With 2013 coming to a close, we’d like to take a walk down memory lane and look back on such a momentous year for Daraja Academy.
January started off with a new school year – the 5th for Daraja. Second, third, and fourth-year students returned to campus excited for the upcoming year, eager to learn. Also this month, “School of my Dreams,” a new documentary about Daraja was released by Out of the Blue Films and executive director Deborah Santana. Be sure to check out the trailer here!
In February, the K.C.S.E exam scores were released for the Class of 2012. For the first Daraja class to ever take the exams, we were blown away by their success. Daraja’s top scorer, Betty who scored an average of an A-, also had the top score in our district, which earned her a job at Equity Bank and a scholarship to the University of Nairobi. Daraja ranked 92nd out of 1,233, an extraordinary achievement for a school taking exams for the first time.
March welcomed Daraja’s newest group of students: the Class of 2016. 26 bright and determined young women have continued to impress their fellow students and teachers with their enthusiasm to further their education. They quickly became part of the Daraja family by joining clubs, sports teams, and even being elected prefects – a high honor for a first-year student.
April brought a brand-new program to campus: The Transition Program. Daraja students who finished their fourth year at Daraja in 2012 returned to campus to join Teacher Carol and participate in the first ever transition program. The first few months consisted of community service and learning skills such as personal finance and resume writing before the girls left for their internships all over the Laikipia region in schools, game parks, hospitals, hotels, and even on Daraja’s campus.
In May, Daraja students ran with thousands of other supporters around the globe for the annual Bay to Breakers fundraiser. Our tied-for-first place winners on campus were first year Salome, third year Joyce, and fourth year Lisayo. We had over 150 runners from California to Australia running to support our students.
Throughout the year, Daraja students competed in different tournaments- be it sports, music, and more! Between a three-day sports competition in Nanyuki, the annual Music Festival, and a local science congress event, the girls were busy applying their skills outside of campus! The soccer (football) team won the Provincial tournament and moved onto the Regional tournament. Seven Daraja students ranked in the top ten positions at the Regional Music Competition.
During Term 2, Daraja hosted its very first community event in Kenya in nearby Nanyuki. The purpose was to network with local organizations, representatives, and community members to spread the word and mission of Daraja! Guests enjoyed snacks, meeting Daraja students, Daraja’s two films, and a Q&A with co-founders, Jason and Jenni.
In June and July, Daraja was lucky to host numerous special guests. Kenyan peacemaker, Alice Nderitu, came to campus for a seminar. She was an inspiration to the Daraja students, many of whom dream of following in Alice’s footsteps, nationally and in their home communities. We also welcomed visitors from California high school, Woodside Priory, who volunteered around campus and played an important role in the cross-cultural experience Daraja strives to provide for our students. Visitors from Mpala Research Center, just outside campus, as well as students from James Madison University and University of San Diego shared their experiences and talents with our students.
In August, the world welcomed the very first graduates from Daraja Academy. After completing secondary school, winning many awards for their K.C.S.E. performance in our district, and finishing the Transition Program, 25 of the world’s best and brightest crossed the stage on Daraja’s campus and threw their caps into the air to signify their completion of the Daraja Academy program. It was a momentous event not only for our students, but our entire campus community. The Class of 2012 has already exceeded our expectations and are changing the world with more than eight graduates in university, a few teaching, and many more volunteering or working in their home communities.
Daraja Academy was sure to celebrate big in October for the second ever International Day of the Girl. With the theme being “Innovating for Girls Education,” Daraja fit the bill quite well. On campus, student reflected on the power of girls and discussed The Girl Effect’s newest project: The Girl Declaration. Off-campus, Daraja was highlighted by the UN Girls Education Initiative as an innovative and effective organization in breaking the mold of girl’s empowerment and was featured on the Girls Speak Out webcast for the International Day of the Girl Summit.
During Term 3, 15 students traveled two hours North to Kimanjo, where they competed in the Amazing Maasai Ultra Marathon and volunteered at the event. Second-year Rebecca raced especially well, placing in the top three female finishers for the 21K distance!
In October, Daraja hosted a Kenyan Red Cross blood drive after the Westgate attacks in Nairobi. It was a tremendous success with students, teachers, staff, and volunteers donating blood as well as learning about the donation process. Daraja donated over 50 units of blood in just one afternoon.
Our next class of graduates began and completed their K.C.S.E. testing during October and November, and have now completed the secondary school curriculum! Results for the exams will come out in the next few months, and they will soon be welcomed back to campus for the Transition Program in March!
The new school year will begin the first week of January with campus welcoming the 6th first-year class (Class of 2017!) in February.