If you had travelled past the Whitehaven Academy an 8am on Friday morning you would have seen 84 excited students, 2 vans full of props, set and costumes, 4 members of staff and 6 adult helpers (all of whom are past students) all setting off for a day at Carlisle Sands Centre for the regional heats of Rock Challenge 2016.
The day itself was the culmination of 8 months of hard work rehearsing, choreographing and fundraising, also working collaboratively with Mrs Callion in the Art Dept. to design and create set and props; and with parents who helped with costumes.
Once at the Sands Centre and all of our set, props and costumes were unloaded, the students could relax and soak up the atmosphere. The morning included a warm-up and production meeting where each school was introduced to each other and the students were encouraged to get up on their feet and get dancing. Following this, each school rehearsed on the main stage for the first time, and got the chance to watch and appreciate the other schools rehearsing their pieces.
From our 1st run-through on the professional stage it was obvious that the students of The Whitehaven Academy were set to amaze the sold out audience and judges in the evening. Choosing the theme of the Whitehaven William Pit Disaster of 1947, where 104 men and boys died, made the piece real to our students and allowed them to portray a story that was close to their hearts and homes.
By 6:30pm the performers were in full costume and make-up, the set was in place, the lighting and video directors were primed and ready and the Whitehaven Academy were set to open the show with their production entitled ‘104’. With every emotion interpreted and every move performed to perfection, the students both on and off the stage were professional and proficient. They moved several members of the audience and staff to tears as they depicted the juxtaposition of emotions and ultimately the horrific events of that fateful day.
The team were rewarded for their hard work and dedication with several awards of Excellence in: Concept, Performance Skill, Video Performance, Costuming Character, Entertainment, Visual Enhancement, Drama, Lighting and Choreography. And they were voted winners of the Spirit of Rock Challenge award by their fellow competing schools.
The students both past and present were an absolute asset and the best advocate for the Academy that I have ever come across. The team mentality was amazing and to see once shy and self-conscious young people stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people and dance and act as part of a unit, made all the hard work worthwhile. However, this is not the end of the road for this team. We are now working towards the premier finals in Grimsby on 2nd July where we will compete against the top 12 schools in the North of the UK.
So it’s back to the rehearsal rooms, fundraising and trial runs for team 104. so we can represent the fallen 104 on a National stage with pride in 9 weeks’ time.