Katie Holland is the Rotorua Daily Post deputy editor

Students amaze Challenge audiences

Rotorua's Civic Theatre has been rocking to the spectacular sights and sounds of the 2013 Stage Challenge.

The Stage Challenge and J Rock - New Zealand's biggest school-based dance and drama competition - got under way last night. Groups representing 16 schools from the Rotorua region are taking part in the two-night event, with performances lasting up to eight minutes.

Tongariro School won the first night with Rotorua Girls' High School second. The event concludes tonight.

Event manager Sarah-Jane Phillips said the benefits from participating in the event were huge. "Students learn about commitment, hard work and working with and alongside others, all while being involved in a 100 per cent drug, alcohol and tobacco-free environment. These are life skills that will lead students in a positive direction."

Miss Phillips said the students did an amazing job every year. Many were involved with all aspects of their production and she was delighted to see how the students worked together with other students, teachers, parents and competitors.

Schools choose their own themes and many, such as John Paul College's "A Nation With Poor Children Is A Poor Excuse", address topical issues.

John Paul College director Stephanie Cogger said her group of 100 dancers and 40 backstage crew chose child poverty because of its relevance. Their performance last night tackled housing, health and children going hungry, ending with the conclusion the community needs to unite to bring about change. "We wanted to impact our community in a positive way, that showed what our school was about."

She said students had been rehearsing since February and did the choreography, costumes, hair and make up themselves.

The open division defending champion is Tongariro School while Taupo Intermediate won the J Rock award of excellence for drama last year. Both are back to defend their titles.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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