KeithUrbenville: The day Keith Urban came to our school

ABOVE: Urbenville Public School students with the new guitars bought by Keith Urban. Photo: Urbenville Public School

Susanna Freymark

A small school has changed its name to KeithUrbenville to honour the songs they love to sing by rockstar Keith Urban.

On Monday, December 14, Urbenville Public School students sat in the classroom to have what they thought was a zoom session with Kate Moore, the director of education leadership.

Instead, they were shocked and surprised when Keith Urban appeared on the screen and chatted to them for six minutes.

The surprise on the student’s faces as they put their hands to their mouths was priceless. One student burst into tears of joy.

The students on the Zoom call with Keith Urban.

Principal Chris Sifko said it all started a few terms ago.

When covid restrictions stopped the students singing at the Urbenville aged care facility, they missed singing their favourite Keith Urban songs including the song Long Hot Summer.

Always seeking new ways to learn, Keith’s songs were deconstructed in literacy lessons.

Children wrote out the lyrics and looked at the stories he was telling, Mr Sifko said.

Keith was tagged in the  school’s social media account about his songs.

“It started out in jest calling the school KeithUrbenville,” Mr Sifko said.

One student sugested they write to Keith. So they did.

Then Mr Sifko received a secretive phone call from Keith’s manager.

The plan was for the famous singer to visit the school for the school concert Little Stars Under the Big Stars but his filming commitments for The Voice meant he couldn’t make it.

“He was 95% locked in to visit and when he couldn’t, the next logical step was a Zoom call,” Mr Sifko said.

And there he was. Larger than life on the screen in the open plan Urbenville classroom where the 16 students at the school were thrilled by their idol’s call.

“The kids have so little and their reactions were genuine,” Mr Sifko said.

It’s clear from the video that Keith was delighted by their reactions as he clapped his hands and laughed.

There was another surprise from Keith.

He donated five guitars to the school selecting for them the guitar he learnt to play on.

A further 16 guitars have been ordered and will be gifted to each student to take home and keep as their own.

They’ve been ordered from Planet Music, Mr Sifko said and he is expecting delivery by the end of this week.

If the guitars don’t arrive by Thursday when school holidays start, Mr Sifko said he will deliver them personally to each student’s house.

He was kind of hoping the guitars wouldn’t arrive until the holidays so he could play Santa.

Mr Sifko has been at Urbenville Public since 2014, first as a teacher, then acting principal and principal for the past three years.

The school runs a breakfast club and has featured in the media many times for the students’ singing and poetry.

Teacher Melanie Jemison was the one who initiated many of the activities he said.

“She is a ball of energy and has a performing background.”

Urbenville may be a small school but it has a big heart.,

The students are “itching to come to school” and arrive at 7.30am, Mr Sifko said.

“The school feels like home for the kids,” he said.

Urbenville School principal Chris Sifko. Photo: Urbenville Public School

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