Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion Senior High School Celebrates its 80th Anniversary.
We are what we are today because of the dream of Dr. J.W.E. Appiah. Just as Carl Sandburg said “nothing happens unless we dream”, “Without dreams, there can be no courage. And without courage, there can be no action“. – Wim Wenders.
We are a living tribute established by Dr. J.W.E. Appiah in his quest to perpetuate the memory of Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, his uncle, as an institution, which would give young boys and girls adequate secondary and vocational education to fit them into higher fields of learning. 80 years of holistic education in Ghana. This is our story. This where we originated from.
How it all started in 1940
Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion SHS, the brainchild of Rev. Dr. A. W. E. Appiah with the support of his colleagues Bishop Edgar Benton Watson and Bishop D. Lartey started the school with only six boys on 22nd January, 1940. The school occupied its first building in “Tandor Kuma” House Number 39 on the Jukwa road which was also the headmaster’s residence in the central region of Ghana. Its rent was £2 (two pounds) 5sh (five shillings), an amount equivalent to Ghs13.64p today.
Challenges and Moves
Enrolment in the school grew from 6 to 10 boys in April 1940. However, the unhealthy conditions which the school faced forced them to move to “Bucknor Villa” with a rent of £2 a month, equivalent to Ghs13.63p.
On 1st November 1940, unfavorable environmental conditions as well as the increasing number of students, forced the school move again to a building which was rented by a football team. The rent this time was six shillings, and there were 20 boys – nine (9) of them were in the preparatory class.
After a Christmas break on 10th December, 1940 the school resumed on January 21st, 1941 to meet another misfortune. Just a day to the re-opening, the football team had decided not to share the premises with them anymore.
The school’s second year therefore started in the Headmaster’s residence in House Number 40 on Royal Lane with nine (9) boys which later decreased to five (5) in the second term. The situation in 1942 was no better but the founder was determined.
Relocation of the School
On 1st October 1943, now with an enrolment well beyond two hundred students, the top section of the school ( Standard 3, Intermediate and Secondary Department) moved to the sixth home of the school at Old Swanzy Factory at No.1 Royal Lane, which belonged to the United African Company (UAC). Up to this time, the headmaster was the only member of staff.
1944 – Appointment Of New Staff Member
In January 1944, however, Mr. Henry Abaidoo-Brew was appointed the first Assistant Headmaster of the school. The late Mr. Kofi Bentsi-Enchill, a Cape Coast merchant, generously offered to pay his salary and the rent for the premises.
1945 – Aggrey Society
In 1945, a Board of Trustee and Management Team known as the AGGREY SOCIETY was formed and the school management came under this board. Mr. Kofi Bentsi-Enchill (Chairman), Dr. J. W. de Graft-Johnson, Mr. W. W. O. Lindsay, Mr. J. Magnus Sampson, Mr. S. S. Wood and Chief Kweku Egyir Gyepi, II were the members of the board. The Secondary Department was separated from the Primary Department in February 1946. Within this period that the school managed to be in existence, students were attracted from all places including particularly those who had been to other schools before but wished to improve their grades.
1947 – The Episcopal Era
On February 8th 1943, as the students grew in numbers, the school moved to a new house (No. C50/1, Commissioner Road). The rent was £3 (three pounds), 5sh (five shillings) p er month. The founder established the primary and intermediary section of the school in this year to buttress the Secondary Department.
In 1947 the school entered the EPISCOPAL ERA. With an agreement between the AGGREY SOCIETY and the A.M.E. Zion Mission, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church took charge of the affairs of the school and changed the school’s name from AGGREY MEMORIAL COLLEGE to AGGREY MEMORIAL A.M.E. ZION SECONDARY SCHOOL, and the first two boarders were also admitted. That year, the founder also enrolled his own fresh students. They were six boys who were later presented for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination (CSCE) in 1950. All of them passed with one achieving exemption from London Matriculation.
The School moved in October 1948 to a three-storey building on the premises of the old Cape Coast Post Office near Cape Coast Castle. The School occupied this building known as “Old Russell” from 1948 to 1958. In 1958, the A.M.E. Zion Church acquired a 43-acre land, released as a Deed of Gift by the then Nana Attobra of the Nsona Stool Family of Brafo Yaw, to the school.
In 1952, the A.M.E. Zion Church commenced the building of the first block on the site. The school was recognised as “Encouraged Secondary School” in receipt of Government grant in aid. A new beginning was made in that year and since that time the story of Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion Secondary School has been one of steady progress and improvement. The number of students increased.
1958 – Final Settlement
Having spent eighteen years in temporary premises, the school finally moved to its present site at Brafo Yaw, Cape Coast in January, 1958. Girls in the boarding house were however housed in Cape Coast township on premises formerly occupied by the “Prospect Printing Press”. On 21stJanuary 1966 the girls moved into their new dormitory block across the boys from the Accra-Takoradi road at Brafo Yaw.
1991 – Educational Reform
In 1991 the school also started the educational reform programme which saw the coming into being of the Senior Secondary Programme alongside the Ordinary and Advanced levels programmes.
The school has also chalked a first in being the only second cycle school in the country to have fully computerised and networked its administrative system. The school also runs a computer literacy class for all students in the school to prepare them for the new world they would be entering after their schooling.
Presently, the school can boast of the magnificent edifice (assembly hall) which is the first building one chances upon while entering the school. This edifice which has a seating capacity of 2,000 was funded by the Full Gospel A.M.E. Zion Church of Temple Hills, Maryland, in the USA, under Pastor, Rev. Dr. John A. Cherry. It was started in November, 1995 and completed in February, 1998. Heading upwards, on your right-hand side is the “still under construction” new administration block. Negotiating the curve, Watson House (named after Bishop Watson through whom the A.M.E. Zion Church acquired the school from the “Aggrey Society) is the first house that welcomes you on the left-hand side, on your right-hand side is the first Science Block dedicated on 3 rd March 1957 as a gift from Barclays DCO to commemorate Ghana’s attainment of independence. This block has been converted to the school tuck shop and an ICT Centre with the support of MTN.
Right in front of you is the ceremonial grounds and an array of three other house; the Great Pinanko House (also named after Rev. Dr. Osam Pinanko who started the A.M.E. Zion Church in Cape Coast in 1903)and the Twin block- Enchill house (named in honour of Mr. Kofi Bentsi-Enchill whose financial support enabled the school to battle with terrific storms in the early years) and Casford house ( also after Mr. J.E. Casely Hayford, a renowned educationist). Sandwiched between Watson and Pinanko is the renovated Dining hall which has a sitting capacity of 1500. Turning to your right, is the beautiful sight of the Centre of attraction surrounded by the administration block which was completed in 1972, the Yellow block and the breathtaking White block, the new block occupied by first year students and the Science Resource Centre.
Affectionately known as the bridge city, the footbridge connects the two sides of the school- boys’ and girls’ side. Climbing the hill up the girls’ side, the senior house mistress’ building is the fi rst building to see, then Lucille house (in honour of Mrs. Annie Lucille Alleyne, wife of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Alleyne, for her interest in girls’ education in Africa and for her substantial contribu tion towards the construction of the school’s first block which started in 1952), Segbefia house in memory of Mrs. Juliana Segbefia, the first housekeeper for her motherly affection for the girls in Cape Coast town), behind Segbefia is Katherine Aikins house ( Katherine Aikins, a student for h er memory whose tragic death occurred in the school in 1970 when she was crossing the Accra-T akoradi road after choir practice, to the girls’ dormitories) and New House (an unnamed ho use). All other buildings found at the girls’ side are bungalows of house mistresses.
We can’t overlook the changes in uniforms from the time of the school’s establishment. Everyyear group had distinct uniform and colors that made them unique.
Between1979 – 1981, students wore grey shirt with black border collar. Boys in the 6th form had blue shirt probably with khaki or black trousers. whereas girls in the 6th form wore dark green dress. They also had light green blouse & dark green skirt.
Between1990 – 1996, female students wore green dress while their boys wore mauve & khaki s horts for boys. From 2006 – 2011, Aggrey girls had yellow shirt & mauve skirt as uniform w hereas the boys wore mauve shirt and khaki shorts. Although the boys still wear the mauve sh irt and khaki shorts, as from 2012 till date, female students wear mauve straight dress with a to uch of yellow at the neck of the uniform.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change -John Maxwell. The leader adjusts the sails”. All through thick and thin, the progress of the school has been manned by various headmasters.
Right from inception the headmasters have been:
- Dr. A.W.E. Appiah, the founder was the headmaster from 1940 to 1952.
- Mr. Emmanuel Godwyll Biney took over leadership from 1952 to 1957.
- Mr. Pascal Kodwo Dadzie Godwyll was in the helm of affairs between 1973 and 1986.
- Mr. Clement Bernasco Pobee became the new headmaster in 1986 until 1998.
- He was succeeded by Mr. Appiah Dankwah from 1998 until 2009 when he finally handed over to
- Mr. Akwasi Amoako Amoantwi who served the school for just four years (2009-2013).
- Rev. Franklin Koranteng Boadu has manned the school from 2014 till 2020.
- The role of head is currently held by the first Headmistress Ms Kate Anan-Wilberforce
Our Vision is to become an excellent institution providing holistic training through academic, moral and biblical education to all.
Our Mission is to give young boys and girls adequate secondary education that would be beneficial to themselves and the state to help develop mother Ghana to occupy its place in the global village.
In the 1997 Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations conducted by the West Africa Examinations Council, Aggrey Memorial Zion Secondary School was one of the schools honoured by the Council for academic excellence. The school produced the best Agricultural Science Student in this examination.
The school’s popularity in academics and other disciplines has grown over the years. The founder deserves accolades for pursuing his dream to provide secondary education for boys and girls for the development of Ghana and the world.
The school’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) status is very high with a 120 feet transmission mast linked via satellite with AT&T in the US.
The Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion Senior High School undertook a project designed to assemble and fly light aeroplanes in the country in 2010. The project, the first of its kind by an educational institution in Ghana, was in collaboration with the Franklyn College in the United Kingdom and the British Model Flying Association (BMFA).
The Boarding Houses
The houses were named after the following people:
- Bishop Watson through whom the A.M.E. Zion Church acquired the school from the “Aggrey Society”.
- Mr. Kofi Bentsi-Enchill whose financial support enabled the school to battle with and weather and terrible storms in the early years.
- Rev. Dr. Osam Pinanko who started the A.M.E. Zion Church in Cape Coast in 1903.
- Mr. J. E. Casely-Hayford, a renowned educationist
- Mrs. Annie Lucille Alleyne, wife of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Alleyne, for her interest in girls education in Africa and for her substantial contribution towards the construction of the school’s first block which started in 1952.
- Mrs. Juliana Segbefia, the first housekeeper for her motherly affection for the girls in Cape Coast town
- Katherine Aikins, a student who met her tragic death in 1970 while crossing the Accra-Takoradi road after choir practice.
Eighty years in the life of an institution is no mean a feat. Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion SHS has not only paid its dues to Ghana but also to the world. The school’s alumi, the Aggrey Memorial Old Students Association, popularly known as AMOSA is one of the most vibrant nationwide.
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Members are known as Nkor, the Fante word for eagle, the school’s totem. The school has birthed hundreds of prominent personalities, notable among them are the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, Prof. Moses Aikins, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Prof. David Atta- Peters, Department of Earth Science, University of Ghana and Prof. Samuel Affram, Department of Architecture, KNUST.
On the media landscape, school is proud of its son, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Dr. Affail Monney, Ebenezer Ampaabeng, Acting Director of GTV, Nana Kofi Koomson, publisher of the Ghanaian Chronicle newspaper and one time Journalist of the Year, ace musician Bessa Simons and actress Yvonne Nelson.
The following are also products of the school- former IGP John Kudalor, Air Vice Marshal Evans Griffiths, Justice Margaret Insaidoo Welbourne and Col. Aggrey Quarshie, Ghana’s Former Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Ken Kanda, Hon. Nana Akomea, CEO of STC, Hon. Elvis Donkor, MP, Abura -Asabu -Kwamankese Constituency and Hon. Kojo Asemanyi, MP, Gomoa East Constituency.
Albert Essien, Former MD of Ecobank, George Robertson, CEO, Multi Insurance, Godfred Love Djainie, Former MD, Millenium Insurance Patience Atta –Prempeh, CEO of Black Park are all Nkor.
On the auspicious occasion of Aggrey at 80, we say Ayekoo to the founder, AME Zion Church, our landlords- the chiefs and people of Brafo Yaw, the past and present management and staff, old and current students who have indeed lived and continue to live the school’s motto, SEMPER OPTIMO NTERE. Keep aiming and soaring high like the eagle you are.