Today Tuesday April 25, 2017 ANZAC Day is celebrated not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in France, and particularly in Picardy! Indeed this is what links us tightly to these two countries following World War I, 1914-1918, as many soldiers gave their lives for France and liberated the city of Villers Bretonneux on April 25, 1918. A ceremony took place this morning in that city in the Somme department. Our Hugues Capet high school has been part of the ANZAC Centenary School Link Program since November 2015. We commemorated the day and wish our Australian partner high schools a beautiful commemoration.
Mmes Bégoux et Laugié
We have entered all school partner coordinates so that you can now find out exactly where your partner is located in France, Belgium and Australia. You can click on these co-ordinates and go directly to the respective school pages to find out what you partner has been doing at both local and international levels to mark the centenary of WW1.
Each school page now also includes a map of their school location too!
In November 2016, the students of Atheneum Nieuwpoort visited the graves of the Australian soldiers that are buried in Nieuwpoort. Each of the students chose a grave and placed a commemorative cross with a special message at its base. As they did this they asked – ‘who are you?’ – and pledged to work with their partners at Albany State High School to research the background of their fallen soldier. We believe that this is a great way to honour those who came to defend Europe, especially from as far away as Australia.
We are delighted to welcome the following schools to the exciting ACSLP!
Edouard Branaly High School in Amiens is partnered with Ellenbrook Secondary College in Western Australia.
GO! Atheneum Avelgem Belgium is partnered with Rosebery Middle School Palmerston in the Northern Territory.
MSKA Roeselare Belgium is partnered with Comet Bay College in Secret Harbour WA. The image below is of their fantastic military museum that they have set up within the school.
On 14 November the students of Marie Curie in Arras visited the British Cemetery Tilloy-lez Mofflaines to pay tribute to Australian soldiers who fought and died in World War 1. They laid commemorative crosses inscribed by themselves and their partner school in Australia and researched the names on the graves. One student, Matteo, read an emotional message on behalf of his friends addressed to their partners in Australia. They then recited ‘In Flanders Fields’ and sang the Australian national anthem. A truly personal and heartfelt ceremony which was recorded on video.
We have just returned from visiting 23 schools in France and Belgium. These schools are amongst 40 that have partnered with Australian schools to work on commemorative projects that showcase the impact of the First World War upon their respective communities.
Of course these wartime communities were very different. Communities along the Western Front were effectively the frontline, whereas in Australia communities waited for news of their loved ones fighting 12 000 km away ‘in some foreign land’.
The students and teachers involved in all countries have done some fantastic work, uncovered stories never before told and pledged to visit war graves, place a cross beneath a headstone and ask the question – ‘Who are you?’ Then our French and Belgian friends promise to adopt a grave, find out about this soldier and share his story with us.
Nathalie Witz, our great program coordinator in France and Belgium has enjoyed two weeks in Australia visiting schools, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. The highlight of her trip was undoubtedly visiting her partner school in Heywood in the western district of Victoria. You can read all about this unique visit in this extract from the local press. Nath returns home on Wednesday. Bon voyage Nath – we will miss you.