"Wow, it just purred." Those were Dave Randell's words after he stepped out from behind the wheel of a glossy black Audi RS8.

His passengers Steve Lindsey and Russell Gordon caught their breath as Randell told whoever would listen about the special ride.

The Otumoetai College principal was one of four outgoing school leaders who got to test drive some of Farmer Autovillage's best wheels as part of their final Priority One Instep Principals' Day Out this week.

The test drive was a surprise for Koa Douglas, Dave Randell, Pauline Cowens and Ray Scott who will each bow out as principals of their respective schools at the end of this year.

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"We just wanted to make sure they had a good send-off," Priority One Instep manager Lyn Parlane said.

The four were among 11 Western Bay secondary school principals invited to step away from their desks and spend a day visiting the region's businesses to highlight future and current skill needs and shortages.

Priority One Instep manager Lyn Parlane said the Principals' Day Out events had engaged with nearly 50 businesses since the initiative began 12 years ago.

"It is really indicative of our businesses appreciating the work our principals do in preparing our young people for the future," she said.

Tauranga Girls' College principal Pauline Cowens did not want to pass up the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Jeep Cherokee SRT8.

Cowens said she was going to miss attending the Principals' Day Out events after attending all but one of the 12 days.

"I missed the one where they got to fly planes," she said. "They give us an overview of what is happening in the community and hear what our students are doing beyond the classrooms."

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell was buzzing with excitement after his drive in the Audi RS8.

Randell was sad at the end of an era but said the days had been unique for the Western Bay secondary school principals. "I call them the elite 11," he said.

Aquinas College principal Ray Scott said the Nissan GTR was "superb".
Scott said he had attended every Principals' Day Out for the last seven years.

"We find out a lot about what is going on in the community," he said.


WHAT IS PRINCIPALS' DAY OUT?
Each year Instep invites principals from 10 secondary schools to spend a day out in the region to visit a variety of businesses to highlight future skill needs and current
skills shortages.
To date, the days have focused on trades, horticulture, export manufacturing, engineering and local government, science and innovation and technology.

WHO IS SAYING GOODBYE?
- Pauline Cowens - Tauranga Girls' College
- Koa Douglas - Te Wharekura o Mauao
- Ray Scott - Aquinas College
- Dave Randell - Otumoetai College