|St. Patrick's High School, Iten|
Location of the school
ST. PATRICK'S, Iten, is located just north of the equator, 350 km from Nairobi, in the largest province of Kenya, called Rift Valley Province. The nearest big town is Eldoret, 35 km away to the south. Iten is a small township in Keiyo district, perched on the edge of the Kerio Valley - a major branch of the Great Rift Valley of Eastern Africa -
and it offers spectacular views of the mountains, scarps and semi-deserts of this part of the world. The school and township are at an altitude of 2400m and the climate can be quite cold and wet, particularly in the “rainy season” [Average temp 12C – 14 C;. Mean min 6C – 8 C.; Rainfall 1500mm p.a.; Evaporation 1400 mm p.a.]
The surrounding areas
To the west and south, the surrounding lands, called the Uasin-Gishu plateau, are fertile and support a variety of farm animals (mainly cows and sheep) and crops (mainly maize, wheat and beans). This rich area was formerly farmed by white farmers from Britain and South Africa; but few of them now remain. Eldoret town, the farming and administrative centre, was, in the late nineteenth century, a staging post on the long ox-wagon road from Mombasa to Uganda. Later it became a station on the single-track railway line. Now it is one of the biggest towns in Kenya with a new, small international airport. Some progressive farmers have moved into flowers and horticulture to take advantage of the airport as an export gateway to overseas markets.
To the North of Iten the land gradually rises even higher through forests of indigenous trees [Podocarpus and pencil cedar (Juniperus) etc], plantations of Pinus and cypress (Cupressus) and bleak high merino-sheep country to the tops of the Cherangani Hills (3500m) in neighbouring Marakwet district. The Marakwet tribe is often in militant conflict with its more northerly neighbour, the Pokot people. The Cherangani Hills and, 60 km to the west, the huge brooding bulk of Mt. Elgon (4300m --- the largest extinct volcano in Africa) are amongst the highest mountains on the continent and they support a strange, unique flora on their summits.
To the east the land falls away sharply in the form of the Keiyo-Marakwet escarpment, which is the western wall of the Kerio valley. A thirtyminute drive from Iten will take one down this escarpment through a vertical height of 1200 m and through several climatic and vegetation zones. The valley floor is semi-arid and always hot [Av. temp 22C – 24C; mean max 28C – 30C; Rainfall 900mm p.a.; Evaporation 2000mm p.a.]. The predominant vegetation is African thornbush (Acacia spp) and xerophytic plants such as Sansievera and Aloes. Here, the sparse population depends for its livelihood on goat-herding and honey-collecting; though, in the future, the wild animals such as elephant and buffalo might attract tourism. The other side of the valley (clearly seen from Iten), the eastern wall, beyond the Kerio river, are the Tugen Hills of Baringo district. This is the home of the Tugen tribe, from which comes the present President of Kenya. Lake Baringo is famous for its crocodiles, hippo and rich variety of birds.
The students and their background
St. Patrick’s High School is a boys-only boarding secondary school with a student population of 500. Less than 10% of those joining the school have their home more than 60 km away; the great majority come from Keiyo district and the surrounding districts of Marakwet,and Uasin Gishu ( and, to a lesser extent, Baringo and Nandi). Nevertheless, within this small area there can be considerable disparity of wealth and living standards; those from Kerio valley can be very poor while some from the productive farmlands of Uasin-Gishu may be comparatively rich. Most parents are not in formal employment and rely on their farms and livestock to support their families. Most live in a rural area far from tarmac roads and mains electricity and very few have motor vehicles or telephones. However, about 2% of the students may come from relatively affluent urban backgrounds in Eldoret, Nairobi, etc.
The teachers in the school are 28 in number, with about an equal number of supporting staff. Most, but not all, of the teachers live in staff housing on the school compound, which has an area of about 20 hect. The teachers come from widely different tribal and social backgrounds (including one Irishman).
The school farm occupies an additional 30 hect. The farm has cattle sheep and pigs and the usual crops of the area. Produce and income from the farm help to reduce the school fees which students pay to about US$ 340 per year. Founding and sponsorship of the school The school is sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret and was founded in February 1961 ---- so, in 2001, it was celebrating its 40th birthday. This, by Kenya standards, is quite old, because in 1960 there were only two secondary schools for African boys in the whole of northern Kenya (north of Naivasha ----- a place famous for its flamingos). Although Catholic sponsored, the school is multi-denominational and there is a strong (Protestant) Christian Union.
The school’s motto is “Excellence in all Endeavours” and, right from its beginnings, it has been an institution dedicated to a holistic education --- involving not just academics, but also strong moral (Christian) principles and achievement in sports.
Generally it is amongst the top 100 secondary schools in the country (out of 2200) when the leaving certificate examination results are announced. Subjects studied include: Mathematics, English and Kiswahili (all compulsory), History, Geography, Christian Religious Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Accounting, Drawing and Design, and Woodwork. An individual student does 8 of these subjects in his final examinations. German language is done by a small number of boys, but this will soon be phased out because of curriculum changes imposed by the government. We are famous for the annual “Iten Maths Contest”, a national competition of secondary schools, which is set, organised and judged by St. Patrick’s. The contest is now 25 years old.
In sports, the school has, traditionally, been strong in hockey, volleyball and basketball. In its history, St. Patrick’s has taken the national volleyball title 17 times – 15 times in succession! In 2002 the “Saints” were the hockey champions of Rift Valley Province, and the previous year we held that title in basketball. Currently we are the defending champions of both the Biwott Tournament (Tambach H.S.) and the Nakuru Open Tournament (Nakuru H.S.) Last year, we were also the Rift Valley champions in Lawn Tennis (doubles).
However, without a doubt, it is in the realm of athletics that we are most famous, having produced so many Olympians and World champions, including Ibrahim Hussein (3 times winner of the Boston Marathon), Peter Rono (Olympic gold, 88), Japhet Kimutai (World junior record holder; 2 times all-Africa champ), David Kiptoo, Mike Kosgei, William Kosgei (World junior champ, 88), Joseph Tengelei (World champ 95), Mike Murei, Mathew Birir (Olympic gold, 92), the Cheruiyot twins (World champions, 83), Godfrey Kiprotich, Wilson Kipketer (3 times World champ; holder of 3 world records), Wilson Boit (Olympic silver, 2000; World record holder) and William Chirchir (World Junior champ 98; World junior record holder).
More recently, William’s brother, Cornellius Chirichir became the World Junior Champion in the 1500m in Santiago, Chile, in 2000, and a year later picked up gold in both the 800m and 1500m at the all-Africa Junior Championships in Mauritius. At the same games, Mike Kibiego (currently in Form 3) won a silver medal in the 3000m steeple-chase and went on to become the World Junior Champion at that event in Kingston, Jamaica, last year. A Form 2 student, Isaac Songok, represented his school and Kenya at the games in Jamaica after having become World Junior Champion at his distance (1500m) in Hungary in 2001. The sporting future continues to look bright for the school!
Computer Dept. and Communications
Some of our old students now living in the USA have set up a web-page for the school. Although in its infancy, it is hoped that this site will become a focus for our old boys around the world and possibly a forum through which friends of St. Patrick’s will be able to help the school develop. Recently, we successfully networked 3 PCs in the administration block and 5 of the 14 PCs in the Computer Department. Our intention is for the students to use these 5 machines to communicate with our partner school in Denmark and generally exploit the enormous resources of the Internet.
St. Patrick's High School,
P.O. Box 310,
Tel. (Off.) 053-42010/0733-783589
Tel. (Hse.) 053-42005/0733-576175
Source: www.youthmeetingyouth.org/kenya/schools/school4/skabelon.html 04.06.2007