Self-belief was hailed as an important factor in 12 Makoura College students graduating from the Makoura College Services Academy 2012 yesterday.
Family and friends turned out to support the students, who as part of the academy, had undergone an induction course on military training, a basic bushcraft challenge and leadership training during the year.
Many were now seriously considering a military career.
Reviewing officer and Carterton Mayor Ron Mark congratulated the graduates on their success. He said many would have learned skills which could be used in future.
"What will get you through is your mental fortitude, your self-discipline and your belief in yourself," he said. "The fact that you stand here today is evidence that you know that."
Director Jack Matiaha said he was proud of the graduates.
The best thing about the academy for him was being able to see the changes in the students throughout the year, and there were definitely future leaders among the graduates, he said.