Last week's annual Sapphire Coast Learning Community (SCLC) performing arts festival was nothing short of inspirational and has left all those involved feeling elated, if not a little exhausted.
Coordinator SCLC performing arts festival organising committee, Suezanne Bourke, is not only thrilled with the festival's growth over the past six years, but she, along with many other teachers, mentors and local musicians involved in the festival, gets the greatest satisfaction from the smiles on the children’s faces and the confidence it builds in each and every one of the hundreds of students who take part in this event.
"I am absolutely on a high today," Ms Bourke said the day after the festival finished.
"It's an amazing feeling to see all of the children, especially the younger ones, so excited."
She said the event's success and growth is because "everybody continues to learn with and from each other".
This year there were over 550 performers from 16 public schools that make up the SCLC participating in the two-night program held at the Eden Marine High School hall.
Ms Bourke said these children have spent a good part of the year auditioning, rehearsing and perfecting a rich and diverse selection of dance, instrumental and vocal pieces for performance.
Planning begins with a committee of organisers meeting at the start of the year and from there the teacher representative from each of the schools returns to their respective school to discuss what performances will be put forward.
Term 2 marks the start of rehearsals with the children, and with a short nine-week term this year, children, teachers and mentors were required to fit in many rehearsal times outside of school hours.
The annual SCLC music camp is also held, which provides a selection of talented student musicians with the opportunity to work with tutors outside of school.
"These children are representative of the SCLC and the tutors bring performance quality and passion to the table.
"Then there is the third component of the festival, the combined primary schools choir.
"Throughout this process there are layers of support for the teachers, plus there are those brave ones who will take on an item/choreography/choir individually," Ms Bourke said.
By Term 3 everybody has to be ready as rehearsals begin in week two with costuming and props to be completed by the end of the winter school holidays.
Although it seems like an enormous task to take on, Ms Bourke said some of those involved in the organising committee have already had past experience in similar events.
"Some of us are from Sydney and have had experience with the school spectacular or state dance festival so we are able to share these experiences and bring other young people on board...to build the pyramid.
"One of our main goals is to help teachers develop these organisational skills to be able to pull it all together."
She said one of the most satisfying aspects about the event is giving those young people who may not otherwise have the confidence in other areas of school life, an opportunity to shine.
"The normally shy ones are up there on stage performing with huge smiles.
"I just have to say congratulations to all the children, they just worked so much harder this year and their confidence levels are growing each year.
"Everyone is so appreciative and the parents are thrilled.
"The performances were stunning; with really bright, beautiful coloured costumes a highlight."
Ms Bourke said the talent in the SCLC is amazing.
"Year 11 student Joccoaa Lee from Bega High School has gone from strength to strength.
"She was actually helping as a mentor at the music camp in May and with the high school items.
"Eden Marine High School's Emily Claxton is also doing well. Emily came third in the Harmony Day song writing competition and was one of four students to make up the song writing team tutored by Harry James Angus of the Cat Empire, for the National Music Program 'Count Us In' this year.
"Some of the younger kids are also writing the music that is being performed in the SCLC concerts.
"So there is loads of talent amongst these public school students, which is being grown and developed through opportunities both within and beyond the classroom."
The SCLC Performing Arts Festival continues to be the biggest showcase of public school performing arts programs on the south coast.
"It's wonderful the way people in every school are passionate about the performing arts."
One such person who is equally passionate is Eden Marine High School music teacher, Sam Martin, who as back stage manager, coordinates the show's production.
With the assistance of eight Eden High School students as back stage crew and Pambula Public School teacher Peter Claxton, Mr Martin and his team were responsible for everything from the set and stage construction to the audience seating arrangement.
"Having the students involved gives them an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and how to create a venue, which for any of those interested is a fantastic skill to learn which can't be taught in a classroom."
Mr Martin said on Thursday he was exhausted.
"There's a fair bit of pressure to get 350 kids on and off the stage within two hours.
"I've really appreciated the help from Peter Claxton over the past two years and also appreciate the opportunity to work with like-minded teachers and adults from around the area.
"Through these events you get to connect with these people and also those new ones who become interested in the festival.
"It's also lovely for the parents to see their kids on stage.
"It's great to display all that talent and it also makes me proud to see my Year 11 and 12 classes perform."
Mr Martin said the festival is particularly beneficial for the Year 11 and 12 music students.
"With the Year 12 exams starting soon it gives them the chance to perform in front of a massive crowd and hone their skills prior to their exams.
"Watching my Year 12 class perform on Tuesday night was like watching a professional band on stage; and that's what you aim for as a teacher.”
Mr Martin said the festival runs smoothly as those involved all understand their roles and responsibilities.
"You do get a buzz from being involved, you put a lot in but you certainly get more back."