Quote on the wall at Vanguard Military school
When visiting Vanguard Military school I was given the opportunity to sit around an oval table with a group of students to informally chat with them about themselves and their experiences at Vanguard.
At the end of our discussion they all shook my hand and looked me in the eye before leaving the room.
I have reported the conversation in the way that it happened. Whenever there is a break between comments, that indicates a new person speaking. I have chosen to take out the names of other schools that the students referred to and have replaced their names with the words, ‘my old school’ as this article is about Vanguard not other schools.
How did you come to be at this school?
I came from ‘my old school’, progressing to this because it is more academic. I wanted to get my level 2 and level 3.
I came from ‘my old school’. I didn’t like my old school even though I lived five minutes away I never showed up or if I did show up I would show up for like P.E and go home. I found out about Vanguard through the Defence Force when I was applying. They referred me to Vanguard. Through that I’ve passed my NZ Defence Force fitness and aptitude test through Vanguard.
I heard about the school through a mate’s Mum. She recommended it to me. I was going to ‘my old school’ in Ellerslie and I wasn’t doing so well.
I wasn’t focussed, couldn’t study, didn’t like it and now I come here I’m just pretty good, I like it and I’m passing everything so it’s pretty cool.
How do you find the discipline?
It’s good it really does show through outside of school.
I came from ‘my old school’ and at ‘my old school’ I was like really bad. I hanged out with the bad people. I found out about this school from my best friend she is here too.
Vanguard Military School students saying the school pledge
PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page
How do you find the discipline? Do you find it hard following the rules here?
Yeah in the beginning but it has really helped me become a better person.
I heard about the school at Ellerslie when Staff Hyde came in to introduce it. I went to ‘my old school’ in the Northern Territory of Australia before this. So I moved from Australia to get a better education here at Vanguard.
I came from ‘my old school’ and my parents heard about it on the radio. To be honest at first I wasn’t really keen on Military school. I wasn’t doing so well at school but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t really care what I got. But now coming here and seeing what I can do, going back there is not an option for me. I don’t want to ever be there again, like settle for something less that I actually can be.
Did your parents make you come?
Yeah my parents made me come.
So what was the first month like for you? Did you rebel?
No, I actually enjoyed it. The people here just changed my attitude and everything. There is more like Peers influencing me to change my style.
I am interested in knowing how bullying if it exists in the school, is dealt with?
I don’t think that we have major cases of bullying here because we are taught as we start this school that we are all the same. You know we all start, you don’t get a uniform until you earn it so everyone is kinda on the same level. Then you are put into different Sections which are your classes with a leader. So they kinda force you to work together so bullying doesn’t really affect us that much and if it does there is such big consequences for that from the teachers and things but it is just not really heard of.
Have any of you experienced bullying at your previous schools?
Yeah I did. I didn’t wear glasses at my previous school because I got called four eyes but when I came here no one has said anything. Cause I really needed glasses because my eyesight is really bad, I couldn’t see in class.
I got bullied quite a bit at Intermediate at Year 8. It got so bad that Mum said walk home if anybody says anything about you and stuff. Just some of the girls were like really horrible like I found notes in my desk and my shoes, they would hide my shoes so I couldn’t do P.E. It got really bad.
Did the teachers do anything or did you say anything?
Yeah I did. I wrote a letter to the teachers but it never really got dealt with and that’s when Mum was like if anything happens just walk home.You don’t have to tell your teachers, just come home. That was really bad.
What is one thing you like about Vanguard and what is one thing you do not like or have found difficult?
Getting up at 5.30am cause I just lived… ‘my old school’ was walking distance of 3, 4, 5 minutes. I would just wake up at like 8 o’clock. Here I have to wake up at like 5.30am to get to school.
Sleeping teenage boy
That is real dedication. You are a teenager. Teenagers like to sleep.
Yeah, I love my sleep but also I love coming here that’s why I get up so early. I wouldn’t do that for my old school. I wouldn’t do that.
I’d have to say the consistency of school, they demand 100% attendance whereas at my old school I would come like one day every two weeks. It’s hard but I do love coming here. The thing that I do like about this school is P.E and P.T because it makes you fitter, faster, stronger.
Vanguard students playing basketball.
PHOTO- Vanguard Military School facebook page
One thing I do enjoy is that everyone tries here so when you do P.E and all that no one’s saying,” I don’t want to touch the ball.” Everyone’s going hard out like, ” Get the ball!” (sound of all the students laughing. ) The teachers really challenge you here. It is really good.
Image from an American Military Movie
How much is it really like the Military? Do they speak to you differently? You see in the American movies the Sergeant is in their face yelling. Is it like that for P.T?
Yeah for P.T it is but not in the classroom.
Sometimes it is a bit confusing but it is like a balance between Military and school. Always during P.T there will be screaming. I think that is something all of us had to adjust to once we started Military school as the seriousness of P.T and things like that but it is never anything overboard. We learn not to muck around serious times but when it is like class time, the teacher that is going to teach you English isn’t going to scream at you. In saying that I think it is kinda good because we still have got that Military discipline so that it is easier for the teachers to teach teenagers really.
What kind of consequences and punishments do you have?
C.T. (Corrective Training ), burpees sometimes. Up downs, sometimes. You lie flat on the ground then jump back up again. You have to do it constantly it’s tiring.
Another one is C.T. so if you get in trouble for doing something the teacher will issue with a C.T. One C.T. is worth 10 minutes after school. It is so boring. Mind numbing.
A C.T. means standing at attention for the first 10 minutes and any time after that it is at ease.
We also have community service punishment for the baddies which is done during the holidays. They bring you in and if you don’t do your community service then you get another community service.
At this point in our discussion CEO Nick told me that the students needed to return to class so I had to bring our informal chat to a close. If you would like to learn more about what the students think of their school you can read my other article here.
This is the final article in my Investigation into Charter Schools where I asked the questions and reported back on the answers after visiting Hobson Middle School, West Auckland Middle School, South Auckland Middle school and Vanguard Military School.
If any State school or Charter school would like me to visit them they are welcome to contact me via the blog. If the PPTA would like the same opportunity I would be very happy to meet with them as well. Just as I have with the schools I have visited so far I will do everyone the courtesy of sending them the questions I will be asking before I visit. I am not about putting people on the spot or trying to catch people out with surprise questions. I am about finding the answers to our readers’ questions and my own.
I am even prepared to answer any questions that the PPTA or schools may have of me on the understanding that I will be free to publish their questions and my answers on this Blog as they will likewise be free to use my answers in their publications.
Next Saturday I will publish an opinion piece (Editorial) about Charter Schools.