The students of the Kaitaia Colleges Services Academy's Delta Class have completed another year of challenges and achievements with the Northern Region Services Academies' graduation parade at St Paul's College, in Auckland.
Students from 10 of the 14 academies in the Northern region were there, and for some it was the end of the programme.
"The parade is not part of the NZDF's obligations, so it is planned and co-ordinated by the academy directors, with the NZDF instructors invited to attend as VIPs," Kaitaia College director Dudley Andrews said.
"The parade was attended by a large number of whānau, friends, principals, NZDF representatives and directors, and from the start the students were awesome. Guests were witnesses to an excellent display of discipline and pride from the moment they students marched on until the final command.
"Military drill done correctly looks very smart, but for it to be excellent requires a lot of time, motivation, attention to detail, humility and quality instructors. For an experienced instructor, it is not overly difficult to achieve a high standard if the student is motivated, but to get a group of more than 20 students to reach and attain a high standard of drill, dress and bearing is not a walk in the park, as they must all be physically and mentally in tune with the team and the timing of the movements.
"To the untrained eye a military parade is a wonderful experience to observe, but to NZDF personnel and veterans it requires complete respect and perfection. If an academy is not up to standard, then they don't march on."
Delta Class 2019 had come a long way.
"From their first day in school, when they stood in utter motivated confusion as they were taught the drill for our daily morning parade, how the movements of 'attention' and 'stand at ease' seemed odd and alien, then within a week watching them march around Waiouru military base as if it was natural.
"I witnessed each student as they adapted to military expectations and disciplines. Two weeks of hard mahi — on Day 1 they would have happily gone home if asked — to the last day, and their sadness that the induction was over. It was special, witnessing the change in the students as they battled with the day to day worries of their teenage world then celebrating minor victories they achieved along the way."
They had been through it all, from from bushcraft, basic leadership and advanced leadership to an adventure race, countless hours of mental and physical training, laughter, fun and happiness. There had been tears, heartache, loss, failure and mistakes, but through it all the students had worked as a team.
"This is why their drill for the parade is awesome, because much like the Te Puna Mana Toa students before them they had been through so much together that working collectively at a high standard for each other was normal."
Finally commanded to fall out, the students gave a huge roar then celebrated the end of their year with haka, song, laughter, hugs and tears.
"For the Delta Class crew it has been an awesome year, some saying their best year in school ever, and this could not have been achieved without key groups and people," Mr Andrews said.
"I would like to say thank you to the 2019 Senior Services class, Youth Life Skills NZDF, to the wonderful teachers/students and whānau of Kaitaia College, services academy directors, to Papa Sonny, our loyal driver, and to the past Kaitaia College Services Academy students, who each year have set high standards to meet.
"To the students of the Kaitaia College Services Academy 2020 Echo Class, when you arrive on Day 1 next year you will soon realise that you will be entering an environment of high expectations and history, so make sure you're ready, because your first workout will be a fitness test."
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