The name Calabar is synonymous with the port city of Calabar, Nigeria, situated at the mouth of the Niger River.
In 1839, William Knibb, Thomas Burchell and James Philippo, the three leading English Baptist missionaries working in Jamaica, moved for the creation of a college for training native Baptist ministers. Out of this effort, Calabar Theological College came into being in 1843 and was first sited in the little village of Calabar, near Rio Bueno, in Trelawny, Jamaica.
In 1868, Calabar College was removed to East Queen Street, Kingston, Jamaica, where a school for training teachers and a secondary school for boys were established. Shortly afterwards, the secondary school was closed and the teacher-training activities ceased, leaving the practising school – Calabar All-Age on Sutton Street – and the theological college, which was relocated at Studley Park (on Slipe Pen Road, Jamaica) in 1904.
In the early 1900s, there were very few secondary schools in existence to educate the sons of the working class and the rising middle class in Jamaica.
In order to meet the demands for secondary school places, in 1912, Calabar High School came into existence under the joint sponsorship of the Baptist Missionary Society of London and the Jamaica Baptist Union. This was instigated by the Revds. Ernest Price and David Davis, Principal and Tutor, respectively, of Calabar Theological College.
The high school opened September 12, 1912 with 26 boys and the foundation was firmly laid in the Christian tradition. Rev. Price was the first Headmaster. Within a year enrolment had reached 80 and the school had received government recognition. An early benefactor was Miss Elizabeth Purscell who, in 1919, bequeathed the adjoining property, on Studley Park Road, Jamaica, in trust for the school. The school offered boarding facilities on nearby premises—The Hostel—to facilitate boys attending from outside the Corporate Area of Kingston.
In 1952, Calabar Theological College and Calabar High School moved from their location at Studley Park to Red Hills Road, Jamaica, where 60 acres of land (then called “Industry Pen”) had been purchased for the re-siting of both institutions. At the time, this was a thinly populated, undeveloped area and many people thought the move unwise.
The new school was built to house 350 boys but before long extensions became necessary. Boarding facilities were provided up to 1970. When boarding ceased, dormitories were subsequently converted to workshops.
In 1967 the Theological College moved to Mona as a part of the United Theological College of the West Indies and the High School took over the vacated space.
Throughout its history, Calabar High School has consistently demonstrated an exemplary commitment to providing quality secondary education for boys in a Christian atmosphere, and has remained one of the most sought-after schools in Jamaica.
- Sports, particularly athletics, have always been important and the Inter-Schools’ Athletic Championships (“Champs”) Trophy has been won numerous times since 1930.
- Calabar was the first school in Jamaica to have a swimming pool and won the inter-schools swimming competition repeatedly for many years.
Calabar High School has established a reputation for scholarship which has been maintained over the years, as seen in the large number of major scholarships – such as the Jamaica and Rhodes Scholarships – which have been awarded to Calabar students. The school has pioneered in the teaching of Science, Spanish and Agriculture. Similarly, Calabar High School has educated a number of pupils who have gone on the make great academic contributions to societies locally and internationally.
- The School Symbols
The Motto – “The Utmost for the Highest” – was one of the first Jamaican school mottos to be expressed in English instead of Latin. It means that each boy must make maximum effort to achieve goals which he can conceive. “The Highest” also suggests that we aim at doing whatever we do to the Glory of God.
School Colours – GREEN AND BLACK – represent growth, and difficulties to be overcome, but that we will never give up, respectively.
The School Crest, is a shield bordered by black and yellow enclosing a green field. Into the centre of this area is a girdle bearing the words of the motto in yellow letters and enclosing a tree of knowledge, the two lower branches of which divide the centre circle into three parts.
In the upper third are the spreading branches of the tree while in the left and right lower thirds are, respectively, a lion signifying strength, and an open Bible signifying truth and Godliness.