Below find email I received from Franklin Knight on his thoughts on Calabar arising from a recent visit in January.
(I can't say Prof Franklin Knight as Orville has told me that titles are not be used on this forum. So instead I will describe Franklin as the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. Franklin was the Deputy Headboy at Calabar in 1960. I did say to Orville that I will use titles in fundraising solicitation emails but this email does not qualify as such.)
In my opinion, Franklin raises issues that require urgent attention and action. In particular, one urgent matter is the planning for the 100th anniversary celebrations in 2012
One clarification on the status of the Oasis Project. The well has been sum to a depth of 300 feet into an ample supply of water. A pump has been procured and installed. Negotiations with JPS on providing electricity for the pump was fell through because of the excessive charges that they were demanding. Instead negotiations are being pursued with a communications carrier (with a cell site on the Calabar campus) for a more economical source of electricity for the pump. The Oasis Project Committee had long decided to hold the public announcement of the Oasis Project with water flowing from the well in the background. This is expected in the near future.
Along with Winston Davis I visited Calabar on January 14th. We walked around the compound with two of the assistant principals (also old boys) and spoke with a few teachers. It was overwhelming to return to a school that now has almost 2000 students and has expanded so much physically as well as demographically, and I doubt very much that the numbers can be sustained without serious jeopardy to the high quality of education for which the school is noted. Having said that however, and with thoughts on some important projects to commemorate the centenary of its founding, these are the notes from my short visit.
1.The well has not been finished and so serves no present purpose. Yet it is apparent that completing the well and the requisite piping around the campus would enable the restoration of the ground that now look more like a desert than playing fields and green open spaces. This should be immediately undertaken without waiting for 2012.
2.The entrance and roadways need urgent attention. I would suggest a new single entrance/exit between the present entrance and exit and construct a one-way circular road around the campus. The road should be properly drained and enhanced with ornamental and fruit trees along its length.
3.The swimming pool, now encased in rusting barbed wire is a sorry and doleful sight. Restoring and expanding the swimming pool with the capacity to serve the neighborhood could be a significant contribution to the school, to the community, and to the country.
4.The compound could use a central high-rise or tower for the library as well as for bringing together all the various administrative offices of the upper, middle and lower schools. This should be a state-of-the-art, entirely green building that should be hurricane- flood- fire- and earthquake resistant, and have enough solar panels to produce electricity for the entire school and generate enough drinking water for all the needs of the whole school. I know a firm that makes such buildings, and what is more, is presently working in Jamaica. The idea is not as expensive as it seems and pays for itself in a very short time.
5.Finally, I think that serious thought should be given to restoring a boarding school. This should start with about 200 students and gradually build until about one-third of the school is comprised of boarders. I need not go into the advantages for the school and the country of a boarding school, but it would return Calabar to its traditional roots.
Time ran out before we could visit the music room. The buildings and grounds certainly need maintenance but given the heavy usage, are presently not in bad condition. If the old boys are to do something special for 2012 then we should all begin to think seriously of ways in which we can initiate planning. Three years is not a long time to plan for such a significant event.
Let me hear what you think of my observations. I am ready to help.
Franklin W. Knight
Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History
Department of History
Johns Hopkins University