From fax-machines to now: A history of the CHS school website

With the launch of CHS’ new website, we decided to take a trip down memory lane to the dawn of the Web—right back to 1998, when Cambridge High School first entered Cyberspace. This is the internet, after all, where everything that you do or say is recorded—so memory lane is pretty infallible.

Picture the time.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has just come out. Titanic had just won 11 Oscars at the 70th Academy Awards. Google, believe it or not, was founded. Everyone had the Rachel haircut. Clinton was the president, Jenny Shipley was our PM, the Teletubies premiered on TV3, oh—and this thing called the internet was starting to catch on. 

It was hardly popular, though. By 1996, Telecom (what Spark was called back then) had just started deploying its Hybrid Fibre Coax cable to homes in Auckland and Wellington. By 1997, it had just over 45,000 customers.

If you wanted to get on the “inter-Net”, you had to use either Internet Explorer or Netscape, the very first “browser.” And yet, amid all of this, https://camhigh.school.nz pops up, in late 1998.

The Internet Archive first records a snapshot of the webpage on the 12 December 1998—though it’s hard to say whether the school website existed before that. According to Whois, the international domain name lookup standard, “camhigh.school.nz” was first registered on 1997-11-19. For our digi-tech student readers, “bare bones html with the tiniest hint of CSS” is probably the best description. For everyone else, here’s a picture: 

The school’s tech department had clearly worked out how to centre-justify—they even coloured the text gold. That’s not all—there’s an email, and, of course, a Fax Machine number. Following the bright blue hyper-link to the CHS International Students page reminds us of the exponential growth of Cambridge—back then, CHS had only “800+ students.”

Any potential international students needn’t worry: “Our students may use the
school fax to contact parents.”

It’s July 06 of the new millennium before things start to shake up on camhigh.school.nz. There’s news of the upcoming Alumni reunion lunch: A powhiri, finger food—and, amazingly, a “fireworks display.”

(All in favour of more fireworks displays at official CHS events, say “aye.”)

By 2001, the school has clearly caught wind of these new fangled things called “images” and “fonts.” There’s pics of students doing important educational things, like reading paper books, and writing with pens on paper pads. 

On to the curriculum.

In year 9 and 10, English, Maths, Science, Social Science, PE, Arts and Technology as well as a second language are taken by all students. By year 11 and 12, students can specialise in “five subjects and physical education.” This was back when National Certificates were a thing.

No change until 2005, when the site gets its second big revamp. Let’s take a look at the current edition of the CHS Newsletter, in May 2005.

Senior examinations, god forbid, commenced on “28th June.” After ball parties are something the school is “concerned” about. A new library is about to be launched—it was missing for two years. This new library will be much bigger than the old one, as, wait for it—building extensions were made possible by the relocation of the “common room.” A common room! Sounds very Harry Potter. A new one of those, please, Mr Thornton.

By 2006, Phill McCreery has taken over as Principal. Mr Holton was DP, in Staff Administration. 

Mrs McKinnon was still curriculum co-ordinator. 

The head students looked swish in their white shirted uniforms. 

Now to August 2008:

Aaannnndd moving to 2009. The school production is Grease. As the school’s head of drama Nick Clothier noted in 2008, “after a bit of soul searching it has been decided that “schools version” is the way to go as the content of the actual stage show is a bit racy in parts and not 100% guarantee not to offend someone in the audience.” Not sure the same could be said for the Addams Family.

By 2010, Mr McDonnell has arrived on the scene, in his current position. Our head students have transitioned over to the current black-white uniform scheme. 

“Students can,” according to the cultural opportunities page, “join clubs for… the internet.”

Six years after 2005, we get a second site design revamp. Something happened that the Internet Archive was not happy about, so there’s not much to say about this year.

By 2013, the school had settled on a design they liked, and… stayed there. That beloved blue carpet background. Skewmorphic “read more” buttons. “Share on blogger” widgets. Up until, well, yesterday—that was the design still live on the website. 

There is, however, a wonderful article on 2013’s edition of the front page. it’s about Jack, the “accidental Shakespearian.” According to the article, Jack has: “never read an entire Shakespeare play in his life, he doesn’t know much about the famous man, and he had no intention of finding out either.” He “winged” a performance of King Lear, won big at the National Shakespeare Schools Production Week, and subsequently scored a place performing in London at the original Globe Theatre.

Pity the deliberate shakespearian:

“This unique international resource is dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote, an opportunity most Shakespearian actors could only dream of, but Jamie’s obvious talents appear to be taking him there effortlessly.  
There was, of course, no way he would turn it down. 
‘‘How often do you get to perform at the Globe?’’

Often, I imagine, if you’re Jamie.

And that’s it, really, until now. We’re turning another (web)page in camhigh.school.nz’s journey. It’s clean, high-res, and responsive. Ready, indeed, for the next millennium.