“S. Thomas’ College. Founded in the Eighteen Hundred & Fifty First year of Our Lord Christ. Instituted for the Glory of God”
S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia is an Anglican Church School, which was founded by the first Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Revd. James Chapman, D. D. whose vision was to build a College and Cathedral for his new Diocese. Thus on the 3rd of February 1851 the College of St. Thomas the Apostle, Colombo was opened with the objectives of training Christian Clergy and making its sons good citizens through the discipline and supervision of the Christian Faith.
Although Christian values were the corner stone on which the school was founded, students of all races and religions studied in harmony. The School grew from strength to strength in Mutwal, for over three score years, carefully nurtured by Wardens such as C.W. Wood, E.F.Miller, P. Read and W.A. Buck. By 1918, Warden W.A. Stone, found that the dusty environs of Mutwal were not best suited for his pupils and so shifted the College to Mount Lavinia. Mount Lavinia had been Bishop Chapman’s first choice when he was looking for a place to start his school, but the distance was considered too far from the heart of Colombo. Since 1918, great Wardens including Revd K. C. McPherson and Canon R.S. de Saram have ensured that the traditions and values were handed down from generation to generation. In 1951 it became a government approved private fee levying school.
The College has been managed by a Board of Governors since 1927, which is chaired by the Anglican Bishop of Colombo who is also known by his historic title as the ‘Visitor to the College’. The administration of the College itself is headed by a Warden assisted by a Sub Warden. There is also a Chaplaincy connected with the famous Chapel of the Transfiguration. The College is divided into the Primary (grades 1-5), Lower Secondary (grades 6-9) and Upper Secondary Schools (grades 10 and 11) and thereafter divided into three main Senior School sections for Advanced Levels under a Headmasters/Headmistresses, assisted by Faculty and Sectional Heads viz. The Arts and Commerce section, The Science section and the London Advanced Level section (which offers Edexcel and Cambridge qualifications). The sections were restructured in 2017.
Furthermore, a nursery school was opened for the sons of Old Boys in January 2017, allowing students from as young as 3+ to enter this school. The students graduating from the Nursery gain entry into Kindergarten.
S. Thomas’ College is widely reputed to have the most beautiful school campus in Sri Lanka, approximately half an hour’s drive from the southern limits of the City of Colombo. The entrance to the school is marked by the awe-inspiring Chapel of the Transfiguration, which towers over the rest of the campus. The Chapel is a vital element in the education at STC and is the centre of the spiritual life of the College, where the spirituality of many generations of Thomians have been formed and most importantly experienced God over the years. Dear to the hearts of all Thomians of diverse faiths and races, the Chapel serves as a reminder to us of our heritage, which is a gift of God.
Beyond is the blue green grass of the famous Quadrangle, the Main school buildings, the College Hall, the Dormitories and Library. The vast campus, modeled on the traditional English public school, stretches down to the famous golden beaches of Mount Lavinia, reaching the deep blue Indian Ocean.
S. Thomas’ provides a sound education in both Local (G.C.E.A/L & O/L) & London A/L Examination systems. Instructions are given in Sinhala and Tamil in the Lower School, and in all three media from the Lower Secondary section to College Form classes (A/L). STC has produced many Thomians who have over the years done a great service to their Church as well as the Nation.
The biggest asset possessed by the school is the student body which presently comprises of about 2800 members of varied faiths and ethnicities. It is a well-disciplined community and excels in both academic and extracurricular activities.
S. Thomas’ was the first school in Sri Lanka to have a swimming pool, gifted by Sub Warden Dr. R. L. Hayman in 1933. The Big Club and the Small Club grounds afford Thomians the facilities for many sports; namely Cricket, Rugby, Soccer, Athletics and Hockey. There are also well laid courts for Tennis and Basketball. In 1994 the indoor cricket nets were added and the pinnacle of all facilities the Indoor Sports Complex in 3 phases was completed in 1996. The sports complex houses Table Tennis facilities, Badminton Courts, 3 glass back Squash courts and – all to an international standard, together with one of the most modern and well equipped Gymnasiums.
The Annual Cricket Encounter between S. Thomas’ College and Royal College (The Battle of the Blues) is the oldest uninterrupted cricket encounter in the world.
S. Thomas’ also boasts of more than 50 societies and clubs. The Student Christian Movement and the other 3 religious societies play an important role in fostering religious education on the Thomian youth. The College choir still continues to maintain the highest standards in Anglican Choral Music and is perhaps one of the only school choirs in Asia to be affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music in London. The Annual Festal Service of Nine Lessons and Carols which was initiated by the Revd. Canon Roy Yin in 1946 is an eagerly awaited event as it reveals the capabilities of Thomian voices. The carol service is modelled on that of Kings College, Cambridge. The Guild of All Souls for Altar Servers also plays a vital role in the Chapel and assists the College Chaplain at Chapel Services. The other clubs and societies range from the educational to social welfare. The Thomian Union, The English Literary and Debating Society, The English Drama society, the Science Associations, The Commerce Society, The Interact Club, The Computer Club and Culinary Arts Society are some of them. Among other activities, STC has the Orchestra and various Bands, Scouting and Cadetting.
The School runs a Boarding, which since the inception of the College, has provided many Thomians from distant regions of Sri Lanka a ‘home away from home’.
STC has made a significant contribution to the nation’s progress over its years of existence. Among its proud products stand a host of Christian Clergymen, Statesmen such as Prime Ministers Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake, the Hon. Dudley Senanayake, the Hon. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike and the Hon. W. Dahanayaka, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Judiciary, Scholars, Scientists, Diplomats, Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Musicians, Artists, Dramatists etc.
S. Thomas’ College is therefore much more than just a school. It is an institution rich in tradition, characterized by more than one and a half centuries of hard work, dedication and achievement, all imbibed with the legendary Thomian Spirit. A pioneering institution which has understood and nurtured the very best in youth; where mere boys went in and great men came out to be “men and gentlemen always”, men who beat the odds with the legendary “Thomian grit” and gentlemen who upheld the motto of the school – Esto Perpetua!