SAINT JOSEPH'S OLD STUDENTS
                              ASSOCIATION (SJOSA) BLAMA

            
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                                                     BRIEF HISTORY

St. Joseph’s Secondary and Agricultural School Blama is an approved catholic institution which was founded in 1969.

The central aim of the school is the religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social education of the pupil consonant with the current educational 6-3-3-4 system. The school endeavours to foster an atmosphere of care and concern in which the pupils can mature and develop a healthy self-image. The school aims to give all pupils a curriculum, which encompasses the characteristics of breadth, balance, relevance, differentiation and progression in accordance with the current 6-3-3-4 educational system.

The school is also committed to the personal growth of every pupil by the development of a structured environment in which the pupil can prepare through the academic and wider curriculum in his/her vocational career in life. The school is also committed to helping the pupil experience God in the wonder of creation in prayers and in worship. It has therefore always upheld the traditional discipline integral of the Catholic teaching. St. Joseph’s is opened to all boys and girls irrespective of creed.

ROLL OF PRINCIPALS

Rev. Fr. Denis Mary Onunugu  - 1969 – 1970

Served as pioneer and proprietor for a brief period of time (a few months)

Mr. Okachuku  - 1970 – 1971

Rev. Fr. Patrick Walsh (CSSP) – 1972 – 1981

Mr. Simeon Squire – 1982 – 1986

Mr. Salieu Kamara – (RPEO East) Ag, Principal, Oct. 1986  - August 1987

Mr. Michael Samba – Jan 1988 – present


EVENTS OF 1984, 1994, AND 1999.

Since the inception of the school it has been faced with some great challenges of one kind or the other.During the administration of Rev, Fr. Patrick Walsh, the school developed rapidly, in terms of infrastructure and academic  performance, coupled with an enviable discipline admired by all and sundry. In short the school developed on all fronts – academic, athletics, discipline and infrastructure. It was as a result of this the school was euphemistically called “the college of the East”, particularly the school’s performance in the General Certificate exams (GCE).This was a remarkable achievement by Rev. Fr. Walsh (CSSP). 

In 1983 Mr. Squire, of blessed memory, succeeded rev. Fr. Walsh (CSSP). Almost three years after I assumed office, the school faced a serious crisis. The school staff was divided into two opposing camps, a spill over from the previous administration. Consequently, the students rebelled and the school experienced the worst insurrection in its history. The whole administration came to a standstill. The school closed down on 10th October 1986. This ugly situation was however quickly salvaged by the intervention of the Ministry of Education, which sent Mr. Salieu Kamara, the then RPEO East, as Acting Principal in the interregnum. He tried furtively to get the school back to its feet of past glory but this became a Herculean task to overcome.

In August 1987 the post of principal was advertised following the withdrawal of late Mr. Squire from the school to the Ministry in November that year I was appointed principal but only assumed office in January 1988. On taking up office, the division mentioned above quickly resurfaced. The task faced was how to bring these two groups to work together in an atmosphere devoid of hostility. This was not an easy task especially when one roup could not simply understand why I should have any dealings with the other group on the staff.

In all these unfortunate situations I found myself, I stand to be greatly indebted to the Parish Priest by then, Rev. Fr. James Carling (CSSP), who gave me every support during my predicament. He came to the school every morning, signed the time book as a Board Member and advised me to forge ahead and not despair. Consequently, I resolved to disregard the factions completely and concentrated instead on what the students, parents and proprietors wanted to see, namely; good discipline and academic achievement all of which had gone to the lowest ebb by then. This invariably yielded a tremendous and lasting dividend.

Coupled with these inherent problems, there was acute shortage of teachers in all the departments. This occupied me more seriously than paying attention to factions. In 1989 I was lucky to recruit teachers for Physics, Maths, English Language, Geography and Biology, all in dire need by the school. Also, my wife joined the staff as an added blessing. In 1991, the school sent in a formidable promising and brilliant set of boys and girls for the O’Level exams. The result was a resounding and remarkable achievement. Also a good omen that the school having deteriorated after the departure of Rev. Fr. Walsh (CSSP) was on the brink of recovery. That year the school had fifteen division ones. Since then the school continued to make steady progress until the events of 6th March 1994.

On March 6th 1994 the rebels attacked Blama. Consequently, the principal, staff and pupils of the school were forced to go into exile as displaced persons. By providence a good number of the student population moved to Bo. While in Bo, the principal and staff thought it wise as a matter of expediency to establish a displaced school. A place was readily acquired at Christ the King College (CKC) by the kind permission of the principal and Christ the King College Old Boys Association (COBBA). It was not easy to establish this school considering the state of mind of both staff and students being traumatized.

However, the Catholic Education secretary at that time Rev. Fr. Patrick Koroma, now the Bishop of the Diocese of Kenema, intervened positively. He quickly organised the catholic displaced schools in the south into two groups and helped with the running cost up to the time the schools returned to their places of origin.

In April 1994, the displaced school was started at CKC. The students in Form Five that year were not allowed to take the GCE, being traumatized. The following year, 1995 the school sent twenty-five candidates for the GCE. Candidates were also sent for exams in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Suffice to say very little schooling was done in 1997 and 1998.

It is interesting to note that whatever achievement the pupils made while in exile could be attributed to several factors, namely; the tremendous support of the Catholic Education Secretary; the hospitality of the principal of CKC and COBBA; and the inestimable service rendered by the Christian Brothers Sierra Leone throughout the school’s stay in exile. A case in point is the fact that they, on their own volition and goodwill, acquired a boarding home for students who had no relatives in Bo and fed them up to the time we returned to Blama. The school is greatly indebted to them and would like to thank them immensely for their humanitarian gesture at the time it was most needed and given unconditionally.  We thank them also for rehabilitating the Home Economics department for the education of the girl child. Our special thanks in the same vein go to Brother Emmanuel Tongai who, by then, was in charge of the boarding home and did everything he could to dispel from the students the notion of despair. We are also grateful to Rev. Fr. James Carling (CSSP) who was our spiritual mentor and also contributed greatly towards the upkeep of the students at CKC.

In September 1998, a small number of staff retained after the events of 6th March 1994 returned to Blama to resume school. It was not possible to start school in the school compound because it was in total ruin, also overgrown not only with grass but trees. We were then forced to start in the girls boarding home with JSS1 to JSS111. The first major problem faced was the lack of furniture. No furniture was found in the school compound or any readily available school material. However, the usual Godfather, the Christian Brothers, came in again and provided twenty-five chairs for the staff.

While in Blama the Kenema Diocesan Development Organization (KDDO) coordinator, Rev. Fr. Ambrose Turay, came to the aid of the school in a remarkable way. He gave a large consignment of “food for work” which was used to brush, scrape and clean the compound. He also rehabilitated part of the school through Balance Germany.

On 25th January 1999, as if the ordeal the school had gone through was not enough, ECOMOG hurriedly evacuated about ten thousand displaced persons from RTI Kenema for fear of being used as human shields, and were dumped in the school. Even the dilapidated pig pens were not spared for dwelling places. The school, as in 1994, again came to a standstill. This ugly phenomenon lasted for almost two years before the displaced persons were moved to an established camp overlooking the school. Up to the year 2000, irrespective of the enumerated difficulties, the principal and staff stubbornly and strenuously managed to keep the school going in the girls boarding home.

By the end of the year 2000 the school moved to its original site. But this was not the end of its problems. The staff room was bare. There was no furniture of any kind for the teachers. The teachers resorted to using a thatched-hut with long cane chairs as staffroom just by the street. This was an utter embarrassment for the principal and school at large. Some teachers found it exceedingly difficult to understand we were not operating under a normal situation. They became a thorn in the flesh, constantly demanding an equipped staffroom to facilitate their work. Fortunately, I made an appeal to the Christian Brothers again through the Brothers in the Blama community for assistance to rehabilitate the staffroom. The response was positive as we were provided with a furnished staffroom with thirty wooden cushioned chairs. I would like to thank the Christian Brothers again for their continued support. Besides, I am pleased to inform parents through the Community Teachers Association (CTA) that the Brothers have donated a large consignment of variety of textbooks to the school in order to start a library.

Compiled by Mr. Michael Samba - Principal    





Amanda Pease, a Peace Corp volunteer from San Diego, teaches Physics and Chemistry at St. Joseph's

(picture courtesy of VOA website)

Amanda Pease is one of the first Peace Corps volunteers to work in Sierra Leone in over a decade. She has been teaching science now for six months at St. Joseph’s, a high school in the east of the country. For Pease, living in the roadside village of Blama, a day’s drive from the capital, Freetown, is a far cry from her coastal hometown of San Diego, California. It is also her first time to Africa. In Blama, everyday Pease comes home to a gaggle of young friends eager for her time. But before she plays, she marks her students' papers. As the school's only Chemistry and Physics teacher she has a lot to do.

 Reverend Father Patrick Walsh (CSSP) 1919-2003

 

The Reverend Patrick Walsh, CSSP was born in Kilmurry House, Cordal, Casteisland, Co. Kerry on the 9th October 1919.  After secondary school studies at Rockwell Juniorate he entered the Novitiate in Kilshane where he made his first profession on 8th September 1940.  He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from U.C.D. and then prefected in Rockwell College from 1943 to 1945.  Pat studied Theology at Kimmage Manor and was ordained to the Priesthood on the 11th July 1948.  He made his Consecration to the Apostolate on 31st July 1949.

 

In 1949 Reverend Father Patrick Walsh first appointment was to Nigeria and he was assigned to the Vicariate of Owerri. He was a teacher in Bishop Shanahan College in Orlu.  Later he was Principal of the Teacher Training School at Ogutu and in 1969 he became Principal of Trinity High School at Ogboli. 

At the end of the Biafra war in 1970 Father Pat went to the U.S.A. for one year, and then volunteered for work in Sierra Leone, where he spent the next thirty years.  He was Principal at St. Joseph’s Secondary and Agricultural School at Blama from 1972 to 1981. During his tenure as principal he developed the infrastructure of the school as well as the academic standard of the students.

After serving as principal in St. Joseph’s Blama for nine years, he joined the staff at the Holy Trinity Secondary School, Kenema in 1981, teaching English language and Bible Knowledge. In 1993 Father Patrick Walsh moved into pastoral work at St. Paul’s, the Diocesan Cathedral in Kenema. Throughout her stay in Kenema, he served as part-time English teacher at the Holy Rosary Girls Secondary School in Kenema.

In 2001, after spending twenty-one years in Nigeria and thirty years in Sierra Leone, developing and training the future generation of leaders in various African communities, Reverend Father Patrick Walsh returned to Ireland.  Even after that, he returned to Sierra Leone several times and on one of those occasions he was crowned Honourary Paramount Chief of Small Bo Chiefdom.

In September 2002 he had his first heart attack and was transferred from Mission House to Marian House. He died 20th February 2003. He is buried in the community plot at Dardistown.

Reverend Father Patrick Walsh was a fine Irishman; who belonged to a long line of men who came out of Ireland, with extraordinary courage and selfless passion, to offer their lives’ most vital years in service to others. He indeed sacrificed his ambitions to give others in underprivileged lands the hope, self-belief and strength to live, thrive and sometimes to simply survive and even prosper.

source: Irish Spiritans Remembered, Part 1 by Sean P. Farragher CSSP Paraclete Press 



                  SCHOOL SONG

HAIL SAINT JOSEPH PURE AND GENTLE

       1.       Hail Saint Joseph, pure and gentle guardian of the Saviours child,

Trodden with the virgin mother

Egypt’s desert rough and wild.

 

Chorus:

Hail Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary blessed above all on high,

When the death shade round us, teach us, teach us how to die;

Teach us how to die.

 

       2.    He who rested on thy bosom is by countless saints

Adored, prostrate angels in his presence sing

Hosanna to their Lord.

 

       3.       How to thee gift receive in, Jesus stoops to hear thy

prayer. Then dear saint from dry fair dwelling, Give To us a father’s care.

 

       4.       Dear Saint Joseph kind and loving stretch to us a

helping hand Guide us through.



NATIONAL ANTHEM

High we exalt thee, realm of the free;
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.

One with a faith that wisdom inspires,
One with a zeal that never tires;
Ever we seek to honour thy name,
Ours is the labour, thine the fame.
We pray that no harm on thy children may fall,
That blessing and peace may descend on us all;
So may we serve thee ever alone,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.

Knowledge and truth our forefathers spread,
Mighty the nations whom they led;
Mighty they made thee, so too may we
Show forth the good that is ever in thee.
We pledge our devotion, our strength and our might,
Thy cause to defend and to stand for thy right;
All that we have be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.

                                                  SCHOOL STAFF

SENIOR SCHOOL STAFF LIST 2011 /2012
 1. Mr. Michael K. Samba - Principal              2. Mr. Walter Sam - Vice Principal
 3. Mr. David Borbor Quee                             4. Mr. Ibrahim Wurie
 5. Mr. Abdul O. Conteh                                 6. Mr. Johnson Ogunleye
 7. Mr. Ansumana Bai - Sesay                         8. Mr. Stephen A.H. Massaquoi
 9. Mr. Joseph A. Kpaka                               10. Mr. Braima Maguneh Tejan
11 Rev. Sister Magratta Njidaka                    12. Mr. Bindi Junisa
13 Mr Alimamy Bai - Sesay                           14. Mr. Idrissa Fallah
15 Mr. Brima Koroma                                   16. Mr. Alieu Marrah
17 Mr. Emmanuel Soko Massaquoi                18. Mr. Mahmood Jalloh
19 Miss Amanda Pease                                  20. Rev. Brother Albert Gomez
21 Mr. Sheku Tokowa Bellay                         22. Rev. Brother Sylvester Lahai
23 Mr. Semion Sam E.                                   24. Mr. Ibrahim Kabba
25 Mr. Alfred A. Morovia - Bursar



JUNIOR SCHOOL STAFF LIST 2011 / 2012

  1. Mrs. Millicent B. Samba - Principal         2. Mr. Vandi Alieu Mansaray - Vice Principal
  3. Mr. Lamin Musa                                     4. Mr. Gregory O. Demby
  5. Mr. Abraham Francis Gandi                    6. Miss Margrette Saffa
  7. Mr. Paul Momoh Musa                           8. Mr. Paul Kimbi
  9. Mr. Mohamed Tornya Musa                 10. Mrs Kadiatu Musa
11. Mr Peter Magnus Blango                      12. Mr. Abdul Kemoh Conteh
13. Mr. Martin Baio                                    14. Mr. Edmond Vandi Abu
15. Mr. Samson Deen Koroma                   16. Mr. Peter Williams
17. Mr. Mohamed Lansana                         18. Mr. Abu Kallon
19 Mrs Miatta Bangura                               20. Miss Musu Bockarie
21. Mr. Daniel Katta                                   22. Mr Thomas Konjor
23. Mr Jusufu Vandi Genda - Bursar           

School Senior Prefects

Silati Jalloh                   1978/79

Alpan K M'bawa         1979/80

David Kargobai           1980/81

Anthony Kanneh          1981/82

Abdul Barrie                1982/83

Mohamed Amara         1983/84

Frank Jalloh                 1984/85

Ousman Abu Bakar     1986

Baimba Bangura          1987

Sarius Sam                  1988

Abu Bakar Jalloh         1989

Patrick Morovia          1990

Eddie Shallop              1992