In Parramatta in October 1820, teacher George Morley opened Australia’s first Catholic school and began to deliver a Catholic education to its 31 students. Nearly 200 years later, Australia has more than 1750 Catholic schools, and educates one fifth of the country’s students.
This incredible achievement, the result of hard work and dedication, is being celebrated this year in the Catholic Schools Performing Arts (CaSPA) annual student ensemble.
The CaSPA ensemble will perform in CaSPA Live, a culmination of two terms of rigorous workshops and rehearsals, which called ‘action’ on Monday 17 February.
Students in years 5-12 from Catholic schools across Sydney, specialising in Dance, Drama and Voice, assembled at the Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College in Burwood. They divided into their respective specialties and immediately got to work preparing for the big show.
Among the 120 student strong ensemble are veteran CaSPA performers Lailah Baba of Holy Spirit Catholic College, Lakemba and Dante Lizzio, from Holy Cross College at Ryde.
Lailah, a year nine student now in her fourth year of performing with CaSPA is one of the ensemble’s triple threats. A gifted dancer, Lailah first joined CaSPA for her Drama skills. Now, having developed her dancing and revealing a talent for singing, Lailah leads the way as a senior member of the dance group and an important part of Goodjarga, CaSPA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group.
“My favourite part about CaSPA is all the people I’ve met and all the performances and opportunities I have through the program,” said Lailah, taking time out of rehearsals to speak with Connect.
Joining her in this year’s performance is third time CaSPA performer, year 10 student Dante Lizzio. A talented singer, Dante has seen his love of music and singing bloom during his time with the CaSPA team.
“I love the feeling of getting on stage and singing to an audience, you have your family there and you just want to keep performing,” Dante remarked.
Grateful for the opportunities afforded to them by the team at CaSPA, the talented duo are keen to get started and perfect their roles for upcoming performances.
“From the beginning we’re always looking forward to the big performance at the end,” said Lailah. “But every week, it’s great coming here, seeing your friends and performing.”
With only a few short months before the final performance at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, all the students at CaSPA will be hard at work rehearsing their roles, supported and guided by the CaSPA team of professional tutors, who come from a range of different backgrounds and talents.