Local MP John Watkins presented Centenary of Federation medallions to students at Holy
Spirit Primary, North Ryde
By Therese Spruhan
School students across Australia held special assemblies on May 9, 2001 – the
anniversary of the first sitting of the Federation Parliament – to celebrate the Centenary of Federation and the presentation of Centenary of Federation medallions.
At Holy Spirit Primary, North Ryde, the
school community got into the spirit of Federation in a big way.
Students, teachers and parents dressed in clothes of the period. The school invited local MP John Watkins to present the Centenary of
Federation medallions and had a day of activities typical of the time of Federation such as spinning wool, making quilts, baking damper, bushbands, a cattle parade, dog show, whip-cracking and lots of story-telling.
Students from the agriculture department at St Ignatius College, Riverview took part in the celebrations, telling Holy Spirit students about the role of the wool industry in Australia and demonstrating
different shearing techniques used in the past 100 years.
State MP John Watkins, who presented the medallions to class representatives, said that Australia would continue to be a great nation if we continued
to look after each other and the communities we live in.
Students at Our Lady of Fatima Primary in Caringbah marked the Centenary of Federation by celebrating the role of local heroes in their community.
All classes made lifesize models of their chosen local heroes – policemen and women, members of the armed services, builders, firemen, doctors, priests, members of St Vincent de Paul, local sporting coaches, SES
workers, lifesavers and Jesus – which they displayed in the school hall.
As well, students paraded into the hall bearing various symbols of Australia such as the flag, the bible, the didgeridoo, a digger’s
slouch hat and medals, a shovel (representing those who have helped build our country), flowers (representing the growth and future of our country) and a candle (the light of our faith in God and in our country).
Principal Tony Boyd said they came together to thank God for all the blessings he had given Australia and would continue to give.
Joe Riordan, a member of the Whitlam Government in the early 1970s and
grandfather of students at Our Lady of Fatima Primary, presented the students with their medallions and spoke about the strengths of Australian democracy.
“Our greatest pride and achievement is to continue to
be a place of peace and harmony, irrespective of the background of people,” he said.
“We were not the first people here – the Aboriginal people were – and we have not always treated them with the same respect
we give to others.
“Many people have come to Australia from countries of oppression, and religious and political persecution, so we must continue to welcome people from other nations, and work and live
together in peace and harmony.”
At Marion Primary, Horsley Park,principal Helen Klein said the Year 5 students could take the credit for the organisation of the Centenary of Federation celebrations held at
“As soon as they heard about the presentation of medallions to all primary school children in Australia, they put up their hands to prepare for the day,” she said.
“As well as learning a
great deal about Australian history, they also honed their skills as event organisers.”
Special guests invited by the students included the executive director of schools, Br Kelvin Canavan, the Consul-General
of Malta, Mr Charles Herrera, the Deputy Mayor of Fairfield, Mr Louis Costa, and the Centacare STAR Program co-ordinator, Mrs Margaret Murphy.
As part of their research about Federation and life in Australia
100 years ago, the students recorded interviews with teachers and parents, which were played to the assembly.
Questions included: “What does Federation mean to you?” and “Who was the first Australian Prime
Mrs Klein said the patriotic occasion instilled pride in the students for their country.
“It was very patriotic, with the singing of the National Anthem, a recital of the citizenship
affirmation and a concluding song, This is Australia Calling.
Each student was presented with a commemorative medallion, accompanied by the following text: “One hundred years ago, six separate colonies came
together to become one nation – the Commonwealth of Australia. The Centenary of Federation in 2001 is a time to learn about our past, to celebrate Australia’s achievements and to recognise where we can do better.
For young Australians, the 100th anniversary of nationhood is a special time to think and talk about the future. Australia: It’s what we make it!”