OLA @ 60

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Our Lady of Apostles Senior High School, Ho, has one of the most endearing school mottos I have ever come across: “Vitam Praesta Puram”.  ‘Grant us a pure life; a life without reproach’. When this prayer is answered by God, it is bound to change the character and fortunes of any lady, person, nation or continent and indeed the world at large.  A great man once said ‘Prayer moves the hand that moves the world’.  By the grace of God, OLA is moving the world at its own pace.

In 60 years, 1954 – 2014, it is easy to see the great things the Lord has done in the annals of the first girls’ Catholic secondary school in the Volta Region.  The motto of the school, that beautiful prayer, has been answered mightily by God in many ways.

How it all started

Bishop Anthony Konings, the third Catholic Bishop of the then Keta diocese, was the first to conceive the idea of a secondary school for girls in the Volta Region. On February 1,1954, OLA Senior High School was born at Keta with just 35 pioneer students.  From a truly humble beginning of borrowed premises of the convent boarding school for girls and the nearby middle school building which was converted into classrooms, dining hall and a dormitory block, the great school took off.  It was first named Queen of Apostles Secondary School but later christened ‘Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School (OLA)’.

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With the establishment of OLA, Catholic girls from the Volta Region, girls no longer had to travel all the way to Cape Coast to access secondary school education. To help administer the school, Bishop Konings invited the Sisters of our Lady of Apostles to take charge.  The mantle fell on Rev. Sister Theodorus Fahy, as the first founding headmistress.  She arrived in January 1954 and quickly set to work.  Founder tutors include Rev. Sr Dolores Davies and Rev. Fr Herman Lubbers.  

From January, 1956 great things began to unfold.  A permanent site for the school was found and beautiful buildings began to shoot up under the eagle eyes of the diocesan architect and building contractor Bro Van Gastel. Funds were provided by the Dutch government and complemented by continual diocesan support.  

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Greater things happened still.  In 1958, the first batch of 15 candidates sat for School Certificate Examination and the results were good.  Subsequent excellent academic performance of the school started gathering steam from this point.  There has been no turning back ever since.  

The 1960s was marked by an increase in student population.  The school enrolled double stream in 1966 and in 1967, sixth form arts subjects were offered for the first time. Eight years later in 1975, sixth form science was added.  

The change in the leadership of the school came in 1976 when Rev. Sr Theodorus retired after 22 meritorious years.  She will be remembered for her uncompromising discipline; she was replaced by Sister Marie O Driscoll.  Seven other headmistresses followed after that with Rev. Sr Regina Kampo becoming other first Ghanaian OLA sister to head the school.  Other Ghanaian headmistresses include Rev. Sr Bernadette Kofitse, Mrs Philomena Afeti and the current head, Mrs Benedicta Afesi. 

Current headmistress 

1976 also marked the year Bishop Konings left the shores of Ghana for good.  He left the exemplary Catholic Girls’ School in the capable hands of Most Rev. Francis A. K. Lodonu, who succeeded him as bishop. 

Under Bishop Lodonu, the school experienced a building boom and for the first time, money was voted by the government for the construction of a dormitory block to accommodate 200 additional students.  Other building projects followed in rapid succession including the completion of a three-storey block and the construction of a six-unit classroom block as well as the equipment for the school’s science laboratories. 

New assembly hall complex

Today, with a student population of 1,523, the school is bursting at its seams.  More staff bungalows would be needed to contain the burgeoning staff members of the school. The expansion of the dining hall should be treated as top priority.  Today, because of limited space, students eat in turns.  It is not good enough. 

The construction of a modern sports village for the school has been on the drawing board for years and the time for takeoff is now. Future Olympic games stars have been too long in coming.  Past students of the school are affectionately referred to as ‘precious gems’ and with good reason.  They are everywhere you go and they are all helping to shape the image of Ghana. Did you know that the following ladies are precious gems?

Some OLA girls at the 60th anniversary celebration

Mrs Justice Agnes Dordzi, Justice of the Appeal Court of Ghana, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon; Prof  Dr Mrs Laeticia A. P. Hevi-Yiboe, College of Agriculture, University of Ghana, Legon. Madam Juliana Azumah-Mensah MP and former Minister of State;  Dr Mrs Bernice Adiku-Hebo, MP Hohoe North and Deputy Minister, Environment Science, Technology and Innovations; Mrs Martha Gyansah-Luterodt, Chief Pharmacist and Director of Pharmaceutical Service; Rev. Sr Dr Lucy Hometorwu, Medical Superintendent, Margret Marquart Hospital, Kpando; Mrs Victoria Darko, CEO, Ghana Nurses and Midwives Council; Mrs Doris Bramson, Headmistress, St Mary’s SHS, Accra; Mrs Abba Lokko, Corporate Affairs Manager, Tema Oil Refinery; Mrs Alberta Quartey, head of Chancery, Ghana Embassy China; Miss Akpene Avor, Newscaster, GTV; Squadron leader Sophia Adzo Jiagge, Ghana Airforce; Marilyn Efua Houadjeho, CEO Image Consortium.  The list is inexhaustible. 

Proverbs 31:10 asks who can find a capable woman? A good value has been placed on her: She is worth far more than jewels. Well, the gems of OLA have been tried, tested and found to be good. They are everywhere in world contributing their quota to the betterment of mankind. Nurturing great women of character is the greatest gift of OLA to Ghana and the rest of the world.