Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book

Several of those honoured on the Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour are also commemorated in the Pakenham Upper State School (No 2155) Honour Book, which dates from 1920. The Pakenham Upper State School opened in 1879, and was known as “Gembrook South State School” until c. 1913 when the area was renamed “Pakenham Upper”. From 1879 to 1923, the school operated in the Pakenham Upper Community Church Hall, which was leased by the Education Department for that purpose (Carberry 1992, p. 2). The Education Department encouraged state schools to dedicate their own rolls of honour, which were to be displayed prominently in the classroom to remind students of the service and sacrifice of those who came before them. The Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book may have been the initiative of the teacher, Robert Fletcher, whose brother Captain Harry Fletcher was killed at Montbrehain in October 1918 (PG 22/4/2015, p. 18). The book is beautifully hand written and decorated and contains short biographies of the twelve former students who served, together with photographs of many of them. The title page of the book is a particularly striking piece of art, hand decorated in an art deco style with a range of symbols representing education, military service and sacrifice, together with the motto “Best Always”. Rich foliage and the words “Justice” and “Liberty” suggest that the former students’ service and sacrifice (five of the twelve honoured were killed or died) was not in vain, but a source of growth and renewal for the community. The Honour Book was housed, together with the Department of Education’s own “Record of War Service”, in a special wooden box mounted on the side wall of the classroom. The book would have moved to the new Pakenham Upper School building opened in 1923, but following closure of the school in 1952, was returned to the Pakenham Upper Community Church Hall, where it remains a treasured possession.

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