MISS M.WESTLAKE (1907 - 1918)
Miss Westlake had a missionary training at the Southlands College in Wimbeldon U.K. before her arrival in Southlands. She succeeded Miss Edith de Vos and rendered a very valuable service with much dedication during a period of eleven years. Her years of service could be considered as a landmark in the annals of the school as many important events took place during her era.
Along with the rapid development of the school in the early period of the 20th century, the management realised that a boarding house was very essential since there was a high demand for hostel facilities for students who traveled from far. Prior to 1914 the Principal had travelled to school from Richmond Hill, but towards the end of 1914, Miss Westlake realised the urgent need for a boarding house, and started a boarding house in Fort close to the school; with one teacher, Miss E.A Jansz and four girls, Miss WestlakeÂ too lived there. This became the beginning of the boarding house. When the requests for hostel facilities were in great demand the hostel was moved from house to house until a permanent building was put up in the mid of 20th century.
Another major event during this period is the setting up an Old Pupils Association which gave all assistance to the school in the hours of need. On 20th June 1914, the Association was formed. Past pupils united to work for the welfare of the school.
Miss Westlake was anxious to improve the school, so she wanted to find comfortable shelter for small Kindergarten children. At the same time, she wanted to help students to improve their knowledge of science. A new building was essential. She had to find financial assistance to fulfil her desires. Finances were available from several sources. With the capable management of the school, funds by Miss Westlake, a special grant from the Government, and immense assistance given by the O.P.A., with their collection of money from numerous fancy bazaars in aid of the building fund and funds from well-wishers, Miss Westlake built a Kindergarten unit for the kids and a science laboratory to teach science. This provided better facilities and improved the standard of the school. Later, Miss G.M. Edwards (Mrs. Pearson) introduced Science in to the curriculum and encouraged students to learn Science. This made it possible to upgrade the school at a latter stage.
Miss Westlake helped the students to acquire a variety of skills. She wished to make them more dutiful citizens of the country. The Girl Guide movement was introduced to Ceylon in 1917, and in the same year, Miss Westlake was able to form a Girl Guide Company at Southlands. They became the first Girl Guide Company in the Southern Province in 1917. Miss Freethy, who was on the tutorial staff under Miss Westlake, became the captain of the Girl Guide Company and Miss M. Ludovici and Miss D. Paranavithana assisted her as lieutenants. By 1919 the company had six patrols consisting of 35 guides. Our past school magazines report how past Southlanders have enjoyed Guiding during their school life. Picnics and sport activities were part of their programme that first Girl Guides have performed their duties well throughout all these years up to now.
Miss Westlake was a highly respected and much loved Principal who gave immense assistance for the development of the school. Girls High School grew and grew very rapidly under her management. Her successors followed her example and introduced more subjects to the school curriculum. Soon the school became a well recognised educational institute in the Southern Province. During the first quarter of the 20th century, a new era dawned to the life of the school. Miss Westlake’s outstanding service during a period of 11 years is highly praised in the annals of the school.