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St Mary’s students commemorate Anzacs with planting

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By Pam Kiriakidis

ST Mary’s Parish Primary School students and Whittlesea community representatives planted a descendant of the Lone Pine in the school’s new Anzac garden, that was blessed, during a commemoration service on Monday.

Principal Phillip Smith welcomed the new Anzac garden, which will be used as a prayer labyrinth for students to sit and reflect during break times.

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Student leaders followed the path of the prayer labyrinth and placed the Lone Pine to be planted in the middle.

School representatives, Whittlesea RSL sub-branch members and Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell helped in the planting process, burying the tree that will grow up to about 20 meters in height.

Whittlesea RSL sub-branch president Ned Panuzzo helped in the planting process among other school and community representatives at St Mary’s Parish Primary School on Monday. ​

St Mary’s learning and teaching leader Rita Zanin, who sourced the tree from Canberra, said the planting ceremony was to help students understand the story of the Lone Pine, which commemorates Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought at Gallipoli during the First World War.

“I believe that as teachers we have the obligation and duty to pass the tradition on to our kids because if we don’t …  then we lose the story, we lose culture, we lose the whole imagery of what it means and what it is,” she said.

“We do a lot of this through story, through song and prayer services, but to have an actual pine that is [descended] from the Lone Pine tree on the Gallipoli peninsula, [it’s] important for kids to have that tangible piece of evidence.”

Whittlesea RSL sub-branch president Ned Panuzzo said it was an honour to be part of a ceremony that was aimed at educating youth on Australian history.

“It’s great to see that the school is taking on a significant role on remembering past veterans and First World War veterans [who] died in Gallipoli by planting a pine tree,” he said.

“There is a history that these men went away … to make sure that Australia was kept safe, and they went away to do their job.

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said the school should be so proud of its students for taking part in a ceremony that would help nuture the next generation.

“It was exceptionally special to have a Lone Pine in our town.

“The way the school community has really got behind it … [it’s] a magnificent place for it to be.

“I think that was shown by the number of veterans turned out as well.

 “It will remind [the students] about the freedoms they have in their life because of what the men and women of the [Australian Defense Force] have had to do for us,” Mr Mitchell said.

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