Cadets prepare school for fun day

Air force staff helped Linkwater School prepare for its coming fun day as part of an officer training course in the Marlborough Sounds yesterday.

Ten air force officer cadets carried out a self-planned week-long Exercise Aestimatio course in and around Kenepuru Sound this week, which involved an afternoon of painting picnic tables and pulling weeds for the school on Thursday afternoon ahead of its fun day fundraiser on Sunday.

The work was part of the cadets Initial Officer Training Course, which they need to pass to become commissioned officers in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and will conclude with a graduation ceremony at Base Woodbourne on Thursday.

Before getting in the garden, cadets spoke to pupils about the physical and mental challenges of being in the air force, and the children told them they thought maths, reading, physics and engineering would be good school subjects.

RNZAF student detachment commander Andrew Fisher, whose regular title is air warfare officer, said it was a pleasure to help the school, though the rest of the course had been "very intense".

Cadets wrote essays on defence force topics, such as the values of the air force and good leadership, and conducted physical training exercises like mountain biking along part of the Queen Charlotte College track and kayaking near Anakiwa.

The week-long course was part of a three-month programme run by the air force at Base Woodbourne, designed to give cadets the leadership skills they needed to step into officer roles.

Mr Fisher saw it as the "next step" in his career and felt ready to walk into a leadership role.

Though commissioned ranks ran parallel with non-commissioned ranks in the air force, the added responsibility of becoming an officer and leading others was a personal challenge, he said.

RNZAF course community relations manager Barbara Attwood, whose regular role is a parachute jump instructor, said helping the school showed the cadets the value of giving back to the community and the children were very welcoming, she said.

"We got a list of jobs and we're just out there doing what we need to do to prepare the school for their fun day."

Linkwater School principal Deb Leov said that although the fun day offered a range of children's activities, novelty races and live music, behind the fun was a real need to raise money to maintain the school's good educational standard.

"The fun day and the art auction are our big fundraisers for the year, they enable us to employ a third teacher for two days per week next year."

The school, which has a roll of about 40 pupils from year 1 to 8, needs the third teacher to provide middle-schooling experience for those between the school's permanent junior and senior classes.

Leftover money will be spent on a teacher aid "for gifted children or those that need extra support", computers and other classroom essentials.

The Linkwater School Fun Day will be held from 10am till 2pm at the school on Sunday.

The Linkwater Fine Art Auction will be held from 7pm, with wine and cheese from 5pm, on Saturday.

The Marlborough Express