When in 1973 Mrs. Waitara, Mrs. Muthuma and a few other women approached the church with the idea of starting a nursery school within the church compound little did they know that their noble request would culminate into the current prestigious institution that ACK Thika Memorial Church School has become. What started as a kindergarten in 1973 was to become the first nursery class in 1974 during Rev. Green’s tenure as Vicar in charge.
The burden of running the school was solely on the shoulders of the pioneer ladies. After sometime they were overwhelmed by the costs of running the nascent institution and they requested their husbands to take over the venture.
This was the ‘70s when the education sector was receiving full support from the government. Learning materials, staffing and other crucial equipment were supplied to all public schools under the Kenya Schools Equipment Scheme. Nursery schools were run by the County Councils, current day county governments. Private primary schools were unheard of. The only private schools were the ones offering the International Curriculum.
The only such school in and around Thika Municipality was Imani School which catered more for the needs of the expatriate employees of the then Kenya Canners (present Delmonte), Metal Box ,and a host of other industries in Thika.
One can therefore only imagine the struggle the pioneer founders went through to convince the parents to entrust their children under their care.
Their request was discussed and authorized by a committee comprising Archdeacon Rev Hesbon Mwangi, The then Bishop of Mt Kenya South and two other members. The then bishop applied to the Ministry of Education for a license to run the school.
To get to where it is ACK Thika Memorial Church School has had its own share of conflicts. coming from such a noble beginning and based on strong Christian values it does not come as a surprise that the school has always emerged stronger after every bruising battle. Indeed one can only justify the resilience and the will to continue to excel as God’s Providence. We shall see in later chapters how the school has weathered storms that would have left other institutions in tatters.
Ironically, however, the adversaries have always come from within and not from without.
So where is Memorial and why does the mention of the school’s name evoke such mixed reactions within and without Thika and its environs?
Perched on the edge of the boundary of the current Murang’a county and Kiambu county, overlooking the Blue Posts Hotel and directly adjacent to Jogoo Kimakia Hotel, along the Thika – Gatanga road lies the Historic ACK Thika Memorial Church.
Built during the 2nd World War it is undoubtedly one of the oldest churches in Thika. This small unimposing monumental church is the mother of the initial Thika Memorial Church School, currently ACK Thika Memorial Church School.
The mention of Thika memorial church brings to mind a picture of a sprawling gothic structure on an expansive piece of land. The reality however is so far removed from the imagination that on a first visit a feeling of disbelief engulfs the first time visitor to the church. The size of the church does not in any way conform to its fame.
The church compound itself was not as one would imagine big enough to host a fully fledged primary school replete with all the amenities associated with a private school. This however did not stop the pioneer founder members from actualizing their dream of starting a nursery school in 1974. The first lot of pupils was taught by a missionary Sister Aido assisted by Janet. The two pioneers worked tirelessly and set standards only equal to the standards at Imani School which was the only private school around.
In 1975 the initial class was promoted to Nursery 2 which created a demand for an extra teacher and teacher assistant. Another missionary Mrs Smith whose husband used to work at Thika High School joined the young school. The teacher could not work without an assistant, So Virginia was brought on board in 1975.
In 1976 the Nursery had three levels of children and another teacher was needed to teach the new class, another missionary sister Jane joined the team and her new assistant was Oliver. It is worth noting that the school was catering for a multi-racial, cross denominational clientele. This provided the school with cross acceptance within Thika as it bridged a crucial gap in the educational set up of the town at the time.
The school did not have structures and therefore the initial class was housed in the church hall for the three years the nursery school thrived. In 1977 the school opened its doors for the first standard one class.
One may be tempted to imagine that there was a specific structure to house the pupils, but nay, nay, the class was actually conducted in the vicarage. You can truly see the determination and unrelenting focus of the founders to provide a much needed service at that time.
The Thika Memorial Parish at the time was under the diocese of Mount Kenya South. The vicars below were very instrumental in the starting of Thika Memorial Church School.
Rev D.M. Green left Memorial church in January 1975 and Rev S.N. Milton took over until December 1976. He was replaced by Rev Joseph Waweru who worked from January 1977 to October of the same year. Rev Peter Njenga took over from October 1977 to April 1980.
The administration of the school in the seventies under the mentioned vicars went very smoothly. It is worth noting that the school was not a preserve of the parishioners of the Thika Memorial Church only. It had opened its doors to parents from all faiths. As mentioned earlier the only other private school in Thika at the time was Imani School whose fees were unaffordable to many parents. Thika Memorial Church School was therefore a “Godsend” to many parents who did not want their children to attend public schools at the time.