Spotlight on talent
Thirty-nine students from 18 regional schools received star treatment late last term when they took part in workshops led by the entertainment industry.
The promising young students were chosen for specialised mentoring through the highly successful Talent Development Project (TDP).
The initiative was part of the TDP's commitment to finding and nurturing musically talented secondary public school students from regional and remote areas.
One of Australia's most respected music programs, the project supports young people to establish careers in the world of arts and entertainment.
Over three days, students from the Riverina, Illawarra and South East and New England regions gathered at Kooringal High School's performing arts venue in Wagga Wagga.
A team of professional TDP consultants coached the students including 2006 graduate singer songwriter Jack Carty and music theatre perfomer Kirby Burgess along with TDP musical director Andrew Bee and workshop manager Meredith Burton.
Each student was involved in practical sessions in song writing, vocal technique and performance skills. Not unlike The Voice or Australia's got Talent, the students performed each day receiving professional feedback and peer support.
Depth of rural and regional talent
Riverina school regional director Colin Parker said the program opened a world of possibilities to rural students and gave them access to specialist knowledge in a regional setting.
"They got to see that the wider world is accessible to them and how to develop talent and interests - it's a signature program for public schools."
Young High principal Andrew Turvey said one of the program's greatest strengths was its provision of equity.
"Students from country areas have restricted access to opportunities which this program facilitates."
He said the program inspired all students because they saw their peers achieving success.
"The program allows students to recognise they have the same opportunities as anyone else, that there's no barrier to success based on their location or socio-economic circumstance."
Albury High principal Darryl Ward said the program allowed students the opportunity to practise and express their broader talents.
"It gives them skills in dealing with media and access to assistance to their area of expertise," he said.
Leeton High School music teacher Rebecca Van Den Heuval said the program gave students the chance to meet others who shared their talent and passion.
"This is important in regional areas like ours because kids often simply don't get the chance to work or socialise with others who share their interests."