Durrington High School

Going beyond our best

Rock Challenge team dazzle in Portsmouth

On Saturday 27th April our fantastic Rock Challenge team headed to Portsmouth to perform their amazing piece ‘Viva La Vida’ in the Southern Premier finals. The students met from 9am at school to pack up the set and then board the 3 coaches needed to take the 120 strong team to the Portsmouth Guildhall.

The team had previously showcased the piece back in February at The Hawth, Crawley, as they are a premier division school and so did not need to qualify for the finals. They were able to take feedback from the judges at the showcase and have been rehearsing every Friday to make the piece, which is based on the life and work of Frida Kholo, even better.

The students arrived and were very excited to see the professional venue.   They had a great day, rehearsing, watching other schools perform and then getting into costume and make-up. They were assisted by ex-students Dani Hardy, Eden Pailthorpe-Peart, Alex Bartram and Ella Wall, who gave up their time to help the cast get ready for the stage. We were delighted that they came back and it is testament to how loved and important Rock Challenge is to students, that they come back even once they have left the school.

We drew first in the running order and so the students got to open the show, which was amazing. The performance went incredibly well and the students shone. The bright Mexican colours contrasted with the day of the dead costumes and make-up meant the performance was impossible to take your eyes off. The students performed beautifully and were suitable delighted as they left the stage triumphantly, knowing that had given everything they could.

The remaining 8 schools then performed and the team had a long wait backstage, but were supportive of the other schools and made new friends during the day. Finally it was time for the awards to be handed out and Durrington High were delighted to received awards for stage use, stage crew, soundtrack,  concept,  healthy lifestyle and lighting, meaning the judges had scored us 9 or 10 in each of these categories. The lighting award was a particular highlight as we were one of only 4 schools to receive this and the lighting is designed by year 10 student Tom Payne. Most of the other schools have 6th formers or teachers designing their lighting and to win this award reflects how talented Tom is and we are very proud of him. We were also very pleased to place high enough to ensure we remained a premier school and so we have it all to look forward to again next year.

Emily Isham, director of Performing Arts said. ‘Rock Challenge is a valuable part of the enrichment programme offered at Durrington High School. Everyone is welcome to take part and the joy on the students faces shows how much they enjoy taking part. We are therefore delighted to be doing it again next year and are already making plans!’

Over 150 family and friends bought tickets to watch the performance and we are very grateful for their support. It would also not be possible without the passion and dedication of Emily Isham and her amazing team. Many thanks to Emily Isham, Lizzie Wolstenholme, Lauren Chaitow, Kathy Hughes, Sam Hodnett, April Cross, Debs Savage, Annie Hewett, Mark Morley and Lesley Graney, whose creative vision and artistic flair has supported the Rock Challenge team for so many years.

Day of the dead make up

Year 10 student Tom Payne, whose fantastic lighting design won an award.

  • We are a community here at Durrington High School, where we are motivated and driven by the excellence represented by everyone around us.