Sea school boys celebrate 50 years of excellence
WITH military precision, 350 uniformed teenagers saluted in unison before returning to rigid poses.
The well-disciplined youngsters' eyes were locked straight ahead.
But, just hours before, many had been slam-dunking on the basketball court of the Hong Kong Sea School in Stanley.
Meanwhile, their nervous leaders had been fussing over the final arrangements for yesterday's 50th anniversary parade.
Weeks of preparation and countless morning assembly drills paid off as sea cadets passed inspection by a 'very impressed' Secretary for Home Affairs, Michael Suen Ming-yeung.
'Many of them are so small and fragile . . . I spoke with one boy who was the tiniest of the line-up and was barely 12,' said Mr Suen.
The school was set up as the Stanley Boys Camp in old rice godowns and took in its first 20 boys in 1946.
Its seamanship course provided a string of proficient ship's officers, said Mr Suen.
'These boys here today have a lot to live up to, following in the footsteps of . . . students who have become successful,' he said.
Principal Lucas Chan Kwok-hei said there were still openings for graduates, although there were fewer marine jobs.
'We are now seeing an explosion in river trade, with traffic between Hong Kong and China increasing, and it is our duty to provide seamen,' he said.
The curriculum had been modified in the past decade to broaden students' job prospects, he added.