HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL
Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast was founded by Mrs. Harriet Wrigley, the wife of the second Methodist Missionary to the Gold Coast, in 1836 with twenty-five (25) girls. Her aim was to give the girls basic training in housekeeping and catechism. Classes were held at the Manse in the Standfast Hall near the Victoria Park in Cape Coast; and subjects taught included writing, reading, sewing and religious education. This lasted about five months until Mrs. Wrigley passed away.
She was replaced in 1837 by Mrs. Elizabeth Waldron who took over the administration of the School for forty-three (43) years. Mrs. Waldron laid a solid foundation for what was to become the Wesleyan Girls’ School and Training Home. Values such as fortitude, integrity and truthfulness soon became the hallmarks of the products of the School. Their high academic achievements encouraged the Methodist church to agree to the provision of higher education for girls. Consequently, in 1884, Rev. W. M. Cannell, the Headmaster of Mfantsipim School at the time, started the Secondary section with twenty (20) girls. The primary and secondary sections continued by fits and starts and were sometimes closed down due to acute shortage of funding. It even suffered a temporary loss of identity when it had to team up with Mfantsipim as a co-educational secondary school under a new name, The Collegiate School.
By 1900, the School was on its own again with Mrs. H. J. Ellis as the Headmistress.
The school in the early twentieth century was dominated by the able leadership and constructive work of Sister Evelyn Bellamy, a deaconess who headed the School from 1914 to 1943. It was during her reign, precisely on 8th June 1925, that Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey visited the School and penned these words in the log book; “to educate a boy is to educate an individual but to educate a girl is to educate a family”. In 1951, the secondary section of the School was separated definitely from the primary section when Ms. Olive Compton moved it to its present site at Kakumdo. With time, the glamour of the high school eclipsed the primary section which has not regained its former glory till today.
The firm establishment of the High School is attributed to Ms. Compton who conceptualized the School as H. M. S. Excellence (a ship) and had the School designed architecturally as such, with the chapel being the bridge of the ship. The School had four houses or student dormitories at the time celebrating the founders (Adikanfo) – Bellamy (Block A), Ellis (Block B) and Waldron (Block C) on the right and Wrigley (Block D) on the left.
Ms. Clarice Garnett, the subsequent headmistress and the last of the missionaries saw to the establishment of the sixth form (A-Level) for science (the arts had already been established by Miss Compton). Ms. Garnett, affectionately known as “Garnie”, handed over in 1981 to the first African headmistress and Old Girl of the School, Mrs. Rosina Acheampong, who had to work hard to prove to the whole world that a black woman was also capable of running the school of excellence.
It was in 1987, during the governance of Mrs. Acheampong affectionately called “Archie” or “Mother Archie”, that Ghana underwent the educational reform that gradually replaced the British-based GCE O-Level and A-Level system with the Junior Secondary Basic Education Certificate Exam (BECE)and Senior Secondary School Certificate Exam (SSSCE now WASSCE) system. The last batch of O-Level examinations was administered in June, 1994 with remedial exams available up to1999. The transition to the new education system was completed in June, 1996 when the last class took the A-Level examinations.
During this period, the School had to administer both educational systems with it accompanying frustrations. Despite all the challenges, Mrs. Rosina Acheampong was able to maintain discipline and such high academic standards that the School became the most desired by girls in the country. She was assisted by her able deputies – Mrs. Renee Boakye –Boateng (Assistant Headmistress – Domestic) and Mrs. Margaret Hutchful (Assistant Headmistress – Academic). By the time the she retired in 1997, the School had seven houses namely; Bellamy (Block A), Ellis (Block B) and Waldron (Block C), Wrigley (Block D), Compton (Block K), Ward Brew (Block L) and Abban (Block M).
Mrs. Nancy Thompson, another Old Girl of the School, took over from Archie in 1997. During her time, student intake was increased from 800 to about 1200. The School’s infrastructure was also expanded accordingly whilst maintaining the high academic standards and discipline set by the predecessors. She was assisted by Mrs. Betty Djokoto.
In 2003, Mrs. Thompson retired and Mrs. Betty Djokoto, another Old Girl of the 1975 year group took over. Mrs. Djokoto had previously served as the Assistant Headmistress for seven (7) years in the School. During her time, the Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) was introduced by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ghana Education Service (GES) in 2005. This was to replace the Manual School Selection process that had been used over the years. The implications of this new system of admissions for the School, coupled with low morale of teachers were challenges she worked hard to overcome in order to maintain the high standards set.
Mrs. Betty Djokoto has governed the School for the last twenty (20) years first as an Assistant Headmistress followed by thirteen (13) years as the Headmistress assisted by Ms. Kate Annan Wilberforce (Assistant Headmistress – Academic) and Rev. Mrs. Hagan (Assistant Headmistress – Domestic). In that time, not only has the infrastructure been expanded to include two new houses for the students – Garnett-Acheampong and Thompson-Djokoto Houses, in addition to the various contributions made by Old Girls, but the academic standards set have been maintained as well. The various accolades and awards garnered by the students attest to this fact as evidenced by the numerous awards;
- *Best General Art Student in the Secondary School certificate
- Examination (SSCE);
- *Overall Best Candidates in the SSCE
- *2nd Overall Best Candidates in the SSCE
- *Best Science Student in the West African Secondary School *Certificate Examination (WASSCE);
- *Best Business Student in the WASSCE
- *Overall Best Student in West Africa
- *2nd Overall Best Student in West Africa
- *3rd Overall Best Student in West Africa
The School’s motto: “Live Pure, Speak True, Right Wrong, and Follow King” has had a profound impact on the lives of students and Old Girls who exhibit excellence and turn out to be change-makers wherever they find themselves.