St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School is a Ghanaian public day senior high school for boys in the Osu, district of Accra in the Greater Accra Region. The school is currently located in
Cantonments, a suburb of Accra. It was established mainly to provide education for boys of the Accra Archdiocese whose parents could not afford the high cost then of sending their male children to boarding schools. It was among five secondary schools established in 1952.
The Saint Thomas Aquinas Secondary School was established in the Greater Accra Region by the Catholic missionaries on 28 February 1952 in the present premises of St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic missionaries were at the vanguard of establishing schools across Ghana to educate boys in the catholic tradition. It was in this direction that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Accra, the Most Rev. Adolph Alexander Noser, started the school in a two-storey house at Osu-Anohor, close to the littoral, with a limited number of fifty students.
The original staff comprised three Society of the Divine Word (SVD) Reverend Fathers, Father Alphonse Elsbernd (the first headmaster), Father George Wilson and Father Fisher,Mr Augustine Adu and Paul Baddoo. In March 1954, Father Clement Hotze took over the reins of administration of the school as Headmaster; with a student population of 130 and staff of 8. Hotze knew that the proper development of the school depended on two main projects, Assistance from the Government and recognition from the West African Examinations Council. He was never tired working on these projects, until his efforts were rewarded in January and April 1957
The school was recognized as government-assisted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to present candidates for the Ordinary Level Examination in 1957, when Rev. Father John McKillip became headmaster.In November 1955, Fr Hotze presented the first candidate for the School Certificate Examination and had a 100% pass rate; one candidate was presented and one candidate passed; and this was a feather in his cap
First batch of enrollment and school-growth timelines
The first batch of students performed well in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination in 1957.In January 1957,Fr. John McKillip took over from Fr. Hotze as Headmaster. Aquinas started a second stream. When Fr. Datig came into office in April 1957 he had to rearrange the classroom space to accommodate the growth of the double stream. Aquinas made great strides in her development during the administration of Fr. Maurice Lesage. The school’s headmaster in 1958, Rev. Father Maurice Lessage, a botanist whose love for reptiles led him to keep snakes on the school compound and who ultimately wrote a book entitled Snakes of West Africa, proved very indefatigable in his endeavor to develop the school. Assisted by colleague catholic priests, Rev. Fathers Joseph Schorupka (popularly called Father Joe), Brother Burnes and Brother Kostkhar, the school grew in popularity as student population soared, creating inconveniences and enormous burden on classroom space. As a new and more suitable site was being contemplated, in September 1961, the chiefs of the Ga people finally released a parcel of about 10 hectares of land at Cantonment to serve that purpose. The founding fathers quickly procured the necessary resources coupled with the approval of the Ministry of Education to put up classrooms and science laboratories for the school. In 1968 Fr. Lesage had to resign because of ill health. But this was only after he had ploughed the ground and planted the seed for the future development of Aquinas
Conversant with the difficulties of the school’s students securing places in the sixth form grade in other schools, the then-headmaster, Rev. Father John McKillip, applied for instituting sixth form at the school to enable students to partake in the Advanced Level Certificate Examination (‘A’ Level) to fast track their entry to tertiary-institutional levels. This materialized as the Ghananian Ministry of Education gave the approval and establishment in 1971. The teaching staff capacity was strengthened by the American Peace Corps and the British Overseas Volunteer Corps who were specialists in science, mathematics and English literature. As a result, the school attracted children of European and Asian expatriates residing in Accra. Aquinas made its mark on the Ghanaian educational ladder when in early 1974, a circular from the Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service showing a survey of the percentage of passes at the School Certificate Level of all Government Assisted Schools in Ghana for the 1972 and 1973 academic years showed that Aquinas had the highest percentage of passes in the whole country. In other words, for three consecutive years Aquinas came first in academic excellence. Mr. D.D. Dumfeh took over from Fr. Mckillip in 1978 but stayed for only two years. He was followed by Mr. C.K. Koomson in 1980. After the experiment of two lay heads, another priest was brought in the person of Fr. Samuel Batsa from Achimota College to head the school. He took over from Mr. Koomson in September 1985. With the Educational Reform Programme coming into force in 1987 the entire outlook of the school also changed completely, from a four stream school to an eight stream school. Gradually the number of streams startered increasing since the system was a Community based one. Presently the school has eight streams made up of the following programmes ; Science/Agric, General/Visual Arts; and Business
The 60-year commemoration of catholic moral and academic education was outdoored under the theme “Sixty Years of Holistic Catholic Education towards National Development: The Day School Experience”, on 7 March 2011 at the Aquinas School Chapel, with an array of activities.
The guest speaker, Professor George Hagan, who was very philosophical in his address, challenged all Old Toms to put into practice the values of what was inculcated in them, as they journeyed on the academic ladder of education. He further charged them to lead morally upright lives, eschew corruption and to avoid indulgence in any forms of vices which will not only to tarnish but detract their good image in society.
A special Remembrance Day Thanksgiving Service was held for the repose of the souls of deceased Old Toms (as past students are affectionately called) over the decades. An anniversary festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was held on 21 December 2011.
The St. Thomas Aquinas Day (Founder’s Day) was held on 28 January 2012 and afforded the opportunity for proactive interaction with sections of the student invitees, drawn from sister Catholic schools in Accra. The school choir, under the choirmaster-ship of Jojo Anderson, entertained the congregations.
Professor John Owusu Gyapong, a pro vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, diligently accepted and chaired his alma mater’s 60th anniversary grand commemorative durbar amalgamated with a speech and prize-giving day which climaxed the celebrations on 25 February 2012 at the school premises.
In September 1963, the school relocated to its present permanent site at Cantonment Street, Osu.
The school is situated opposite the European Union offices and the Civil Service Training School, laying between the Cantonment Police Station to its south and The Embassy of Togo to its north, with close proximity to the prime area of the commercial and administrative hub of Osu’s Oxford Street.
The school runs nine streams and five academic programmes.
Aquinas has ties with its sister school, Accra Girl’s Senior High School, with a strong bond of students association, which is aimed at sharing entertainments, social activities, and educational exchange, called STAAGA (St. Thomas Aquinas Accra Girls Association).
Student body and staff
Enrollment level stands at over 1,200 students. Mr. Cyril Dadey is the headmaster, being the school’s thirteenth headmaster. The school has a teaching staff of about 65 and non-teaching staff of approximately 35.
Motto and slogan
The school’s motto is Veritas Libera, meaning “The truth sets you free”, is a Latin variant of Veritas vos liberabit from the Gospel of John chapter 8 verse 32.
Its slogan is “beebɛ”, a word in Ghana’s native Ga language, meaning “Waste No Time”.
The students wear a white shirt with the school crest christened Veritas Liberat, meaning, “only the truth can set you free”, boldly engraved, tucked into a brown Khaki pair of shorts to match. In contemporary times, however, a light-blue shirt for final-year students
and the school cloth which is textile, embossed with the school crest, have supplemented the traditional white shirt which was the choice of the founding fathers.
For three consecutive years,1972,1973,1974,the school topped the whole of West Africa in the Advanced Level Certificate Examination according to statistical figures from the Education Ministry.In 2004,the school emerged winners of the world cardet championship held in London having already conquered Ghana,West Africa and Africa. In 2013, the school repeated the enviable feat of 72,73,74 as ST.THOMAS AQUINAS SCHOOL was once again adjudged the Overall Best High School in Ghana.The same year, (2013),the school won the prestigious National Science and Maths Quiz Competition for the very first time.
The school won her maiden National Science and Maths Quiz in 2013, beating Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School and Mfantsiman Girls Secondary School, which placed second and third, respectively, in the grand finale.
In the same year,(2013), the school came first in the maiden edition of the Science and Technology Fair organized by the Young Educators Foundation (YEF), an education oriented non-governmental organization. In 2017, the school once again won the National Science and Technology Fair now sponsored by the government after a four-year hiatus.It was a team of 8 boys led by Emmanuel Osei Ababio who developed the winning project; a device run by mobile phone microprocessors which can function as a CPU known as the HexEduBox.
Again, in 2017,the school unfortunately placed 2nd in the prestigious National Science and Maths Quiz.They were just beaten to it by Prempeh College in a heated contest.
The school has consistently and successfully been adjudged the best day school in West Africa as well as, being part of few best acclaimed boy’s senior high schools in the country.
In the 2014 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), the school maintained its 100 percent pass rate and the general academic performance of the school yielded enormous positive response. Aquinas is consistently listed among the top 10 schools in the whole of Ghana, currently in more than three different source of ranking criteria and websites.
The school again won the Moot Court Competition for the first time the program was introduced to the second educational cycle by beating ‘The Blue Magics’ that is, Presbyterian Boys’ SHS in a very heated competition. Several awards were swept by the gallant boys of ST. Thomas Aquinas S.H.S.
The school is an arch-rival to Accra Academy and The Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School in the Greater Accra Region and is the fiercest rival among other senior high schools in Ghana.
Chronological list of headmasters
Rev. Fr. A. Elsbernd January 1952 – March 1954
Rev. Fr. C. Hotze April 1954 – April 1956
Rev. Fr. J. Mckillip May 1956 – August 1957
Rev. Fr. E. Datig September 1957 – September 1958
Rev. Fr. M. Lessage July 1958 – September 1969
Rev. Fr. J. Mckillip September 1969 – June 1978
Mr. D. D. Dumfeh September 1978 – August 1980
Mr. C. K. Koomsom October 1980 – September 1985
Rev. Fr. S. K. Batsa September 1985 – January 2003
Mr. F. K. Bebli September 2003 – March 2010
Mr. Francis Ahiafor March 2010 – 2013
Mr. Joseph Dapaah Asamoah since 2013-2016
Mr.Cyril Kwadzo Dadey|| since January 2016- August 2018
Mr Paul Akwesi November 2018 to date
Postdated accolades and achievements
By 2012, when the school celebrated its golden jubilee, academic programmes had expanded to include business studies, agricultural sciences and visual arts.
Staff bungalows began to spring up with a headmaster’s accommodation, a one-storey block academic staff residence, a hostel facility and a canteen for students, all on campus.
Academia, politics and religion
Professor John Owusu Gyapong Vice Chancellor, The University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho and Former Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana, Legon
Professor George Hagan – academic and politician (Convention People’s Party’s presidential candidate, 2000 general elections, Ghana)
Rt. Rev. D. S. M. Torto (1978 year group) – bishop, Anglican Diocese of Accra