Schools honour Kokoda through workshop programs

PRIMARY school leaders grouped together for a day of personal strength in the inaugural Kokoda Kids Leadership Challenge. 

Historian and digger Garry Snowden with pupils at the ex-POW Memorial in Ballarat.

Historian and digger Garry Snowden with pupils at the ex-POW Memorial in Ballarat.

Invermay Primary School principal Justin Marshman divided the pupils into two battalions, Honner and Owen.

He said they took the time to better understand the values, hardships and challenges that the thousands of Aussies faced in protecting Australia in the 1942 Battle of Kokoda. 

“These people have done something amazing for our country, it may be your grandparent, or great-grandparent, neighbour, aunt or uncle, or someone you pass by in the street,” Mr Marsham said. 

“I hope you embrace the challenges and take on board the key Kokoda values: courage, endurance, sacrifice and mateship.” 

War historian Garry Snowden inspired the pupils with the tale of Kokoda, comparing the 39th Battalion, which was sent to Kokoda to take on the Japanese, to Creswick being sent into the Grand Final against reigning AFL premiers Hawthorn. 

“They shouldn’t have been able to do what they did, but they had the leadership to get through,” Mr Snowden said. 

He added two more values for the pupils to take on board in their challenges from the soldiers: good humour in adversity and pride. 

Mr Marshman said the program was born around discussions about what they could do to foster leadership at the school. 

Each school organised a workshop for the battalions around the lake, instilling one of the Kokoda values. 

He said the workshops included emptying their drink bottles and having to work out a way transport water, while in another challenge they had their legs tied together. 

Attending the program were school leaders from Invermay, Miners Rest, Creswick North, Donald, Skipton and Caledonian primary schools. 

Mr Marsham said it was the first of many days which would combine the school leaders throughout the year.


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