Students from Coffee Camp Primary School pictured at the Performing Arts Festival at Lismore Workers Club.
Students from Coffee Camp Primary School pictured at the Performing Arts Festival at Lismore Workers Club. Jacklyn Wagner

Kids' stage is a happy place

DRESSING up as dentists and playing ukulele is a highlight of the school year for Tuntable Creek Public School students Michaela Gough and DJ Larsen.

Last night they joined the rest of their school of just 14 students on stage at the Lismore Workers Club for a rendition of dental hygiene anthem The Loose Tooth Blues, as part of the annual Lismore Performing Arts Festival.

More shows featuring today include Albert Park Public School's version of Kate Miller-Heidke's anti-bullying hit Caught in a Crowd, and Eltham Public School's Magic of Mary Poppins.

The festival is a special time for almost 1000 children from the public schools in and around Lismore.

"It's a chance to share their skills on stage in a very real professional setting, and having a big audience that clap and cheer and laugh," said teacher and musician Jodie Digney.

"It (also) provides an avenue where they can't go wrong - there really aren't any mistakes."

Ms Digney has been producing the annual shows at Whian Whian, Tuntable Creek and Dunoon Public Schools for 10 years, and is well-known for her dedication to costume design, boasting an entire room at her home dedicated to costumes and props collected over the years.

This level of dedication is echoed across all the public education teachers who work towards the event, often on their own time at lunch and after school in addition to keeping up with today's busy curriculum.

Some of the sound and lighting crew are veteran and retired teachers who have been involved for more than 25 years.

There are no auditions or points scored at the event.

It's all about giving everyone a go, an attitude highlighted by the whole-school performances from some of the smaller schools which bring every student from kindergarten to Year 6 up on stage for a six-minute show.

"It has to provide opportunities for each child to shine," said Ms Digney.

"I've never been one to choose the best singer or the best dancer out the front. I really like to give each child the opportunity to have their five min- utes of fame."

As well as the six-minute shows which headline the event, there is a small-schools choir of about 150 students and a combined schools band of 35 children who get the opportunity to practise their instruments with professional tutors.

The Lismore Performing Arts Festival continues today at 10.30am and this evening from 6.45pm.

Entry is $10 per adult.



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