Catholic school students from Granville’s Delany College took centre stage at the beginning of April to remember and pay their respects to the service and sacrifice made by the men and women of the Australian Defence Force.
School captains Achan Akot and Khan Salicioglou-Achi were selected from thousands across the state to deliver the keynote address at the 70th RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC Commemoration in Hyde Park.
Attended by the Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley AC KC and NSW Education Minister Prue Car, the event was delivered entirely by students for students, including filling the role of master of ceremonies, delivering the keynote address, readings and the Ode and performing The Last Post.
The Year 12 leaders, of Sudanese and Turkish heritage, were proud to represent their school and country. Seventeen-year-old Mr Salicioglou-Achi said speaking at such a prestigious event was an experience he’ll never forget. He wore the medals of his assistant principal’s grandfather, which only added to the significance of the day.
“Being part of the ceremony was an incredible honour and I hope it helped all those in attendance to have a better understanding of the life and times of Australia and its people, while promoting qualities of courage in the face of great adversity,” he said.
“I am Australian of Turkish/Syrian heritage, and it really reminded me of the powerful legacy of our Anzacs and the ongoing need for peace in the world.
“During my speech I had the opportunity to give an insight into Turkish history including the revolutionary statesman, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who helped demonstrate how two countries that were once enemies can become ‘brothers-in-arms’.
“I have been attending dawn services with my father ever since I can remember, it has always been very important to me, and I know will continue to be in the future.”
Assistant principal of Delany College, Bruce Carr, said the entire school community was proud of both students.
“As the grandson of a Changi prisoner of war who has his grandfather’s medals hanging proudly on my wall, I know that the freedoms he and his mates were so committed to are alive and living in not only the amazing two Delany leaders who presented at the ceremony but the entire school community,” he said.
“Our college strives to support each other through the complexities of their own life experiences.
“As a rich multicultural community, many staff, parents and students alike continue to fight against the evil of injustice not on the battlefields of war but within the trenches of life.”
The RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC Commemoration was first held in 1953, co-hosted by RSL NSW and the Department of Education. Over the years the service has expanded to Catholic Schools NSW and the Association of Independent Schools NSW.