It was a crisp and sunny autumn day as the echo of the bugler’s ‘Last Post’ drifted through the air. The words, “Lest we forget” hung like droplets akin to the tears falling within the crowd. You could sense the unspoken promise to always remember the sacrifice those young Anzacs made.
Thursday, April 30th was Mt. Torrens Primary Schools’ Anzac Remembrance Day. The school’s principal, Garry MacPherson, has noticed an increasing interest and participation in remembrance services over the years, by students and the local community. Each of the 76 students who attend the school were present that day and played a part in the ceremony through readings, singing, artwork, movie making and remembering.
The school’s 2009 Anzac event was creatively arranged by the Performing Arts Teacher, Suzanne Bourke, and was run smoothly by some year 7 students who shared their thoughts, poems and stories. Suzanne chose some heart felt songs and played the guitar, which stirred the crowd’s mood. We stood for the first verse of the Australian National Anthem, cried for Eric Bogles’ “And the band played waltzing Matilda” and contemplated the words in some moving original songs by Flo Bourke, Suzanne’s daughter.
This was an extra special day for the entire school as a seedling from one of the two original pine cones (brought back from Gallipoli during the Great War) was waiting in the wings for the moment it’s roots would have a footing in the rich soil of the schoolyard. This lone pine descendant was donated to the school by two former pupils, Ashley and Darren Johnson and had been nurtured for 3 months prior to the ceremony by Lance Watkins. Lance was a National Serviceman in the 1950’s and attended the Mt. Torrens Primary School as a young lad. Since the 1980’s many lone pine descendants have been grown Australia-wide, in remembrance.
Lance’s father, Leslie J.T. Watkins (who also attended the primary school), served in the Great War in Egypt and France. His medals were worn proudly by his great grand daughter, Darcy Watkins. Darcy is in year 6 at the school, making that 3 generations spanning 100 years of the Watkins family at the Mt. Torrens Primary School. Lance and Darcy were honoured to plant the tree together with Mitchell Pym and Samantha Young (pictured on page 1). Once the seedling was planted, everyone present laid a piece of Rosemary at the base of the tree as their own personal tribute.
After the ceremony, all guests were treated to a cuppa, an Anzac biscuit and an original movie made by the year 3, 4 and 5 students. A very clever production, the movie was about Simpson and his Donkey using the Lone Pine as a marker to guide him while rescuing over 300 men during the early days of the Gallipoli landing in April 1915. The school, its staff and children are to be congratulated on a thoughtful and thought provoking remembrance ceremony.
Lance Watkins, planting the lone pine, assisted by Mt Torrens Primary School students.