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History

Old Schoolhouse

With a history which dates back to 1903 and embraces not only a variety of titles ranging from "Hamilton West District High School" to "The Hamilton High School" but co-educational as well, Hamilton Boys' High School, as we know it today, was officially opened in February 1955 by the Hon. R.M. Algie with a roll of 556 boys eager to add to the fine traditions of the combined School.

Embracing his opportunities, the first Headmaster, Mr H D Tait, set to with a will. With vision and skill, he transformed the expanse of empty fields into the majestic environment of gardens, trees and playing fields that can be admired in their maturity today. With his resignation for health reasons in 1957, his legacy was obvious. He left a School rich in the conservative traditions of academic excellence and sporting prowess - values which have been steadfastly adhered to by his successors.

With the appointment, in 1958, of Mr A G A Baigent as Headmaster, the School encountered a scholar, a sportsman, a lover of theatre, art, literature and music, and a most dedicated Headmaster. A man of considerable insight and vision, he oversaw extensive building development and construction, including the opening of Argyle House, the School's boarding establishment. He enjoyed a tremendous run of success in the fields of scholarship, cultural activities and sport, whilst building around him a highly competent and stable team of teachers. Excellence had, during his time, truly become enshrined as an achievable ambition within the School.

Mr Baigent's retirement saw the arrival of Mr Richard (Dick) Taylor as Headmaster. Mr Taylor, a man of considerable humanity, was entrusted with the task of seeing the School through the sweeping changes in Education and in society itself, and the consequent opportunities and challenges engendered by the Sixties. He performed this task admirably, ensuring the School maintained its strong value base, whilst being flexible enough to embrace the future.

Current campusMr Anthony (Tony) Steel, as the next Headmaster, was an ideal candidate to build successfully on the sound foundations established by his predecessors. Bringing to the position the youthful vigour that had earned Mr Steel New Zealand All Black and Athletics representative honours, he brought a refreshing vitality to his role as Headmaster. Many new initiatives were established, but regretfully for the School his work at Hamilton Boys' was interrupted with a beckoning call from Parliament.

With Mr Steel's departure, Hamilton Boys' High School was able to welcome one of its most loyal advocates to the Headmaster's office. Mr James Bennett, whose teaching career had demonstrated an enthusiastic dedication to the interests of the School, was selected from a talented and ambitious field of applicants from throughout New Zealand for the position of headmaster. Gifted with the capacity for hard work, highlighted in his twenty years of service as Manager of Argyle House, Mr Bennett proved to be a most able and committed leader. Under his careful guidance, the School embraced new curriculum developments and qualifications with a willingness that has it placed among national leaders in the field of education. All this whilst ensuring that the physical environs of the School make it the most attractive secondary school in the Waikato.

Mr Bennett's retirement in 1999 ended a significant era in the School's history. His thirty five years of service had made a significant impact on the way the School had been shaped in the 70's, 80's and 90's. His successor would need to be able to carry forward the rich traditions of the past, whilst also embracing contemporary theories of educational practice that would allow students in the new millennium to enjoy the very best "boys" education at Hamilton Boys'. The Board of Trustees embarked upon a lengthy and exhaustive campaign to find this person, a process that included a most rigorous and demanding interview structure. It was to the obvious delight of staff, students, parents and the Board that the successful applicant to guide Hamilton Boys' High School into the 21st Century was Mrs Susan Hassall.

Mrs Hassall, like her predecessor, has enjoyed a successful career at the School which spans some twenty years. A most competent teacher of English to Bursary level, Mrs Hassall has used her articulate writing and speaking skills in many positions of responsibility including 7th Form Dean and Assistant Principal. She is an avid sports fan, and can be found strolling the playing fields of the School on Saturday mornings supporting the extensive co-curricular programme.

If the School's history can be reflected on with pride, then under the auspices of Mrs Susan Hassall, its future can be anticipated with both confidence and excitement. Mrs Hassall is a firm believer in single sex education, and maintains a steadfast commitment to developing in her classrooms those teaching strategies which will allow all boys to reach their academic potential. The wealth of knowledge she offers the School in this area, through years of wide reading and research, will surely prove invaluable to the coming generation of students at Hamilton Boys' High School.