Catholic Education South Australia
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30 Nov 2023
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Catholic school students awarded for celebrating the ANZAC Spirit

Five students from Catholic schools have been named among the winners in the 2023 Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize competition.

Congratulations to the following students on their prize-winning entries in the state-wide competition:

  • Emma SlatterySt Joseph's School, Clare
  • Gabrielle EliasSaint Ignatius’ Senior College
  • Grace CollinsLoreto College
  • Maria LaMontagnaOur Lady of The Sacred Heart College
  • Mehar BainsSaint Ignatius’ Senior College

Just 20 students in Year 9 and 10 are awarded each year with this prestigious prize, run by the South Australian state government to encourage young South Australians to understand, connect with and maintain the Anzac Spirit.

It gives students across all sectors of education the opportunity to examine and empathise with the remarkable sacrifices of South Australian service men or women during the 20th century.

Using a range of sources to research the experiences of a South Australian Navy, Army, Airforce or Nursing service man or woman who served during World War I and/or World War II, students submit a 1500-word essay about how they embodied the characteristics of the Anzac spirit, such as courage, perseverance, mateship and resourcefulness. They must describe his or her background and life before departing for war, their service during the relevant world war and the circumstances of their death or their life after the war.

Submissions are then judged by the depth of research involved and the written quality of the piece.

Maria’s winning essay delved into the life of William Edward McInnes, an Able Seaman on H.M.A.S. Kanimbla I and the grandfather of a staff member at OLSH College.

Emma researched her great-grandfather’s brother, George James Evans, who served in World War II and was taken in 1942 by Japanese forces, as a Prisoner of War to Sadakan in Borneo. Evans was one of 2000 POWs who were part of the Sandakan Death marches to Ranau.

“I decided to conduct my research assignment on my great grandfather’s brother, George James Evans,” said Emma.

“One of the reasons I chose to research George James Evans was because he had the same birthday as me, George was born on the 26th of February 1916.

“He enlisted to serve in World War II at the age of 24, in January 1940. My grandmother, Patsy Rayner, helped me to find out lots of information, gather photos and showed me original letters that George wrote home to his family.”

Emma also has a great photo of her Uncle George in a frame, and has the original letters written by George that he sent home to his family, in unbelievably good condition for 80 years old. Whilst in Vietnam, Emma plans to visit sites of significance to Australian servicemen and women.

The awards were presented by South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas at a ceremony on November 6 the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide.

The 20 award-winning students have been invited to participate in the State Government’s fully funded 12-day study tour to Vietnam in April 2024 to coincide with Anzac Day. 

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