Mustafa Kemal Atatürk graduated from Manastır Military High School being top of his class with another cadet, Ahmet Tevfik from Selanik, who had the same grades as him, in mid-December in 1898, and thus completed secondary education. Until mid-March in 1899, he had been on-leave. He boarded a ship in Selanik to travel to İstanbul, the capital city at that time, to continue his education in Military Academy. He left Macedonia where he had spent all his childhood and early teenage years for the first time.
His enrollment in Military Academy, where he would build up a new life and, his thoughts and his personality would mature, was on 1 March 1315 / 13 March 1899. His epaulet number was 1283. Cadet Mustafa Kemal was recorded as “tall, white skinned Mustafa Kemal 96”, son of Ali Rıza Efendi, who was one of the customs officers coming from Kasım Paşa District in Selanik, and was written down into the enrollment book which was intended for “1315 enrollments.” In the book, he was between 1282 Ahmet Tevfik Efendi from Selanik (96) and 1284 Recep Fahri from Manastır (95).
In that year, Mustafa Kemal was in the first section of the first grade comprising six sections which might have had over 900 or 736 cadets according to different sources.
The commander of the Military Academy was General Mustafa Zeki. He was the commander who served most, for 22 years, between 1884 and 1906. He was a wise commander. He would read and write a lot. In order to educate patriotic officers, he worked hard and cared about the cadets. He graduated many famous commanders like Mustafa Kemal, İsmet İnönü, Kazım Karabekir and Fevzi Çakmak.
In addition to General Mustafa Zeki, that General Goltz’s being “the inspector for military schools” and General Esat’s (Bültani) being the school principal provided the necessary foundation to make the curriculum modern. They redesigned the curriculum after having examined the curriculums in German, French and Belgium schools. Then, The Military Academy had been transformed in education and training. Probably, Mustafa Kemal and his fellow soldiers’ biggest chance was their enrollment in this new period.