One of the great joys of being a teacher is in witnessing young people strive for and achieve something  that brings them great joy, a sense of achievement and an experience of fun as well as hard work.

It can be evident in many ways: a student solving a complex mathematical problem; achieving a high ATAR at the completion of the HSC; being part of a group that has developed a unique project; mastering a life skills program, simply finishing a swimming race when swimming is not your forte; contributing as part of a debating team and delivering that winning argument; speaking at a school assembly in front of your peers; and so many more.

This thought was running through my mind as I watched this year’s ASPIRE project titled “Stranger than Fiction” at the Civic Theatre on Friday night.

As more than 100 students from across our diocese engaged in music, singing, dancing and drama with incredible energy, passion and talent, I witnessed their sense of fun, achievement and celebration of months of hard work and practice schedules.

ASPIRE continues to provide our talented performing arts students with the opportunity to give expression to their talents and this production demonstrated the depth of those talents and the magnificent way in which they are able to work together in often complex acts to entertain the audience made up of parents, family members, school staff and their peers.

What I hear from parents on a frequent basis is how much ASPIRE means to these young people and how that old theory that the journey is as important as the destination is so true in relation to their involvement in this performing arts program.

A quality learning program involves teaching, practice, problem solving, group work, friendship and fun just to name a few key ingredients.

This is all achieved through ASPIRE. The students love it and this is very evident in how they communicate with their audiences at the Civic Theatre.

To all involved I offer my sincere congratulations on another quality performance. In particular I acknowledge the great work of Artistic Director Anna Kerrigan, the ensemble directors and back up crews, the Chair of the ASPIRE Committee, Craig Wattam, Executive Officer, Lisa Little and the ASPIRE Committee for all that goes into providing these students with the chance to shine. And shine they did.

To our many talented students, thank you for all the hard work involved, for sharing your talents with us and for having fun.

When the ASPIRE program was launched I said at the time:

“We want to give our students the opportunity of joining equally motivated and talented students in their respective art forms, whether it is in instrumental, choral, dance or dramatic activities. We want to give them the opportunity to strive for higher levels of excellence through interaction with their colleague students and through the provision of expert tuition from noted people in the Performing Arts areas.

We are encouraging them to ASPIRE to excellence. We are providing them with opportunities to demonstrate the wonderful talents they have as part of a group of like minded and wonderfully talented people.”

We have certainly achieved this. I look forward to next year’s production.

Ray Collins Image
Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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