Comeback kid

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLINE TUCKEY

Cameron Dalkie was kicked out of school be­cause of bad be­hav­iour and poor at­ti­tude and was go­ing nowhere.

Life was tough at home too, his mother was wag­ing an ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful fight against can­cer. She died a year ago.

This week the head boy grad­u­ated from year 13 in Palmer­ston North’s Queen El­iz­a­beth Col­lege ser­vice acad­emy and cel­e­brated turn­ing his life around.

He ad­mits he ‘‘used to be real trou­ble’’ at his for­mer col­lege.

‘‘I was asked to leave be­cause of con­tin­ual disobe­di­ence. ‘‘I went round ask­ing a cou­ple of schools and no one was re­ally keen to take me un­til we came here.’’

Af­ter start­ing at QEC in year 10 he had ups and downs, but saw a life­line and grabbed it.

‘‘I saw a bit of what they did in the ser­vice acad­emy and thought that might help me out, so I chose to go down that path in year 11.

‘‘It helped with my at­ti­tude and it helped get dis­ci­pline.’’

At the start of the year, about 250 ser­vice acad­emy re­cruits from through­out the North Is­land spent 12 days at Waiouru Mil­i­tary Camp on a boot camp. This was a for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, he said.

Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ent and for­mer cor­po­ral Willie Api­ata spent two days min­gling with the kids and Cameron was blown away by how hum­ble he was.

Back at school Cameron and a friend took up body­build­ing and he redi­rected his en­ergy into the gym. He has also man­aged to fit in a part-time su­per­mar­ket job.

He has ‘‘busted out’’ as many ex­tra BCITO car­pen­try units as he could, and is poised to fin­ish his Car­pen­try Plus cer­tifi­cate once he turns in some last work.

‘‘I’m just hop­ing to get a builders ap­pren­tice­ship, it will give me a life time skill.’’

Cameron is grate­ful to have been given sec­ond chances.

‘‘I think it’s pretty brave of them. I wasn’t the great­est stu­dent back then.

‘‘It’s been good com­ing to a small school with more one-onone time with teach­ers, you know them, and they know [us].’’

Acad­emy di­rec­tor Lance Tahiwi said some­times it was hard to give a pupil a sec­ond chance, but as long as they were into it, he would keep do­ing that.

10 pupils grad­u­ated from the ser­vice acad­emy on Thurs­day, and all had some­thing to go on to next year, he said. ‘‘They all came to me and re­alised, ‘this is some­thing I can do, and then you see the change in them to be bet­ter.’’

’’I’m very proud of them.’’

MUR­RAY WIL­SON

Cameron Dalkie says his mum would have been proud to see him grad­u­ate the ser­vice acad­emy.

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