Two hundred and sixty-one.
That is how many white crosses lay at Waitaki Boys’ High School on Monday, for the school’s annual Anzac ceremony on the first day of term 2, each one commemorating a pupil whose life was lost during the Boer War and World Wars 1 and 2.
Deputy rector Roger van Booma led the memorial event, saying there were 122 crosses for men killed in the Boer War and World War 1, and 139 for World War 2.
The 261 crossed were a ‘‘very sobering reminder’’ of the past pupils’ sacrifices and the loss endured by their families and friends.
‘‘The 261 boys who gave their lives were just like you. No different at all,’’ Mr van Booma told the pupils.
‘‘They went to the school, came into town, their friends went to the other schools, they rode their bikes on the same streets you rode — it’s very much a home thing.’’
During the ceremony, music teacher Stephen Hinds played the organ for the hymn, and several pupils spoke.
Waitaki Boys’ head boy Ethan Reille shared his speech from the Anzac dawn service about former pupil Gus Ongly, and Dylan Jones read a poem.
‘‘Remembering that saying their names is one thing, but telling their stories is the way to remember them,’’ Mr van Booma said.
For the first time, St Kevin’s College head boy Jesse Valpy and head girl Cushla Bridges, and Waitaki Girls’ High School head girl Sophie McMillan-Sinclair attended the Waitaki Boys’ event.
Following the formal ceremony in the Hall of Memories, pupils and guests, including past pupil and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, made their way to the quad where the 261 crosses lay.
The Air Training Corps held flags and others let off a cannon before pupils, teachers and guests each lay a poppy in front of a white cross.