I have introduced the school as an academic giant and I hope the school will grow from strength to strength and even help in setting up Post Secondary Education with support from the Nyeri County Government which I hope to be an active member of. I would wish to turn to my topic of today ‘pursuing our personal best and setting the bar high’. In an academic giant like St. Mary’s one of the risks we face is failure of individuals to perform at their best and failure to add value in four years.
Kindly everyone put up your left hand, followed by the right hand… The students we especially need to see your hands in the air…. How many of us wear a wrist watch? We can see how many of us apply the personal time rule. Personal best starts with using the 24 hours in a day given equally to all of us very effectively and wisely. We must use our 8 hours to give our best. Our utmost best. For this we need to be guided and to have good plans. For the students this means having a personal revision and reading time table and plan. Each one of us has a destiny. Each one of us should reach their destiny and achieve their personal best.
Personal best for the students means if you are an A student you get an A and nothing short of an A. Personal best means you stretch yourself to achieve what you are meant to achieve. We are like rubber bands especially our brains, they can stretch and stretch. We need to stretch and stretch and make hard-work a key part of our lives. Hard-work and going the extra mile. This is important now when we are at school but also in future. Even in the university and later in employment hard-work is critical. For the academically gifted life generally works out well but hard work is a must to achieve personal best. Parents, we say in Kikuyu, Mwana uri kio ndagaga muthambia. In our traditional stories hard work is really emphasized. Even in the Bible. Hard-work was good then and is still good. Hard-work goes hand in hand with finding new ways of doing things more effectively. Being creative and pro-active rather than laid back. Taking leadership and taking charge is part OF hard-working and diligence. The people who are moving ahead in the modern world are called smart workers. Where one has SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and with a Time line.
Personal best is accompanied by values and other life principles that are critical. I am glad that St. Mary’s is already way ahead of the Country in inculcating values and responsibility in the students. Parents we give them boys they give us men. In our Country now values have become critical. Infact they are now a must as per the Constitution the Supreme Law of the Land. The mother of all laws in Kenya requires people to have values and especially leaders. I see a lot of leaders in our midst. In the students body I see good leaders, future Governors, Senators, MPs and even private sector corporate leaders. The next Michael Joseph, Manu Chandaria, Jimnah Mbaru and others is sitting right here. Having come from the same County as the current President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki it appears we have the right genes and environment, we could have a president right here too. But ladies and gentlemen, we need to first inculcate the right values.
The country has suffered by having educated people who have no values. People who take money away from public coffers. This will be no more. The Leadership and Integrity Chapter in the Constitution is clear on the values and morals we want of our leaders. The famous Chapter 6. In attaining our personal best we have to accord to Chapter 6. We need to be honest and morally upright over and above having the necessary education qualifications. We must be men and women of substance and integrity. values like honesty become paramount. Article 10 of the New Constitution further gives a list of our national values including equality and public participation. The principles are captured for the Nation, its people and its leaders. We must learn and practice these principles as we set up Counties.
It means for us in school now seeing that the generation ahead of us delivered the New Constitution; we have to deliver implementation of the Constitution for the good of our country. We have to say with JFK Kennedy, President of the United States “Ask not what your country can do for but what you can do for your country.” We have to ask ourselves that question. What are we doing for our country? Personal best laden with values will deliver the New Kenya we are all yearning for. A Kenya where every family is assured of basics of food, water, education and healthcare.
When we talk about values and life principles, we mean that you care about your neighbor and brother; you employ servant leadership and take care of resources including time and money. These things are not learnt later in life, they are life habits acquired when one is in school like you are today. We have to acquire a set or positive personal life values. For us women and with me now vying for the Women Representative Seat, personal values also mean respect for women as the members of the opposite sex and the fairer gender. We must have values that allow for respectful relationships between men and women where all are equal.
The values and principles around pursuit of our personal best would also allow us to perform the multiple roles with ease and success. We need to the best students, best parents, best teachers and best citizens of Nyeri County and the Country, Kenya. A best student follows and obeys schools rules and wears the prescribed school uniform… I was going to mention that as I was once a Guest of Honour at Othaya Girls High School during Prize Giving Day. While there sitting at the front I saw a male student naturally since it was a girls' school and it was not holiday he looked interesting plus he had brownish shoes and was wearing a chain. The uniform was Grey trousers, light blue shirt and a maroon jumper/sweater (depending on where you went to primary school and who your teacher was!). For a moment I thought he was Karima Boys Student and since am on the Board I was a little troubled by his demeanour. I was relieved to learn he was a St. Mary’s Boys’ students. Long story short am not sure he was a best student! Best Student would take cognizance of his environment, context and surroundings and dress and behave appropriately. The values and principles would help us make the right judgments at every point.
A best parent is the one who not only pays fees and other school requirements but also takes the parenting role seriously. For instance and I am guilt here too Parents need to read the school newsletters and check report forms. We have to encourage our children to pursue their personal best.
For the teachers personal best also means going out of your way to help individual students and using positive reaffirming language at all stages. Some teachers adopt rather mean personalities, working only as far as the pay goes. Teaching is a noble job, among the oldest professions in the Bible. We appreciate our teachers a lot especially the teachers who set the bar higher for us. I remember when I was in High School just breezing past the years, it was in third form when I was discovered and encouraged to work hard for a professional course like law by my class teacher Mr. Nyaga (we used to call him shaggy for the bushy beard… nicknaming teachers is a great past time in schools… we had cucu tiny – Biology teacher who kept saying cells are so so tiny… Our head teacher was nicknamed Jogger… for jogging… the Deputy Daddy and so on… At the University the nicknaming is not much though we had a good saying… All teachers bring joy to this class some when they come I others when they leave!... At the university if you are late for class never ask a colleague what they have learnt… even after one hour of a good professors lecture, a friend says you didn’t miss much… to be best students don’t miss university classes).
Teachers kindly perform at your personal best as there are many other opportunities… In Kikuyu we say, weka wega niwe weika. In Christian faith we ask God to bless the work of our hands. Work that we have done. I just learn of an interesting Kikuyu saying… Mundu wa Ngai no Kwiyaria, wa ngoma ni kwigurukia! I had not heard the last part of mundu wa ngoma.
Today as we congratulate all those getting awards today and tell them to keep up especially those who attained grade A I encourage all of us to achieve our personal best. We will never regret. So that we can achieve God’s will, purpose and mission while here on earth. Personal best goes with setting the bar high. It works this way, if you get B in second term you raise the personal best in third term to B+ or A-. When you get an A with maths 72% you reset the personal best for the next term to 78 – 80% and work hard to attain. To appreciate the good performance, I will give a small token to the teachers Kshs. 10,000 and all the top A students Kshs. 16,000. Thank-you. Long Live! God Bless St. Mary’s Boys! God Bless Nyeri County."