An Evening with Armidale Community of Schools

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An Evening with Armidale Community of Schools will be the highlight of the year for students, teachers and parents, with dancing, singing and dramatics aplenty. ACPS teacher Sue Kelly sends an invitation to all to attend on Wednesday 2 August.

What can FOCUS readers expect to see on the night?

An Evening with ACOS is a celebration of visual arts, choral speaking, dance, music and drama. The evening showcases the outstanding talent of public school students belonging to the Armidale Community of Schools. The audience will be exposed to a dazzling line-up of singing, dancing and musical talent. Five hundred students from Kindergarten to Year 12 will feature in items such as the massed choral group of 200 voices, combined orchestra of 60 musicians, dance groups and a visual art display.

What was the inspiration behind this event?

This event has been going for approximately 30 years. It was previously known as the North West Creative Arts Festival, which was held annually. It was driven by the NorthWest Creative Arts Consultants based in Armidale and Tamworth and funded by the Department of Education. The festival included performers from as far and wide as Walcha, Guyra, Glen Innes, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri. Over time, Moree and Narrabri received funding to host their own events, and the festival became more localised.

Approximately six years ago, the festival was changed to a biannual event, so it didn’t clash with the other major events in our area, such as New England Sings. After a two year break, 2015 saw the formation of a new committee made up of local teachers and a name change to An Evening with ACOS. It is already known as one of the most significant music and artistic education events in Armidale, celebrating public education in a unique and exciting way.

Which schools and students will be involved on the night?

The Armidale Community of Schools, which include: Armidale City Public School, Armidale High School, Ben Venue Public School, Chandler Public School, Duval High School, Drummond Memorial School, Kelly’s Plains School, Martins Gully Public School, Sandon Public School, Newling Public School, Rocky River and Uralla Central School. Students from all cultures are involved in this event.

A few highlights of An Evening with ACOS are the Welcome to Country and the Indigenous performance that follows, the choral and drama items from the AHS and Sandon Support units.

How important for the students is it to be a part of an event like this?

An Evening with ACOS is a fantastic opportunity for students. The whole process promotes student engagement and educational outcomes by boosting motivation, building confidence and self-esteem, cooperation, collaboration, leadership skills, forging friendships and a sense of belonging. It also serves to provide a vehicle for students to experience the thrill of performing in front of a large audience and the joy of involvement in the performing arts. An Evening with ACOS also provides a unique training opportunity for students who want to work behind the scenes, in audio, photography, lighting and stage management.

What is involved in organising an event like this?

The first step is to form a voluntary working committee with a representative from each school on board. Committee members take on roles to liaise with the community about the venue, ticketing, publicity, programming, sound and lighting etc.

Back at schools, the vital role played by our dedicated and talented teachers begins. Many hours over the past four months have been spent organising and rehearsing items, designing costumes, and making artworks, so students can develop and display their passion, creativity, ability and talents as musicians, dancers and artists.

The day before the performance is set aside for rehearsals. It is the only opportunity the students will get to practise on the stage, with the professional sound and lighting effects before doing a show run the following day for all other performers. The performance night is always hectic, and organisation needs to be tight. Many teachers give up their night to fill positions in areas such as dressing room management, security, communication, supervision and support wherever needed. The Retired Teachers Association also assists with Front of House. It is an amazing team effort and gives us the opportunity to promote public education and show just what public schools can achieve with a whole lot of teamwork.

What would you like to see the community experience from an event like this?

For all who attend the Evening with ACOS concert, to enjoy and be impressed by the musical and artistic efforts and talent of the students and staff in our public schools. Also, for the audience to witness the sense of community that is evident between schools, both on and off stage.

The audience will see how all students involved have committed themselves to learn such a range of extensive repertoires, attend the extra rehearsals and celebrate each other’s talents, which in turn make this spectacular event one to remember. The performance is an evening of entertainment of such merit, that it far exceeds any expectations. We look forward to the audience walking away with a real sense of pride for the students and teachers in the public school system.

How can we get tickets to attend?

Readers Companion will be selling tickets from Monday 26 June. Ticket prices are Adults $15 and Children $10. There will be no tickets sold on the night. The concert will be held on Wednesday 2 August, commencing with the visual art display at 6:30pm and the performance at 7pm.

An Evening with ACOS is made possible through the support from UNE, Reader’s Companion, Macs Sound, Retired Teachers Association and the NSW Department of Education.

Thanks Sue.

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