In September 1989, a number of young boys, some as young as 11 years old, who had then gained admission to start their second-cycle education converged on the campuses of the premier Catholic college, St Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, without having any idea what was in store for them.
Twenty nine years after leaving the school, there is no doubt that the respective five, four or seven years spent at the college sandwiched by the Fosu Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean along the Bakano and the University of Cape Coast road, where it all began, can be said to be a destiny-changer.
Prior to the arrival, many of the boys, accompanied by their parents in their private cars and others in hired commercial vehicles, including the then State Transport Corporation (STC) buses from all over the country, had only heard about the college St Augustine’s but were yet to set eyes on the school and where it is located.
The first day on campus was characterised by mixed feelings with some of the boys weeping when their parents left.
They wept because it then dawned on them that it was the beginning of yet another cycle of life and more so a home away from home. Others also had the same feeling but not because their parents had left them to their fate but were intimidated by the fatherly presence of the kind of seniors around, including those in Form Five and Sixth Form at the time.
Bullying, which was inevitable, also added to the mood swing.
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The old system of education which was a five or seven-year-long secondary education had some of the seniors looking very fearful and intimidating.
Two years after enduring and more or less mastering the tricks of outwitting seniors who were very intimidating, another batch of form ones arrived in the name of the newly introduced three-year Senior Secondary School (SSS) system and after blazing the trail and gradually adapting to life on campus which came with some bitter-sweet memories and experiences, both groups (old system form five and SSS three) were suddenly done with their Ordinary level and SSCE examinations in 1994.
Some members of the latter were, however, back on campus for two more years during the Advanced level (Sixth Form).
Many of them, including this writer, have braved the storm after school and kept their heads above water in spite of life’s intermittent setbacks and sometimes rough path.
Today, many of us have become professionals such as senior journalists, medical doctors, lawyers, chief executives in top state institutions, insurers, engineers, architects, as well as private business people and with an average age of 40 or 45, we have moved from being boys to men in our own right and have come together again after 29 years to mobilise resources to give back to the school that made us.
To this end, the ’94 year groups of both the old system (O levels) and the SSS group have come under the umbrella of the Augustine’s Past Students Union (APSU) 1994 year group (APSU 94) to raise funds to support the refurbishment of the school’s dispensary and for the reconstruction of the basketball and volleyball courts of the school.
Consequently, a number of events have been lined up, including sports and musical concerts as part of the fundraising programmes.
The group, therefore, kick-started the fund mobilisation campaign on September 21 this year when it held the annual APSU Aponkye Nkrakra get-together at Reggie Rockstone’s office.
On the heels of the get-together will be the official launch of the 89th speech and prize-giving day on October 5, 2018 at the Coconut Grove Hotel in Accra, and this will be followed by other programmes lined up till March 2019 for the speech and prize-giving day scheduled between March 11 and 18 next year.
Role of Catholic Church
The history of St Augustine’s College or Augusco as it is affectionately called cannot be complete without the recognition of the enormous sacrifices and contributions of the Catholic Church which has also helped in bringing the school this far.
Established officially in 1935, the idea by the mainly Catholic Portuguese who arrived at Shama in 1471 and in Elmina in 1482 was first to establish a seminary to train Catholic priests who would see to the daily running of the mission which was at the time entrenching itself in Elmina.
But the then Vicar Apostolic of the Gold Coast, Monsignor Hummel, was said to have held discussions with the colonial government at the time in December 1928 and a site at Amissano near Elmina was chosen in 1930 for the establishment of a new training college which initially served as a seminary and a teacher training centre. Rev. Father Maurice B. Kelly later became the first headmaster of the premier Catholic college while Rev. Fr E. Robbens took charge of the seminary.
Four years later, the affiliation between the training centre and the seminary was broken, hence sending signals about the need for a separate Catholic secondary school in the country.
The then Bishop of the Cape Coast Vicariate, Monsignor W.T. Porter, was said to have held an emergency meeting on August 6, 1933 and several decisions with regard to where the institute should be located, how it must be built among other suggestions were thoroughly discussed.
Out of the discussions, Cape Coast was then chosen as the most suitable site out of the many options and Bishop Porter, together with other Catholic bishops on January 15, 1935, came together to lay the foundation stone at the present site of St Augustine’s College.
Based on the laudable qualities and exemplary lifestyle of Augustine of Hippo, the authorities chose Saint Augustine as the patron saint of the school, hence the name St Augustine.
The motto of the college which has been couched in Latin language as “Omnia Vincit Labor”, meaning “Perseverance conquers all”, has over the years been like a torch on the apex of a mountain where everyone in the country can have a glimpse.
The torch, which is represented on the emblem of the college, also depicts the shining leadership of the college in terms of academic excellence and progress which is manifested in the quality of products and the unceasing capabilities of students produced from the college.