2016 Schools Spectacular Extravaganza

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Students from Ben Venue Public School, Armidale City Public School, Armidale High School and Duval High School will be among students participating  in the 2016 Schools Spectacular Extravaganza.

What is the Schools Spectacular?

The 2016 Schools Spectacular is Australia’s most popular annual variety show, and this year will feature four Armidale Public Schools in the largest production in the 33-year history of the event. The Public Schools extravaganza will be held on Friday and Saturday 25 and 26 November at a brand new venue, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park. It has recently been announced that the show will feature a 2,700 strong choir, 2,300 dancers and 80 piece symphony orchestra, a world class stage band, along with a number of outstanding solo performers. Students from Ben Venue PS, Armidale City PS, Armidale High School and Duval High School will be among students participating from more than 426 metropolitan, regional, rural and remote schools from across NSW.

Schools Spectacular is now recognised as a State Significant Event, which certainly says a lot about our public school system, the talents of our students and the quality of the dedicated teachers and staff who nurture students to achieve their dreams.

How did our schools become involved?

For Ben Venue students, this is the first time in a number of years that the school has been involved. Ben Venue offers a very comprehensive Creative and Practical Arts programme, with multiple opportunities for a variety of performances during the school year, including a choral performance at the Sydney Opera House and massive participation in New England Sings, both highlights of the school’s music programme. Music teacher Sally Spillane believes that this year’s participation in Schools Spectacular is a great opportunity for students to be involved in a major production under the expert guidance of world class conductors. “It is a fabulous experience for our students, and one they will never forget,” said Mrs Spillane. “It is wonderful to be able to provide them with this experience.” The school has 24 students participating in the combined choir.

Armidale City Public School currently runs a school-wide choral programme in collaboration with NECOM. All students across the school, from Kindergarten to Year 6, take part in choir each week, which is a key component of the school music programme. In 2016 it was decided to form a school chorale – a small selected group of students to perform at special events and to audition for the 2016 Schools Spectacular. Having not been involved for a number of years, the ACPS contingent of 24 singers is excited and looking forward to  being a part of the massed choir in the biggest Schools Spectacular ever staged. Mrs Sue Kelly and Mrs Leonie MacGregor will be preparing the students, supported by the expertise of Bekk Baumgartner from NECOM. Students are looking forward to the experience of being involved in the 2016 Schools Spectacular and to joining with students from all over NSW in this outstanding public education spectacle.

Armidale High School have been participating in this event for many years. For students Jaynaha Brown, Kiara French and Joanne Morgan, this will be their second appearance at the spectacular. They will be joined by other AHS students from Years 7-11, who will perform with the Aboriginal dance ensemble. The ensemble are taught dances by world renowned choreographers from the Bangarra Dance Theatre during a dance workshop in Sydney. The students then return to their own schools and rehearse under the guidance of teacher Louise Drielsma.

Duval High School has over 25 students participating in a range of performances, including the Combined Choir, Aboriginal Dance Ensemble and Combined Dance. Patrick Ferris (PJ) and Elanya Moens were selected after a rigorous audition process and will appear as part of the State Aboriginal Ensemble and State Dance Ensemble respectively.

Hilary Pearson, the school’s coordinator, says, “Duval High School has a long and rewarding history of involvement in the Schools Spectacular.”

What is involved in preparing for an event like the Schools Spectacular?

As well as rehearsing during lunchtimes, before and after school, our students are required to participate in combined rehearsals in the week leading up to the weekend performances. This is a huge commitment on the part of the students, their school and their families.

The students are required to be available for these rehearsals, which means week long accommodation in Sydney, as well as expenses related to travel. Students at Ben Venue have been busily fundraising through pie drives, school discos and movie nights to make this excursion more affordable. “The school community have been incredibly supportive and are behind student participation in this event,” says Principal Louise Moffatt.

What opportunities does this event create for students?

Hundreds of Schools Spectacular participants over the years have gone on to become professional musicians, singers, dancers, designers, producers and musical directors. Recent Alumni are currently performing in premier productions such as We Will Rock You and one of the youngest featured artists in this year’s Spectacular also played the lead role of “Matilda” in the recent  Sydney production of the mega-hit musical. Performers from across all disciplines have also featured strongly in industry awards, including the ARIAs and Helpmann Awards, as well as the hugely popular television talent shows, with “SPEC” alumni Anja Nissen winning The Voice in 2014.

How can we be part of this event?

For proud parents, grandparents and family members, this is a must see event, but groups of friends and community organisations are encouraged to consider an inspirational trip to enjoy this unique heartwarming show.

It is a chance to see the stars of the future and to marvel at the talents that abound in our NSW public schools, as well as an opportunity to support our local students.

Thanks, and good luck!

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