Proud dad back for graduation
Easy Rider sole survivor Dallas Reedy travelled all the way from Iceland to see his son graduate with a top award from Aurora College's first military service academy yesterday.
Mr Reedy joined a roomful of proud parents, teachers, and instructors who looked on as the 15 graduates from the Aurora College Service Academy class marched into the college hall and stood at attention, led by Mr Reedy's 16-year-old son, Josh.
Mr Reedy had returned from working as a slaughterman in Iceland for the graduation this week. While most of his younger workmates had taken off to travel in Europe, the proud dad said it was important to him to watch his son march down the corridor and accept his award as top student in academics, maturity and work ethic.
After Josh walked his company to the front of the room and gave them the signal to relax as the crowd applauded their accomplishments, the group had high fives and embraces for one another.
Academy director Kris Maclellan said it was a climatic moment for the class as they had recently finished a race across the same terrain the Speight's Coast to Coast race covered, alongside NZ Army personnel.
It was the third trip away for the class, aged 16 to 18, who also learned bushcraft in Peel Forest in Canterbury and spent two weeks at Burnham Military Camp.
Josh - one of the youngest in the group - said the experience was tough, but character-building.
''The year was mean; just unreal,'' he said. The coast-to-coast race - done in two and a half days - had been ''very, very hard.''
Corporal Maclellan said the group became close in their year together, which would have been a shock to the system.
The academy had been established with funding from the Education Ministry and it gave students who would otherwise leave school, an alternative way to continue, he said.
''There's lots of physical activity; they learn drills, time management, bushcraft. They survive for a night on their own.''
Four had been offered employment after this year, he said. Two were now considering careers in the military.
Student support centre administrator Sally Orlowski said the academy - which will continue in 2013 - had given the group a sense of belonging.
''If it wasn't for the academy I don't think they would have come back to school.''
While many of the students in the 2012 class had been ''shoulder-tapped'' to enrol, next year's class was expected to be made up of voluntary enrolments, she said
- The Southland Times
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