By Jeremy Cook
A Stanthorpe high school student is set to embark on the pilgrimage of a lifetime.
Year 10 student Grace Roberts will jet off to Europe in April 2024 to tour some of Australia’s most poignant war memorial sites after achieving statewide recognition as one of eight students to receive the prestigious Premier’s Anzac Prize.
The St Joseph’s student was one of eight high schoolers and two teachers named in the list of 2024 recipients.
Part of the prize involves attending an Anzac Day dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux, the main Australian War Memorial in France dedicated to servicemen and women killed on the Western Front during World War I.
St Joseph’s Principal Andrew Kendall was full of praise for the “keen” history student.
“We are very proud of her achievement and wish her well on her travels with the other recipients next year,” Mr Kendall said.
Awarded in partnership with the State Library of Queensland and sponsored by RSL Queensland, the annual prize serves to recognise the efforts of young Queenslanders who show a strong interest in the Anzac legacy.
Applicants were required to complete a multimedia presentation addressing the relevance of the “Anzac spirit” to young Australians in modern day Australia.
As part of her reward, Roberts will travel to France, Belgium and the United Kingdom next April to see firsthand where Australian troops fought during World War I and gain a better understanding of what they went through.
RSL Queensland State President Major General Stephen Day AM described the trip as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for students like Roberts to learn of the Anzac’s lasting legacy.
“It’s important that we pass on to young Australians the story of how veterans contributed to making Australia what it is today,” he said.
“The prize is an opportunity for some of our brightest high school students to get out of the classroom, travel to the Western Front and gain a more profound understanding of the commitment and sacrifices of their veterans.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said students will have an unparalleled opportunity to deepen their understanding of Australia’s rich Anzac history.
“Experiencing these historical sites firsthand allows the students to immerse themselves in the Anzac tradition,” the premier said.
“Upon their return they serve as ambassadors for the Anzac legacy within their school communities.”
Education Minister Grace Grace hailed the strength of this year’s applicants and congratulated all prize winners.
In what amounts to pure coincidence, Mr Kendall said Roberts will be joined in Europe by members of the school community and even her own family.
“St Joseph’s School is conducting an international study tour to Europe at the same time and will also be at Villers-Bretonneux on the same day,” he said.
“Our tour is being organised and led by staff member Mrs Mary Roberts, Grace’s mother.
“Grace and her mother will be very proud to be sharing the experience together.”
The Premier’s Anzac Prize has now been awarded to 136 students since its inception in 2013.