroad; she was Christine Sutherland[7] (tenure: 1950–1964). In the ensuing years, Bishop Anstey principals were recruited locally. They were:

School Athletics[edit]

Currently, Bishop Anstey High School Sports programs include hockey, netball, taekwondo, volleyball, track and field, dragon boat racing, water polo, football and rugby.


  1. ^ Agostini, Ishara. "How Bishop Anstey High School Defined My Feminism". 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 

External links[edit]