Saints' old boys set to raise Sh4.5m fees for needy students

Students and teachers during a past meeting at St Patrick’s High School. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The name St Patrick’s High School in Elgeyo Marakwet County conjures up memories of globe-trotting sportsmen who smashed world records and rich names of alumni, both in the private and public sectors.

Started in 1961 by a group of Catholic missionaries from the United Kingdom, the school, which is tucked at the high altitude Iten grounds, has in a traditional way of excellence been the envy of Kenyans who wish to have their sons turned from boys to men.

From the sports arena to academia, the private sector, and politics, the alumni from St Patrick’s High School popularly known as the Saints, have been the awe of every school across the country.

Determined to keep its name as a school of unique standing, it now targets to mobilise Sh4.5 million in its fourth charity to help the less fortunate among their students.

The school has topped the world athletics charts for close to four decades, putting up a strong sporting empire apart from its academic prowess.

Saints’ products include Mike Boit (800m) at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Peter Rono (800m) and Ibrahim Hussein in Seoul 1988, Mathew Birir (3,000m steeplechase) and Nickson Kiprotich (800m) at Barcelona 1992 and in Sydney 2000, there were Wilson Kipketer of Denmark (800m) and Wilson Boit Kipketer (3,000m).

In the charity event, the school targets to raise Sh4.5 million for school fees for the less fortunate at Saints and other schools as well.

“We began the charity edition in 2021 where we collected Sh144,000. Four years down the line, we are looking to bigger things,” said St Patrick’s School Principal Peter Rotich.

On Tuesday, the school will hold a thanksgiving for former students who performed well in academics and athletics.

“This term alone, we have raised Sh1.1 million from students, teachers and a contribution from Roads CS Kipchumba Murkomen. We will have an alumni get-together in May and we hope to raise more,” said Mr Rotich.

Brother Colm O’Connel, a veteran coach and athletics scientist based at the school, has been quite instrumental in the growth of athletics.

Other old boys include Murkomen, Treasury PS Chris Kiptoo, former Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi, veteran lawyer Jinaro Kibet, former StanChart CEO Philip Etemesi and former Kenya Power CEO James Gichuru.

In May 2010, Dr Kiptoo assumed the mantle of BoG Chair from Jinaro Kibet, greatly breathing new momentum into the school. 

"My mission was to awaken the institution from the hiatus of slumber in synergy with other stakeholders. The school needed a face-lift in all aspects," reminisced the PS.

He then undertook to step up the pace of redevelopment and to help chart a new direction that would embrace all stakeholders, including the now-active alumni.

"We brought together all the stakeholders and started developing an all-encompassing vision: a Strategic Plan to capture the school’s collective aspiration for the years 2011-2015," said Dr Kiptoo, who has since retired as the BoM chair.

Through this collaboration, we refurbished dilapidated buildings, built the first modern high-capacity dormitory, installed high-pressure steel water tanks, paved the pathways, constructed a new admin block with an equipped library, tarmacked the school access road as well and built a museum and a hall of fame to document the rich history.

"I am proud to see it emerging as the powerhouse it is known to be," said Dr Kiptoo, who will be honoured in May for his enormous contribution.

Dr Kiptoo said his vision is to see the institution become a sports centre of excellence. "I have approached the Ministry of Education to consider funding it through the sports fund. This will go a long way in nurturing talents and augment its sporting prowess," he said.