Daraja is quiet right now, or at least quieter than it usually is. There are only three classes here – Forms 2, 3, and 4 (10th – 12th grade) – meaning that only 79 students are on campus right now. Soon, though, there will be a new freshman class and group of Transition Program participants (last year’s Form 4s). By April, there will 130 students bustling on campus.
Until then, the Daraja administration has begun their search for the freshman class, a yearly tradition that takes place around this time for three weeks. Deputy Principal Victoria, Dean of Curriculum Charles, Transition Program Director Carol, and longtime advisor Stephanie Danforth are touring the country for almost three weeks in search of prospective Daraja girls.
This process is very unique. Danforth explains that Daraja is the only school in Kenya to actively travel to find and recruit its students. Kenyan secondary schools, she explains, often wait for student applications to flood their offices; then they choose students based on their grades and test scores. Daraja is different. Yes, grades and test scores are important, but they are by no means the only qualifying factors for prospective students. In fact, there have been cases where Daraja has had to choose between a girl with higher marks and a girl with lower marks who possesses that certain Daraja-je-ne-sais-quoi (i.e. a wide array of leadership qualities), and has chosen the latter. Their process works, too. Danforth has sponsored numerous students throughout East Africa and she has noticed a distinct difference with the Daraja girls that she sponsors. At other schools, she explains, students can often be more reserved. Daraja girls are the opposite – even the shy students are not afraid to speak up or take charge, demonstrating the leadership quality that is pivotal to any Daraja student and ultimately global leader.