For a Stage Challenge student, nothing quite compares to the elation of nailing their performance after more than six months of practice, sweat and tears.

That elation was a reality for hundreds of local students who took to the stage for the regional competition in front of a packed-out crowd last night.

The competition is a staple annual event and a rite of passage for those students who painstakingly brought the various performances together.

Last year's regional competition saw a high calibre of performers, but ultimately Rotorua Girls' High School reigned supreme.

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This year local students from Western Heights High, Rotorua Lakes High, Girls' High, Mokoia Intermediate, Tauhara College and John Paul College took centre stage.

Rotorua Lakes High School student director Emma Laidlow, 17, and choreographer Amy Jordan, 17, said they had taken part in the competition for years.

"I only realised today this will be my last year doing Stage Challenge, it hadn't really sunk in until now," Amy said.

"This year was a big year for us because it was our year to run it - we put everything we had into this," Emma said. "I've done the competition since Year 7 so it's like this is our legacy, our year, our Stage Challenge."

The group's theme was around the opportunities available after high school.

"We picked that theme because it was something we are facing right now so felt it was the most relatable," Emma said.

Teacher in charge Katherine Beijeman has been involved with Stage Challenge for six years, and took part in the competition when she was in high school.

"We have a really great group of kids who are keen to just go out there, do their best and have fun.

"For us Stage Challenge is more about the experience than the end result. We make sure it's predominantly student-led - I'm just there to make sure things stay on track, so when the students get to this point, they are so proud of what they have achieved."

-The results had not been announced by the time the Rotorua Daily Post went to print last night. For results go to www.rotoruadailypost.co.nz or see Monday's print edition for more photos from the event.