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Happy Days: Rock Challenge 2017

We love to dance at Southfield and have a history of performing on stage to celebrate a variety of different events. UK Rock Challenge is an international dance competition organised by the Be Your Best Foundation to help promote healthy lifestyle choices.  With the odd exception, students from our Pathfinder Vocational Centre have been entering Rock Challenge with some success since it began in the UK around 20 years ago.  

We are one of only a handful of special schools nationally to enter Rock Challenge, where the students compete against others from mainstream schools.  Once again, this year didn't disappoint...

Led by Dance Teacher Carrie Gledhill, we opted for a 'Happy Days' theme, taking inspiration from 1950s / 1960s America but with a modern twist which allowed our students to perform their favourite dance style: 'street'.  The set featured a traditional US diner and jukebox, all of which had been made by the students at school (with some help from our staff.)  

Following months of rehearsals, costume planning, set design, blood, sweat and a few tears we made our way to the Magna Science and Adventure Centre in Rotherham for an afternoon of final rehearsals before the main event in the evening.  The team set off in the morning and were followed by a minibus of parents and carers later to enjoy the performance. 

Final rehearsals gave us the opportunity to get used to the setting, check light and sound and to have one last practice in front of the other particpants before the main event.  This was a real team effort, with students involved back stage as well as performing on it, all supported by a huge effort from our staff to make sure the students remained safe and happy throughout. Many staff who contributed were unable to attend the event itself as it was business as usual back at Southfield, but we are truly grateful to everyone who helped out.  

At showtime, the students put on an amazing performance, showing great confidence, relience and independence throughout.  The quality of dancing and coordination was absolutely outstanding and the students sense of joy and pride resulted in rapturous applause and a few tears amongst their many supporters at the end.  We were up against some stiff competition so didn't make it through to the next round, however we did receive a host of awards:  Award for Excellence for Costuming Character;  Award of Excellence for Concept;  Award of Excellence for Entertainment;  Award of Excellence for Stage Crew;  Award of Excellence for Video Performance and  finally Award for Spirit of Rock Challenge which is voted for by the other students who participate on the day.  We are so proud of what the team achieved and there were too many individual highlights to mention here.  

As we prepared for the show, we were really happy to welcome BBC Radio Leeds reporter Jenny Eells to catch up with the team and give them some richly deserved coverage on the day of the event. There is a short film which you can find on their Facebook page and you can also listen to the audio clip as featured on the Liz Green breakfast show right here.