Lenana School

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Lenana School is a high school in Nairobi, Kenya. It was formed in 1949 by colonial governor Philip Euen Mitchell in 1949, known then as the Duke of York School (the actual bell from HMS Duke of York can still be seen mounted at the front school parade ground between the school chapel and the hall). The first students were briefly housed at the then British colonial Governors House which is the current State House as they waited for the schools completion. The founding principal/headmaster was R.H. James.

Originally the school was reserved for white students only within the racial system of colonial Kenya Colony. All teachers (masters, as they were called at the time), were also white. The students were drawn from the sons of British settlers, most of whom were farmers in outlying areas. This required a primarily boarding facility for the students, although originally there were a few "day" students who came daily. The school system was modelled after the English "public school" system.

By the early 1960s the school was fully developed with its own well kept 9 hole golf course, rifle range, horse stables, a cricket oval with a cricket pavilion and ample sports fields for rugby, football, hockey, swimming, tennis, squash, and other sports. The astronomy club as well endowed with telescopes, the science labs well equipped, and off site school facilities provided for sailing, mountain climbing and other distractions most of which are still available to date. The school had its own water supply from boreholes, and its own sewage treatment plant which were still in operation well into the late 1980s. A large contingent of resident "subordinate" staff were housed on the campus, and saw to the well-being of the faculty and students. They provided all janitorial, laundry, dining, groundskeeping and similar labour, leaving the students free to pursue learning and leisure activities. The main railway line fromNairobi city to western Kenya passes along the front border of the school passing over a bridge (nicknamed The Cassandra Crossing) which marks the front gate of the school. During the colonial era the train would drop off and pick up students going or coming from the school holidays.

After Kenyas independence in 1963 there were gradual changes that led to the first few black and Asian students being admitted in the mid 1960s. These pioneer students were subjected to severe conditions and discrimination as they opened the doors to other Kenyans to come behind them. Black teachers began to be employed in the early 1970s and were similarly subjected to difficult circumstances.

The school was renamed Lenana School in 1969 after the legendary Laibon Lenana who was the central human figure in the Maasai religious system and ruled around the end of the 19th century through to the early 20th century. The first Kenyan headmaster (principal) of the school was Mr. James Kamunge. The referral to old students of the school changed from the phrase Old Yorkist to Laibons the latter being a title given to the religious head of the Maasai. A picture of the Laibon Lenana painted by a student artist called Sam Madoka can be seen hanging next to the steps that lead to the 2nd floor of the administration block.

       Lenana School currently has 1200 students. In 2006, it was ranked 26th best high school in Kenya based on Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results. Through the 1980s and into the 21st century, Lenana School has maintained high academic standards ranking in the top 10 and top 20 respectively for many years in the 1980s. The current School Principal is Mr. William Mwangi who is deputised by Mr.Silas Wandera.  


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