In fewer than twelve hours time, it would all be over. All the end-of-year concert preparation and practice would be put into place, plays and songs would be performed, the audience would be appreciative and it would all be over for another year. But first, there were those intervening hours to get through – and that involved the dress rehearsal. Without the dress bit – no time for that!

I rocked up to school at 11.30 as the students were dutifully traipsing in. The Juniors went first, with a bit more tweaking around the edges as we finalised – for at least the third time – who would be standing next to whom. Dynamics! you just can’t escape them! Mr Oosic was in form and Mr Enthusiastic was there in full flight. Who says dress rehearsals are always bad? Don’t believe them. We had our best rehearsal yet. The kids finished on a high, eagerly anticipating tonight’s performance.

Then there were my explorers. Oh no – don’t tell me – Matthew Flinders is still not here? I try not to mentally tally the number of rehearsals she has now missed. Boy, I just hope she’s here tonight. And if she’s not, well – we’ll manage anyway.

Just like the Juniors, the Seniors really did well. One of the teachers commented that it was a huge improvement on last week’s run through, when the two classes had observed each other. My new student has well learned the lines I had written for him – what a star, to jump in like that.

It was a really positive way to finish the morning. The students were proud of how far they had come and both classes were full of praise for the other’s efforts, and for the improvement on last week’s practice performances.

I went home, checked costumes and picked up my littlest Dancing Wombat from school. Tonight was also his school concert. I was devastated to be missing it – especially as it is his last at this school, and I have never missed something so significant before. He was generously understanding of my dilemma, while suffering from his own pre-concert nerves. “I’m not going to sing – it’s a stupid song anyway!”

“But sweetheart, you sang last year. And the year before. And it was great!”

Grumpily. “But they were good songs. This isn’t. I’m going to do what I did in Prep.” Oh, no, please don’t. That year, he completely refused to go on stage at all. A well-meaning teacher had told the class not to worry if they got stage fright – so my littlest Wombat immediately contracted a significant case of it days before he was anywhere near the stage.

Sigh. It was only a significant amount of incentive that eventually persuaded him it would be a good thing to go on stage and sing with his classmates. My littlest Wombat is good at finding reasons for not doing something, and not quite as skilled as finding reasons for doing the same thing! In the end, my biggest wombat (hubby!) reported that our reluctant Wombat was one of the most enthusiastic singers and dancers of the whole class. So clearly, chocolate does have its uses!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – or back at the school hall – I was calming anxious students.

“But Jennie, what if I forget my lines?”
“You won’t – and I’ll be there to whisper them to you anyway, just in case.”
“Jennie, I’m worried that I won’t remember my words!”
“You’ll be fine. Just don’t think about them now – you know them perfectly. Go and have fun!”
“Jennie, can you please go over my lines with me?”
“No, I won’t, because, you know what? You know them really, really well.”
“Jennie, what if…”
“You know what, mate? You were the first to learn your lines off by heart! Remember? You’ll be great!”
And so on.

But, Matthew Flinders was here! Yay! Clearly not yet holed up by the French on Mauritius. Excitement built as the students donned their costumes and were miked up. That sounds so professional, doesn’t it? Being miked up! The students thought they were pretty cool.

So the curtains opened. The littlies sang their hearts out. My Mr Enthusiastic as right on the job, singing straight to his dad, pointing and laughing and completely ignoring me – hmm – not so good – but having a wonderful time. Maybe not every word was heard, maybe not every rhythm was perfect, but boy, they have come such a long way in the last two terms. I was extremely proud of them, and better still, they were clearly proud of themselves.

Soon it was time for the Explorers play. The students went on and they absolutely conquered. It was so much fun. They fluffed their lines. They soared through their lines. They didn’t hear lines that I was hissing from the ground in front of the stage. Hilarious! The excitement coming from the stage was palpable. Cook and Flinders received two huge rounds of applause after delivering their lines – Flinders was so pleased that she curtsied!

Best of all, when students forgot their lines, their peers prompted them: I was so proud. It was brilliant to see them helping each other. They totally acted their lines and looked like they were having a ball. I exchanged glances a few times with my fabulous assistant, Fiona. We were just laughing with each other to see the kids doing such a great job.

Enough students remembered the words in the final song that they covered for the students who didn’t. They were so pleased with their efforts, and so was the audience of adoring families and friends. It’s heartwarming stuff.

So, it’s all over, for another year. Time to turn my mind to next year’s final concert and lesson planning. Building on what the students have learned this year, building on what I have learned this year. And smiling with the memories of the night that was.

May all your end-of-year concerts be as happy!