Nana Osei Kyeretwie, GNA
Abesim (B/A), March 19, GNA - The St. James Seminary/Senior High School (SHS) at Abesim, near Sunyani has attained 40 years of its establishment and the celebration of that anniversary was launched at its campus on Saturday.
Under the theme, “Discipline and Academic Excellence in Senior High Schools: The Role of Religious Bodies in Ghana”, it is being celebrated with series of programmes including talk shows, clean-up exercises, debate and sporting activities from now till the climax, which would be a durbar at the campus on Saturday, November 3 this year.
The institution was established in 1978 by the Catholic Diocese of Sunyani under the leadership of the late Most Reverend James Kwadwo Owusu, the first Bishop of the Diocese, as a private school with 14 students, but currently has a student population of 965.
It was founded as a special secondary school (Seminary) where boys aspiring to become Catholic priests would be trained academically and, in addition benefit from the spiritual and moral formation offered in the School.
In 1994, when boys who did not have the intention of becoming priests were also admitted to the School, the State was asked by the Diocese to share in the cost of running it, and thus it became a government-assisted school, which gave it a dual status as a Seminary and SHS.
Speaking at the programme, Monsignor George Kwame Kumi, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the School recalled how the late Bishop Owusu founded the School amidst discouragement, fierce resistance and lack of support.
But, he stated, little did the people know that within a short period of 40 years, St James would grow to become such a great and prominent Seminary/SHS that befits the title “The First among the Best SHSs in Ghana”.
Msgr. Kumi, also the Vicar-General of the Diocese paid glowing tribute to the first three successive rectors –the late Msgr. Robert Mensah Abrampah, Reverend Fathers Thomas Pott and Paul Agyei who encountered tremendous challenges in running St. James as a private institution.
He described them as “the new Moses who braved St. James through the hazards of the desert and the storm of the Red Sea” by virtue of their dynamism, competency and efficient leadership qualities.
Msgr. Kumi, a former science teacher of the School who taught all the three science subjects-Physics, Chemistry and Biology declared “We take courage from them” to build on the solid managerial foundation they laid for the School to perform even better as it marks its fortieth milestone.
He also praised Rev. Fr. Joseph Asuah, “the New Joshua” who, as the fourth Rector spearheaded and guided the Diocese to partner with the then government to absorb St. James into the public school system.
Msgr. Kumi again expressed appreciation to the Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, the present Catholic Bishop of Sunyani “whose able leadership as the fifth Rector sustained the metamorphosis of St. James Seminary into St. James Seminary/SHS”.
As a result “today young boys who aspire to the priesthood vocation and any profession in life have the opportunity to build a solid foundation,” he added.
The Board Chair indicated St. James had come that far because “we are riding on the shoulders of a great visionary founder, dedicated Rectors and committed teachers”.
He cited particularly “Mr. Charles Oko Agyeman, Rev. Fr. John McVoy, Rev. Sister Gerald, SSpS (first female teacher), the late Msgr. John Oppong Baah, Rev. Brother Joe Tsiquaye, Holy Cross and Rev. Fr. Joseph Glatzel, a German SVD Priest who assisted with the physical infrastructural expansion of St. James.
A former Headmaster of St. Peter’s SHS, Nkwatia-Kwahu, Fr. Glatzel came to live at Yamfo (that time in the Sunyani Diocese but now in the Goaso Diocese) and helped St James beyond imagination because he single-handedly funded, supervised and constructed majority of the classrooms and first staff bungalows at the School, The Vicar-General emphasised.
Msgr. Kumi praised “the very determined pioneer students who accepted to be the guinea pigs for a great adventure”, saying that they really set the pace in academic excellence by performing extraordinary well in the “O” Level Final Examinations conducted by West African Examinations Council.
Later in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Msgr. Kumi said ‘Independent School Assessment’ by AB Review published on African Schools on April 5, 2016 adjudged St James Seminary/SHS as “The Best performing SHS in Ghana over a five year period, 2011-2015”.
It was also considered “the most consistent West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) performance institution since 2011, he added.
The Board Chair stressed that though the School could take pride in those excellent academic achievements, it would strive harder and therefore assured that “with the new brand and calibre of leadership, quality of staff and character of students, the best is yet to come”.