Briag Primary shows power of the people


Jake Taylor, Briagolong Primary School principal Mark Donald and students with the HPV.
Jake Taylor, Briagolong Primary School principal Mark Donald and students with the HPV.
Photos: Tom Parry

BRIAGOLONG Primary School is gearing-up for this year’s Energy Breakthrough event in central Victoria.

Pupils from the school’s senior unit are assisting with the construction of two human-powered vehicles, or HPVs, which they will use to compete in a series of races and trials.

Emily Wagstaff and Ebonie Dias are just two of the students who will be attending the event.

Both said they were excited to be part of the program.

“It’s happened before at the school, and it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do,” Emily said.

Ebonie told Gippsland Farmer what she and her fellow students were doing to prepare for the event.

“Some of us have been going out of school and going to businesses and getting sponsorships, whilst others have just been staying at school and… designing t-shirts and shorts,” Ebonie said.

Emily and Ebonie estimated the school had raised over $10,000 through sponsorships.

Their principal, Mark Donald, said the community response had been overwhelming.

“We’ve got nearly 30 financial sponsors, plus a lot of raffle donations,” Mr Donald said.

“All the sponsorship money just helps us get the vehicles up to scratch – because of the scrutineering… making sure our vehicles are meeting all those standards – supports kids’ uniforms, accommodation and just lots of other things that help us be able to run the program.

“Because without the sponsorship, and our community support, we wouldn’t be able to run it.”

One local business supporting the school in its program is Briag Farm Services.

Business owner Jake Taylor, whose son Jack attends the school, has volunteered his time to assist with the Energy Breakthrough program.

“When the opportunity came to be a part of it, to save the school a bit of money – because obviously, things are a bit hard at the moment – we put our hand up to help with the maintenance of the bikes and getting them ready,” Mr Taylor said.

“It’s all about community. It’s a small town with a good school, so our local businesses always chip-in and help out where we can.”

Held annually in Maryborough, Energy Breakthrough sees primary and secondary schools from across Australia gather to compete in the country’s largest pedal-powered endurance event.

This year’s event will be the first to run since 2019, with the past two events both cancelled due to the pandemic.

Briagolong Primary has had an even longer wait – the school typically travels to Maryborough every two years, and was last scheduled to attend the 2020 event.

As such, some students have missed the opportunity to go altogether.

With the frames for the two HPVs now complete – and a third having been donated by a local secondary school – Mr Taylor’s attention will now turn to building and installing the corflute that protects them.

Additionally, the students will commence their physical training, involving beep tests, bicycle rides and other fitness challenges.

Gippsland Farmer

The Gippsland Farmer is a monthly agricultural newspaper reporting on rural news and distributed FREE and direct to an area covering from Cann River through to South Gippsland. For more than 40 years Gippsland Farmer has reported on a range of issues and industries including dairy, beef, vegetables, sheep, goats, poultry, organic farming, and viticulture.