It was announced on 2 December by the Minister of Veterans' Affairs in Canberra, that St Patrick's College History Club was awarded a special award in the Anzac Day Schools' Awards for best "'Innovative Commemoration'' in an Australian school. The description of the Award for Innovative Commemoration goes to a project which incorporates original and creative learning activities which engage students with veterans and/or current serving members of the ADF. It comes with $2000 prize money which will go towards classroom resources.
The was project was titled - World War II and its impact on Australian Communities – Understanding World War II through the stories of our great grandfathers, a local nurse and a living World War II veteran
This year’s History Club project focused on understanding the impact of World War II through researching individuals who were either related to the students, were from the local area or were living veterans. The students began working on this year long project in late 2019 in preparation for the commemoration of 75 years since the end of World War II. Covid and its restrictions on large gatherings of students presented many setbacks to physically meeting, but much was achieved working in a virtual setting at times.
This project was entirely student driven with the aims:
- To gain an understanding of the impact of World War II and educate their peers beyond the classroom (through a virtual assembly and school displays).
- To achieve strong student engagement by gaining skills in historical research using primary sources and accessing digital records such as service records from the National Archives of Australia.
- To strengthen student understanding and empathy for World War II. To achieve this, students researched a local Campbelltown person who served or members of their own family.
- To access the impact of World War II as a ‘living’ past by interviewing a World War II veteran and researching his service.
To achieve these aims, the following projects were undertaken:
- Virtual Anzac Assembly – 9 May 2020 – our planned annual physical Anzac Assembly was cancelled due to the College being closed due to COVID. Thus, the History Club created a ‘virtual’ Anzac Assembly that was broadcast live to the College community at home. This assembly featured a keynote address from one Year 8 student Caitlin R. about her great grandfather, H.J. Daley who had been a prisoner in Changi in World War II. Students also showcased activities undertaken at home on Anzac Day (students were provided with a plethora of online activities they could choose to complete).
- Researching family members and local Campbelltown people who served in World War II and creating a display – students used many online research tools to collect primary sources and create a display for their peers. Eve M, Ava M, Emily M and Caitlin R all researched members in their family who served in World War II and created a display. Our Year 10 History Club members researched Nurse Cynthia Haultain of Ingleburn who was killed in World War II. This activity gave the more senior members of the group opportunity to peer mentor the juniors.
- Interviewing a living World War II veteran – 104-year-old Bert Collins – Laura and Bronwyn Z interviewed Bert pre-Covid and created a display on his experience of World War II.
- Creating a wall mind map ‘Impacts of World War II on Australia’ – each student investigated one theme demonstrating how Australians on the home front were affected by World War II.
The History Club members are to be congratulated for winning this prestigious award (to complement the two Anzac Day Schools Awards they won last year). Members give up their lunchtimes to work on such projects. The Award comes with $2000 prize money which will go towards history resources such as artefacts to use in the classroom. Last year's prize money went towards the College 180th display and material to make more historic uniforms for the school archives.
Fran Musico-Rullo - HSIE Teacher