Real-Life Glee

On February 27, the fifth-grade chorus from Public School 22, in Staten Island, New York, closed out the Academy Awards on a high note.

Mar 11, 2011 | By Vickie An

Most of the kids in the P.S. 22 chorus had never stepped foot outside of their hometown before this month, let alone flown on a plane. Not so anymore! Last week, all 65 fifth graders flew across the country to perform at the Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, California.

In December, the kids learned they would be singing at the show. Producer Bruce Cohen and Oscar cohost Anne Hathaway surprised them at P.S. 22's annual winter concert. "You guys have brought such joy to my heart," Hathaway said when she told them the news.

Last Sunday, after all the gold statues had been handed out, the singers filed onto the Oscar stage. They swayed as they sang "Over the Rainbow," from The Wizard of Oz. The soulful rendition earned a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd.

No Strangers to Fame

The students may not be world travelers. But P.S. 22 singers are used to the spotlight. Over the years, the chorus has performed for Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and the Obama family. The glee club is known for its rousing performances of popular tunes.

Chorus members change yearly, so the Oscars were this group's big event. "I always knew the chorus was special," P.S. 22 music teacher Gregg Breinberg says. "I'm thrilled people see in them what I see."

Breinberg began posting online videos of the chorus in 2006. Today, the videos have been viewed nearly 30 million times. "People give up their free time to listen to us," fifth grader Adham, 10, told TIME. "We're pretty proud of that."