Posted: 13.02.2024 11:59:33

Traditions of glory, honour and valour

How the Polotsk Cadet School, winner of the Spiritual Revival Award, lives

...Military bearing, precise step, beautiful posture — many new recruits would envy. Despite the snowfall and frost, teenagers in cadet uniforms are marching vigorously on the parade ground of the Polotsk Cadet School. “Right shoulder forward!” the head of military-patriotic education, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ismailov commands. Oh, how beautifully and harmoniously the boys and girls, for whom cadetship has become the meaning of life, manage to do that! They marched in a goose-step style, and upon returning from the drill, proudly showed their main award — the laureate diploma of the Spiritual Revival Award of the President of the Republic of Belarus.

Stanislav Krasovsky   ANTON STEPANISHCHEV 

‘I am the heir to the idea’

“Together with the director of the school, Colonel Stanislav Krasovsky, I received the award from the hands of the Head of State,” Arseniy Supranovich, a tenth-grader, does not hide his excitement. “This is a great honour. I will remember it for the rest of my life. And the main thing is that Aleksandr Lukashenko shook my hand! I will definitely tell my children about it in the future, and hopefully my grandchildren, too. As proof, there is a photo from the ceremony. You know, it became a great incentive... Now I just have no right not to use my full potential for the benefit of my native country.
And they help to hone it here, at the cadet school.”
What stuck in Arseniy’s memory most of all about the ceremony? He is not even hesitating to answer — of course, the President’s words that peace is the most important value for any nation. 
“Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarusians know this better than anyone else. And our memory is a guarantee
of peace in the future. Should we forget the road to the temples and monuments of the heroes — a new war will be inevitable. These words seem to be so common, yet in fact they are very thought-provoking. By the way, we are also told about this by the clergy of the diocese who often conduct classes at the school…”
You would agree that this opinion is not of a teenager but of a man. Why was it specifically Arseniy who came on stage? As the guy explains, he is the heir to a big idea. It turns out that Arseniy’s father, an aviation engineer, together with the current director of the Polotsk Cadet School, stood at the origins of the revival of the legendary educational institution whose history dates back to 1835.
Stanislav Krasovsky joins in the conversation.
“We had been working towards this for 17 years. The reward was high, and so was the responsibility. All the tasks that we had set for ourselves since the beginning of work on the revival of the cadet corps were completed. There were three of them — to open the school, to return the flag, and to create a museum. In 2006, the first cadet class appeared in Polotsk Secondary School No. 4, and now we have more than 270 students. Next year, thanks to the recent commissioning of a new cadet campus, we will increase the number and will become the largest cadet institution in the country. As for the flag of the Polotsk Cadet Corps of 1844, it was taken out of the country over 100 years ago. Since 1957, it had been kept in the Synodal Cathedral in New York. It took us two years to negotiate the return of the relic. After that, a solemn transfer ceremony took place in the Serbian city of Bela Crkva. Now the flag is in our museum.”
Stanislav Krasovsky was a career military man in the past. He is a graduate of the Anti-Aircraft Missile Engineering School and the Military Academy. During the Soviet times, he served in Kiev, the Baltic States, the Far East and the Urals. He left military service in Polotsk from the position of commander of the anti-aircraft missile regiment, which he had commanded for 13 years. He managed to unite activists, and together they set about creating a modern Polotsk Cadet School. The government supported the idea and helped. Today, children and grandchildren of many of Krasovsky’s teammates are studying here. Those guys who, like Arseniy Supranovich, followed in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers, became heirs to the historically important and valuable idea of reviving cadetism in the ancient Polotsk land.


Heroes studied here

The director explains the popularity of a new museum of the Polotsk Cadet School by the interest of Belarusian and foreign guests to the history of cadetship and modern conditions of its development. Particularly now, as the school has returned to its historical place — to the territory of the Upper Castle, under the holy patronage of St. Sophia Cathedral. 
The tour is conducted by the cadets.
“Look, the museum occupies an entire floor of an ancient building erected in the early twentieth century for the needs
of the cadet corps. It is true that a large-scale reconstruction took place here, but the spirit of those times has been preserved. Archways… High ceilings... Do you see the walls with traces of wartime fighting? They were intentionally left as a reminder relic…”
The gallery corridor is decorated with portraits of famous graduates. Note the number: during its existence, about four thousand people have been educated in the Polotsk Cadet Corps! Among them are outstanding military leaders, three defence ministers, eight four-star generals and other prominent historical figures. For example, the author of Port Arthur novel, writer Aleksandr Stepanov, inventor of the three-line rifle Sergey Mosin and even Oleg Romanov, the great Russian prince and the cavalier of St. George’s Cross… 
The museum includes five halls with unique expositions. It features the gallery of graduates, the history of the cadet movement in Belarus and Russia, the history of the Polotsk Cadet Corps and materials narrating about the main stages of its revival… The place of honour is reserved for our contemporary, Hero of Belarus Nikita Kukonenko. It is in this corner of the museum that schoolchildren who dream of a military career stay the longest. They admire the courage
of their fellow countryman — the pilot who died as part of the crew of a Yak–130 combat aircraft while trying to take
a falling plane away from a populated area.  
Just four words as an epilogue to the exposition. Four words. And this is the whole life... ‘Cadet. Trainee. Officer. Hero.’ Quick, bright, but, alas, tragic… There is also a sparkling gold commemorative monograph here signed by the President. 
Aleksandr Lukashenko granted it to the pilot’s mother together with the Hero of Belarus medal.
Next to it is a composition of steel. The contrails left by an airplane soaring into the sky — this idea became the basis when developing a large commemorative granite stele that is about to decorate the main entrance to the territory
of the cadet campus.
The portrait of smiling Nikita in a flight uniform seems to counsel the current cadets at parting — be honest to yourself and your country. Patriotism is here — in you, in me, in everyday life, where there is also a place for heroism. It does not matter whether it is big or small… 
In the museum of the Polotsk Cadet School    ANTON STEPANISHCHEV

To educate worthy people

Colonel Stanislav Krasovsky shows around the campus — a comfortable dormitory, cosy classrooms, well-equipped gyms, a multifunctional shooting range. The director notes, 
“We do not necessarily try to make each of our students a future hero. It is unreal. And fortunately, there will not
be enough high-profile heroic deeds for everyone in our peaceful Belarus. The main goal is to give children all the opportunities to grow up smart, well-mannered and worthy citizens of their country, develop talents and abilities, teach them to appreciate and cherish the freedom and independence of the Motherland. 
And if necessary — professionally rise to its defence without the slightest hesitation. After all, patriotism is not just a state of mind, but a fusion of knowledge and skills, moral qualities and life values.” 

Anton Stepanishchev

By Yelena Begunova