St Aloysius College, Ratnapura has a long history of One Hundred and Fourteen years and the college celebrated its 114th birthday on the 20th of September 2012. Originally school was commenced in the year 1888 by Rev. Fr. Pierre Boulic, who was then in charge of the Ratnapura parish. It has been recorded that Mr. Don Martinez Abeyratne, a parishioner had helped Fr. Boulic in constructing the school building by supplying required roofing materials. At the very beginning, the school was called St. Peters School and had functioned as a mixed school with forty (40) students and four teachers including Mr. John Perera and well known Fr. S. J. Perera. However, the life span of St. Peter's school had been very short and the school was closed down in the year 1893 due to some unknown reasons.
In the year 1898 Fr. S. S. Peter Wallyn had assumed duties as head of Ratnapura parish and found that the school that was opened by Fr. Boulic had not functioned for many years and children were deprived of their right to education. Instead of reopening St. Peter's school, Fr. Wallyn commenced St. Peter and Paul English middle school and appointed Mr. J. Joachim as the Head Master and this was the beginning of the college which was later developed as St. Aloysius College. Thus, the college was officially commenced in the year 1898.
In the year 1898, Fr. Wallyn was transferred to Balangoda parish and he was replaced by Fr. A. Closset who took over Ratnapura parish. It was Fr. Closset who took the initiative to establish the new school on a land donated by Mr. Grero and renamed it as St. Aloysius English School for boys and girls and registered it with Catholic Schools Management Authorities in the year 1900. It appears that there have been two Head Masters, namely Messrs. Andradi and Rodrigo who have served the school during the year 1899. However, Fr. Closset had served the school during the period from 1898 to 1902 as the Rector of the College.
By this time St. Aloysius English school gained recognition as the best formal educational institute in the Sabaragamuwa province. During the period, from 1902 to 1904 Fr. A. Stache had functioned as the third Manager of St. Aloysius English School and the school's hostel was constructed. During this period Messrs W. M. Fernando, Joseph De Fernando and P. G. F. De Zoysa had led the school as Head Masters. Fr. Stache had arranged the first prize giving of the school to be held under the patronage of Mr. G. S. Saxton, the Government Agent of Ratnapura. To celebrate this occasion, first drama named "Invisible Hand" that was produced by school children was staged.
In the year 1904, Fr. Francis De Van Hert had taken over the school as its fourth Manager and period of his administration extends up to 1910. While Head Master Mr. W. M. Fernando who was appointed in the year 1904 continued for two years, Mr. P. S. M. Perera was appointed to the position in the year 1907. During this period Fr. Van Hart formalized the administration of the school and some important changes were effected and more powers were given to the Head Master. A formal curriculum was introduced and new teachers were appointed. Messrs: W. K. Stephen, Jayasekera, P. D. Vincenters, Rodrigo, Joachim and Gnanapragasam had served as teachers during this period.
In the year 1910, Fr. Wallyn was retransferred to Ratnapura Parish from Balangoda. He assumed duties for the second time as the fifth Manager of the school and as the Parish Priest with Fr. E. Gaspard and Fr. Louwers as his assistant priests. During this period, school's hostel was further developed and expanded and the first Old Boy's Association (OBA) was formed.
After Fr. Wallyn's sudden death while holidaying in Nuwaraeliya, Fr. Spilbout had assumed duties as the sixth Manager of the school in the year 1923. Under his management, many improvements including the construction of two storied hostel building had taken place. Fr. Spillbout had demolished old school building and commenced the construction of the present two storied College building and completed its ground floor and dedicated it to the name of Fr. Wallyn. During this period government had taken the initiative to promote sports among school children and first Inter School Championship meet was organized by the Government Agent to coincide with the celebration of His Majesty's birthday. St. Aloysius College had won the Championship Trophy and it was retained for a period of eleven years continuously winning the championship. Thus St. Aloysius College proved its might to the entire Sabaragamuwa province.
Another landmark event that took place during Fr. Spillbout's period saddened male students of St. Aloysius College. That was the establishment of the Convent of the Child Jesus and transferring of girl students to the new school. Fr. Spillbout was a methodical person and did everything according to a plan. Thus he changed the school motto which was "Union is the Strength" to "Age Quod Agis" (What you do, do it well) and changed the school colours from green and gold to Blue and Silver. He invited the then British Governor to Ceylon Sir. H. Stanley to visit the school and a grand welcome was organized. In his speech the Governor had spoken very high of the College, commending the services of the staff, college environment and the discipline and smartness of the students. The visit of the Governor further enhanced the recognition of the College.
Next change occurred in the year 1930 with the transfer of Fr. Spillbout to Kegalle Parish after which Fr. N. M. Laudadio took over as seventh Manager / Rector of St. Aloysius College. Fr. Laudadio after realizing the increasing demand for the school from students including Buddhist students, arranged to construct further facilities including the college hall, library and facilities for teachers and students. Fr. Laudadio was soon raised to the position of Bishop of Galle and he had left for Galle in the year 1941.
Next Rector of the College was Fr. Melpingnano who took over in the year 1941 as the eight head of the College and also as the Parish Priest of Ratnapura Parish. Mr. P. S. M. Perera who was appointed to the position of Head Master in the year 1907 continued up to year 1941 and served the college during Fr. Melpingnano's regime. Thus Mr. P. S. M. Perera goes into records as the longest serving Head Master of the College and his period of service was 34 years. One remarkable achievement of Fr. Melpingnano was the commencement of Physics and Chemistry Laboratories which facilitated science education. During this period, considerable developments were undertaken with extensions to College buildings and play ground. In the year 1946 college held its first Carnival which was also the first ever Carnival to be held in Ratnapura. – "Gem-Lit Night". In the year 1948 the "Golden Jubilee" of the College was celebrated on a grand scale with yet another carnival. The second carnival was named as "Jubilee Pageant" and it was conducted under the patronage of Fr. Melpingnano.
Most of Educational and Extra Curricular activities of the College were developed and formalized during the period of Fr. Melpingnano. The College had gained further recognition as an educational institute concerned not only on academic functions but also on sports and other extra curricular activities and strict discipline of the students. Towards the latter part of Fr. Melpingnano's period, in the year 1941 Mr. P. A. Cooray who was also a strict disciplinarian had taken over as the Head Master.
In the year 1950, Fr. C. Guida has taken over as the Ninth Rector of the College. However, Fr. Guda has served the College and the Parish only for a period of two years as according to church records Fr. Mark Anthony Fernando had taken over the parish during the period from 1952 to 1953. It is not clear whether Fr. Mark Anthony Fernando functioned as the Rector of the College or not . Again in the year 1953 Fr. C. Guida had taken over and had led the college for another period of 4 years.
Fr. J. Cheanese had succeeded Fr. Guida in the year 1958 as the Tenth Rector of the College and continued to hold office up to year 1963. In spite of his reputation as a strict disciplinarian, Fr. Cheanese was a very friendly Rector who was very fluent in Sinhalese language. Although he was an Italian national, he took a keen interest in studying and teaching Sinhalese language and literature. He also encouraged students to get involved in literary work. In the same manner, Fr Cheanese ensured very high standards of English education. He also paid a keen attention on and contributed immensely towards the development of science education. The science laboratories were further expanded and specially trained science teachers were recruited. In fact, these improvements paved the way for Aloysians to achieve a commendable success in the field of medicine
During the period of Fr. Cheanese, in the year 1962, schools were taken over by the state and except few schools in Colombo all Catholic schools came under the purview of the state. This severed the long standing relationship between the Catholic Church and the college.
With the transformation of the school administration the designation of Head Master was changed to Principal and the Principal was recognized as the overall in-charge of the institution. Thus Mr. P.A. Cooray became the first Principal of the College and he continued in that position up to 1960. He goes into history as the head of the College who served the second longest period of 19 years.
Later in the year 1960 Mr. Sebastian Fernando had assumed duties as Principal and subsequently Messrs S. Kuriakose, S. D. Dharmapala, W. M. D. A. Bandara, K.G. Kularatne, M. P. D. Millawitiya, and S Wannaku had served as Principals of the College during the period from 1961 to 2001. One important event that took place during this period was the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the College on a grand scale in the year 1998. Celebrations included several cultural programs, competitions, exhibitions, etc.
Appointment of Mr. Upali Jayatissa Meegahapola as Principal in the year 2001 was a dawn of a new era. It was a proud and a jubilant moment to all Aloysians as Meegahapola was one of the old Aloysians himself. It was also the first time that an old Aloysian was appointed to the position of Principal of the College. Mr. Meegahapola who hitherto continues at the helm is also a strict disciplinarian. He took the initiative to improve the discipline of students commendably. Under his stewardship the College has recorded a remarkable overall improvement of academic, sports and cultural capabilities of students making St. Aloysius College once again a school very much sought after by parents to admit their children. Another important feature during his tenure was the initiative taken to attach high emphasis for English as an important language with a view to making St Aloysius the "Venue of English" as it was known and introduced during good old days.
Today, College provides educational shelter to 2683 students who are guided by a staff of 128 devoted teachers and 21 non academic staff to provide best of knowledge and skills to their students. Under the leadership of Mr. Meegahapola, St. Aloysius' College has earned its reputation for academic excellence while climbing high in extracurricular activities. Some remarkable achievements include the island best results at all island grade five examination in the year 2003 and more than 80% annual success rate at G.C.E. (O/L) examinations and qualifying of 65 students to enter the university in year 2011.
With this long and proud history, St. Aloysius College continues to be one of the best schools in the entire island. Aloysius our Alma Mater had been the venue that cuts and polishes young precious stones not only from Sabaragamuwa but also from all over the country and brings them to the society as decent gentlemanly leaders. Aloysians shine very brightly at top levels of all walks of life as academics, high ranking officers of the police and armed forces, legal professionals, bankers, accountants, writers, medical professionals, researchers, innovators, businessmen and politicians who are ever grateful to our 114 year young mother St. Aloysius College. It is the bounden duty of the Principal Mr. Meegahapola and his dedicated team to carry St. Aloysius flag to the future giving courage to all young Aloysians to rise to the challenges with pride as educated, English speaking respected members of the society.
On his appointment as Principal, Mr. Upali Jayatissa Meegahapola stated as follows: "I am proud to say that I am the first Aloysian to hold the post of Principal of this school. What a miracle it is that my Alma Mater Aloysius had patiently waited for 105 years searching for a child moulded under her shade to entrust the duty of nurturing her young children, and has bestowed me with that opportunity. Being a son of St. Aloysius' my sole ambition is to see our college become the most prestigious educational institution in future, not only in Sabaragamuwa province but also in the entire country."
In compiling this "Brief History of St Aloysius College" all available sources of information were analytically studied and all possible measures were taken to avoid any misinterpretations, wrong data and dates, etc. Nevertheless, all Aloysians are requested to kindly inform us if they come across any wrong data or information. We are grateful to Rev. Fr. Ranjan Mall Moraes, Rev. Fr. Anton Pieris, Messrs Jayatissa Meegahapola, Ranjit Athukorala, Michael Fernando, and Presentha Perera for their valuable contributions.
Dr. W. A. J. Anton Fernando and Deshabandu Daya Muthukumarana.