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Loyalist (B)Log

Understanding the Fall Exercise

What is the Fall Exercise?

One of the most unique and important activities that we have at Robert Land Academy (RLA) is the Fall Exercise.  The event which takes places the week before Thanksgiving sees all of the students at RLA complete a 3 day, 70 km hike in and around the Bruce Trail (on the first two days) and from Fort George to Queenston Heights on the last day.  The Exercise takes place no matter the weather – the 30C humid day or the 18C day with wind and rain.  The weather makes one feel uncomfortable and really does not affect the student and their task of completing the march.

The last day of the exercise is special, as we take time to remember those who defended Fort George and who fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights. We do this by having a military parade at Queenston Heights and pulling a canon along the Niagara Parkway, which is then used in the parade. 

The Fall Exercise is truly a teachable moment where a student learns a lot about himself (physically and mentally), how to rely on others and the value and importance of training for a goal which is then accomplished.  The Fall Exercise is uncomfortable, difficult, draining and yet invigorating – in particular when you reach a goal, the end of a day and the end of the exercise.  It is an accomplishment and no matter what else you do or don’t do in your life you can always look back and say “yes I accomplished that”.

To most of our students completing a 70 km exercise over 3 days is unimaginable, so when they are able to complete this activity and are acknowledged for doing so, it is amazing to see them take pride in this accomplishment. This experience provides them with a great deal of confidence that can be transferred into the classroom and onto the playing fields or gymnasiums.

A Collection of Pictures

At the end of school year in my office among the budgets, evaluations, board reports, student records you will find a large wall with pictures of students from Robert Land Academy (RLA) involved and engaged in different activities.

This digital mural had its origins back on Tuesday after Labour Day weekend when I put a picture up of our NCOs, (RLA’s version of student leaders), who were getting ready to support the new students for the 2016-2017 school year. 

Over the coming weeks this picture was joined by pictures of:  students participating in the RLA Fall Exercise, marching in local Santa Claus parades, students training for their open water SCUBA dives, our boys working with Massanutten Military Academy on a Spring Exercise, our Elementary students having fun a Tree Tops on their high ropes course, the “parking crew” hanging out during our Annual Inspection, a picture of all the dads who came for Father/Son Day in February; too many pictures to describe them all in this blog.  

The creation of this tapestry of memories for the 2016-2017 school year demonstrates the growth of  a school community, accomplishments of our boys, and evidence of what can occur when students, staff and parents all work together to accomplish the goal of realizing one’s potential.

The last picture I placed on the wall in June was a picture of RLA’s graduating class.  Placing this picture was a little bit difficult though, but finally, after much thought, I moved the first picture that was placed back in August, which became the center and replaced it with the Graduates and then moved our NCO to another part of the Wall of Memories.

Each of these pictures were put up in my office to remind me of a few things:

How many of the student’s at RLA have met and at times surpassed the expectations set out by the Academy.
How focused our students can be when given a challenge like a Fall Exercise, SCUBA or Para training and how happy they look when they have met the challenge.

How various experiences, mentioned above, bring out the best in the young men who attend RLA.  (The best of course also means that many of our students had to overcome their own struggles with the support of staff and our structured environment.)

As the year has ended I will soon take down these artifacts of the 2016-2017 school year.  As I do this I know they will be fond memories of what our students have accomplished individually and as a school.  When I am finished though the wall we bare, but that is OK, I cannot wait to start collecting the visual reminders of the 2017-2018 school year.

RLA Loyalist (B)Log

Well, this is my first blog as headmaster of Robert Land Academy (RLA). After much discussion, proof reading, and advice I am reaching out to the digital world. The question is why am I doing this? To inform parents of students and potential of our school and its program? To humbly brag about all the great things we do at RLA? To share our successes with our school community and the surrounding community of the Niagara Peninsula and Haldimand County? The answer to all of these questions is…YES!!

So hopefully you will follow this blog and learn a little bit about our school, its history, its traditions and the students who live and learn here!!  Stay tuned for more information.

Major Kevin Wendling, Headmaster

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