Prais­ing the ben­e­fits of the cadet corps pro­gram

The Amherst News - - OP-ED - Jerry Ran­dall Jerry Ran­dall is a mem­ber of the Amherst News Com­mu­nity Ed­i­to­rial Panel.

As a lad in high school, I was a dis­mal stu­dent in math and French, and far too in­ter­ested in young ladies my age, which dis­tracted me from my stud­ies im­mensely.

I flunked al­ge­bra and ge­om­e­try in Grade 10, and that caused me to have to re­peat that grade. My par­ents were ob­vi­ously dis­mayed at my poor show­ing, and they were di­rected by a close friend to send me off to pri­vate school. I ended up at­tend­ing Rothe­say Col­le­giate School for Boys and as a re­quire­ment of ev­ery stu­dent had to par­tic­i­pate in the Rothe­say Col­le­giate Cadet Corp.

I didn’t mind that ac­tiv­ity, one af­ter­noon a week, which in­cluded march­ing prac­tice, as well as a va­ri­ety of mil­i­tary sub­jects which were even­tu­ally put to good use in a corps ex­er­cise and full in­spec­tion.

Of course, one of the most im­por­tant ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded march­ing to the Re­mem­brance Day ac­tiv­i­ties at the Rothe­say ceno­taph. Never did I hear any fel­low stu­dent com­plain about this ac­tiv­ity. A large num­ber of boys had fam­ily mem­bers at least two gen­er­a­tions back who served in both world wars, and they seemed to con­sider it an honour to be en­rolled in a mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity. My fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were not el­i­gi­ble for what­ever rea­son, so all of this mil­i­tary stuff was re­ally for­eign to me.

I at­tended Rothe­say for two years, and af­ter that my ex­po­sure to mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties was ab­sent. I flunked out again in math, on my pro­vin­cial ex­ams, and re­turned to Lunen­burg Academy to try again to pass math. I did pass it and went on to Saint Mary’s Univer­sity to study pre-den­tistry. That was a re­ally dis­mal ef­fort, and univer­sity sci­ence cour­ses left me stand­ing in their dust. My chem­istry pro­fes­sor gave me three on my year-end exam, and when I asked what that was for, he said “You spelled your name cor­rectly, and you should know that this course is not for you. You should study some­thing else!”

So, jump ahead a cou­ple of years, and I found my­self en­rolled in the RCAF, and dur­ing ba­sic in­duc­tion I ex­celled in drill ex­er­cises, but af­ter those weeks of ba­sic train­ing, I never again was re­quired to go on pa­rade. I trained as an air traf­fic con­trol per­son, and tower duty kept me off pa­rade for each Nov. 11. I found I didn’t re­ally like the mil­i­tary life, so when my two-year stint was up, I was out of there like a scalded cat.

Well, his­tory has a way of re­peat­ing it­self, and now my grand­daugh­ter is at­tend­ing a pri­vate school. King’s-Edge­hill School com­bines the boys of Kings and the girls of Edge­hill in one school, and I for one am very proud of her. I think cre­at­ing co-ed­u­ca­tional school from the two pri­vate schools is a re­ally great change.

Rothe­say and Nether­wood schools also com­bined, and both schools are very im­pres­sive in­deed. Rothe­say dropped their cadet corps ac­tiv­i­ties, but King’s Edge­hill has con­tin­ued. They are a very im­pres­sive group when on pa­rade, and I still think that ac­tiv­ity is highly ben­e­fi­cial to the stu­dents.

Our grand­daugh­ter is re­ally happy to be at KES and is do­ing very well in her stud­ies. She is not very ex­cited about be­ing re­quired to par­tic­i­pate in cadets, but her par­ents and her grand­mother and I all no­tice some sub­tle dif­fer­ences in her level of hap­pi­ness and her at­ti­tude, and I think some of that is due to her in­volve­ment in cadets.

On Nov. 11 the KES Cadet Corp marched to the ceno­taph in Windsor to honour those Cana­di­ans who gave their lives dur­ing two world wars. We were very proud of her par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Mem­bers of the Amherst Air Cadet squadron re­cently vis­ited Ottawa, and I’m pretty sure they vis­ited the na­tional ceno­taph. The cadets worked to earn money to un­der­write ex­penses for their trip, and I am highly im­pressed with their com­mit­ment.

Their par­tic­i­pa­tion in such struc­tured ac­tiv­ity will serve them well through­out their lives and give them a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of the kind of ef­fort that is re­quired to make it pos­si­ble to un­der­take such things as group travel. I ap­plaud th­ese young peo­ple and their ded­i­cated in­struc­tors.

I am told there was an im­pres­sive turnout on Nov. 11 to the cer­e­monies at the Amherst ceno­taph. All of you who were there are to be con­grat­u­lated and thanked.

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