Fifty-two Years 7 and 8 Kamo Intermediate students impressed the Showquest judges panel with their performance theme Channel-K and bagged four awards at the nationals at their first go.
The Whangārei school was third in the junior section, while also winning awards for the best theme and live music.
Year 8 student Abbie Franklin won the Most Outstanding Rangatahi award.
The students, with the help of their teacher Katy Wild, had to come up with a 10-minute story theme. A six-member concept and writing team came up with the concept and storyboarded the whole idea on how they wanted that story to eventually look on stage.
One of the writers, Emilia Cartwright-Reesby, said she enjoyed collaborating with people.
The teenager has a passion for writing and this experience was a perfect opportunity.
The team of writers then pitched their idea to the group of dancers, while some lead dancers took over the choreography. It was later decided that Franklin would perform the singing solo.
She was taken by surprise when she first heard of her role.
"Being with all the other people and seeing what they are passionate about, and how they can express themselves on stage; it was fun to watch how other people performed on stage.
"It was really exciting."
It was Kamo Intermediate School's first time taking part in a national performing arts competition and teacher Katy Wild said she was very proud of the achievement.
"When I first heard of the competition, we were kind of already behind, but I thought the kids were going to love it and went ahead with the whole idea. It was more of an opportunity for the kids.
"For me, I was the guidance and drawing the ideas out of the kids was very challenging and exciting.
"It was like an adventure managing 52 students at the same time. But there was so much passion and the collaboration between them was amazing.
"Because it was our first year, we had absolutely no idea that we would win so many awards. I was thinking that it would be really cool to do well at the regional level, and then when we won it, we were over the moon.
"But then we were put to compete with major schools across the country and we were stoked that we were at least getting the recognition."
The concept team started preparing at the beginning of term two as they knew they had to develop a theme and give the choreographers and dancers sufficient time to bring it to life, said Anya Slykerman.
"We began with the theme, drew out exactly what we wanted on stage and gave a clear idea to the dancers of what we were expecting. The choreographers picked that up and choreographed the play based on the given outline."
The students decided to go with the theme of Channel-K, which was also their school mantra.
Slykerman said Channel-K was a big part of their school.
"We have to do at least three kind things a day to three different people. It is really about making sure that everyone is kind to other people. It's been a part of our school for a long time.
"For our performance, we wanted to have a ripple effect on it. We visioned it to come out as: we do something nice for someone and they do something nice to someone else; that creates a rippling effect in our communities."
Wild said they were on a very limited budget and could not have many props, so they had to keep that in mind while coming up with costumes.
"We did the ripple through a ripple dance, rather than using fancy props."
The students came up with an idea of everyone wearing white and a black band around them to represent the darkness. As they rippled through the people by showing kindness, they would take off the black band.
Wild said they were applauded for their concept and they won the best theme award because they really represented their school's belief.
Whangārei Girls' High School was the other school from the region to win an award at Showquest 2021. The school won the best theme award in the open category.