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

Rev. Dr. W. G. Wickremasinghe

Rev. Dr. W. G. Wickremasinghe (1978 – 1988)

When Dr. Wickremasinghe took charge of the school on the 29th of January 1978, he brought to us not only the wide experience but also realms of many other fields. He had an M.A. from the University of Oxford, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Ceylon, and a Doctorate from University of Chicago. In academic excellence, experience, maturity and stature he stood a stalwart among all principals in his day. As the incumbent Head of the Baptist Church of Sri Lanka, he was also accepted as a renowned Theologian. Like all his predecessors, he too was an invitee to head Trinity. The outer personality of the Principal, with neat and comely attire and elegant speech was impressive, but beyond all that was a man of tremendous drive, demoniac energy and mature judgement. In his day there were no half baked schemes and rash experiments for he himself had realized from the very beginning that the time he took charge was perilous, requiring caution in the midst of a galloping inflation in the country. But the looming fear of nationalization of schools was no more and his position was more congenial than that of his two predecessors.

With confidence in his own methods and approach, he brooked no obstacles to bring to a successful completion all that he planned. A greater part of his life was given to Carey College, Colombo where he spent two rewarding decades to bring it to what it is today. As contemporary Principals he was closely associated with two of the past Principals of Trinity and had occasion to know something of the rich heritage of the place he was going to head for a decade. His marriage to Miss. Irangani Hettiarachchi former teacher in Trinity further enhanced it.

The period of his stewardship can be identified as one of hectic activity with an abundance of colour and achievement. Taking over from where Mr. Fernando had left, he completed the Swimming Pool making it one of the best of its kind. Though a gift from a loyal old boy Ho. Gamini Dissnayake Minister Mahaweli, he had the fortune to witness and to be associated with the gigantic project of transforming Asgiriya into an International Cricket Stadium. The two buildings one adjacent to the main hall now named after him and the other replacing the oldest structure in the school were completed. By far the largest addition to the school in recent times was the farm school at Pallekele. At the Principal’s request the Baptist Church in Australia, made an outright grant through Trinity was not of the same mission.

In the field of sports it was a period of phenomenal achievements. Rugger and hockey were at their best. In athletics we reached the zenith in good performance bringing trophies and medals not seen since 1948. The spectacular achievements have been dealt in detail in this volume. Clubs and societies flourished with new adventurous undertakings. Though the normal practice is to avoid political leadership to grace school functions as the chief guests, on his invitation the school had the privilege of having the first Executive President His Excellency J. R. Jayawardena, the Prime Minister Hon. Ranasinghe Premadasa and many other leading Cabinet Ministers as chief guests. Thereby the school won the goodwill of those in power and found it so useful the question regarding the ownership of the Asgiriya Stadium arose.

As much as the school expanded in many spheres of activity, the one that caused anxiety was the increase in the numbers of students on roll, which hit an all time high of 3600.This however was accepted by the Board of Governors as inevitable as pressure for admission, not only to Trinity but to all leading schools had risen to a high level. The financial requirements of the school too had escalated and there was a need of some sort, to increase numbers proportionately. Amazingly academic achievements improved though the contrary was predicted.

For years the focus of attention was on the students and unnoticeably the lot of the minor and support staff remained neglected. In matters of the school this lot had no voice and their problems remained unattended for years. One of the writers had occasion to be associated with this problem which was not in keeping with the religious principles of the school. Their grievances were registered and Mr. Lionel Fernando took steps in the right direction. It is to Dr. Wickremasinghe that one must point as a person who took bold decisions to make their lot better. He allotted a day for the poorer section of the school and were entertained to a meal with the prefects serving them.

In all endeavours the path before him was not always smooth. There were occasions when controversies raged and he could not take the entire staff with him. But like his great predecessor Rev. A. F. G. Fraser, he provided the forum at which all differences could be levelled down. On the whole the staff in his day was co-operative and contented. It was he who mooted the idea of the Staff Attendance Incentive Bonus Scheme which the Board of Governors accepted and executed. It is in operation to this date.

Although he never expected the Board of Governors found it congenial to extend his period to a full decade, until he found it timely to lay down the task. He retired in 1988 in the midst of the anarchy that came with the youth insurrection when the school had to be closed.


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