FORT BELVOIR, Va. - It began with a video presentation of them working in and out of the classroom. Concentrating, smiling and coming together as a team. In a fitting gesture, that's exactly how they ended their year together. Smiling and congratulating each other on a job well done.

27 students from Fort Belvoir's Army Prime Power School received their diplomas May 6 in a ceremony at Wallace Theater in front of family, friends and colleagues.

The class, which was made up of Army NCOs and Navy Seabees, went through the school's 28-week Prime Power Production Specialty course. It consists of two phases - the first being a grueling, 15-week academic phase that includes sub-courses in mathematics, physics, electrical and mechanical systems engineering.

The second phase is a 13-week, operator training course that includes occupational health and safety procedures, power plant technology and operator maintenance of large, diesel-engine-driven power plants. Many students who graduated took their education even further during the year and completed an 18-week specialty course in troubleshooting, maintenance and distribution systems equipment.

Waverly R. Holland, national commander, Navy Seabee Veterans of America, was the ceremony's guest speaker. The morning had special meaning for the retired Navy chief, as his son, Waverly R. Holland Jr., was one of those graduating.

"When I joined the service, I realized I was part of something more important than myself. You were picked for this program by people who have put their trust in you and you all have lived up to those expectations," the elder Holland told this year's graduating class. "You're the new wave of trained technicians. Take what you've learned. Do something with it and be proud."

Spec. Nathan Farnam studied electrical engineering and is on his way to Hawaii for his next assignment. According to him, the information he received from the Prime Power School will go a long way.

"There was a lot of great information that will serve me well into the future," Farnam said. "The material is very challenging, but can only make us better and more valuable in serving our country."

Sgt. Oliver Hairston, who received one of the group's Iron Man certificates, said everything came together at the conclusion of the course. His next assignment has him staying at Belvoir and joining the 249th Engineer Battalion Charlie Company.

"There's a lot to take in. It's challenging and the class is fast-paced," Hairston said. "Though, it's all for our benefit. What we learned will make us better technicians."

Navy Seabee Josener JeanLouis agreed and is looking forward to his next assignment at Port Hueneme, Calif. While there, he will be testing equipment and circuit breakers.

"I thought the academic phase of the course was the most difficult," he said. "Among the things I've come to learn is the value of learning so much in such a short time."

Joining JeanLouis in California will be fellow Seabee, Jason Duncan. Like his colleague, he will also be testing equipment as a production specialist, as well as troubleshooting.

"I have a better understanding of what to do in certain situations. That's very important," Duncan said. "The course was a great experience and I'm going to miss the camaraderie a lot of us had with each other. Though, I will let out a big sigh of relief knowing we're finished."