As the classic Christmas song goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Robert Land Academy. The recent freezing rain storm has left the campus covered in ice and everything from trees to the cannon looking wintery and ready for the holidays. There has been a lot of decorating for the holidays happening on campus.
The holiday season at RLA begins with the traditional tree hunt by A COY students with ASM Zahra and Captain Bowman. This year the students headed to McQueen Tree Farm in Welland where they not only found the perfect Christmas tree for the Mess Hall but also did some community service by helping trim trees and listened to Mr. McQueen talk about trees, milling and giving back to the community.
Once the tree was cut and brought back to campus, the boys helped the maintenance crew stand it up, ready for decorating, which is also done by the A COY students. The tree hunt finished as it always does, with hot cocoa and cookies in Landholme Hall.
With the tree in the Mess Hall up and decorated, the rest of the campus started to put on its holiday finery as well, with a Christmas tree in Operations, two holiday trees in Ritchie Hall’s foyer and, for the first time, a large wreath and bow on the tower of Landholme Hall.
The students of Robert Land Academy also help bring the holiday season to members of the larger community, by taking part in the Grimsby Santa Claus Parade. Dressed in their scarlets (if weather allows for the lighter jacket) they make an impressive sight as they march in the parade and play the drums.
It truly is wonderful to see the holiday spirit in so many places and on so many faces around campus and I know seeing the decorations throughout the buildings has our students very excited about the upcoming Christmas Stand Down.
Before they can leave campus for two weeks, see their parents, celebrate the holidays and enjoy the special traditions their families take part in, the students still have some work to do in the classroom and events to take part in on campus.
One of the holiday traditions at RLA is the Annual Governor’s Day, which is held the last Wednesday before the students leave campus.
RLA’s Board of Governors attend the campus that day to take part in their Annual General Meeting as well as a regular board meeting, tour the campus and see the many changes and improvements that have been made over the past year, and form part of the Inspection Party as the boys are on parade.
The Governors stay into the evening and share in our Christmas dinner, along with guests such as our founder and friends of the Academy as well as our students. This dinner is a big event on campus, not just because Captain Ness and his team in the kitchen cook an amazing holiday feast, but because we present Conduct Cords, Fitness Pins and awards for those students on the Honour Roll (marks of 80% or higher) and those with Marks of Distinction (marks of 75% or higher).
This dinner is also the time we may name up to four students to be members of the Senior NCOs with roles such as Head Boy, Parade Sergeant Major and Aide-de-Camp. These roles are top leadership positions at RLA and afford the boys chosen to prove they can be leaders among their peers, hold themselves to high standards, and that they have embraced the five values of the Academy. There is a hum of excitement and anticipation as the student body wonders which boys, if any, will be appointed to the “Top Three”.
After the dinner the campus gets quiet, which is in stark contrast to the busy place it usually is, as throughout the night many students will leave (usually our out of country students) with all students leaving throughout the following day.
The quiet of the campus is a reminder, however, that our students are home, or on their way home, to be with their families and celebrate this wonderful season.
I wish all of our students and their families a happy holiday and I hope they are all enjoying their time together.