Vembadi Girl’s High School had its inception with the coming of Methodism to Sri Lanka . A British Missionary Dr. Thomas Coke and six other young Methodist ministers journeyed to the East to India and Ceylon on December 31 st 1813. After an arduous six-month’s voyage, five of them arrived at Weligama on June 29 th , 1814. Dr. Coke the pioneer, and Mrs. Ault, the wife of one of the missionaries, died on the way and were buried at sea. Two of the ministers, the Rev. James Lynch and the Rev. Thomas Squance proceeded to the North of Ceylon to commence their missionary work and education. These two missionaries moved freely with the local people and started learning the local language and getting acquainted with the local customers. They realized the need to establish English schools in the peninsula. Thus began the Jaffna English School the precursor to Vembadi Girls High School of Jaffna .
In 1817, Vembadi Mission House was bought and Jaffna English School was moved to those premises. Even though the Jaffna English School was a boy’s school, it is interesting to note that there were forty girls on the school roll. It was only after 1834 that the need to separate the boy’s school from the girl’s school was realized.
The Rev. Peter Percival, Chairman of the District, was looked upon as the founder of Central College and the girls of Vembadi also claimed his as their founder. He was a great scholar and an educationist, and during his time school was established widely across the peninsula. By 1817, there were four schools in the Vembadi compound the boy’s Central School, the boy’s Training School, the Upper English Girl’s School and the Lower English School.
In 1838, the boarding school for females was established. The boy’s school continued to occupy part of the premises at Vembadi for another half century. “The Vembadi (Margosa) trees were cut down and the boy’s school became the Central School . However the girl’s school clung affectionately to the old name and VEMBADI it remained.
It was in 1897 that Vembadi Girl’s High School, as it is known now, came into begin.
The School progressed, elevated to Collegiate status. The Junior and Senior Cambridge, London Matriculation examinations were introduced. Several students attained academic distinction and went abroad for higher studies.
Vembadi is on of the oldest Methodist Mission Schools in Sri Lanka . The missionary principles who by their infatiguable, service oriented out look worked untiringly to strengthen the school in every field. Their devotion and dedication to our land is remembered on the June 29 th as Methodist Day by the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka .
In 1960, when Ms. Mable Thambiah, was principal the school was given over to the government. Vembadi became a National School , after one and a half centuries of being under the Methodist Mission.
GROWTH AND EXPANSION OF VEMBADI
The School continued to grow and new buildings were erected and the school expanded. There was a marked improvement in public examination results, sports, and extra curricular activities were included and school excelled and earned a prominent position in the Jaffna Peninsula .
In 1924, the house system was introduced. The school was divided into three houses Red Green and Purple were the colours chosen after the missionary principals, with Miss. C. B. Hornby, Miss. M. Creedy, Miss. E. A. Lythe respectively being made house patronesses later on. The forth house was introduced long after the other three houses with Blue as the colour and Miss. E. Scowcroft as the patroness.
The first school magazine was published in 1925. Miss. Elsie Scowcroft was the editor and she named the magazine TORCH BEARER bearing in mind the school ‘as it was and as it will be’.
In 1922, Miss. M. Creedy initiated the Guide Company. Later on the Brownie Pack was started in 1925.
Vembadi, produced a Shakespearian play, ‘Taming of the Shrew’
in 1923. English Literary Association was formed. In 1937, ‘ Quality Street ‘ was staged. ‘Berets of Wimpole Street ‘, ‘Mid Summer Revels’ and ‘Sarasanghi’ were few others noteworthy productions of Vembadi Girl’s High School.
The years 1923-1930 were the years of renovation, refurbishment and rebuilding. The Principal’s Bungalow, Domestic Science Laboratory, boarding house and upstairs dormitory were built during this period.
In 1924, there was an increase on the staff and teachers for extra curricular activities were appointed. The tower club intended for teachers and old girl’s was formed. Teachers and students got engaged in social work. Sunday school work, at other Tamil Schools, was carried out. School worship has been re-organized so that every member of the staff and sometimes the girls take a share in the conducting of it.
The British missionaries devoted their life to the services of the school. They believed that the students should have every facility to grow into a complete citizen of this country. They tirelessly worked to achieve this.
Those passing through the portals of Vembadi, have held positions of responsibilities in their own land and have shown remarkable competence at international level.
Vembadi will build on its heritage and reach to greater heights in the future, as the motto says, “Dare to do right”