Friday, 16 July, 2021

When the 2021 Form One placements were out, some parents were chagrined because their children missed their dream schools. Most of the parents wished their children would secure chances in high-end schools.

Yet, this is what parents forget about, that places don't make people, but people make places. When the structures in those crèmes de la crème schools were designed, they were not constructed on a land lush with many acres of diamond. The Ivy League schools were not constructed using bricks made of gold and diamond. They were simply built on average lands, using normal building materials. Then, afterwards, students streamed in. In the long run, students made those schools great.

As a matter of fact, America did not make America, but Americans made America great. Great sons of America like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, J.F. Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr., made America to cut an imperishable niche in the annals of world history.

Therefore, it is bad to think that only places make people great. Somehow, greatness emanates from inside, not outside. Seeds of greatness are within us. And can be expressed anywhere. A lizard in Africa cannot be a crocodile in America.

Perhaps, in retrospect, parents who look crest-fallen because their children missed their dream schools, should press pause button, accept the situation, and help their children understand that they can blossom in any place they are planted. The buttons of success are universal. Students can touch the acme of academic excellence, and attain peak performance in any school.

If you have a tinge of doubt, then think of a student called Josaphat Kamau Mwangi. He was admitted with 278 out of 500 marks at Mioro Secondary School in Murang'a County. But he had the indomitable will to win. When he sat for KCSE in 2018, he scooped an A- (minus). He was loudly lauded as one of the most improved students in the whole country. He is now wrestling with Medicine at the University of Nairobi.

Did you also catch a glimpse of a school called Wei Wei Secondary School? The small school rose to stardom when it churned out one of the finest in KCSE 2009. This valedictorian generated plenty of attention from members of the fourth estate. That they pitched their tents in this obscure school, and specifically on this smart student that garnered good grades. One of the journalists actually generated a jest from it when he said: Where there is a will, there is Wei Wei.

That is what I also did in the years of yore in the Gem of Siaya. Being a total orphan, I missed the crucial chance to join my dream school called St. Mary's School-Yala, one of the best boys' school at the shores of Lake Lolwe. My challenge was not that I scored mediocre marks. No. It was cash crunch. I was academically-gifted, but financially-famished. Grinding poverty had paid us a courtesy visit. Even affording a meal was like asking for a blood donation from a mosquito. So, when my dreams to join a top school crumbled like egg shells, some pleasant people in our local church took me to a decimal day school called Nyamninia Secondary School. But I am glad and grateful to God, after the four years elapsed as if late for a flight, I did not disappoint the well-wishers and my grizzled grandparents who are now octogenarians. They are now old like hills, but ageing gracefully. I am a source of hope and help to them. Why? Because I toiled and moiled, passed exams with flying colours, matriculated into university, and later found means on how to fend for myself and eke a decent living.

No wonder, I am postulating that students can shine like stars in any school. What is important is to understand that attitude is the foundation of success.

The Calgary Towers stands at 190.8 metres. The total weight of the tower is 10,884 tons, of which 6,349 tons is below the ground; that is approximately 60 %.

What does it depict? Some of the tallest buildings that grace this globe have the strongest foundations. Just as the tall buildings that kiss the skies, and caress the clouds are anchored on firm foundations, so is success in any sphere of life. Attitude is the foundation of success. Zig Ziglar put it aptly, "It is your attitude, not aptitude, that determines your altitude."

Attitude focuses on mindsets plus beliefs. Aptitude on the other hand, is talent, or the natural ability to do things. Altitude in this context is the height that can be attained.

The germane matter here is that young scholars poised to join high school should be prepared to start strong; begin, learn and win. They should be excited about it, accept and explore the new schools, think about success, adhere to rules and regulations, choose friends wisely and cultivate useful study skills.

The Pre-form Ones should have ample preparation for the exhilarating high school experience. Without forgetting that there will be a melange of challenges like possible change of diet, change of weather, culture shock, many subjects, large classes, different style(s) of teaching, challenge in handling pocket money, no multiple-choice exams, several assessments and tests.

The writer speaks to teachers, parents and students during Form One Plug-in Programme, Induction and Orientation Day. 0704420232

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