Canberra school students visits the Australian Defence Force Academy
By Defence Transition Mentor Leona Anton
Canberra Defence Transition Mentors (DTM) regularly meet to devise positive and innovative ways to promote and celebrate the Australian Defence Force and their families within their respective schools.
As a result of a recent visit to Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) by Gold Creek students, the Canberra DTM networked together with ADFA staff who organised for 10 students from 10 local schools to take part in an action packed activity day at the Academy.
Participants were asked to apply for a spot with a verbal or written submission—a challenging task given the number interested in going along—resulting in an actively enthusiastic and inquisitive group of students.
On Tuesday, 18 May this year the group arrived at the parade square where cadets were taking part in their morning exercise regime. There was a definite buzz of excitement in the air as the students were divided into groups. The students tentatively introduced themselves to each other and then headed off to take part in the challenges ahead.
Above: It was such a great opportunity for students to share in cadets’ experiences, first hand.
Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Jim Nicholson headed the first group for a tour of the campus. It was encouraging to hear the comments from the students as they made links with peers from other schools. WO2 Nicholson encouraged the students to actively handle or climb into equipment, and persuaded some cadets working at the Academy to engage with the students and answer questions using their own experiences.
The tour raised some interesting questions from the students, and many were surprised to learn that the emphasis is not about being in the military, but about achieving an excellent education whilst developing into well rounded adults with leadership qualities.
Above: Corporal Kev Toonan set the pace and the students took to the challenge whole heartedly.
Meanwhile, over at the gymnasium, Chief Petty Officer Mark McLennan and Corporal Kev Toonan, Physical Training Instructors, took charge of the second group. They explained that the fitness activities that they were about to take part in were for entry level cadets. A large number of the students were enthused by this information and saw it as an opportunity to prove that they had what it takes to be an ADFA cadet.
Above: In spite of burning muscles, the students managed to find a smile
There were two challenges. The first was an obstacle circuit with a rope section that required good upper body strength and teamwork to get through. The second was a campus jog to warm up and then back to the gym for an introduction to circuit training. Despite that for some it was ‘the hardest PT ever to have taken part in’ or ‘that arms were aching and knees were scuffed’ the enthusiasm and attack that they all gave was fantastic. There was no complaining and amazingly everyone was smiling from ear to ear.
With the morning over the students broke for lunch at the cadets’ Mess. If there had been any sceptics amongst the group that cadet life was not a great opportunity then this was quickly quashed—the students were open mouthed at the expansive Mess facilities. There was a variety of hot food, salads and an ice cream bar, as well as a relaxing area with pool tables, air hockey, a TV lounge, newspapers and games machines. The lunch break also offered another opportunity for the students and cadets to mingle and exchange stories. Afterwards, the two groups swapped places to have a go at the other activity.
At the end of the day, a tired but happy bunch climbed back onto buses and headed for home, with new friendships forged and contact details exchanged. ADFA had been revealed as an exciting place to study with access to a range of amazing resources. Students have since explained that they surpassed their personal expectations in what they could achieve and now believe that they have what it takes to submit a successful application to ADFA, for a career within ADF in the future.
A special thanks goesto Kerry Neale, Staff Officer Coordination atADFA and WO2 Keith Townsin, Defence Assistance to the Civil Community Liaison Officer. Their, constant support through the planning meant a very successful school excursion.
Andy is back from Gallipoli
My name is Jo Lawson and I work at St Andrew’s Catholic College Redlynch as a Defence School Transition Aide. Our school has a mascot bear called Andy and he is forever taking wonderful adventures with our Defence families. He takes trips with them to their new postings, settles them in and meets all their new friends and teachers. He also looks after the students when parents are away and therefore he is a very busy bear.
Recently, Andy went to Gallipoli in Turkey for the Anzac service and he was privileged to meet her Excellency, Quentin Bryce, Governor General of Australia, and have his photograph taken.
My name is Andy, and I help look after all the Defence Force students at St Andrew’s Catholic College in Queensland. I get to go on some wonderful holidays and outings with the students.
ecently, I went with our Year 7 co-coordinator Mr Aitkin to Gallipoli for Anzac Day. We attended the dawn service which was an awesome experience. We heard Her Excellency Quentin Bryce the Governor General make an address at the dawn service at Anzac Cove and then later speak at the Lone Pine service. Mr Aitkin then spoke to Mrs Bryce and introduced me to her. She was so friendly and made me feel special. We even had our photo taken together.
You can see photos of the plaque that was placed at the memorial at Anzac Cove. I would like to say a big thank you to Mr Aitkin for taking me to Gallipoli and for allowing me the opportunity to experience Anzac Day with him.
hoto 1#: ANZAC Day at the Service held at ANZAC Cove. Left: Mike Aitken Year 7 Coordinator at St Andrew’s Catholic College Redlynch; Centre: Me!; Right: Our Governor General Mrs Quentin Bryce
Photo 2#: Mike (Right) and I (Left) with the plaque made by Brodi—a Defence Force Student—at ANZAC Cove on ANZAC Day
Photo 3#: Mike and I are handed the plaque to place at Lone Pine in the St Andrew’s Catholic College Library near the Gallipoli Display on April 21 2010.