West Lakes Academy wowed judges on Saturday night at the Rock Challenge Northern Premier Final. The premier team, made up of over 100 performers and stage crew travelled to Grimsby to compete against ten other premier teams in the final.

The academy performed their eight minute piece based on a book by Laline Paull called The Bees. The story enters a whole new world within a beehive, main character Flora is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.

Judges awarded the academy first place naming them the Northern Premier Champions of 2017. The team also scooped all 14 awards of excellence including accolades for choreography, concept and stage crew alongside the coveted ‘performers’ choice’ award chosen by the other schools.

Mrs Sunter said, “The competition this year was the strongest we had ever seen. We knew we were competing with the best when we saw the standard of the others in the rehearsal. That’s why this award feels so special. Proud doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe how I feel towards the Rock Challenge team. We call ourselves family and that’s what we are.”

Mrs Whitaker added, “We are all extremely pleased with our performance on Saturday. To see our students perform on stage was enough, but the overall result was definitely the icing on the cake. The whole team has worked tirelessly since September to create a piece that would make West Lakes Academy and Cumbria proud. Thank you to everyone that contributed in any way.”

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The atmosphere at Grimsby was absolutely electric. The students watched all of the other schools rehearse excitedly. They cheered and clapped for each school showing true Rock Challenge spirit. Some students were even pulled on stage, during the crew dance, as they had taken the time to learn the routine. When the team got on the stage to rehearse they performed as though it was the actual competition. Other schools shouted and cheered. A student from another school even snapchatted it and said ‘Rock Challenge goals’.

It’s a very long day, but the students didn’t let this affect them. Everyone talked about how polite, supportive and professional they were.

The team commented that the competition this year was the strongest they had ever seen. We knew we were competing with the best when we saw the standard of the others in the rehearsal. That’s why this award feels so special. It still doesn’t feel real. We are all so proud of each other that we are all close to tears when we see each other. Students’ comments to each other, to staff and on Twitter show so much love for each other and what they do. They also show maturity, respect and love towards all of the other teams.

This is the first time that WLA has won the Northern Premiership. Next year anything could happen, there will be a national competition potentially in Milton Keynes. We would love to make it there again.

One of the judges performs in the West End and he said that our performance was easily up to that standard. We were presented with every award of excellence, but the one that meant the most was Performers’ Choice. This is awarded by the other schools and they chose us. That meant the absolute world.

Awards of excellence

Stage crew
Performance skills
Set design and function
Visual enhancement
Stage use
Performers’ Choice