Yass High School officially opened up their ANZAC Memorial last Thursday, 27 April, at the entrance of their newly constructed hall which was finalised at the end of 2022.

The ANZAC Memorial features metal emblems from left to right of the Navy, Army, and Airforce, as well as an emblem of four soldiers and a bugler playing the Last Post inscribed with ‘Lest We Forget’.

The memorial also features a plaque reading; ‘This ANZAC Memorial was officially opened by Luke Hagerty, President Yass RSL Sub-Branch on 27th April 2023. Lest We Forget.’

Behind the memorial are six newly erected flag poles, which hold aloft the Australian National Flag, New Zealand National Flag, Aboriginal Flag, New South Wales State Flag, Air Force Flag and Navy Flag, and were hung at half-mast during the opening ceremony.

The Yass ANZAC Memorial project is a poignant reminder of the enduring ANZAC legacy and its importance for future generations. The opening was timely in that it occurred just after ANZAC Day this year.

The Memorial will also serve as a powerful mark of the bravery and sacrifice of the ANZACs and is a symbol to honour the ANZAC legacy while providing students and the broader community with valuable educational tools.

The Official party was led to the  memorial by a riderless horse, Ebony, wearing an authentic WWI kit attended by her owner, Mr Kim Langton.

In attendance at the official opening of the ANZAC Memorial at Yass High School, last Thursday morning was Principal Linda Langton, joined by dignitaries Yass RSL Sub Branch President Luke Hagerty, Yass RSL Sub Branch Secretary Al Charry, Yass Valley Deputy Mayor Jasmin Jones, Chaplain Steve Neuhaus, Cath Neuhaus, Hume NSW Police District Inspector David Cowell, and School Captain Mark Box – just to name a few.

Student Sean Bell spoke beautifully about his connection to Country and respect for those serving in the Armed Forces in the Welcome to Country.

The opening of the ANZAC Memorial was also joined by two Yass High School students who pushed for the establishment of the memorial, Trent Robinson and Liam Monaghan.

Yass RSL sub-Branch President, Luke Hagerty, then officially opened Yass High School’s ANZAC Memorial.

Yass High School students watched the ceremony in the hall via live stream, which was then followed by a whole school assembly focusing on ANZAC Day.

Principal Langton and Mr Al Charry addressed the crowd, sharing personal stories about family and personal experiences during war, before Ella-Rose Bywater sang a stunning rendition of In Flanders Field and also sang the Australian National Anthem, with Jason Green singing the New Zealand National Anthem.

The Times spoke to Principal Langton following the school assembly, who was extremely proud of their new ANZAC Memorial in the community.

“It’s just so important for the school in a couple of ways. One, it just has brought community together into the school,” Langton said.

“A number of different people from a variety of parts of our community have come together, not just for today, but in the advice, the design and the setup of the memorial. It’s just been wonderful.

“I really hope for this memorial that it is viewed as a Yass community one. We have the community walking through the school all the time because it’s such a shared site and I would love it, as people walk through, that they just want to pop down and have a look outside the hall to what the memorial looks like.

“It’s also very important to teach our young people the value of tradition, about service for others and about honouring those who’ve done that.

“I think it encapsulates all of those real core values that we have here at Yass High School and as a Yass community.”

While collaborating closely with Yass Sub-Branch Secretary Al Charry as to the correct protocols for the ANZAC Memorial for the last six weeks, Principal Langton said the project was over two years in the works.

“Trent Robinson, who was our school captain last year, and Liam Monaghan, who was a prefect, came to me when they were in Year 10 with this idea and I said, yes, absolutely, we’d love to do that, but where?” Langton continued.

“Our hold-up has been trying to find a location, so we were really waiting for the new hall to be constructed and handed over to the school before we could have an appropriate space, and I think that it’s perfect for it.

“Luke and Al have been our source of all knowledge for the project because the last thing we wanted to do is breach any protocols or do anything wrong.

“Beyond that, they’ve been working closely with Mark Box our School Captain who really wants a career in the Air Force and the advice and the mentoring that they’ve given to him has been outstanding.

“We’ve really grown and benefited from our relationship with the RSL.”

Langton said the timing of opening the ANZAC Memorial at the school was fitting, just two days after ANZAC Day.

“The children know that we can’t do the assembly on the actual day because it’s school holidays, but it’s important to us as a school and to us as a culture and a nation that we always mark it very respectfully.

“The behaviour of the children in the hall today reflects the importance of ANZAC Day for all of us and I think it’s something that does unite us and binds us together.

“I’m just so proud of the school and absolutely delighted that the dream has come to reality today.”

Charry said the involvement from the Yass RSL Sub-Branch with the school on the project was “extremely special”.

“I was very honoured when we first established a link with Linda and Yass High School,” Charry said.

“We’re here, we’re part of the community and we really want to help as much as we can.

“When it all came together, providing the advice for this memorial was obviously very special because being a serviceman myself for 28 years and having only just transitioned, this is my first ANZAC Day out of uniform.

“I commend Linda for the respect that her school has for the veteran community and I respect what they’ve done here. I really commend them on the efforts they made to put this together.”

Tim Warren