All 4 One: Schools Spectacular hopefuls shoot for the stars

An up-and-coming footballer, a refugee, and a dynamic sibling duo. Alyssa Terese meets some of the talented 2024 Schools Spectacular hopefuls.

A girl singing while others watch on in the background. A girl singing while others watch on in the background.
Image: Billabong High School student, Iilysh Retallick, auditions for the first time with the ABBA hit, Dancing Queen.

You could have been forgiven for thinking the students who auditioned as soloists for the 2024 Schools Spectacular were fictional characters dancing down the halls of East High School.

They were not High School Musical characters, but some of the many talented young men and women who performed in Sydney for the final Schools Spectacular featured artist vocal auditions.

From 20-24 May, budding young vocalists, instrumentalists, core choir and backing vocalists showcased their talents for Schools Spectacular Creative Director Sonja Sjolander and her team to try and secure a coveted spot in this year’s show, All 4 One.

“We’re after extraordinary new young talent from public schools and the capacity to perform to a large arena while demonstrating individual style and flair,” Ms Sjolander said.

“This year there are some really strong younger students with some really challenging music to tackle, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”

The auditions were open to NSW public school students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Ms Sjolander said it weas typically students between eight and 18 years of age that generally audition for the featured show spots.

Auditions for the School Spectacular featured artists took place late last month.

Semisi: Head’s in the game and heart’s full of song

Year 12 Macquarie Fields High student Semisi Peleketi has bright future in ahead as a professional footballer, but Semisi has also been singing since he was seven years old.

“Singing runs through my bloodline. My dad was in a band, my grandpa was in a band, my mum’s family were opera singers and now all my siblings also enjoy singing,” he said.

Semisi has already signed an NRL contract for 2025, but is certain singing will always be a part of his life.

“I try to negotiate and figure out what I need to do to be successful in both singing and sport,” he said.

“When it comes to Pacific Islander people, I look at music as something that brings everyone together, no matter what comes between us.

“When I sing it makes me feel relaxed. It brightens my day.”

A boy singing. A boy singing.
Image: Macquarie Fields High student Semisi Peleketi performing.

Maryanna: Singing helped in learning English

Year 11 Miller Technology High School student Maryanna Abdo has only been speaking English for five years. Maryanna is an Iraqi refugee who has very quickly adapted to life in Australia.

“Singing helped me to learn English and build my confidence. It makes pronouncing everything easier,” Maryanna said.

“I’m mimicking what people sound like when they’re singing and so when I speak now, to me, it just sounds like I’m singing.”

Maryanna has been singing opera since she was seven years old and is completely self-taught.

“Opera is easier for me than regular pop songs to learn. When I heard O Mio Babbino Caro for the first time, I wondered if I could sing it, so I tried, and I could. I went from there.”

Like the High School Musical character, Gabriella Montez, Maryanna is a school leader and passionate about her academic pursuits. She wants to study design and architecture at Sydney University in 2026.

A girl singing. A girl singing.
Image: Miller Technology High School student Maryanna Abdo singing.

Supportive siblings: Mahoney sisters ready to make their mark

With talent and personality, Sumira and Alora Mahoney from Maclean Valley High School are no strangers to the stage. Both have performed at Qudos Bank Arena and also danced together on stage at Disneyland, California.

Year 9 student Alora was a Schools Spectacular featured artist in 2023 and older sister and Year 12 student Sumira has helped coach and support her over the years.

Sumira was in the Schools Spectacular core choir in 2022 and is hopeful of winning a spot as a featured artist in this year’s show.

“Whenever we’re performing, we’re usually not far away from each other,” she said.

“Last year we were in Footloose together. I was Rusty and Alora was Wendy Jo, which was so much fun.

“We’ve also submitted an original song for this year’s show and have just filmed a teaser video, so fingers crossed.”

A split photo of two girls singing. A split photo of two girls singing.
Image: Sisters Alora and Sumira Mahoney from Maclean Valley High School performing at the auditions.

The All 4 One featured artists and full cast will be announced in late Term 2.

More than 5000 NSW public school students from across the state will come together at Qudos Bank Arena on 29 and 30 November 2024 for the 41st year of the Schools Spectacular.

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