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Meriden Cadets staff and students rise

Ms Svetlana Onisczenko and Mrs Fiona Brennan

Despite the youth of its Cadets program, the Meriden Cadet Unit’s staff and students have demonstrated they have what it takes to rise to the top, with a slew of promotions and a record number of new recruits for 2020/2021. Meriden staff member, Ms Svetlana Onisczenko, has been promoted to the rank of Captain, after fourteen years of dedicated service to the Australian Army Cadets. Meanwhile, three Cadets have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and have been promoted to Executive positions in the Unit.

Maths teacher, Ms Onisczenko, was congratulated on her new title by Major Richard Bishop, Commanding Officer of the Trinity Grammar School Army Cadet Unit (TGSACU).

“Her promotion to Captain is a well-deserved acknowledgement of service to the Australian Army Cadets,” Major Bishop said.

“Captain Onisczenko is known for her commitment to young people and her desire to see them grow as individuals through the Cadets program.”

Ms Onisczenko said she was first drawn to serve in the TGSACU in 2007 when she saw how beneficial the program was to student development. The satisfaction of seeing the successes of each new cohort has kept her in the program for more than a decade.

“The Cadets youth development program is a great way for students to cultivate their leadership skills, confidence and independence,” she said.

“As a teacher, it’s rewarding to see students challenge themselves and discover their personal strengths and to watch them take up opportunities to participate in activities they may not get to do outside Cadets.”

Mrs Fiona Brennan, Meriden Coordinator of Cadets, said Ms Onisczenko was an asset to the development of the Cadets program at the School.

“She has brought to Meriden invaluable experience with the Australian Army Cadets and has been a steadfast mentor to all Meriden Cadets, especially those undertaking Promotions Courses,” Mrs Brennan said.

Students who received promotions in 2020 include Isabella Saville, who has been made Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 1; Emily Seeto, who is now Operations Officer (OPSO) of the Unit; and Celeste Valiozis, who has gained the posting of Training Officer (TO). These promotions mark the first time Meriden Cadets have filled leadership roles at the highest possible level in the TGSACU.

In her new position, Isabella is responsible for maintaining discipline, dress and bearing in all recruits. Emily steps into a vital and complex role in which she manages the operational side of running AFT camps and overnight bivouacs. Celeste is responsible for the creation and implementation of training programs across the entire Unit.

Fifty Meriden girls enrolled in Promotions Courses this year. The courses involve both written coursework and practical components which can include instructing their peers in all manner of lessons including sword drills, navigation and marching. This year, assessments took place on school grounds in a COVID-safe setup after much of the theoretical content was delivered online throughout Terms 2 and 3.

Major Bishop said the Meriden Cadets participating in the Promotions Course impressed staff with their resilience, hard work and can-do attitude.

“The girls are great role models because they work well as a team and take on responsibility for younger Cadets without being asked – the Unit is in safe hands with this calibre of young people rising up the ranks,” he said.

Meriden is proud of its Cadets staff and students. This term, seventy-one Year 7 students joined the Unit as new recruits, having been inspired by the approachability, adventurous spirit and sense of service demonstrated by older girls in the program. Long may the tradition continue.

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