I recall that back in the day in College, our sports team had won the Inter-Schools and Colleges Athletics. The excitement had been massive and students opted to process all the way from the Mfantsipim School Park (which was host for the festival) back to the College. Once the contingent made up of students, team, sports handler arrived, there was virtually all weekend jubilation.
At the Morning Assembly that took place the following Monday, our College Headmaster in his usual speech chided students for going into overdrive in their celebrations. He reminded students that the College had been established as “anoutstanding Catholic College offering the highest quality of Education in preparing the perfect citizen for the future”. He then proceeded in admonishing the students that the College stood for excellence and nothing else. For him, the College had won the ‘Interco’ and that was to be placed in the back-burner to enable the college move on to the next laurel awaiting to be conquered. My College Headmaster’s mantra ad become, ‘Only the best is good enough for St. Augustine’s College’. Over time, we had imbibed this mantra and we were all heavily motivated by this to push the frontiers of excellence, and once an achievement was chalked, dumped it only to move for the next possible achievement.
Indeed, my dear friend, it was only after completing the College that it occurred to me that we had won the Interco for twelve straight years with several Regional and National Athletic sporting records being broken and set and yet, we had just moved on soon after winning each of them.
Such had been the lot of the College to the extent that it was practically winning everything that came its way be it academic, sporting or otherwise and yet the College and its old boys allowed each of them to slide. In 2007, it won the National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) and proceeded to represent the nation at the 1stWest African edition of the Quiz and won. Once again, the College and old boys allowed it to slide. Over time, since then, it won several other academic competitions including the Robotics but made absolutely no noise about it. Recently, I saw how a school that had won the Robotics had gone overdrive in their celebration. I had also seen how two schools that had won the NSMQ had spared no effort in celebrating the feat in grand style. It was then that I reflected on how some character traits though great could sometimes appear disadvantageous.
That trait of our College’s products not to ‘blow their horn’ but quietly work hard, achieve laurels and leave the system to naturally acknowledge these achievements, all of a sudden appeared unwieldy in our scheme of themes. So even though the college through its students and old boys made giant strides year after year, very little of these found space by way of publicity and profile-raising. The interesting reverse however was that over this same period, sister institutions were celebrating anything that came up and this creating the impression as though the silent ones were on the slippery slope into annihilation. Interestingly, some old boys unknowingly had bought into the development. Of course, the College stakeholders had also not helped matters with its prioritization of key competitions such as the NSMQ thus leading to outings that moved from the unimpressive to embarrassing situations. In the midst of it all, however, the college was still doing extremely well and churning out all the wonderful grades that any school of its class would be extremely proud off.
I remember that while leading the compilation of the College’s Reference Book and Almanac, the team and all those we interacted with, were amazed at how much there was to celebrate the College for and how quietly we had allowed them to go. I recall again how in the aftermath of the 2016 General Elections when various secondary schools were head over heels celebrating various past students who had been appointed to various government positions, APSUnians had virtually been quiet. Quiet, not because there were no APSUnians to celebrate but here again, that urge to allow these things to slide took a better part of the union. If a competition were to be staged for Schools and College to list its distinguished personalities I am fully convinced that most of the noisy competitor schools will get nowhere Augusco and yet, following the character of its Patron Saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, students and old boys alike are extremely measured in vain glory. They’d rather spend their energies in endeavours that would grow the economy, promote governance and generally develop the nation and the world. This has been the situation all through its almost nine decades of existence.
Just this academic year, the College has won the Schools and Colleges Athletic Competition popularly called Interco, went on to win the Regional Schools Athletic Competition (Super-Zonals), and won the Football Competition in their zone and now the maiden edition of the Regional NSMQ competition. In the midst of all of this, one of its candidates for the 2018 WASSCE series, Dennis Acquah was adjudged the Overall Best Business Student in Ghana and West Africa by the West African Examinations Council during this year’s Distinction Awards. Beyond the thundering noise in the Assembly Hall of Mfantsipim that evening after the NSMQ Regional Championship, that was it. Augusco and its old boys had moved on to the next matter on the table.
The truth in all of this is that nothing much has actually changed over time. The College has all along been doing wonderfully well in all aspects of endeavours except that certain indicators have over time become apparently more important in determining the reputation of schools.
Over the next couple of days, the 1stCatholic Boys College in Ghana which also is the Church’s premier Secondary School will gather in the College for its 89thAnniversary to celebrate what has come to be annual homecoming weekends. For this year, the focus is on ‘Re-igniting the Values and Ethics of the College for Effective Education Delivery’a theme which is extremely apt, as the College marches into its 90thAnniversary Celebrations immediately thereafter.
The College over these decades has indeed churned out old boys in their thousands, many of whom have and continue to offer excellent service to the country and world in their various fields of endeavor howbeit quietly.
To all our APSUnians, let us use this anniversary to celebrate ourselves as we thank God for granting us the unique privilege of being part of the St. Augustine’s College family. Let us all encamp in Cape Coast and prove that indeed, only the best is good enough for St. Augustine’s.
My dear friend,