In February 2021, the Sir John Monash Centre and the Australian Embassy announced the launch of the 32nd Sadlier Stokes Prize for schools in France to reward projects relating to Australians in France during the Great War.
After a difficult deliberation, in view of the quality of each project, the jury awarded the Sadlier Stokes prize to the following schools:
Ecole Victor Hugo (Poissy, Yvelines) created Jim Thomsett an Australian soldier, by using the research they conducted searching archives, visiting a cemetery and monument, and participating in re-enactments, to imagine the soldier’s thoughts, experiences, and emotions. The students then used this to create a series of hand-written letters, cards, and journal entries.
“When [the class] decided to embark on this project, my students were surprised to find out that the Australians came to our aid in the First World War. Then they were amazed because they discovered that the Australians had volunteered for this […] When we went to take pictures with the costumes of the different soldiers of the First World War, my students were very happy and very proud to take on the role of these heroes”. Madame Lafont, Victor Hugo school teacher.
Collège Raymond Gueux (Gy, Haute-Saône) created a high-quality digital presentation, presenting a project with multiple layers of information and a creative way to explore the experiences of war. By enacting stories and providing content that highlights personal experiences, the students created an engaging product and have made the experience of war human and palpable. See the project here.
Lycée Pavie (Guingamp, Côtes-d’Armor) produced a creative video project demonstrating a strong understanding of why Australia joined the war and linked many of their messages to the importance of ongoing commemoration. The class researched a broad variety of topics, telling the stories with a very hands-on approach and engaging beyond their project group by conducting polls to further assess the understanding of others, on the role of Australians in the First World War and the importance of commemoration.
Mrs Lippold, the students’ teacher, said that they “really invested themselves in this project despite the working conditions […] They knew that Australian soldiers had come to fight in France, but the exact reasons were obscure. The variety of documents used for their research (veterans’ testimonies, reading of soldiers’ diaries or letters, study of poems) and their choice to survey their families allowed them to cover a wide spectrum.”
Each school received their 1,500 Euro prize and their SJMC gift bags from the jury and the Australian Ambassador to France, H.E Mrs Gillian Bird during the Sadlier Stokes Award ceremony on 2 July 2021.