COMMEMORATING THE FALLEN: Emerald State High School History teacher Leanne Ross and P&C Association member Renee Firth with Years 9, 10 and 11 Modern History students.
COMMEMORATING THE FALLEN: Emerald State High School History teacher Leanne Ross and P&C Association member Renee Firth with Years 9, 10 and 11 Modern History students. Aaron Goodwin

Pillars a place of pride

A VERY special memorial was recently unveiled in the region, just in time for Anzac Day.

Erected at Emerald State High School, the Memorial Garden of Pillars is a group of metal pillars mounted with cut-out plaques which commemorate 13 armed conflicts which Australians have served in.

Leanne Ross, a history teacher at the school, said the memorial was initially envisaged to be an extension of the school's existing war memorial.

However, it became so much more.

"I was looking for a guest speaker (for our Anzac Day parade) and Andy Plunkett from Capella rang up and said, 'I can be your guest speaker',” Ms Ross said.

"But by the time ... got back to me, I'd organised somebody else to do it.

"He sent me a copy of the speech he was going to give and it was about Lance Corporal Jason Marks, who died while serving in the Australian armed forces in Afghanistan.

"I hadn't actually realised this but he'd been a student of ours for a couple of years.”

After learning about Lance Cpl Marks, the school decided to open the new memorial in his honour.

"It was definitely opened in his honour. We dedicated the memorial to him,” Ms Ross said.

"After we opened it, Andy laid a wreath down at the Afghanistan pillar so we sort of recognised that was his service.

"Eventually I'm hoping to get a plaque to formally add to the Afghanistan pillar in honour of Jason Marks.”

In a show of community spirit, local companies Brennans Welding, A1 Panel and Paint, Mitre 10 and Coates Hire assisted with the project, including providing materials at cost.

Central Highlands Regional Council and Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar also made donations towards to the memorial.

Ms Ross said the school was "incredibly fortunate” to have community support for the project, including from their P&C Association.

"We got a lot of support from the (Emerald) RSL as well. We're just very lucky as a school to be in such a wonderful community that supports so many different projects,” Ms Ross said.

The memorial has been registered as a Place of Pride with the National Register of War Memorials.


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