Students across the county have been showcasing their creativity in the 2017 Rock Challenge and J Rock competitions.
Performances from a number of schools took place at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley, with different groups competing from Monday to Wednesday.
Chatsmore Catholic High School stormed to victory on Monday with its first entry in Rock Challenge.
Taking part of the first time, Chatsmore students performed Drinking the Mercury, a powerful piece reflecting on a poisoning case in Japan.
At first, the villagers of Minamata were delighted to see how easy the fish were to catch, as they floated on the surface of the river. Slowly, as cats died and then children, the tragedy of methylmercury poisoning dawned. From 1956 to 2010, the people fought for justice against the Chisso factory responsible.
The school won in 14 categories and was honoured to be awarded the Spirit of Rock Challenge and Inclusion awards, amid much excitement as it was named overall winner.
Drama teachers Abbe Gray and Tanya Gladman said: “We still can’t believe it. We are so proud of our students and overwhelmed by the dedication and positivity they have demonstrated.”
Worthing College and Felpham Community College also took part on Monday. Worthing performed A World of My Creation, a piece about escapism, and won seven individual awards. Felpham performed a piece called #beware about technology and how it controls lives, which won three individual awards.
Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, presented the first prize.
She said: “What I love about Rock Challenge is in my job as Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex I meet a lot of young people who are quite challenged. They are often on the cusp of entering the criminal justice system and they are the ones who get the attention, so what’s really great about tonight is to see young people in the colleges and schools throughout the county who sometimes might get overlooked but who deserve just as much opportunity.”
The Angmering School won first place on Tuesday, with The Eastbourne Academy second and Chichester College third.
Angmering won 12 individual awards for its performance called Snow, while Chichester College won 11 individual awards for its performance of Once Upon A Pride.
Chris Cheshire, Deputy Lieutenant for West Sussex, presented the first prize.
He said: “The Rock Challenge here at Crawley gets better every year. What I really enjoy is hearing from the students who have been part of creating the performance because you can see their joy through their enthusiasm.”
J Rock for the younger pupils took place on Wednesday and Rustington Community Primary School won first place with a performance called Open Your Eyes and You Will See.
It told the story of Mary, an orphan from India, who is sent to live with her guardian in England. In the middle of the night she hears crying from a nearby room. Mary discovers Colin, a sickly child, and shares her happy memories of the vibrant Holi and Diwali festivals to help heal him and show him the beauty in the world around him.
West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith, who presented their award, said: “It has been a really inspiring evening to see the talent of the young children but also to see the thought they have put in.
“Some of them dealt with some really important issues and I think that it is amazing that they were aware of that and wanted to express that in the drama. Truly fantastic.”
Nyewood CE Junior School, Bognor Regis, entering J Rock for the first time, received several individual awards for its performance, called #COMMUNICATION.
It told the story of a girl who faces an issue that many young girls are facing in 2017. It is so important to her how many followers she has and how many ‘likes’ she receives. She forgets about the people who care about her. One night she posts online, let’s just say, her followers were not impressed by what she had posted that night.
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