Burnie High School

Writing a path to battlefields


PLAQUE:  Amy Hicks of Burnie High wrote about how battles on the Western Front ought to be commemorated.  Picture:  Stuart Wilson, The Advocate.

Year 9 history students will reflect on the Western Front

The trials and horror of war were a serious eye-opener for two North-West students who have been awarded the Frank MacDonald Prize for 2015.

Caitlin Argent of Devonport High and Amy Hicks of Burnie High were among six winners of the annual prize announced this week by Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff.

The Frank MacDonald Prize was established to honour Tasmania's last surviving World War I veteran, who lived at Ulverstone before his death in 2003.

For Amy it was a chance to learn more about a period of history she knew little about.

"I learned a lot about how real it was and how tortuous it was for the soldiers," Miss Hicks said. 

"In one campaign 500 soldiers went into a battle and at roll call only 43 returned."

She said the opportunity to travel overseas  with five other young Tasmanians was fantastic.

"The trip can only help to get us further into World War I and I have probably only learned a third of what I might so far."

Caitlin Argent began writing the essay thinking that winning was really only a fantasy.

"It was something I didn't really think would happen, but it's such a privilege to be chosen," Miss Argent said.

She said she was amazed by the impact the war had on Tasmania and Australia, including the population and workforce and then the ongoing psychological problems for veterans.

"It was quite amazing to learn about the impact on Australia and I even discovered some family ties through great-great uncles who went to war."

Mr Rockliff said the Government was dedicated to preserving the memory of current and ex-service men and women who had fought to protect our freedom, values and way of life.

"The horror and tragedy of war is a difficult, but no less important  subject to fully understand the foundations of the society in which we currently live," Mr Rockliff said.

The prize is open to Tasmanian Year 9 students from government and non-government schools, as well as home-schooled students in the same year level.

The remaining winners for 2015 are from Ogilvie High, St Mary's College, Sacred Heart College and Taroona High.  They will be accompanied by teacher's Emma Jenkins from St Patrick's College and Karen Pape from Sacred Heart and Graham Deacon from the RSL.

Story by Luke Sayer, The Advocate.