It was pretty amazing having a group of students from Marlborough Girls College, New Zealand on a four day stay at St John’s Academy. Delight turned to stunned surprise when one of the girls turned out to be the 2012 winner of New Zealand’s Got Talent – the singer Clara Van Wel.
Clara was part of a group on a three week European Classical Studies Tour – and St John’s was their first stop.
Last year singer-songwriter Clara won the New Zealand’s Got Talent contest aged just fifteen. She won a $100,000 car and a recording contract and has recently released a single ‘Wait for Me’.
The New Zealand students’ visit included trips to Bath and Avebury and at St John’s they led an assembly, attended a wide range of lessons and gave a concert of Maori songs.
There was then a hastily-organised lunchtime performance from Clara Van Wel who played her own compositions including ‘Wait For Me’.
Clara captivated the 500 strong audience of students with a stunning performance. She also met talented Year 13 student, Ben Cipolla, who performed at the Marlborough Jazz Festival this summer with Claire Teal. The pair recorded a duet in the St. John’s recording studio.
As the students left for London the following morning, there were tears from both the hosts and the visitors. “This was the nicest group of people I’ve met in a long time. I do think I have made a friend for life” said Kathleen Parkinson-Hill of Year 12.
“I made new friendships and learnt so much about their culture. It was amazing and I will be going to visit in my gap year” said Maddie Blackwell of Year 13.
St John’s assistant vice-principal Tom Nicholls, who co-ordinated the visit, said: “This was the ideal platform for our two schools to develop our partnership further. In just a few days we developed friendships and an intention to do so much more together.”
“We are excited by the possibilities and are already linking this with our other international projects.”
Clara also took time out for an impromptu performance at Preshute Primary School where Jessica Davis, the youngest member the family Clara was staying with, is a pupil.
Despite her success as a performer, London-born Clara is hoping to return to Britain to study at Oxford University.