NVESTIGATING the lives of Australia’s ANZAC heroes has proved to be an intriguing experience for Maryland Public School’s academically gifted and talented students.

The year five and six students from the school’s opportunity class hosted about 270 peers from Tighes Hill, Wyong, Solders Point, Jewells, Cessnock West, Rutherford, New Lambton South public schools for the 15th annual Thinkfest.

The celebration involves giving the region’s opportunity class students an open ended problem and six weeks to produce a dramatic performance – with a script, backdrop and only one prop – that reflects their response.

Maryland students were given the subject If Walls Could Talk, with their performance depicting two boys who visit a war memorial and read the names on the wall, before the war dead come to life and share their stories.

The students researched and took on roles as both real and imagined people, including as nurses, soldiers, a newspaper delivery boy and a telephonist.

Jessica Pelley played the role of Sister Olive Haynes, who enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1914 and went on to serve in Cairo, the island of Lemnos and France.

‘‘It was pretty tough what they went through, I had to imagine all the horrible scenes of war,’’ Jessica said.

‘‘It was hard to put myself in her shoes – it made me realise they are more than just a name on a wall, they’re a person too.’’

Liam Han told the story of World War I fighter pilot and Australia’s most successful flying ace, Robert A Little.

‘‘He shot down 47 enemy aircraft and died when his plane was shot down in 1918,’’ he said.

Matilda Newton took on the role of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of Turkey.

‘‘He said about the ANZACS, ‘After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well’,’’ she said.

‘‘He was friendly and peaceful.’’

Maryland teacher Andrew Wells helped establish Thinkfest 15 years ago and the school’s opportunity class 12 years ago.

‘‘The classes are a great opportunity for academically gifted and talented children to be with other like minds who enjoy learning as much as they do,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about exploring and developing skills to an extent they may not have been able to in a regular classroom.’’

Via: The Herald