Students perform as one while impressing many

Strathfield North Public School has joined the 90th birthday celebrations of one of our favourite Aunties. Kristi Pritchard-Owens reports.

Image: A birthday sign: Strathfield North Public School students sang in Auslan as part of the ABC video.

There comes a moment in every performer’s life where they are asked to do something huge – like perform an iconic Australian song for a national institution that has reached a major milestone.

For those at Strathfield North Public School, it has come earlier than most.

Students from the school in Sydney’s inner-west were invited to feature in the ABC’s newest video celebrating the national broadcaster’s 90th birthday, ‘90 schoolkids sing ‘I Am Australian’.

It required a long day on set, however Strathfield North Public School principal Pina Fanggidae said it was a learning experience well-worth having.

“It really was amazing for them to be part of something so big,” Mrs Fanggidae said.

“They were such professionals; they were asked to sing the song so many times and they were always so enthusiastic.

“How delightful for our school to be able to showcase what public education can do?”

When the ABC was looking for a school that ticked the necessary boxes, it approached the Department of Education’s Arts Unit which was quick to suggest Strathfield North Public School.

Strathfield North has strong performers because it continued to run choir and creative arts during Covid lockdowns, conducting rehearsals and entering competitions remotely.

This determination to maintain the school’s CAPA program despite increasing challenges was largely down to its Performing Arts teacher Adam Kasalo, who also appears the video.

The school’s two choirs combined with its CAPA students to make up the requested 90 students – including several who use Auslan in the video.

Susan Sukkar, Arts Coordination Officer, in The Arts Unit, said the filming was an enormous project that required continuous flexibility as the parameters kept changing.

“Throughout the process the school maintained a ‘can do’ attitude and the staff were responsive and enthusiastic,” Ms Sukkar said.

“Adam was a wonderful leader throughout the project, engaging the students, setting high expectations, and encouraging excellence.

“The result was a celebration of music education in Public Schools NSW and did Strathfield North PS and community proud.”

The video is now available online (79k views on Facebook alone) and is being broadcast nationally.

However Strathfield North teachers maintain there’s been no diva-like behaviour from their star performers, rather a sense of satisfaction at a job well done.

“They’re basking in that glory, it’s wonderful,” Mrs Fanggidae said.

“Our kids, they’re showing us what it is to be Australian.”

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