He who enters this noble land shalt walk out pure and enriched 14 years after

Mr. N. S. Walter

Mr. N. S. Walter (1952 – 1957)

The new Principal who took over in January 1952, Mr. N. S. Walter, came to us via Oxford, Malta, Jamaica and the Bristol Grammar School. His was an outgoing and friendly personality but his appearance and manner were deceptive, for behind them lay a man of the most tremendous drive and energy, full of new ideas and schemes, ardent for progress, impatient to get things done, brooking no obstacles. Of all the Principals of Trinity he was probably the most zealous and hardworking but not lacking in the ability to relax in the most amiable fashion, nor lacking the time to make friends with and to visit members of the staff.

A list of Mr. Walter’s achievements in respect of improvements to the school far outshines that of any other Principal when one considers that all of it was completed in the incredibly short space of five years, six months of which he spent at home on furlough. One is tempted to put first the introduction of water-borne sanitation into the school. The lack of this had been far too long- and, as he proved, unnecessarily so-one of the chief blots on the name of the school. No one who enjoys this amenity on the compound today can ever forget him. Even the manner in which it was done is typical of the man. A casual remark during a monsoon downpour about the waste of water in a town that suffered a chronic water shortage was enough to trigger Mr. Walter off. The very next day estimates were being prepared for the construction of a number of concrete water tanks strategically placed to collect all the rain water that poured off the roofs in the school. Within six months the entire job was complete. It was much the same story with the Farm at Haragama. Someone had just mention that some land was available and off Mr. Walter was at 8.00 the next morning in search of it. Though he suffered a couple of disappointments during the course of the day he ended it having acquired the ten acres that for the next ten years served as the school farm.

A full account of Mr. Walter’s building activity follows later and if it constitutes, for five years, a hectic programme it was but only a part of Mr. Walter’s total contribution to the school. He also found the time to concern himself intimately with the academic, the sporting and the other extra-curricular activities of the school. It was he who, in his attempts to draw in high quality staff, conceived and developed the plan to house, on nominal rents, as many of the staff as possible within the school premises. It was also in his time and for the same purpose that the Staff Gratuity Fund came into existence Educational experiments like the Social Studies project were encouraged. For games too, Mr. Walter had the same enthusiasm. He never missed a school game, whatever it might be, although at first he brought his typewriter along to cricket matches! He himself thoroughly enjoyed plying cricket, rugger and hockey whenever he got the chance. Meetings of School Societies, similarly, he often presided at so that there was no aspect of the life of the school with which he was not in direct touch.

When he finally decided to leave Trinity after so short a time Mr. Walter did so only after he had made sure that his successor had been found. His decision to leave was partly personal, in that he was worried about the education of his sons, but mostly it stemmed from his growing conviction that, however hard he may labour here, what the school needed most as its Head, in an era of rapid social and cultural changes, was a Ceylonese emotionally attuned to those changes.

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