It was the first time many of them had traveled on an airplane or slept in a hotel room, but there they were -- the 5th graders of Staten Island's Public School 22 at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. They practiced with the stars, sang at Disneyland, walked the red carpet, and talked to ABC's host, Robin Roberts. Then they sang.
And oh when they sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," it was chill inducing. Not because it was a perfect vocal rendition of the song, but because it was filled with such hope. When the Oscar winners in their fancy formal wear came out and joined the t-shirt clad children, it was a great reminder, as Anne Hathaway said, "that dreams really do come true."
Their performance along with that of Kirk Douglas earlier in the show were the two best parts of the night (Gwyneth Paltrow's dress was a close contender). And what a wonderful example of what public schools are doing right.
The group found fame just like one their idols, Justin Bieber -- on YouTube. The right people saw their amazing talent and unique take on pop hits, word spread, and they became one of the -- if not the -- most well-known public grade school choirs in the country. Each year the new batch of fifth graders who joins the chorus has no idea what they're in for. Some classes have performed for Oprah, some for the President.
This year's class was in shock when they heard news of their big gig from Anne Hathaway, who made the announcement at their winter recital in December. Their director, Gregg Breinberg, told the Los Angeles Times:
The first thing they wanted to know [about Hollywood] was, 'Are there gonna be bathrooms there?' Then they wanted to know, 'Is Justin Bieber gonna be there?' Honestly, I don't know how they can wrap their heads around it. I'm 38 years old, and I can't wrap my head around it.
Video of their Oscar performance isn't posted yet, but here is one of them singing Katy Perry's "Firework" during a press conference for the Oscars that showcases their talent:
Did you see P.S. 22 perform at the Oscars? Were you blown away too?
Image via YouTube