By Algi Wijewickrema
Colleges that have a 200 year history in Sri Lanka are not many and in fact we found only six schools having a history longer than Christ Church Boys’ College. While it can be confirmed that five out of those six schools have been started by the Wesleyan/Methodist Missions, Christ Church Boys’ College is claimed to be the first by the Anglican Communion and claimed to be only the second English school stared in Ceylon, as it was known then. At the launch of the centennial celebrations, the school authorities alluded to the fact that they have obtained verification from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in the UK as well as other historical sources to back their claim of the College’s upcoming bicentenary.
With the bicentennial celebrations proper due in March 2019, the media conference and launching ceremony was held on 26th February 2019 at the BMICH in style.
Heralded by drummers and dancers, the Guest of Honour, Hon. Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, a distinguished Old Churchian was welcomed by the Principal and the President of the Old Boys’ Association (OBA) of Colombo. He was later joined by his ministerial colleague Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Minister of Education. The welcome ceremony was followed by the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the distinguished guests followed by the introduction of dignitaries at the Head Table.
The welcome speech was delivered by the President of the OBA, Colombo, Mr. Dhammika Nanayakkara which was followed by a drum performance by “Naadro”, which ensemble included an Old Boy of the school.
The keynote address was by Prof. Upali Vidanapathirana, himself an Old Churchian followed by the ceremonial unveiling of the Bicentenary Logo by the Chief Guest. This in turn was followed by the singing of the bicentenary theme song by boys of the College.
Following this, were presentations by Old Churchians, Rev. Patrick Perera, Mr. Sunil Dissanayake, CEO of the BMICH and Mr. Chamila Gamage all of whom spoke of their life of Baddegama, relaxed atmosphere in school and traced the history of the school. The start being when in 1819 Rev. Robert Mayor and his wife who had arrived from England found a location in Baddegama known as “Thal Gas Kanda” or Palm Tree Hill and established a church there. Mrs. Mayor had started teaching English in their house and subsequently a school blossomed from these humble beginnings with Rev. Mayor as Principal and having about 100 students and a handful of teachers. This school now caters to about 3000 with about 150 staff members. It was mentioned that there have been 31 Principals through the years since Rev. Mayor.
In his address, the Chief Guest, Hon. Minister of Education spoke of the changes introduced during the last few years to improve education, including infrastructure improvements and changes to the curriculum assuring 13 years of education to all students.
A graceful dance item provided an interlude which preceded the unveiling of the Bicentenary Gold Coin by the Guest of Honour. The ceremonially unveiled gold coin, a collectors’ item was handed over to the Principal of the College and would be available for sale at Rs.100,000/-. At the end of the presentation of the Gold Coin, Hon. Dr. Rajitha Senaratne spoke of his connection with Christ Church College, Baddegama and appreciated the fact that he was felicitated a few years ago by the Christ Church Girls School which he had attended.
Another event in connection with the launch of the bicentennial celebration was the launch of a Ring Tone and this was followed by the appreciation of special achievements at international events by two students.
The speech by Mr. Ariyaseela Wickremanayake, another illustrious Old Churchian, preceded the vote of thanks by Mr. Chamila Gamage and evenings proceedings came to a close with the singing of the College Anthem.
The Quadrangle wishes the Christ Church Boys College all the very best in their celebrations and may the school be a source of pride for Sri Lanka.
Highlights to follows
PS: Though Christ Church Boys’ College, Baddegama was not in the schools covered hitherto by Quadrangle, we received an invitation to cover the launch of the bicentennial celebrations of this school and we were happy to oblige. Now looking forward to featuring the upcoming celebrations.