Opoku Ware School, often referred to as OWASS, is a senior high school for boys in the Ashanti region of Ghana. It was established in 1952, as one of the five Catholic schools in Ghana that year. The school was named after Asante King Opoku Ware I. The students are known collectively as Akatakyie, an Asante word meaning “conquering heroes”. It is located in Fankyenebra, near Santasi, along the Kumasi – Obuasi road. The patron saint of the school is Saint Thomas Aquinas, The motto of the school is “Deus Lux Scientiae”, meaning, “God is the Light of Knowledge”
Opoku Ware Senior High School was the first Catholic boys School in the Asante Kingdom. Although it is the Second all boys school in the region. Until its establishment, youth from the Ashanti Kingdom and the Northern part of Ghana who wanted Catholic education had to travel south across the Pra River to attend secondary schools. This meant that members of the Catholic Church who wished to have their children’s education in accordance with Catholic traditions had to send them to St. Augustine’s College or Holy Child College, both in Cape Coast. The original plan to establish a secondary school in the kingdom at the initiation of the King, called for one school jointly with the Catholic Church, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. The Catholic Church opted out of it and asked the King’s blessing for the establishment of a separate school for the Catholics. At a meeting held on 31 January 1951, a decision was taken to build Roman Catholic Mission secondary school. The government was to provide all the funds for the building of the school. The school was meant for 360 students with a possible expansion to the Sixth Form. It was to be developed according to a ten-year development plan, and the final cost was estimated at £250,000. An expatriate construction firm, Fry, Drew and Company, was awarded the contract to build classrooms, dormitories, laboratories and administration block and staff bungalows.
OWASS opened its doors on 28 February 1952 to 60 young boys to the school, originally called Yaa Asantewaa College. Two weeks after the school opened, the name was changed to Opoku Ware School following consultations with instructions from the Manhyia Palace. This was to honour one of the most illustrious Asante Kings, who in May 1744 approached the Roman Catholic Mission at the Elmina Castle to educate Asante youth Katakyie Opoku Ware 1, ruled Asanteman between 1720 and 1750. A past student of the school is known as Katakyie (conquering hero) the title by which Nana Opoku Ware was known, principally for the expansionist, drive of Asanteman’s frontiers, and for which he became famously known. The late Rev. Fr. P. R. Burges, An Oxford University graduate, was the first headmaster of the school. He was the son of an Irish draper and a former major in the British Army, He was a polyglot and spoke Italian and French fluently. He also spoke Aramaic. The boys spent their first night at St. Paul’s house, the only dormitory in what was a desolate clearing, Two small rooms next to that house served as their dining hall, their assembly hall and their classroom.
By 1995, the school had five dormitories (St. Paul, St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John, ten classrooms, three science laboratories, an administration block, dinning hall, kitchen, library, and 17 staff bungalows. There were 450 students attending the school. A sixth form was established in 1958, to provide courses in both the arts and sciences. A cadet corps was formed in 1960.Presently, the boys are housed in ten houses. There are over 74 classrooms, 13 science laboratories, two libraries, a science resource centre, computer centre, language laboratory, and French and German languages teaching centres. There are 41 staff bungalows, a block of eight flats and quarters for junior administrative staff, cooks, and pantry boys. There is also a staff canteen, a chapel, a dining hall, and a sick bay.
AQ year group lavatory
W year group visual arts block
House identification tags(by SRC)
There are 10 houses named after various in the Catholic faith. The houses are named St. John, St Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. The rest are St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, St. Andrews, St Philip and St Thomas. The idea of sustainability was incorporated not only in the architecture of the houses but most buildings in the school. Each of the houses as well as most of the staff bungalow has an underground well which provides water for the boys when there is shortage of water.
In addition to the housemaster, each house has a House Prefect and an assistant who are chosen from the oldest year. There are house gatherings once a week and usually happens in the morning before classes. The housemaster and boys have an opportunity to make announcements during house meetings; the boys get the opportunity to voice the views and express grievances. Each house participates in weekly morning mass at the school chapel on rotational basis. Many inter-house competitions occur, mostly in the field of sports. For much of the school’s history, first year boys have to act as servants, to older boys. Their duties mostly includes cleaning, and running errands.
STUDENT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM
One of the most enduring legacies of Rev. Fr. Burges was the student identification and numbering system, a proud tradition that continues till today. For administrative purposes, he decided to assign a letter of the alphabet to each year group, and then combine it with a sequential number to each student who gain admission. The pioneering group had the letter K. Thus K1 was the very first pioneer student to gain admission, followed by K2 and on till K60 the last student to be admitted that year. The following year, the letter S was assigned, then P in 1954, M in 1955 and so on. The choice of the letters did not follow the alphabetical order. When the single letters ran out with Z batch of 1975, the school simply began a double letter assignment, when the AB group in 1976. After the AZ group entered in 1999, the following year saw the BC group. Currently the form One students are the BY group who entered in 2019. A student’s number is an integral and unique part of his identity and stay at the school, and cannot be assigned to another person even if the original assignee leaves school after a day in the first term. students are assigned to their dormitories on the basis of the last digit of their number. Thus when a student’s number is mentioned is easy to figure out his year group and dormitory. So a student with the number BY 157 for instance entered the year 2019 and is in St. James house.
The school has won the Science and Maths quiz twice and have been runners-up 5 times. It has also been runners-up in the 1995 Brilliant Science and Mathematics Quiz Competition, and champions in 1997. Kwadwo Nkansah Osei-Agyemang particularly stood out with his exceptional ability in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and also that quiz team in 1997 was so exceptional in the answering of the riddles round. Joseph Amamoo and Richard Oteng were the other stellar candidates.In 2002, Paul Azunre, Aubrey Mwinyogle and Vincer: Michaek K Ampadu brought another national science quiz title to the school. OWASS has been in the finals this championship 6 times, second only to Presec Legon Boys. The school is voted #1 best school in Ghana, 2nd to no school. It placed second in the first and only time the SSSCE results were published in a league form in Ghana. In addition, OWASS has won the National Debate Competition once and placed second in the 2002 competition as well. This makes The School the most successful Secondary school in the National Debate Competition which is administered by the Government of Ghana and culminates as part of the Ghana Independence Day celebrations and was also runner-up to the maiden edition of the luv fm high school debate and winners of sharks quiz 2018/2019 . The school has won 9 Superzonals Athletic competition in the Ashanti region. The school has produced several national athletes and Olympians including Ohene Karikari, Sandy Osei Agyemang and Christian Nsiah. Until the 1980s OWASS as they are affectionately called was the only authorized test center for the ac ministration of TOEFL and SAT exams in Ghana. Opoku Ware School is the only school in Ghana who have handed the heaviest NATIONAL SCIENCE AND MATHS QUIZ defeat to PrempehCollege, one of the grade A schools in Ghana, in a 96-46score that shocked the air waves in Ghana. Owass was also 1st runner up in the 2018/2019 milo soccer competition and Winners of the regional sprite ball competition 2018/2019.
Owass won the best editorial committee for the 2018/2019 academic year and also the regional president for the 2019/2020 academic year.
HEADMASTERS OF OWASS
Rev. Father Burges (1952 – 1961)
In March 1961, Father Burgess was given his marching orders from Ghana, having preposterously been accused of interfering in the nation’s politics. In reality, he had refused to admit the son of a government minister who had not made the required grade. His principled stand cost him his job and parted him from His dear school, but his values continue to inspire.
Leo Kalinauckas (1961-1963)
An Englishman of Lithuanian heritage, who ran the school between 1961 and 1963.
Kwame Adu-Amankwah (1963-1969)
In 1963, the school had its first Ghanaian headmaster in the person of the late Mr. Kwame Adu-Amankwah, who was headmaster until 1969, when he left to join the new government of Dr. K.A.Busiah as the Eastern Regional Minister, and subsequently Ghana’s Ambassadors of Mexico. During his time, the school’s academic performance improved remarkably, and St. Peter House and the Gambrah Library were both constructed in 1966. He had a reputation as very strict disciplinarian and dedicated Catholic. During his time, OWASS saw another wave of expansion, with a new dining hall, the Soweto classroom block, new staff bungalows and another dormitory, St. Andrew House. A new assembly Hall and a new headmaster’s bungalow were also commenced.
Peter Owusu-Donko (1978-1987)
He steered the school through the difficult mid- 1980s, which was unprecedented bush fires, drought, fuel shortages and food crisis in the country. A strong disciplinarian, he managed to guide the school during these stormy waters with great help from the Catholic Church.
James Dapaah Berko (1987-2003)
As the first alumnus headmaster of the school, Mr Berko went on to hold the post for a record sixteen years. During his time, the school saw many reforms and academic performances improved remarkably. Other successes chalked included winning the National Brilliant Science and Maths Quiz on two occasions (1997 and 2002) as well as several regional sporting championships. It was during his tenure that the old students initiated the construction of an ultra-modern ICT centre for the school.
Stephen Anokye 2003 – 2011)
Again, the school continued to grow from strength winning several academic and sporting laurels Stand morale was high. During his time, a new house (St.Phillip) and new brary project were commenced and completed. The PTA also commenced a major classroom block project. A new assembly hall was also commenced under Mr. Anokye’s tenure.
E. Matthew Oppong Mensah (2011-2015)
Determined to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors. A tenth dormitory is currently under construction
Dr Alexis Frimpong Nimoh (2015-2019)
A visionary leader, an inspirer and a father to all students. Ready to do more and help lift the name of the school high. Loves discipline and always maintain a good rapport with the teaching and non-teaching staff and also the students as a whole.