Stand aside Jack Black - Jack and the Chicks have taken over the School of Rock.

The group of 9 and 10-year-olds is Churton School's resident rock band and their teacher Tex von Kwiatkowski says the primary school students are the youngest school rock band in the North Island.

Drummer Jack Watson, the lone boy in the band, is joined by Quinn Hutchings (guitar), Olive Caseley (bass), Ava McDonough (keys) and vocalists Isabel McNicholl, Harriet Jacobs, Amelie Willis and Jessica Hardy.

"The students asked if we could make a band and it started four years ago very casually," von Kwiatkowski said.


"The PTA spent a lot of money on musical equipment two years ago. The students were absolute beginners when they started and now they do one-and-a-half hours' practice a week at school and some of them practice at home.

Churton School rock band

Posted by Wanganui Chronicle on Tuesday, 22 May 2018

"We ran trials for who could join and they have to be committed. There is a practice for an hour at lunchtime once a week and on Tuesdays they come to school half an hour earlier to practice."

Learning how to "work" the audience is part of the process to overcome stage fright with the band performing at the school's Churton Idol competition and a barn dance at the school hall.

"We're thinking of entering the Whanganui Smokefree Rockquest," von Kwiatkowski said.

"The students have the movie School of Rock in mind so why not?"

Principal Andrew Spence said while a primary school rock band was unusual, from the school's point of view it was using the strengths of its staff, particularly von Kwiatkowski and deputy principal Gary Johnston "who are passionate about bands and music".

"It's about using our unique resources and that's allowed us to form our own band," Spence said.

"The band started as a small thing but has grown and blossomed into something our PTA wants to support. The students and parents love it. It's created a desire in a large number of kids who want to participate."


The band's repertoire includes an original song Ki Te Ao Hou, based on the school's philosophy. When the Chronicle visited they were also rehearsing David Bowie's Heroes.