History of Willowdene

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Willowdene Group of Schools is a Seventh-day Adventist Institution. It is owned and operated by Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and has been accredited by the Ministry of Education in Jamaica as well as the accrediting body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is also a member of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association. Willowdene High School was the brain child of Pastor H.S. Walters, who at that time was the President of Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He had the concept of a Seventh-day Adventist school for the parish of Saint Catherine and so, after much ground work was laid, the School began on January 11, 1965. A dream was realized.

The first principal was Pastor Leroy Carter and the first teachers were Mrs. Gloria Grant, Mrs. Iris Henry, Mrs. Claire Cole and Mr. Leighton McKnight. The school started with forty-four students. Grades One to Five and Forms One to Three were the initial classes. Forms Four and Five were added accordingly. For ten years, the High School was housed in the auditorium while the Preparatory School was kept in a small building behind the auditorium. In the 1976-1977 academic year, classes began in the new High School building. In 1995, classes began in the new Preparatory School building with students from Kindergarten to Grade Six. Throughout the years, the Institution has achieved success both academically and spiritually as a result of many hard-working principals, teachers and support staff members. The following are some of the highlights in the history of the Institution: 

  • In 1967 the School began writing the Cambridge General Certificate of Education Examinations, (G.C.E.); 
    In 1969 the first graduation for the High School took place under the direction of Mr. Zadock Reid, Principal; 
  • In 1977 the first graduation for the Preparatory Department took place; 
  • In 2001 a pre-school department was added; 
  • In 2003 construction of a two-storey Science complex began; 
  • In 2005 the Science Complex was completed. This includes a Biology and Chemistry laboratory, a Physics laboratory, and two computer laboratories; 
  • In 2005 the 40th anniversary of the School was observed in a year-long celebration during which the Science Complex was officially opened; 
  • In 2005, the name of the Institution was changed from Willowdene High School to Willowdene Group of Schools;
  • In 2007 the Early Childhood Division was established; 
  • In 2008 the auditorium was expanded and a canteen and cafeteria were added to the building; 
  • In 2010 the Computer Laboratory designated for the Preparatory School was refurbished and officially opened. 
  • In 2011 the Skills Training Division was opened. The Division trains adult students in three areas which are certifiable by the HEARTT Trust NTA. The areas are Early Childhood Education Level 1, Food & Beverage Preparation Levels 1 & 2 and Housekeeping Level 1.

Today the Institution stands proud as a group of schools with four divisions namely the Early Childhood Division, the Preparatory School, the High School and the Skills Training Division. All four divisions are housed in separate buildings, however, three of the schools are on the same campus, while one, the Skills Training Division is located on a different property. Although Willowdene Group of Schools has come a long way from the small one-building entity with twenty-four students and five teachers, the Institution is still cognizant of the fact that it has a mission to provide true education, as the physical, mental, social and spiritual development fuse to make each student a well-rounded individual, a young person who will develop a sense of dedication, commitment, responsibility, integrity and self-discipline, thereby enabling him to render unselfish service to God, his country and humanity!