Newstead Negombo, celebrates its 196th anniversary
With nearly two centuries of committed service for the cause of education in Sri Lanka, Newstead Girls’ College, Negombo, remains a premier girls’ school throughout its long and arduous voyage. Established as a Sunday Catechism School for boys by the Wesleyan Missionaries in 1815 and expanded into a Day School a year later to accommodate the growing demand for education, Newstead had its first ever teacher, the Rev. Don Daniel. In 1818, the Rev. Robert Newstead — after whom the school was later renamed — was appointed the first resident superintendent, and he chose a spacious land with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean for his residence, ‘The Mission House’.
In the early years, classes were held in the Mission House, which was a temporary structure, and it was replaced by a permanent building to house the steadily rising numbers in 1833. Further, the project to build a boarding house was completed in early 1899 by the Rev. M. Hartley making Newstead the only girls’ school with a hostel in the Negombo zone.
The quarter century from 1919 to 1943 was a period of evolution under the zealous leadership of the first lady Principal Ms. A.D. Dixon who laid a firm foundation for a leading school of modern times. A steady development occurred in all spheres from physical expansion to curricular development to identity building. The commencement of the Junior and Senior Cambridge Examinations were the scholastic growth areas while the activities that foster a sound psychological and physiological well being in the formative years – netball, tennis, the first Negombo Guide Company, the House System – were also initiated. Most importantly, it was also Ms. Dixon who was instrumental in establishing a brand new identity for the school by creating the school motto ‘More Beyond’ and emblem, uniform and renaming it Newstead.
The year 1962 was yet another milestone of the long journey as Newstead was vested in the state concluding a 146 years of the Wesleyan Missionary management. Mrs. C de Mel, the first Sri Lankan Principal, assumed duties and navigated Newstead across the turbulent seas of transition with unwavering determination. She did a lot of remedial work in academic areas, and the Advanced Level classes were started almost immediately; subsequently, the school was upgraded and a rapid growth in size and strength took place.
The most noteworthy accomplishment of Newstead in the closing of the millennium was its advancement into a prestigious National School status in 1989, the first school to reach such levels in the Gampaha District. On the eve of the 200th anniversary, the present Principal Mrs. Gayani Herath leads over 3500 girls with the assistance of a highly proficient and committed tutorial staff of 124 teachers in the path of knowledge and competence. It is the rich legacy of quality education and the conscious upholding of cultural and moral values that set Newsteadites apart.
Functioning as a fully-fledged college, Newstead provides the students with a wide spectrum of academic and non-academic learning opportunities and accordingly, enjoys outstanding accomplishments. Newsteadites performed splendidly at the last A/L and O/L examinations. Ayodya Ratnayake of Newstead scored the highest marks for Sinhala Language and Literature (all island) at the O/L examination 2011 and became the first recipient of the Cumaratunga Munidasa memorial scholarship.
The Literature and Aesthetic Unit seeks to promote in students an understanding and appreciation of literary works through reading, writing, dancing and drama. The budding dramatists of Newstead took home the Winning Girls’ Trophy at the Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition 2010. At present, they have already excelled in English literary and music contests at zonal level and are eligible for the upcoming provincial contests; the latest being the Western Cadet Band winning the third place at the Annual Assessment Camp-2012.
Sports are another area in which Newsteadites have made great strides and brought a lot of fame to the school in athletics, tennis, volleyball and netball. They clinched the Girls’ Athletic Championship Trophy 2012 both at zonal and provincial levels while also securing the Relay Championship in the Western Province. Two Newstead athletes represented Sri Lanka at the 2012 Asian Junior Athletic Championship in Triple Jump. The school also walked away with the ‘All Island Inter-School Girls’ Tennis 10s Championship – 2011’. Mrs. Herath is immensely appreciative of the invaluable support and inspiration received from the administrators, teachers, School Development Society, Past Pupils’ Association and parents in sailing Newstead ‘More Beyond’ into the greater depths of the ocean of knowledge and humanity.
comments powered by Disqus