There were celebrations in Rongo, Migori County on Friday when it emerged that the top student in this year’s KCSE examination hails from the town.
Coincidentally, the sixth student is also a native of the region and is a neighbour of the top girl.
Ms Juliet Otieno of Pangani Girls High School, Nairobi scored a mean grade of A with 87.6 points to top the country while Ms Mel Christine of Alliance Girls High School had an A of 84 points.
Residents broke into song and dance, causing an hours-long gridlock on the Rongo-Homa Bay road.
The 18-year-old Otieno said her dream of becoming the top student in the country in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education tests had come true.
“There was pressure from the school community for me to excel. I thank God for not letting down those who believed in me,” she said.
Last year, Ms Naomi Kirimi, also from Pangani was the top student in the nation.
“Naomi set the pace. I am overwhelmed and I thank God for this blessing,” Ms Otieno, who hopes to be an aeronautical engineer, said.
“I have a lot of passion for planes,” she added.
The fourth born in a family of five children said she has dreams of transforming lives just like her role model, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
“I love her passion when it comes to empowering women and her love for children. My principal Florence Ngarani is also very inspiring. She involves students in her work and that is admirable,” Ms Otieno said.
She also attributed the success to her primary school class teacher Isaac Maridich.
Ms Otieno scored 421 marks out of a possible 500 in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination at Rongo Success Academy four years ago.
Her father Paul Were is the principal of Winyo Secondary School in Rongo while her mother Mary is a trader.
The two were overwhelmed by their daughter’s success.
“We thank God for what has happened. It is beyond our comprehension,” Ms Otieno’s mother said as they headed to church for thanksgiving.
They described their daughter as hardworking, disciplined and a listener.
“She has always topped her class from the time she began schooling,” Mr Were said.
While joining Pangani teachers in celebrating the remarkable results, Ms Ngarari said Ms Otieno’s performance would motivate other students to work hard.
“To say we are happy after producing the top performers in two consecutive years is an understatement. The results were a collaboration by all the Pangani stakeholders,” the principal said.
“It was the work of the students, teachers, the board of management and parents.”
She said teachers believe every child who is admitted to the school should not just get a good grade but qualify for top university courses.
The principal said Ms Otieno topped her class since Form One and that teachers identified her potential early and assisted her to exploit it.
At Ms Christine’s home in Rongo, celebrations went on till late in the evening. She wants to be a medical doctor.
She scored 438 marks in her KCPE exam at St Peters Capeview Academy in Homa Bay County.
Her father Marcus Odhiambo, the principal of Tom Moya Secondary School in Homa Bay and her mother Margaret Okoth, a teacher at Nyarach Secondary School were besides themselves with joy.
Additional reporting by Abiud Ochieng