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Edmonton students star in Olympic opening ceremony
Twelve Edmonton students played a starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night.
Six children from special needs school West Lea School and six pupils from Hazelbury Junior School, both in Haselbury Road, joined 68 others to sing two verses of the nation anthem as part of the Kaos Signing Choir.
The choir, which is the only one if its kind in the UK, caters for both deaf and hearing children aged four to 18.
Claire Reilly sang with her 13-year-old daughter Eleanor during the ceremony. Eleanor has sung with the choir for two years.
Mrs Reilly said: “It was amazing, so unbelievable. It is one of those things that you just can’t take in. I have got to pinch myself, ‘was I really there?’”
She said she was more nervous about the performance, which was viewed by more than one billion people, than her daughter.
According to Mrs Reilly, the atmosphere in the stadium was "electric," and all the Olympic organisers were giving the children high fives as they arrived.
Hazelbury Junior School headteacher Carline Ikoroha spent more than 100 hours practising with children from both schools to make sure they were ready for Friday’s spectacle.
The children started preparing with the rest of the choir in April in Highgate School. Because of the secrecy surrounding the opening ceremony, the children were not allowed to speak to anyone, including classmates, about their upcoming role.
Ms Ikoroha said: “It was very difficult not to tell anyone but I managed to hold myself together. If anything leaked we would have been scrapped.”
The head, who watched the children perform in the opening ceremony, said: “I felt a real mixture of emotions, it was really, really, good to see. They were very good and all gelled together.
“The whole thing was absolutely fantastic and the children enjoyed themselves and have learned a lot. It was amazing, the best experience they will have for a long time.”
West Lea School headteacher Sue Tripp heard the performance from backstage. She helped the children with their costumes and said it was "amazing" to be part of the ceremony.
West Lea students 15-year-old Grace Spencer, 14-year-old Alice Tiernan, 13-year-old Daniel Noble, 14-year-old Kathleen Waters, 13-year-old Eleanor Reilly, 13 and 12-year-old Efemona Omonoseh, sang in the choir.
Starring Hazelbury Junior School pupils were nine-year-old Joshua Rayapen, 11-year-old Joseph Rayapen, eight-year-old Mustafa-Berk Ak, eight-year-old Lisa Marie McDonagh, ten-year-old Maria Lee and eight-year-old Mariana Astudillo.