4:30 P.M. Sunday 8th December 1940 marks the establishment date of an English Secondary school branch of the Ananda College Colombo in Pannipitiya. spanning across 18 acres (73,000 m2) of land owned by Anagarika Dharmapala this establishment later donated by the Don Hewawitharana Family through the Mahabodhi Society to Dharmapala Vidyalaya.
The height of World War II resulted in a tense atmosphere across the island, the fear of conflict breaking out resulted in the teachers and students of Ananda College taking refuge in the Dharmapala Vidyalaya premises as a precautionary measure.
In order to continue the education procedures as unhindered as possible Cadjan sheds were built within the premises in order to accommodate for the students, later the principal of Ananda College, Mr. P.De.SKularathna oversaw the project to construct six permanent classrooms for the school's primary section.
The Dharmapala Vidyalaya began operations on 8th January 1941 with the vision of a mixed school that would conduct classes from Kindergarten to the Matriculation Form in English Medium. The school's procedures were initially managed by the Buddhist Theosophical Society (B.T.S), under the direct supervision by Principal of Ananda College Colombo.
During the ceremonial opening of Dharmapala Vidyalaya the Hon. Minister of Health W. A. de Silva and Dr. Walter Wijeynaike, The General Manager Of Buddhist Schools also graced us with their presence to oversee the event.
The opening day for the Dharmapala Vidyalaya was extremely well received by the local communities resulting in the admittance of students from several surrounding areas such as Pannipitiya, Homagama, ,Padukka who wished to receive education under the Dharmapala Vidyalaya. The first male student who was registered would be Somabandu Vidyapathi who completed his education and moved onto to becoming a renowned painting and sculpting artist.
The Dharmapala Vidyalaya was founded by Mr. P.De.S.Kularathne and Dr. J.E.Jayasooriya. Mr. B.A.Hons a British gentlemen acted as the first principal of of Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya and the following members joined the academic staff.
Mr. R.L.N.De.Zoysa -Intermediate In Arts, B.A
Mr. E.Flesinger - Trained Teacher
Mr. M.T. Peries - Trained Teacher
Miss. Soma Wijesinghe - Trained Teacher
Mr. D.D. Arangala - Intermediate In Arts
Mr. H.D.D. Gunasekara - Bilingual Trained (Gampaha)
Mr. D.A. Jayamanna - Certificated Sinhalese Teacher
Dharmapala Vidyalaya was upgraded to the status of a National School in the year 1991 and has since maintained its excellent standards of education to now grow into one of the leading Buddhist schools and the largest CO-ED (mixed) School in Sri Lanka. Nowadays Dharmapala Vidyalaya has over 4500+ students enrolled and an academic body of over 200 teaching staff that provide education for students from the first grade up to university entrance.
Important historical milestones
06.12.1941 1st anniversary celebrations together with the prize giving under the patronage
of Sir Baron Jayatileke.
04.02.1947 Establishing the Past Pupils Association.
14.03.1948 Commencement of building 6 classrooms. Mr. A F Molamure participated.
01.07.1948 Commencement of the construction of the playground. Mr. E P A Fernando
06.03.1949 Laying the foundation stone for the students’ hostel.
13.03.1950 Construction of the Bio laboratory from the donations of Mr. Fred Madanayake.
06.06.1951 First soccer match in the newly build ground.
28.10.1951 First cricket match in the ground against Mahinda College Galle.
25.02.1952 Issuing the first school magazine “Dhampal Vidhuhal Sagarava”
01.05.1955 “Nethra Pinkama” and the pirith chanting ceremony under the patronage of
Ven. Bambarande Siri Seevali and Mr. Dudley Senanayake.
06.12.1958 Inauguration of D C Lawris memorial library built by the Past Pupils Association.
14.06.1962 Dharmapala Vidyalaya was taken over by the government
06.09.1965 25 year anniversary celebration. His Excellency Mr. Wlliam Gopallawa –
Governor-General of Ceylon participated as the Chief Guest.
06.09.1965 Publishing the special Gazette notification 14456 on acquiring the Dharmapala Vidyalaya by the government.
16.10.1984 Unveiling the Dharmapala Statue built by the Past Pupils Association by Minister
22.01.1987 Re-commencement of the Primary section.
08.12.1990 Dharmapala Vidyalaya 50th anniversary official stamp issue
22.11.1991 “Dharmapala 51” Carnival & Trade fair.
09.03.1997 Laying the foundation stones of The Past Pupils office.
07.11.2010 Earning ISO 9001:2008 quality certification.
28.02.2011 Inauguration of the Swimming pool by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse- the President of Sri Lanka.
06.02.2012 First Big Match cricket encounter with Rahula College ,Matara at the Uyanwatta stadium
2013.10.10 Re-acquiring of the SLIDA building.
13.01.2014 Opening of the Indoor Badminton Courts.
06.03.2013 Inauguration of the Gymnastic Gymnasium.