The Batangas National High School, in the beginning a high school only in name, was established in June, 1902 under the administration of the first American Superintendent of Schools, Molton Colton, and with Harry Theobald as its principal and Messrs E.C. Hammond and Hugo Latorre, instructors.
During its early years, the high school occupied or rented temporary buildings. Soon after the American occupation, the classes were conducted in the residence of Don Fruto Villanueva, situated at the corner of Evangelista and Prieto Streets. Later it was moved to the nipa barracks on Plaza Rizal, then to the large house belonging to the Genato family at the back of the old Provincial government building, where it remained until the present high school plant was ready for occupation.
When General Bell was in command of the military forces in Batangas, he collected and administered, in the interest of the people gathered in the concentration camps, a large sum of money. When peace was declared this money was turned over to the civil government, and by Act No. 775 of the Civil Commission amended by Act No. 1251 applied toward the construction of a provincial school building.
Bell’s first name is not given in the yearbook. A general named J. Franklin Bell is in the book “Battle for Batangas” by Glenn Anthony May, a professor of history at the University of Oregon. The book devotes a substantial section to a description of General Bell and his exploits in the American war efforts in the Province.
In November 1904, the present grounds were purchased and early in 1905 Governor General Luke E. Wright laid the cornerstone. In January 1906, the building was completed and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.
From 1906-1908 there was a gradual increase in the scope of school work. During the school year 1907-1908 third year instruction was offered, but from 1909-1911 only first year high school was offered. In 1912, through the untiring effort of Mr Shoens who was then the principal, complete high school work was offered, and in 1913, the first graduates, numbering eleven, were turned out. Since then the enrolment has increased.
The 1956 Yearbook lists Joseph Johnson, 1911, as the writer of the high school hymn to the tune of The Orange and the Black of Princeton University.
To cope with an ever-growing population, the old provincial government in front of Plaza Mabini housed most of the first year classes from 1928-1930. In answer to the problems of accommodation, an imposing administration building was erected in 1932.
Throughout the American and Commonwealth periods many students from all over the Province came to Batangas to study in the only public high school in the Province. This trend continued even after the war during the ’40s, and <@145>50s.
In 1932, under the administration of Christian Reimeirs, the Batangas High School was made an experiment center in the use of type A curriculum wherein vocational courses such as home economics, woodworking, horticulture, automotive, poultry and swine, agronomy, retail merchandising, were offered. Soap making, typewriting and stenography, ceramics, electricity and others were optional subjects. In 1937, a team of visiting secondary school principals and superintendents observed the said curriculum in operation in this school and found the results highly encouraging. The academic curriculum was then replaced by the general curriculum in all public secondary schools in the island.
The war, which interrupted the smooth progress of education in the Philippines, left changes in the Batangas High School. On December 8, 1941, Conrado Ginelo, then the principal, made known to the students that since the United States and the Philippines were at war with Japan, the school must be closed.
In July 1945, the Batangas High School opened for the first time since liberation. This school had not even a piece of chalk to begin with. Textbooks were few and references were totally lacking. Under the excellent leadership of Juan Gonzaga, who was then the principal,, the condition of the Batangas High was gradually improved. The enrolment rose to an unprecedented peak of more than two thousand. A fact which necessitated the use of dilapidated buildings.
Through the initiative of M. Hornilla, the year 1947 saw the completion of the annex to the Home Economics building. The following years were filled with an even more extensive expansion and beautification program. In June 1949, classes first occupied the one story structure between the Home Economics and Trade Department. The rock garden, the pet project of the Science Department, was constructed. The same year also found the conversion of the space between the two concrete stairways in front of the main building into a platform and the erection of a flagpole. The steel and stone fences round the campus were completed before the close of the school year 1949-1950, under the initiative of the principal, Felipe Antolin. The lunch counter and the retail store catered to the public in the beginning of 1950.
School year 1951-1952 found two improvements: the erection of a drinking fountain and the installation of iron gates.
Succeeding the brilliant leadership of Felipe Antolin, Jose de Leon assumed the responsibilities of the principal from the latter part of 1957 until his death in August 1966. Since then, the administration of the Batangas High School was given to many and equally competent persons. From August to November of the same year, Galo Manalo served as the officer-in-charge; in December 1966, Cresencia Lota served as the principal; from January 1967 to June 18, 1969, Saturnina Amurao served as the officer in charge; and from June 19, 1969 up to 1992, Mariano Balba was principal.
It was during the latter years that it was found out that the Provincial government could not support the school. After several student demonstrations, confrontations with teachers, students and provincial officials, the City Board headed by the late Mayor Pedro Tolentino decided to subsidize the school in the amount of P163,186.00 in the school year 1970-71. During the school year 1971-72 the school was under the administration of the City by virtue of the lease contract between the Provincial and City governments. The City aided the Batangas High School in the amount of P104,000 and the following school year, in the amount of P100,000, still under the old lease contract, until it became a national high school in 1972. The nationalization bill was sponsored by congressman Expedito Leviste with the able follow-up by principal Balba.
Under the administration of Balba new buildings were constructed and old ones were renovated. Foremost among these is the new Administration Building which was completed in December. Electric lights were installed in all buildings and ceilings were put up.
The reconstruction of the old Mabini Building was made possible through Public Works Assistant Director Carlos Castillo. A Social Studies Center was set up through the initiative of the teachers of the Social Studies department.
Another accomplishment of Balba was the opening of the evening classes. Starting with 108 students in school year 1974-75, the evening session boasted a high 1,029 enrolment during its peak years. The night classes were phased out slowly in the latter part of the nineties, with the last batch graduating last year.
After Balba’s retirement in June 26, 1992, Aurora Babasa took over. She was principal up to January 2, 1994. Miss Babasa was succeeded by Donato Bueno from January 3, 1994 up to September 15, 1999.
Under his administration the school was adjudged as one of the cleanest and most effective high schools in Region 4. It was also under his term when the science, culture and arts classes were organized. From September 21, 1999 up to the present Antonio Dilay has been principal. He introduced the four-by-four schedule wherein students study four subjects in the first semester and another four in the second semester. This year student’s subject schedules reverted to the old method of studying all the subjects throughout the year. Four subjects are on an MWF schedule and the other four on a TTH schedule.
Now almost a century old the Batangas National High School still stands as a worthy institution in the education of the youth. It can proudly say that through its portals have passed countless men and women who have become pillars of the nation.