The genesis of the Episcopal High School stems from a visit made by Bishop Charles Clifton Penick to Robertsport, Capemount County in 1878, to establish a Protestant Episcopal mission and school. With a letter of introduction from President Gardner to the Superintendent of the territory, Honorable W. Diggs, the Bishop was well received and supported by the local authorities. He selected thirty acres of public land on the northwestern portion of Cape Mount, with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Piso. On June 4, 1878, clearance of the new site was begun for a mission to “educate young men and women in an environment that was conducive to the tenants of Christianity”; it was named St. John’s School.
Initially, the focus was on the inhabitants of this geographical region of Liberia; members of the Vai and Gola tribes. However, as the mission developed and achieved its goals, word of its quality of education and discipline quickly spread throughout Liberia, prompting students from across the country to travel to Robertsport in the quest for a better education. From 1881 to 1903 St. John’s School (for boys) operated in conjunction with a girls’ department called St. George’s Hall. In 1904, as enrollments increased, there developed the need for a separate location to accommodate the growing female population. This lead to the establishment of the House of Bethany at a separate site; it was formally opened in 1905. Both schools operated at the elementary level until 1932, when two years were added at the high school level in order to better prepare young men, who would in turn go out and begin the process of educating the Golas and Vais. All high school classes were held at the St. Johns’ campus until, at the request of the principal of Bethany, they were moved to that campus. In 1936 the two schools became co-educational, and in 1936, they were formally combined to form the Episcopal High School.
The current configuration of the school now has all high school students attending classes at the Episcopal High School located on the St. John’s Campus, which is still used as the boarding campus for boys, and the elementary school students attend classes on the House of Bethany Campus utilizing the former Episcopal High School building. House of Bethany is still the boarding campus for girls.
Over the years, St. John’s has transformed boys into men, while the House of Bethany transformed girls into women. In the process, students acquired several of life’s most desirable attributes, such as hard work, honesty, self-discipline, mutual respect, perseverance, integrity, and a sense of community; for them, “EHS” was their “right of passage” to success. As a result, several of Liberia’s prominent educators, engineers, agriculturists, biologists, doctors, musicians, politicians, lawyers, geologists, bankers, nurses, economists, priests, and civil servants, all graduated from the Episcopal High School.
Like the rest of Liberia, the Episcopal High School’s long tradition of producing quality individuals to serve the nation was interrupted by fourteen years of civil war and strife. The local citizens, who sought safety in other areas of the country, evacuated Robertsport; and so were the campuses of St. Johns and the House of Bethany. Structures were either looted by vandals, or simply deteriorated and taken over by the tropical bush. The pristine campuses that were once meticulously maintained and manicured have become ghost towns of dilapidated buildings. For the few individuals who have returned to survey the areas, the experience is described as heart wrenching and disturbing. The photographs on this site speak for themselves.
A new day has dawned in Liberia. We have new leadership, and a new mandate to rebuild every institution, within the nation. The burden of rebuilding Liberia rests, to a great extent, upon the educational institutions like the Episcopal Elementary School, and the Episcopal High School to resume the training of its future leaders.