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Students graduate into soldiers

By Celina Ip

Having graduated from 42nd Field Artillery Regiment’s Military Cooperative Education Program, 25 local high school students can now call themselves soldiers.


Cooperative education is part of the high school curriculum, allowing Renfrew County students 16 years or older to earn four high school credits while developing a strong sense of discipline, drive, confidence and practical experience in the workplace.

Ever since the Military Cooperative Education Program was reestablished by 42nd Field Artillery Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish) three years ago, nearly 50 students have experienced the job of a soldier and gained an impressive set of skills applicable to diverse career opportunities in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Along with earning high school credits and being provided with a challenging and rewarding learning experience, the military co-op participants are employed as members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Primary Reserve and receive $4,055 for 45 days.

This year, 25 students signed up for the program which took place during the winter semester from February until April.

The semester-long program was divided into two courses: Basic Military Qualification and Basic Military Qualification (Land).

Both courses included basic military training, first-aid, navigation, field craft, career awareness, communication, self-defence, and training in the operation of military equipment – while BMQ (Land) offered further instruction into the general soldier skills used on the field.

Held to the same standard as any other soldier, the program culminated in a five-day field exercise where the participants demonstrated all that they had learned.

After successfully completing the program, it was on April 21 that a ceremony took place at the Pembroke Armouries to celebrate the graduation of the 2018 cohort.

The presentations began with a few words expressed to thank the co-op coordinators from Valour School and Bishop Smith Catholic High School, Gary Serviss and Lorie Keon-Leahey respectively, who played an important role in the program’s success.

“We wanted to honour Gary Serviss and Lorie Keon-Leahey who helped to promote our Military Cooperative Education Program and ensure its success,” said Lt.-Col. Finley Mullally, reviewing officer and commanding officer of 33 Canadian Brigade Group Battle School. “We have to schedule our courses to coincide properly with the academic year and we also have to set them up in such a way that the students still rotate back to their schools. Throughout the semester, the students are also touching base with their co-op teachers who are helping to ensure that they meet the academic requirement of the co-op program as well.”

Certificates of appreciation were presented to Serviss and Keon-Leahey to commend them for their role in promoting the value of reservists and their continued support to the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

“Any student who has participated in this co-op has matured at an incredibly fast rate and has grown into fine young men women, and fine soldiers because of their participation in this program. In my 20 years involved in the co-op program, this basic training co-op has achieved unbelievable results in terms of preparing young adults for the workforce, be it in the military or in civilian areas,” said Serviss. “I am honoured to be recognized for the small part I play in the process, when the real accolades belong with the hardworking members of the 42nd Field Artillery Regiment.”

Once it came time to honour the graduates, the teens were called by name as they one by one marched to the front to receive their certificate.

One graduate from each course, Ian Reid from BMQ and Darcy Ashikawa from BMQ (Land), were also honoured with the Top Candidates Awards for having displayed superior growth throughout the program.

“Their overall performance is what made them the top candidates as they excelled in every subject be with drills, weapons handling, discipline or maintenance,” said Sgt Geoffrey Nickelo, reserve unit recruiter for 42 Field Regiment.

Now that the students have graduated, they have the choice to either release from the primary reserve or continue part-time and begin their training with the regiment. 

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