HISTORIC TRIP: Jett Aplin, ACT, Benjamin English, Victoria, Erin Massey, Tasmania, Mari Watkins, NSW, Jacinta Saynor, Northern Territory, Aurelia Thomson, Western Australia, Shanelle van de Merwe, Queensland, Montana Foster, South Australia, Urangan State High School teacher Kimberly Vanzetta, History Teachers' Association's Ian Murray and Mark Johnstone.
HISTORIC TRIP: Jett Aplin, ACT, Benjamin English, Victoria, Erin Massey, Tasmania, Mari Watkins, NSW, Jacinta Saynor, Northern Territory, Aurelia Thomson, Western Australia, Shanelle van de Merwe, Queensland, Montana Foster, South Australia, Urangan State High School teacher Kimberly Vanzetta, History Teachers' Association's Ian Murray and Mark Johnstone. Contributed

Urangan teacher back from Europe after trip of a lifetime

A URANGAN teacher has returned from Europe after the trip of a lifetime.

Kimberly Vanzetta was invited to chaperone eight students from across the country who had won The Simpson Prize.

The national competition for Year 9 and 10 students encouraged them to focus on the significance of Australia's experiences in World War I.

Winners from each state and territory travelled to overseas battlefields for an "experience that can't be taught from a textbook".

The Urangan State High School teacher said after flying into Paris and experiencing all things Parisian, the students travelled to Amiens, France, to visit Australian war memorials throughout the Western front.

She said the competition was run with the Australian War Memorial, which provided an historian for the tour.

Dr Lachlan Grant is a senior historian in military history and filled in the blanks for both students and teachers.

"We learnt about indigenous soldiers and he showed us their tombstones as we went throughout the battlefields," Ms Vanzetta said.

"He brought to life a lot of their stories and the reasons behind why there were so many indigenous soldiers in World War I, even though it was against the policy of enlistment and how they denied their Aboriginality.

"These kinds of stories really resonated with the students."

Each student had to research a fallen solider and visit their tombstone while on tour.

They also dressed in full military kit and spent a day on the battlefields engaging in military drills.

Students visited the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux and saw the tomb of the unknown soldier.

After learning his body was taken to Canberra, they instead commemorated another unknown fallen soldier.

Ms Vanzetta said the tour gave students the confidence to travel and a wealth of knowledge of World War I.

"You can't buy this kind of experience, travelling with an Australian War Memorial historian," she said.

"The whole experience was tailored very thoughtfully.

"It's bringing the battles to life, the individual stories of the soldiers."