Chloe Brown, from St Joseph’s, Albion Park, is preparing to take a once in a lifetime pilgrimage as one of 20 Year 10 and 11 students from across NSW to win a Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship that will see her touring the battlefields of the Western Front in Europe.
Chloe, currently in Year 10, will embark on a 13-day educational journey, from Friday 29 June to Tuesday 10 July, after being recognised for her interest in Australian history. Together with the other outstanding recipients, Chloe will visit significant battlefields of the Western Front in both Belgium and France. She will also visit numerous important sites including Ypres Salient, Passchendaele and the Somme.
The scholarship forms part of the NSW Government's Centenary of Anzac program 2014-2018, and aims to ensure the Gallipoli story stays alive for future generations. “I'm amazed that soldiers put their hands up to serve our country,” said Chloe, “I would never be able to do that and can’t begin to imagine the courage you would need to have to fight for freedom.”
The scholarship provides students with the opportunity to experience international cultures and develop their knowledge and understanding of the history of Australia’s involvement in the war. The students will participate in commemorations at a number of cemeteries and memorials, as well as visit battlefields, museums and other sites relevant to the Anzac tradition.
Chloe said she is humbled to receive such an amazing scholarship and is excited to be given the chance to travel around Europe, “I'm looking forward to learning more about the history of the soldiers that fought for our country. The thought of being able to travel inclined me to make an Expression of Interest. Studying history gives greater insight into what happened in the war.”
In July 2017, schools were invited to submit an Expression of Interest to the NSW Office for Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice, to participate in the selection process. A ballot was held on 23 August 2017, and the schools drawn were then required to run a local selection process to choose a student to attend the tour. After applying, St Joseph's was selected as one of only 20 schools across the state to receive a scholarship position.
During Term 2, St Joseph’s asked for Expressions of Interest from students, with eligibility based on the following criteria:
- Makes a positive contribution to the school community;
- Completes tasks by specified deadlines;
- Displays a genuine interest in Australian history;
- Willing to produce a report on their experience; and
- Has an interest in studying History into Year 12.
Students who submitted an Expression of Interest were then asked to complete a full application. Stage 1 involved students producing a piece of work based on a theme that related to the Centenary of Anzac. Chloe chose the effect of the Great War on women, submitting a poem, Falling Flowers, as her piece of work.
“When I think about the Anzacs, I’m always thinking about the families and how sad it would have been to lose a member,” says Chloe. “This persuaded me to write about the grief that a family would experience after finding out a family member had passed away.”
Three students were then shortlisted for Stage 2. This stage involved students being interviewed by a school and community selection panel, comprising the General Manager of the Albion Park RSL Memorial Club, Shaun Tobin, a school parent representative, Maureen Davies, and St Joseph’s HSIE Coordinator, Gareth Reavell.
At interview stage, the students were asked to discuss their submitted works. The selection panel assessed:
- The quality of the student’s submissions and their presentations;
- Their capacity to undertake the tour; and
- Their ability to communicate effectively on their return.
The students each demonstrated a keen interest in learning about Australian history and that they had qualities and attributes to be appropriate representatives of both their school and the state of NSW. Based on Chloe’s excellent piece of work and her interview responses, the panel selected her as the successful recipient. The scholarship is inclusive of all costs (except spending money).
Three teachers from NSW will accompany the students, together with a historian with specific knowledge of the Western Front battlefields, and will provide supervision, support and pastoral care.
Mr Reavell said, “Chloe is a committed and passionate student who will benefit greatly from the scholarship. Through the application process, Chloe demonstrated her keen interest in the Anzac legacy and her desire to learn more about the Anzacs. Chloe will be a wonderful representative of St Joseph's. We wish her all the best for an enjoyable and insightful trip, and look forward to Chloe reporting on her experiences upon her return to school."
Further, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Gareth Ward has congratulated Chloe on her achievement, “I am extremely pleased that Chloe is one of 20 outstanding students that will embark on the tour,” Mr Ward said. “All of the applicants should be commended for their strong leadership qualities and interest in Australian history. This is a sensational opportunity for Chloe to represent our community.”
Update, see Mr Ward talk about Chloe in Parliament (Community Recognition Statements) on 21 June here