Students shine bright with cultural showcase

March 27, 2024

The first term of school has been nothing short of unforgettable for students at Carinity Education Shalom. They’ve had not one, but two remarkable opportunities to share their rich cultural heritage with the Townsville community through dance.

Carinity Education Shalom students performing at the player signing event for the NRL All Stars match

Students played an important role in the recent NRL All Stars match, a rugby league game contested by  players from and representing Indigenous Australian and New Zealand Maori cultures.

In the lead-up to the event, a dozen Shalom students received an exclusive invitation to participate in the player signing event hosted by Harvey Norman.

At the event, they had the thrilling opportunity to perform the opening dance alongside fellow Indigenous Australians and NRL icons Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell. For student Arthur, it was an unforgettable moment when Addo-Carr described him as “a deadly dancer.”

Under the guidance of Campus Pastor Andy Bollom and visiting Indigenous elders, the students dedicated weeks to perfecting the choreography.

“During the rehearsals we had the honour of welcoming Uncle David Mundraby and family from Yarrabah, as well as a collaborative session with local Indigenous artist Normey Jay,” Andy explained.

Shalom dancers posing for media coverage on 7 News Townsville during their memorable week

The visiting NRL players and game garnered significant media attention, leading to an invitation for the students to appear on 7 News Townsville and the national Sky News service, as well as local Indigenous radio station 4K1G.

The week culminated with the Friday night televised game at Townsville stadium, where the students emerged as true stars. They didn’t just dance; they commanded the stage, radiating pride in their cultural heritage.

“This is the first big opportunity I have had to really represent my culture,” Arthur said.

The highlight of the game for the students was in the third and fourth quarters, where they were given the chance to perform.

Arthur, the group’s songman, sang three traditional songlines from the Lower Coastal Yidinji tribe. The audience witnessed a walk-on song, a hunting and fishing men’s dance, and a ‘Waddama’ showoff dance.

Carinity Education Shalom dancers behind the scenes at the NRL All Stars event in Townsville

Despite the challenges of wet weather, their energy and enthusiasm were infectious, captivating the hearts of thousands in attendance. Year 8 student Akeira recalls that, “I felt kind of famous and it was cool.”

Pastor Andy, who accompanied the students to the stadium, was thrilled they had been given such a memorable opportunity to celebrate their culture.

“After the kids left the stadium grass in their final performance, there was plenty of tears and shouts of joy,” Andy said.

“You could see that the students not only believe in themselves, but they were proud of themselves! This is one of our school’s goals for all our students and a moment I will never forget.”

For these young dancers, the NRL All Stars event was more than just a showcase of talent; it was a powerful statement of cultural pride and determination.

Tenth-grader Ashley summed up the sentiment perfectly: “It felt amazing. It was really cool to show 16,000 people my culture. It made me feel really proud to be an Aboriginal Australian.”

An excited Carinity Education Shalom student pictured with rugby league star, Josh Addo-Carr

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