Emily Potloka has had the importance of Anzac Day drilled into her from birth.
The Plumpton High School student’s great-grandfather, Horace Arthur Marchant, fought in World War II, and his service has always held great significance to her family.
Next year she will jet off to Europe and walk in the footsteps of our war time heroes, after being selected in the Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship.
Emily, 15, was chosen as one of 20 winners across NSW, after entering a video which delivered a powerful message from Plumpton’s staff and students – lest we forget.
“I tried to capture the importance of Anzac Day and why we should still commemorating it, even though it’s been 100 years since it first happened,” she said.
“In the past students haven’t really understood what it’s about, so that’s what I was trying to get them to understand why it’s important to honour the soldiers.”
Emily will tour parts of the Western Front in Belgium and France, the scene of many bloody battles.
It’s not where her great-grandfather fought, but she believes it will offer an insight into his experiences.
“Anzac Day has always been a very important day for us,” she said.
“I was extremely shocked that I got it. I called my mum straight away.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would never be able to get the same experience again.”
In the past students haven’t really understood [Anzac Day]...I was trying to get them to understand.Emily Potloka
She admitted she found it hard to relate to the mindset of the men and women who signed up to fight for the country during the World Wars, some as young as 15.
“I went to an Anzac exhibition and it said that some of the soldiers were lied to. They thought they were going on a holiday,” Emily said.
“But that’s not what they got.”
Her history teacher Jarrod Temby said the year 10 student was a worthy winner.
“Emily came to us with the idea to enter the competition…it was just reward for the person who went through to be the one who wanted to do it in the first place,” Mr Temby said.
Emily said her grandmother, Mr Marchant’s daughter, “was over the moon” at her selection.
“I asked her permission to bring in his war medals for the competition and she was more than happy to let me,” she said.
“She’s very excited for me.”