Liverpool students shine in the Eurovision live semi-final draw

Three students from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi in Liverpool were specially selected to represent the city as part of BBC Two’s Eurovision Song Contest handover and draw.

The live show was broadcast from St George’s Hall on Tuesday 31 January and was presented by Rylan Clark and AJ Odudu.

Mayor of 2022 host city Turin, Stefano Lo Russo, handed over the official keys of the Eurovision Song Contest, known as the Insignia, to the Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson.

Students from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Niota, Billal and Chenelle, played an important role in the programme and announced the countries who have made it to the semi-finals in May, before the grand final.

The students revealed the results live on stage, alongside the well-known presenters.

Before Niota revealed the successful country, AJ asked her how she felt, as a local student, about Eurovision coming to Liverpool.

Niota spoke eloquently, saying: “It is a delight to show off Liverpool’s diversity and an honour to present and host Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine.”

The Year 11 student was met with rapturous applause and proceeded to open the envelope and announce that Germany was through to the first semi-final.

Billal followed suit and announced that Ukraine was through to the second semi-final, with Chenelle revealing that Spain was also through to the second semi-final. 

Earlier in the day, the students also featured on BBC Breakfast and interviewed for ITV Granada Reports and BBC Radio Merseyside. The One Show also went live to the BBC Two broadcast.

This unique opportunity was brought to the Kensington-based academy, which is proudly part of All Saints Multi Academy Trust, by Culture Liverpool.

Culture Liverpool recognises that The Academy of St Francis of Assisi is a ‘School of Sanctuary’ and plays a key role in the local community. 

The academy is committed to inclusivity and providing a safe space for those seeking sanctuary. Students are educated on the experiences of asylum seekers and are encouraged to build their intercultural awareness.

Head of performing arts at The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Mrs Abi Huthwaite supported the students on the day. She said: “This was a real once in a lifetime opportunity for our brilliant students. 

“They carried themselves impeccably throughout the day, even though it was an early start as they were on BBC Breakfast from 7am and the Eurovision show didn’t finish until 7:30pm – but they didn’t let that affect them and they proved to be naturals in front of the cameras.”

Ms Jo Leech, headteacher of the academy, added: “To see our students live on television throughout the day filled me with so much pride. 

“They represented The Academy of St Francis of Assis on a regional, national and international scale and they did it effortlessly. Well done to Niota, Billal and Chenelle!”

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