As the Form Four examinations enter its second week, alumni of St Patrick’s Iten will be watching how this year’s candidates keep the school’s rich culture of victory alive.
Trade PS Chris Kiptoo, who is also the school’s board of management chairman, is among the top ranking government officials who passed through St Patrick’s. Incidentally, most of the past and current political elite in Elgeyo Marakwet County, where the school is located, have passed through this school.
Senate Majority Leader and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Governor Alex Tolgos and Marakwet West MP William Kisang have individually come out to urge the candidates on.
Others are former MPs Jackson Kiptanui (Keiyo South) and Lucas Chepkittony (Keiyo North), former Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi, lawyers Katwa Kigen, Donald Kipkorir, Jinaro Kibet and Peter Mwangi. Others are cardiologists Charles Kariuki and Gerald Yonga as well as neurologists Githinji Kiboi and Eric Maina.
Just before the start of the national examinations, the schoolhas maintained a tradition that each year, KCSE candidates are taken on a rigorous walk dubbed ‘The Great Kapnarok Trek’ which has been attributed to the institution’s exemplary performance over the years. It is this tradition that continues to encourage excellence, says Murkomen.
“I wish the candidates victory in keeping with the school’sculture of excellence,” said the senator.
In the tradition that dates back several decades, just before the start of examinations, candidates in their hundreds walk a torturous 80km down and up the rugged Elgeyo escarpment.
“They pass through Rimoi National Reserve, crossing the crocodile-infested Kerio River to Lake Kapnarok where they conduct several activities and meditate on their journey since pre-school,” said Principal Peter Obwogo.
In an undertaking meant to give the students the opportunity to reflect, this year’s 243 candidates trekked to Lake Kapnarok two weeks ago.
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“It has become a sort of a ‘shrine’ to the school since the institution was established in 1961. And the outcome of this noble journey is that our students have continued to post brilliant results and enhance bonding with the staff and community,” said Mr Obwogo.
He said the journey is a reminder of a candidate’s long walk from pre-primary to high school and into the future they are anticipating.
“By passing through the rugged terrains and wildlife sanctuary and crossing crocodile-infested river, the candidates appreciate the nature and the outside world full of challenges. It is a pointer of the life they are expecting in future,” the principal said.
David Odhiambo, a candidate, says it is a walk they looked forward to.
“When we are told these prominent people participated in the trek, we get so inspired to be like them. The trek is a must to each student,” he said.
The school is reknowned for its sporting prowess. Among the sporting icons who honed their skills here are Prof Mike Boit (1972 Olympic silver medalist), Ibrahim Hussein (three-times Boston Marathon winner), Amb Peter Rono (1988 Olympic Gold) and Japheth Kimutai (World junior record holder and two-time African champion).
Others are Mathew Birir (1992 Olympic Gold medalist) and Wilson Boit Kipketer (2000 Olympic silver medalist.
The school also ruled the nation in volleyball for 17 years, 15 of them (1970-1984) in a row, lawn tennis (1971-1991), basketball and hockey.