MORTLAKE’S St Colman’s School has made a home for a unique seedling with deep historical significance.
The school was one of 200 successful schools chosen to receive a tree this year as part of the Victorian branch of the National Trust of Australia’s Gallipoli Oaks project and one of 600 registered schools across the state.
The project aimed to shine light on Australia’s sacrifices during the Gallipoli campaign during World War I and the nation’s environmental heritage.
While initially found on the Turkish peninsula, Captain William Lempiere Winter-Cooke brought home acorns to plant at his family home in Hamilton.
The oak has since been planted at the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance, as well as a number of other locations across the state.
The school community hosted a planting ceremony on Monday, which included recitations of ‘In Flanders Fields’, ‘The Ode’ and a rendition of the national anthem.
Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan and members of the Mortlake Returned and Services League (RSL) were on hand to help with the planting.
Speaking to the students, Mr Riordan said the tree would act as a constant reminder for the school children about the impacts of the war.
“You’ll be able to remember the story of this tree,” he said.
School principal Tim Bourke called on Foundation student Ivy Wardlaw and Grade 6 pupil Logan Horan to plant the tree.
“She (Ivy) will be responsible for looking after the tree,” he said.
Mortlake RSL president Merv Hampson said it was positive to see the students passionate about the heritage project.
“I reckon that over the last decade, there’s been a huge increase in interest,” he said.
“I hope future students will stand at the foot of the tree.”