On the 27th of September 1978, Portmore gave birth to Bridgeport Secondary School. Since then the name was changed from Bridgeport Secondary to Bridgeport Comprehensive High in 1991, when the school got its first batch of Common Entrance students. The school has since been reclassified to Bridgeport High School in September 2000, under the full reclassification of secondary education purported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Jamaica.
The Conception of Bridgeport High School
The school building was incomplete at its beginning, so registration was done at a building beside the canal in Bridgeview. That building which was used as a meeting place for clubs and societies is now expanded and is used to house a day care centre.
When school began on this compound it was quite an uncomfortable experience as students and teachers had to be mingling with the workmen and putting up with the various sounds of construction. Let’s pause to recapture how the bini-shell was constructed. West Indies Home Contractors which constructed the building, made a thick layer of concrete and a special machine was used to blow the mortar up until it got its required shape - the shape of the dome. Incidentally, this is where our first magazine entitled “The Dome” got its name.
The school started without a canteen. The canteen now in operation, was started by the Social Studies Department with funds derived from a cultural exposition. The school could not afford to pay additional workers so some teachers had to stop teaching at specific times to assist with the cooking. The bini-shell was the official dining room. Lunch tables were set up in the bini-shell. Since there was also a stage in the bini-shell, students sometimes had lunch hour concerts as they dined. Oh! how we enjoyed those presentations. Unfortunately the tables and the chairs were destroyed. A water cooler which once provided the students with cool refreshing water was installed.
From 1997-2000, metal container shells were acquired with the assistance of the Ministry of Education & Culture, the Jamaica Container Repair Services and fundraising at the school. to the tune of two million dollars. These new buildings now housed the Cosmetology, Performing Arts, Work experience, Counselling and Examination Centres and a tuck shop. The Work Experience, counseling and examination centres (known as the Students’ Resource Centre) were officially opened in 1998 in a ceremony consistent with the convictions and commitments of the school. The representatives from the government, private sector companies and community leaders, staff members and the student population shared in the act of dedication of the centres.
School Enrolment and Uniform
Bridgeport High School opened its doors to a total of 228 students (107 boys and 121 girls) and 28 members of staff. The school was built by West Indies Home Contractors Limited to accommodate five hundred (500) students. Some expansion has been made over the years but not enough to accommodate comfortably, an average two thousand three hundred students on roll annually. The school plant is heavily used, it facilitates a shift system with an extended school; an evening institution, and is also used for community activities and meetings, extra curricular activities and practices for sports etc. The challenge is - How to maintain the plant and utilize its well used resources for the continued purposes of providing total education, while fostering civic pride and patriotism to school.
The school started on a single shift basis and over the years the number of students enrolled, grew larger as the community of Portmore expanded. As a result, the school had to operate on a shift basis. The red shift (grade 7 to part grade 9) and the blue shift (part grade 9 to grade 11) rotate shifts on a semester (September to January, and January to July) basis. The difference in shift is the colour of the belts and crests. The school boasts several programmes which could not all be contained on the regular time-tables therefore, in addition to the shift system, an ‘Extended Day’ system had to be introduced in 1998.
The school’s first uniform for girls was Khaki blouse with red plaid epaulettes and khaki shirt with a patch pocket on each side. The boys wore full khaki suit with epaulettes. The current uniform is navy blue tunic and white blouse for girls. The change in uniform coincided with the admission of the first batch of common entrance students in 1991.
Administration and Staffing
Over the years the school has had four principals of which there were three female principals preceding the current and only male principal, Mr. Aston Messam. The first principal Mrs. Dyona Mclean now teaches overseas, Mrs. Valrie Marshall-Lodge (2nd principal), who now is principal of Morant Bay High School, Mrs Karen Hewitt-Kennedy (3rd principal) now the principal at Portmore Community College and Mr. Aston Messam (our reigning principal). It is also historical that two male teachers are at the helm of administration, Mr. Messam, the Principal, and Mr. G. Burke, Vice Principal.
The first Vice Principal was Mr. Edmond Davis. Currently, there are three Vice-Principals: Miss Norna Plummer - foundation member and senior Vice Principal; Mrs. Beverley Harris and Mr. Glenroy Burke (currently on vacation leave to August 31, 2008) & acting is Mr. John Mattis.. Other Vice Principals and acting Vice-Principals over the years have been Mrs. Valrie Lodge, Mr. Hinton Lee, Mrs. Pauline Hamm, Mrs. Beryl Finegan, Mrs. Ivy Morris, Mr. Aston Messam, Mr. Anthony Myers, Mr. Sigvard Bailey, Ms. Marcia Doig, Mr. John Mattis and Mrs. Beverley Harris.
Bridgeport High School has had four Board Chairmen in its twenty-eight year history. The school’s first Chairman was Mr. Vincent Lawrence who was an interim chairman of Air Jamaica, chairman at UDC, and advisor to the Prime Minister. Mr. Fitz Henry a minister of religion was our second Chairman followed by Dr. James Peart, a Medical Practioner who operates at Peart Medical Centre in Portmore. Rev. Dr. Sam Green is our present Chairman of the school board. He once served the school as a Guidance Counsellor. He is a Minister of Religion and is the pastor for the Grace Missionary Church and President of the Missionary Churches in Jamaica. These persons who have held the capacity of Chairman over the years have all served the school well. They have given quality time to ensure the steady improvement of the whole education process at Bridgeport High School.
Academic staff includes one hundred teachers more than half of whom are trained graduates, and other support administrative, ancillary and security staff. Three of our past students are current members of staff. The principal’s secretary who holds a CPS certificate, a trained teacher of Business Education, and a graduate teacher of English Language and Literature. Of the 26 members of staff who began working here in September 1978 only three of them are with us now, Miss Norma Plummer, Vice Principal; Mr. Patrick Stewart, who is now our Work Experience Officer, and Mrs. Dorothea Thomas-Euston, a senior teacher and teaches Food and Nutrition.
Bridgeport has much to boast about. Twenty-seven (27) subjects at the CXC level, three (3) subjects at the GCE level, nineteen (19) subjects at SSC and JSC, NCTVET level examinations are offered at Bridgeport High. Subjects offered include thirteen vocational subjects, mathematics, English Language, English Literature, the sciences and humanities.
Bridgeport High School has made a determined effort to uphold the national trend in creating the opportunity for school leavers to better qualify themselves for the job market and higher education. Hence, the Evening Institute was established in 1987. It is vibrant and successful, catering to the needs of the wider Portmore community by offering various practical and academic subjects (including Information Technology, Home Economics Subjects and the sciences) at the CXC and GCE O’level examinations.
Achievements: Academic, culture and sports
Bridgeport is the recipient of a number of trophies won through the Academics, Sports, Performing Arts and the Vocational areas.
The school has excelled in academics, improving over the years. The CXC results has improved much over the years. We gained higher percentage averages than the national average in both Mathematics and English Language for many years. Bridgeport has gained national CXC performance awards in the areas of Technical Drawing, Food & Nutrition, and Clothing & Textiles. Students entered for external examinations performed well on an average although there is room for improvement. Some students have attained up to nine subjects in external examinations. Each year the Principal’s trophy is awarded to the best performer in CXC (for attainment of high quality and quantity passes). Many students have gone to further their studies at the tertiary level.
Bridgeport High School has been noted for pioneering and piloting several Ministry of Education (MOE) projects. Piloting projects include the Reform of Secondary Education (ROSE) programme, Multi-level Teaching, the Peace Corp programme and the Cuban Teachers’ programme. The school piloted theatre arts at CXC, and twelve of the fourteen students sitting the examination (June 2003) for the first time were successful.
In sports, the football team (boys) has won the Manning Cup and Walker Cup in 2001; reached the finals in 2003; and again have won the Manning Cup in 2006 beating Excelsior High; and tied with Glenmuir High for the Olivier Shield. The girl’s football team placed 3rd in the Captain’s Bakery competition in 2001. Our male track team placed second in the boys’ and girls’ championship with 138 points; while the girls’ track team placed 22nd with 8 points. The netball team placed 3rd in their zone also in 2001. The sports programme at Bridgeport has continued to improve and over the years has been a challenge to reckon with.
A school band was formed in September 2002. The band has been involved in many performances at school and in the community. It has won two gold medals and a trophy at the JCDC Festival competition in 2002 for Best Pop and Gospel Band. Our Dance, Drama and Speech groups have also experienced successes. They have won several gold, silver and bronze medals in the JCDC and other competitions.
The school’s rich history and background so far has created a substantive foundation for future generation. Many Jamaicans have come to recognize the sterling contributions the school has made and continues to make.
Our motto “Educacion total para personajes totales” is “Total Education for the Total Person”, can be achieved if we like those who have passed through our doors continue to work assiduously to make this school the best school of all.