The reason for this is the large number of immigrants arriving from Italy, particularly in the late ’50s and early ’60s.
Offering Italian meant that the students of Mirboo North Primary School were able to get a better insight into the life and culture of the majority of immigrants who moved to the area, and had the opportunity to learn some basic Italian in order to converse with them.
Through stories, songs, chants and actions from some great programs that have been developed for schools to teach children basic Italian, such as the Arcobaleno series and Teach Me Italian series, the students participate in weekly Italian lessons learning basic Italian.
As many of the immigrants who settled in Mirboo North were from a town in Sicily called Solarino, they were keen to carry on some of the traditions of their hometown in their new home.
One such tradition is that of an annual festival paying homage to the patron saint of the town, San Paolo: for more than 50 years the people of Mirboo North, in particular the Italian community, held a St Paul’s Festa (Festa di San Paolo).
In recent times, the event struggled to attract the masses that it once did and was therefore under threat of not continuing.
In 2016, the festa took on a new look, new format, new name and new committee, and is now known as the Mirboo North Italian Festa.
While there is still a religious component and an open air mass to pay homage to San Paolo, its focus has moved to FOOD, FUN and FREE!
The event has now been running for four years in its new format, and is going from strength to strength.
This year, an estimated 20,000 people attended and the major attraction was a group of 14 flag-throwers from Faenza, in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.
Each year since 2016, the students of Mirboo North Primary School are invited to perform at the event as a way of showcasing some of the things they’ve learnt in their Italian classes.
In previous years, we have danced the Tarantella, and sung a number of different songs.
Continuing on from last year’s studies of the story La Galinella Rossa, from the Arcobaleno publications, this year, the students sang the song Forza! Forza! and used it as an opportunity to pay tribute to our struggling farmers, who are drought stricken and doing it tough.
Every year, the students are well received and get lovely feedback from the thousands of people in the crowd, saying that they are a definite highlight of the day’s entertainment line up... and so every year, we enjoy and look forward to performing for the masses.
Some comments from Mirboo North Primary School on the event:
“It was a great opportunity for us students to have a go at performing. It was great fun.” – Alice Williams
“I felt nervous to sing in front of everyone. It felt like there were a million people there.” –Olivia McGrath
“It was overwhelming to perform in front of so many people but everyone looked like they were enjoying our singing.” – Emily Siaman
“Performing was lots of fun.” – Phoebe
“I was really nervous but I really enjoyed performing.” – Simon Pennycuick
“It made me feel happy that the audience was watching us.” – Logan Cathie