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UK ROCK CHALLENGE NEWS

SMOKING MAKES TEENAGERS DEAF ! - 2007 ROCK CHALLENGE - GREAT FEEDBACK ! - Drugs-Education Programmes In Schools Can Be Counter-Productive - Patron Baroness Henig reports on another successful year for BYBF - Grampian Police "delighted" with evaluation of Rock Challenge - Light Smoking = No Risk? - Dan, Tim and Neil run ten miles for Rock Challenge! -Dave and Zoie help launch South Africa's first Rock Challenge! - Results of heavy teenage drinking (already obese by age 24) - Global Rock Challenge Executive Producer Peter Sjoquist Honoured - Ashfield team member awarded Diana, Princess of Wales memorial Award - Rock Challenge turns to its Team Members for Help - Warm Feelings for Christmas - Rock Challenge upgrades status of Participation Pins - Peterhead Receive Anne Frank Certificate - Rock Challengers Wow The Jubilee Racecourse Crowds - Website passes 20,000th visitor - Rock Challenge is an effective drugs prevention tool - Brand new Rocka in the USA! - Two Historic Substance-Free Days for Bradford! - Hunsley Fly the Rocka Flag Yet Again - UK Rock Challenge Impresses Aberdeen FC - Peterhead win Parliamentary Recognition for Rocka: Now Seek Help With Accommodation For Final - Aberdeen Opens the 2002 Rock Challenge Season - Driffield's Team Fly The Flag

Older News Stories Are In The Archive - Click To Read

SMOKING MAKES YOU DEAF ... sort of ! (January 4th 2008)

A teenager who smokes can find more difficulty in understanding what other people are saying. It's also more difficult if the teenager's mother smoked while she was pregnant.

Leslie Jacobsen (of Yale University School of Medicine in the USA) and her team measured a thing called "white matter" - that's the neural tissue that nerve signals get passed through. Nicotine that gets into a young person's body can cause abnormalities and Jacobsen has now shown that this abnormal development not only happens in infants and young children but also in teenagers, causing them increased problems in hearing and processing sounds.

Teenagers aged 13 to 18 were given simple tests in which they had to recognise words they heard while also being exposed to background noise and / or distracting pictures. Teenage boys exposed to nicotine only got 77% of the words right (non-exposed teenage boys got 85% right) while teenage girls exposed to nicotine got 84% right (but non-exposed girls got 90% right).

It would seem that the smokers - and those exposed to smoking earlier in their lives and also during their mother's pregnancy - will have greater problems in understanding what is going on in a classroom situation than those not exposed to smoking / nicotine.

Given that participation in the Rock Challenge has been shown to bring about a drop (or even cessation) in the level of smoking, this latest research shows there's yet ANOTHER good reason for taking part !

There's a fuller article about this in the January 3rd issue of "New Scientist" magazine.

2007 ROCK CHALLENGE - GREAT FEEDBACK ! (July 4th 2007)

UK 2007 ROCK CHALLENGE NATIONAL PARTICIPANTS SURVEY - RESULTS SUMMARY

Each participant in the 2007 UK Rock Challenge events was asked to complete a questionnaire. These were anonymous and were completed during the day of the event. 4430 questionnaires were returned.

  • 82% said that they spent 3 or more months rehearsing, with 84% spending 3 or more hours per week on their production outside of curriculum time.
  • 13% of respondents reported that they smoked before becoming involved in the Rock Challenge. Of those, 61% have stopped smoking due to their involvement. Also 27% have reduced the amount they smoke.
  • Of the respondents, 16% also reported that they drank alcohol before becoming involved in the event. Of those, 84% have stopped or reduced their alcohol intake since becoming involved in the Rock Challenge.
  • 81% of students who had used drugs before becoming involved in the Rock Challenge had now stopped or reduced their drug usage.
  • Of the respondents, 89% felt their self-esteem and teamwork skills had both improved since they became involved in the Rock Challenge.
  • Of the respondents, 14% said they had played truant from school before. Of those, 89% have stopped playing truant due to their involvement in the Rock Challenge.
  • 97% of respondents reported they enjoy school more since becoming involved in the Rock Challenge.
  • 96% also reported they have better relationships with their teachers following their involvement.
  • Of the respondents, 97% reported they have made new friends through the Rock Challenge.
  • 98.5% of respondents described the initiative as excellent or good when given the choice of excellent, good, average or poor.
++++++++++++

DRUGS-EDUCATION PROGRAMMES IN SCHOOLS CAN BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (10th October 2006)

The September 2006 report "Pathways to Problems" published by the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs makes for largely depressing reading, especially where it comments directly on drugs education in schools as some sort of measure aimed at reducing - or at the very least slowing - the numbers resorting to taking alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

  • "13: School-based programmes have been a major part of drug prevention in the UK and other countries for many years. However, systematic reviews of the available published research (mainly from the US) show that the success of these programmes in limiting the uptake of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs by young people has been slight or non-existent, and that they can actually be counter-productive."
  • "5.17 It is also important to consider the possible harms as well as benefits that may arise from drug use prevention. A review by Werch and Owen found no negative effects of smoking prevention initiatives. Worryingly, however, evidence of increasing rather than decreasing prevalence following the intervention was obtained in 17 studies of alcohol or drug prevention between 1980 and 2001, with greater evidence of these negative effects found in the most recent study period between 1996 and 2001. These effects were judged by the review authors to be indicative of real harms."
Yes, you read those paragraphs correctly ... "can actually be counter-productive" ... "evidence of increasing rather than decreasing prevalence following the intervention" ... in other words, exposure to drugs education lessons can actually lead to greater use among young people, not lesser.

Dr Laurence Gruer OBE (Charman of the Working Group, and author of the report) was questioned about this more closely on BBC Radio 4's flagship "Today" programme:
  • John Humphrys:- "Indeed, Dr Gruer, you go so far as to say it (ie drugs education in schools) could be counterproductive ! In what sense ?"
  • Dr Gruer:- "There have been some studies in the United States that have shown that where they have had a drugs programme, when they have looked at the difference between the kids who got the drugs programme and those that didn't, in some instances there was a higher rate of drug use among those who had the drugs programme."
  • John Humphrys:- "But why should that be, do you think ! What's going on here ? Surely if you warn children ... it has some effect ?"
  • Dr Gruer:- "Well, I think in some cases it may make kids more aware of drugs and may actually excite their interest in the drugs which they might not otherwise have had."
Sad indeed ... so let's brighten up the picture with a look at what participation in UK Rock Challenge brings about !

From the student feedback questionnaires that were returned in 2006 (5,201 in all) we get:-
  • 12% of respondents reported that they smoked before becoming involved in the Rock Challenge. Of those, 64% have stopped smoking due to their involvement while 25% have reduced the amount they smoke.
  • 13% reported that they drank alcohol before becoming involved in the event. Of those, 89% have stopped or reduced their alcohol intake since becoming involved in the Rock Challenge.
  • 79% of students who had used drugs before becoming involved in the Rock Challenge had now stopped or reduced their drug usage.
Teachers told much the same story too. 63% responded, and 54% of those said that the participants' consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs had decreased or greatly decreased.

Of course, participation in Rock Challenge usually directly involves only up to about 150 people in any one school, so the beneficial results we see above in regard to tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse might be said to be affecting a very small part of the overall school population. However, a 2002 research study in Australia by Rose Grunstein pointed to school-wide differences too:-
  • Recent marijuana use dropped slightly in Rock Eisteddfod Challenge schools, but remained steady in non-REC schools.
  • Rock Eisteddfod Challenge schools had a significantly lower proportion of students who had ever tried drugs and who had ever been drunk.
Of drugs education in schools, page 79 of the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reports contains the comments "Preliminary conclusions from the study are that most schools used methods that have not been found to be effective ..." and "Many pupils were critical of drugs education, finding it uninspiring and unrelated to their own experience."

Feedback from Rock Challenge participants and teachers (and the findings of the Australian study) paints a different picture. The Rock Challenge offers students an annual high-adrenaline activity that a majority of them want to take part in year after year after year and at the same time heavily penalises any team members who are found anywhere to be breaking the "no smoking / no alcohol / no drugs" rules (they are thrown out of the event, and the entire team can progress no further in that year's competition). As a "drugs education" policy, it seems to work.

The Rock Challenge - a winning combination !

PATRON'S STATEMENT (September 15th 2006)

2006 has been an extremely successful year for the Be Your Best Foundation. The numbers of schools participating rose to 218 from 189 last year, and again we had two categories, premier and open division. The total numbers of students who participated in this year's shows was 15,500 and the tour took in some new venues such as Eastbourne's Congress Hall.

I was delighted to be invited last autumn to become the patron of the Be Your Best Foundation, and I attended both the Southern Premier Final in Portsmouth and the Northern Premier Final in Grimsby. The standard of performance was incredibly high, and the levels of support for the competing schools was really fantastic. I am already looking forward to next year's shows in eager anticipation.

As ever, the Foundation is grateful to Hampshire Constabulary along with our many other supporters both financial and in kind for their continuing enthusiasm for the event. I would also like to mention the wonderful volunteers who turn up year on year giving their support and dedication to the charity.

After three successful years as chair of the Board, Derek Thompson has decided to retire at the end of this season, and hand over the reins to Mervyn Bishop. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his untiring work and campaigning on behalf of the Foundation, and for his unfailingly enthusiastic support for the participating students and teachers. His wise counsel will be greatly missed.

Finally, many thanks to all our supporters, friends, backroom staff and to our hard working General Manager, David Beal. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Baroness Henig of Lancaster DL (Patron)

(Note from John - your editor:- Baroness Henig has had a long and successful academic career at the University of Lancaster. She is the author of several books examining - among other things - factors leading to the outbreaks of two World Wars in Europe, and also the role of women in politics. For several years she was the Chair of the Association of Police Authorities in England and Wales.)

GRAMPIAN POLICE "DELIGHTED" WITH EVALUATION OF ROCK CHALLENGE (September 25th 2005)

The Grampian Police have announced that they are delighted with the evaluation results received from the Global Rock Challenge.

Sergeant Louise Milne said "I am delighted at the results of the evaluation. This event is a fantastic initiative and the young people achieve and experience so much from it. It is re-assuring to have some evidence that this event is achieving what we want it to. Every year it gets bigger and better with more schools wanting to be involved. It involves a tremendous amount of work and commitment from all those involved, including pupils, teachers and parents but results like these prove it is all worth the effort."

Jennie Biggs, Alcohol Development Officer with the Aberdeen Joint Alcohol and Drug Action Team added "The fact that they (the Aberdeen schools) come back again for another year speaks volumes and shows what fun, learning and personal development comes out of the hard six months of work that they all put into their own performance.
Global Rock makes a difference to young people and allows schools to use involvement as an incentive towards a healthier lifestyle and positive experience in education."

The full statement can be read here.

LIGHT SMOKING = NO RISK ? (September 25th 2005)

In a Norwegian study that looked at 23,521 men and 19,201 women in the mid 1970s and again in 2002, the effects of smoking from 1 to 4 cigarettes each day were clear and startling: deaths from heart disease were almost tripled among light smokers compared with non-smokers, while lung cancer was three times more likely among male light smokers than non-smokers and almost FIVE times more likely among female light smokers.

The thirty years study also found that light smokers were more likely to die of anything than non-smokers during that period.

You can read the full research paper as published in the BMJ Publishing Group's online magazine "Tobacco Control"

If you want to help anyone to quit smoking, you could start with the "QUIT" website

THREE MEN - TEN MILES (October 18th 2004)

UK Rock Challenge's Production Assistant Tim Macfarlane, Propsmaster Dan McCready, and soon-to-be volunteer Neil Exton successfully completed all ten sponsored miles of the BUPA Great South Run, helping to raise funds for the Be Your Best Foundation.

Dan's "gripping" account (plus a couple of photographs of the intrepid trio!) can be found HERE.

He threatens to involve more "willing volunteers" in 2005 ... rumours are already circulating ... the Great North Run ? The London Marathon ??

It's all in a good cause - the BYBF firmly believes that the 13,000 plus 11-to-18s in school and college teams from Fraserburgh to the Isle of Wight and across these isles from Grimsby to Belfast - and already rehearsing for their part in next Spring's events - have their ability to resist the seemingly inevitable peer pressure to use/abuse products containing nicotine, alcohol and/or banned substances vastly improved ... and they benefit from all the other advantages participation in Rock Challenge brings too.

Here's looking forward to more "Running for Rocka" in 2005 :)

To read more about Dan McCready, click here:-

To read more about Tim Macfarlane, click here.

DAVE AND ZOIE HELP LAUNCH ROCK CHALLENGE IN SOUTH AFRICA (October 7th 2004)

Rock Challenge's UK Producer Zoie Golding and Stage Manager David Beal are now in South Africa to help launch Global Rock Challenge's inaugural two days of events at one of that nation's most prestigious venues (and its biggest indoor arena!) Johannesburg's "The Dome".

Over 2500 learners in teams from the following 27 Primary and Secondary Schools are expected to attend:-

Monday 11th October 2004 - Primary Schools

Babinaphuti Secondary School, Eldorado Park Women's Forum, F.J.L. Wells Primary School, Geluksdal Library, Maragon Private School, Pholosho Primary School, Rebone Primary School, Selbourne Primary School, Sizwile School for the Deaf, Thutong Junior Secondary School and Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School.

Tuesday 12th October 2004 - Secondary Schools

Carleton Jones Secondary School, Dominican Convent School, East Rand School of Arts, General Smuts High School, Hoërskool Waterkloof, Mandisa Shiceka High School, Maragon Private School, Matsediso Secondary School, The National School of the Arts, PJ Simelane Secondary School, Pro Arte Alphen Park Secondary School, Queens High School, Randfontein High School, Reddam House Johannesburg, Senthibele Senior Secondary School and St Andrew's School for Girls.

With the active participation of the Gauteng Department of Education, learners have been rehearsing - and going through the Life Skills programme - for weeks now. The participant schools for this pilot program were chosen to represent the diversity of schools within the Gauteng region.

Sadly, South Africa has more than enough health problems to contend with, and one is HIV/AIDS. Global Rock Challenge Executive Producer Peter Sjoquist commented:-

"Approximately 1 in 5 secondary school students in South Africa has HIV and so one of the challenges is to get young learners to change their attitudes to alcohol (a key driver for unwanted and unprotected sex) and sexual activity.

One of the schools I visited yesterday was Sizwile Schools for the Deaf in Soweto. Their production is about "love" and how love is not sex but how everyone in their community supports them in life."

So the two days are not "just" all about Rock Challenge performances, and a wide range of other organisations and groups will also be in evidence at The Dome throughout the two days of the event. These include

  • SOUL CITY'- presenting three life skills work shops which will include raising awareness on HIV & Aids prevention and care.
  • SUCCESS BY CHOICE'- a dynamic life-skills programme in South Africa, assisting Learners to set and affirm their personal goals.
  • SAOA' (South African Optometry Association)- conducting eye screening free of charge
  • THEMBA INTERACTIVE THEATRE'- conducting a very skilled HIV & Aids workshop, through drumming and active participation.
  • BON ART'- conducting a fun and relaxing workshop focusing on creative expression through art and painting
  • MILES AND ASSOCIATES'- teaching the learners about team work through a basketball skills workshop.
  • SONY PLAYSTATION- bringing the Playstation Simulator Truck with 10 interactive games which allow the participants to learn through active participation.
  • "ROCK YOUR PLATE"- nutritional workshop encouraging young people to think and learn about nutrition and healthy dietary requirements with a qualified dietician.

Learners will also have fun and improve their physical coordination skills through a workshop involving the new Trikke Scooters, as well as having the opportunity to understand the way alcohol consumption can impair perception through an activity which requires them to perform simple tasks wearing goggles which simulate the effects of excess consumption of alcohol.

Each Learner will receive a momento - a Passport to Success, with their individual photograph - to remind them of the key messages learnt at the event.

To read Dave's report on his experiences, click here:-To read more about The Dome, click here:-

To read more about Peter Sjoquist, click here:-

To read more about David Beal, click here:-

To read more about Zoie Golding, click here:-

To read the collected Press & Media Releases, click here:-

RESULTS OF HEAVY TEENAGE DRINKING - ALREADY OBESE BY AGE 24 (October 2nd 2004)

Until now, little has been known about the effects on your health in the early twenties from heavy drinking in your teenage years. All that is about to change ...

Sabrina Oesterle, lead author of a new study recently carried out by the University of Washington in the USA, has reported that people who began binge drinking at age 13 and continued throughout adolescence were nearly four times as likely to be overweight or obese and almost 3½ times as likely to have high blood pressure by the time they reached 24 years old than were people who never or rarely drank heavily during adolescence.

Further details of the research results into how teenage binge drinking has serious effects on their health by age 24 - and of the differences in the outcomes between the four different groups of teenage drinkers identified in the research - can be found by clicking here for the University of Washington's website.

GLOBAL ROCK CHALLENGE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PETER SJOQUIST HONOURED (April 18th 2004)

The Executive Producer of Global Rock Challenge, Peter Sjoquist, has recently been awarded an Order of Australia (AM) award in recognition of his work with young people through the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® across Australia.

Peter Sjoquist, Executive Producer of Global Rock Challenge

Peter is the Executive Producer of the highly successful Australian Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® promoting positive lifestyle messages for Australian students through the performing arts.

The Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® has been running for 25 years and annually gives over 40,000 student participants the opportunity to experience the thrill of performing on a professional stage in some of Australia's top venues. The event aims to embrace students, teachers, schools, parents, community groups and government bodies as a vehicle to motivate and inspire young people to live healthy and positive lifestyle without the use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs.

When I spoke to him after he had received his Australia Medal (roughly the equivalent of an OBE in the UK) Peter was very keen to stress one thing in particular:- "This is not about me," he said, "I just happen to be out front. Push the accolades out to the people involved. This award is dedicated to all the students, teachers, parents, suppliers, volunteers, community leaders, politicians and sponsors who continue to contribute so enthustically to produce these exciting and meaningful events.

We're using the performing arts as a means of creating social change, not only in terms of building self esteem and commitment within schools but also in terms of a health message to be 100% drug and alcohol free. This really is creativity at its best,” he said.

Peter Sjoquist with a group of Australia Rock Eisteddfoders

Peter added “The Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® celebrates youth culture, it builds partnerships between students, schools, teachers, parents, local businesses, community leaders, politicians and sponsors with the generous support of the radio, television and print media. The events are wonderful examples of communities working together.

The Rock Eisteddfod Challenge's commitment to teaching young people to have fun without drugs and alcohol has remained vital in its success and longevity over the years and has been part of Australian culture before most of today's participants were born, having started way back in 1980 at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney with just eight schools.

Peter's commitment to engage youth through the arts have seen him committed to taking the concept off-shore, and the event is now experiencing international success as it is embraced in New Zealand, here in the United Kingdom, the US and Germany.

Peter Sjoquist with a group of young people at the 2004 Derby Croc Festival

If any corporate or community organisations would like to be involved in this wonderful experience they should contact us," said Peter. "Increased sponsorship means we can broaden the activities and scope of the events for the benefit of students throughout the countries involved. I can't wait until we get the event on TV in the UK - we keep plugging away at it, despite the difficulties."

ASHFIELD GIRLS' SCHOOL TEAM MEMBER AWARDED DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES MEMORIAL AWARD (January 15th 2004)

Team member Kathryn Sheppard of the Ashfield Girls' High School's Rock Challenge team in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has just been awarded a Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Award for her outstanding contributions to the team.

Kathryn - nominated by Ashfield's Rock Challenge Liaison Teacher Mrs Eileen Watson - was completely taken aback by the news of the award, for she had been totally unaware that her name had been put forward. "It was just such a huge surprise," she said when I contacted her earlier today, "but it's wonderful to discover what she thinks of me. I am so pleased - but very nervous as well."

The award is to be presented to Kathryn in the next few days - keep a look out on the BBC Northern Ireland TV Local News service, for we hear that they are planning to cover the event.

Kathryn has helped teach dance not only each day after lessons but also on two evenings a week as well for the past five years, and has played a big part in the choreography of Ashfield's Rock Challenge routines. She says "It's been great to work not only with other students but also with the teachers as well."

It isn't only Rock Challenge that occupies her time, for she also plays netball for the school, as well as helping with dance classes - "from jazz to salsa!" - for younger students.

Kathryn is now in her final year at Ashfield and we wish her all the best in her future.

To read the Belfast News Letter's coverage of the news story, and to see the photo, click on:-

http://tinyurl.com/yt7e5

To learn more about the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Awards click on

http://www.diana-award.org.uk/

"THE DRESDEN EXPERIENCE" LAUNCHES GLOBAL ROCK CHALLENGE IN MAINLAND EUROPE (April 28th 2003)

Easter 2003 was a holiday for many, but not for the members of three UK Rock Challenge teams (nor for Juno, Zoie and Dave either :) who willingly gave of their time and energy to launch Global Rock Challenge in Germany on Easter Monday.

For more on this story, click here.

UNKNOWN HEROES RESCUE PETERHEAD'S ROCK CHALLENGE LIAISON TEACHER! (February 2nd 2003)

It was Thursday morning and despite the treacherous weather, Peterhead's Liaison Teacher Vanessa Geib turned up for work as normal, not knowing that the "Schools Closed by Snow" Alert Service had been late to call that morning. She turned the car around and set off home again.

But by now the weather had got even worse. In blizzard conditions, hardly able to see in the whiteout and on a narrow country road where to stop would have risked being rammed from behind by any other vehicle out in those treacherous conditions, Vanessa hit a snowdrift that spun her off the road, through a thin fence and down a near-vertical twenty-foot embankment into a stream.

Because of a lack of storage space at Peterhead Academy, she was carrying many costumes and props for the team's planned long rehearsal that day: as the car crashed through the undergrowth, the boot flew open and items were thrown everywhere, carried aloft in the swirling blizzard.

Dazed, bleeding from cuts and with a broken bone in her wrist, Vanessa managed to free herself from her safetybelt, escape through a window and drag herself back up to the roadside where, shivering in the blizzard, with the temperature down to -10 C and with no signal on her mobile phone, she sat and wondered what to do next when ....

.... through the snow came two shining knight-errants in a 4 by 4 who stopped and attempted to 'rescue' her.

Vanessa, however, would have none of that, and the next her knights in shining armour knew was that they were scrambling through the snow recovering wigs, costumes and assorted props from the embankment, the stream and the field.

Only when she was satisfied that they had got as much back as they possibly could did she finally allow herself to be rescued and treated for her injuries.

The car (a write-off) has now been pulled out, though the rescue service had to be shown where it was - the embankment was so steep that the car was completely hidden from the road and the snow had covered the tracks.

Vanessa spoke to me on Sunday evening and said

"I am pretty much O.K. (bruising, cracked bone in wrist, whiplash). I don't know my rescuers' names but owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. If they hadn't come along when they did, I don't know how long I might have sat there. They must have thought I was mad as they went chasing after the wigs and the sunflowers ! Please tell the team that though I will NOT be in on Monday, I'll see them very soon, we WILL be at Rock Challenge - and we might even get those last five bars sorted out !!"

ROCK CHALLENGE TURNS TO ITS TEAM MEMBERS FOR HELP (January 7th 2003)

In a letter from the Be Your Best Foundation over Christmas, UK Rock Challenge teams found that three of the long-term major supporters had now decided they had taken their sponsorships as far as they could at present, and consequently would not be funding the 2003 Tour.

It is hoped that though Wella (prominent in the hair and beauty products field), Panasonic (known worldwide for their electrical consumer products) and Daihatsu (the vehicle manufacturers) have ended their sponsorship after several very rewarding years, it may be possible that they might reconsider the position in some future year. Though Panasonic have ended their sponsorship grant, they are hopefully going to continue to supply tapes for videoing teams' performances, and also to continue to supply raffle prizes.

Rock Challenge's newest major supporter BP (a world player in the energy industry) also announced that it would not be funding the 2003 Tour.

In a first move to claw back some of the lost funding, the BYBF is having to look to its fans - the young people who take part in Rock Challenge events across the UK - and Director Mark Pontin suggested that individual voluntary donations of £3 per participant would do a great deal to ease the immediate pressure. He said that where such donations could be made then Liaison Teachers might undertake to send a cheque for their team's total to the Be Your Best Foundation just as soon as possible.

He added "This is a very serious request, made reluctantly but out of necessity. We would be most grateful for their help with this."

However, ANSVAR (the ethical general insurance company, specialising in the non-profit sector and providing insurance policies especially tailored for churches, charities and other voluntary groups) have decided that they would extend their major sponsorship from the two years originally planned (2001 and 2002) to cover 2003 as well, and the BYBF has also succeeded in getting additional financial support from Connexions (a new UK Government youth service providing advice, guidance, support and personal development services for all 13-19 year olds.)

ROCK CHALLENGE AND WARM FEELINGS FOR CHRISTMAS (December 19th 2002)

The Wavell School of Farnborough, Hampshire, has been involved in the UK's southern Rock Challenge series from the very first time it was available to them, and Phil Branch (Wavell's Liaison Teacher) has built up a dedicated team of enthusiasts within the school, so much so that when he began to select the team of performers for Rock Challenge 2003 there were 180 eager contenders for the 100 places on stage.

As in previous years, Phil inevitably had to apply various criteria to narrow it down to the final lucky 100. He did, and 100 ecstatic contenders started to work on their performance.

Later Phil had a visit from a parent whose Year 7 daughter had not been selected. Her daughter desperately wanted to be in because her Year 11 brother was and it would be the only time they would have a chance to perform together on stage for Wavell, an 11-to-16 school where after Year 11 the students go their separate ways.

Though touched by the mother's pleas, Phil could not give her daughter a place for 100 is the limit and every place had been keenly sought.

The story might have ended there but, as always, the school grapevine was in operation and the tale got around. In particular, it reached the ears of Rhiannon, one of those lucky enough to have been selected for a place and herself overjoyed with her success, for she was in her very first year at Wavell. Touched by the girl's story, Rhiannon offered to give up her much coveted place in order that the Year 7 girl could, after all, perform with her Year 11 brother. The offer was accepted, and Rhiannon left the team.

The story doesn't end there, however, for later on another performer had to drop out and Phil immediately asked Rhiannon to return.

Well done, Rhiannon - we think you are a star, and we wanted everyone to know. We feel that the selflessness you displayed symbolises the whole spirit of Rock Challenge, and it's yet another of those things that make our jobs worthwhile.

With love - and with our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year - from Juno, Zoie, Dave and Trudi.

ROCK CHALLENGE UPGRADES STATUS OF PARTICIPATION PINS (October 29th 2002)

UK Rock Challenge Producer Juno Hollyhock has announced changes to the rules to be satisfied before any team member can acquire one of Rock Challenge's coveted Participation Pins.

Though any team member can still buy a Bronze Pin for each year in which they are a team member, if they wish to go further than that and on towards Silver and Gold, there are additional requirements to be satisfied.

For Silver, a team member must firstly have been a member for two years and secondly must - in one of those two years - have contributed something more to his or her team than 'straightforward' membership eg by not only being a performer or stagecrew member but also being a choreographer or a fundraiser or a set builder.

For the highest award - the Gold Pin - a team member must firstly have been a team member for three years and secondly must also have done additional tasks (as for the Silver) but this time for two years out of the three.

Juno said that these changes to the rules helps to better reward those team members who go out of their way to do more than usual towards the creation and realisation of their team's production, and to recognise the work that they do in a more public way.

She recognised that for some team members getting Gold may be extra difficult - particularly those in (for example) 13-to-16 school systems, or those where the pressure of GCSE/AS/A2 work is simply too great to allow them to take the full part they would normally hope to play in their team's work when they are in Years 11, 12 or 13, so she had also added the statement that being an approved volunteer at a UK Rock Challenge Event Day would qualify for one of the two years where extra work is called for.

As before, Participation Pins will still be ordered and paid for through Liaison Teachers.

PETERHEAD ACADEMY'S ROCK CHALLENGE TEAM RECEIVE ANNE FRANK CERTIFICATE (October 15th 2002)

Peterhead Academy's Rock Challenge Team were recently nominated for the Grampian Region's Anne Frank Award.

Six team representatives - Vanessa Geib, Dianne Keith (teachers), Janice Keith, Lewis Grant, Annabelle Duff and Lynne Greig (students) - attended the presentation ceremony at Pittodrie Stadium, the home of Aberdeen Football Club.

Following a speech by a member of the Grampian Racial Equality Council, Peterhead Academy's team representatives were presented with an Anne Frank Certificate by Leon Mike (formerly of Manchester City) for their promotion of racial equality in their 2001 Rock Challenge performance on the theme of the USA and Immigration.

Though the team didn't pick up the top award (won by Charleston Primary School, runners-up were Aberdeen Grammar School) they were delighted with their Certificate and the opportunity to meet people from the other schools to see what they did for Racial Equality in Grampian. (Oh, and Mrs K got very excited at spotting Jim Leighton, ex-goalkeeper for Aberdeen FC!)

This report was by team member Lynne G.

ROCK CHALLENGERS WOW THE RACECOURSE CROWDS (July 13th 2002)

The date was Friday July 12th 2002 and the setting was Beverley Racecourse, warm beneath a blue sky dotted with towering Cu-Nims and with views across the roofs of the historic market town nestling below, out past the twin towers of the glorious Beverley Minster clear across the Holderness Plain and the north-eastern Yorkshire Wolds to Flamborough Head and the North Sea in the distance.

Facing the grandstand and dominating the scene was a towering structure - the mobile stage from Star Hire of Bedford, externally almost 20m wide by 11m deep by 8m high, proudly bearing on its roof the huge banner of the Humberside Police Lifestyle unit and (in front of the stage itself) the banner of the Be Your Best Foundation and UK Rock Challenge.

With a healthy PA sound system from Tega of Hull and an enthusiastic dance routine by a small group of Hornsea School's Rock Challenge team to a suitable backing track we managed to find, Rock Challenge Stage Manager David Beal soon had Hornsea's remaining team members plus the Rock Challenge team members from Driffield School, Beverley Longcroft School and Archbishop Thurstan School clapping and cheering along from the grassed area in front of the stage.

Also at the racecourse was a huge crowd (estimated to be perhaps 20,000 strong) all dressed for the occasion of the Queen's Jubilee visit to East Yorkshire, and for much of the day many of them seemed to have congregated to become a permanent sea of faces clear across the manicured grass and up into the grandstand itself, from where they watched - seemingly enthralled - the four schools' 2002 Rock Challenge routines.

Though the original plans for three solid hours of Rock Challenge performances that afternoon (the four teams each performing at fifteen minute intervals three times each) were somewhat thrown into confusion by unanticipated periods where no PA systems were allowed to operate, the teams still managed to perform twice each during the afternoon, with the Queen herself giving the Hornsea Team (second-placed at the northern final) her undivided attention for several minutes from a special viewing platform some distance away during her walkabout at the racecourse.

Team members had a very enjoyable "day at the racecourse", the huge crowd seemed very appreciative of their performances, other exhibitors in the same general area commented on how impressed they had been not only by the performances they had seen but also by the dazzling hair, costumes and makeup on display - team members were able to spend periods away from the stage area throughout the day and the crowd thus became even more colourful!

Both of the region's TV news services (ITV Calendar and BBC Look North) reported on the day in their evening news bulletins, but neither mentioned Rock Challenge or the teams involved. The local newspaper the East Riding Daily Mail produced 19 pages of coverage the following day but the Rock Challenge teams didn't receive a mention, though there was a shot in the paper of a group of Archbishop Thurstan's team members waving to the photographer (though they remained unidentified!) and there is a long-distance view of a part of Hornsea's routine carried on the newspaper's website at http://www.thisishull.co.uk

The Humberside Police Lifestyle staff (and those UK Rock Challenge personnel who also managed to be there for the day ... myself, Dave and Zoie) were very proud of all the team members not only for their excellent performances but also for being such stunning all-day-long ambassadors for Rock Challenge: our warmest thanks both to them and to their teachers for producing a truly memorable and hugely enjoyable day, and to PC Kate Atkins and the team at the Humberside Police Lifestyle unit for making it all possible.

THIS WEBSITE PASSES 20,000 VISITORS IN 240 DAYS (July 7th 2002)

At some time during this (Sunday July 7th) afternoon, the 20,000th unique visitor came to have a look at the UK Rock Challenge website since the counter was restarted 240 days ago following the failure of the previous visitor-counting service.

For the curious among you, most visitors are using Internet Explorer version 5, running on Windows 98, with their screen resolution set at 800 by 600 and with 65k colours.

Those who searched for Rock Challenge on the web found us through Google, which had 63% of the search engine referrals, followed (rather a long way behind) by Ask Jeeves (12%), Excite (8%), and MSN Search (6%). Other search engines managed 4% or less.

ROCK EISTEDDFOD CHALLENGE IS AN EFFECTIVE PREVENTION TOOL! (May 15th 2002)

The first summary report of research carried out by Australian Rose Grunstein (of the University of Sydney's Department of Public Health and Community Medicine) into health behaviour differences between Rock Eisteddfod Challenge (REC) participants, non-participant students at schools taking part in REC, and students at schools not taking part in REC has now been released.

While specific to Australia's REC, the results mirror in many ways those achieved in a small-scale research study carried out in Portsmouth in the first year of Rock Challenge in the UK (1996).

The results provide an upbeat assessment of the use of Rock Eisteddfod Challenge (REC) in Australia as an anti-substance-abuse measure.

Highlights from the ten-page summary report include the following:-

  • REC schools had a significantly lower proportion of students who had ever tried drugs and who had ever been drunk.
  • Non-participants reported a greater number of episodes of binge drinking and of ever having been drunk and of marijuana and drug use.
  • The percentage of participants' binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the survey remained fairly similar over time.
  • The percentage of non-participants' binge-drinking in the two weeks prior to the event increased by 5%.
  • The percentage of participants smoking in the 4 weeks before the event dropped by 3%.
  • The percentage of non-participants smoking in the 4 weeks before the event increased by approximately 2.5%.
  • Recent marijuana use dropped slightly in REC schools.
  • Recent marijuana use remained steady in non-REC schools.
  • Students from REC schools had a positive association with non-smoking behaviour and binge drinking.
  • Participants had a positive association with recent non-smoking behaviour and future intention.
  • Participation in the REC has a positive impact on school climate.
  • REC participants already have a greater sense of belonging to their school than non-participants in REC schools during the rehearsal period.
  • For girls from Year 9 and above REC school students appeared to have a better attitude towards tobacco, alcohol and drugs and a higher score for peers and family.
  • At no point in time do control school students attain as high a level of resiliency as participants..
  • There were lower rates of ever using illicit drugs, recent binge drinking and ever being drunk amongst students from REC schools.
  • Future intention to smoke was reduced amongst REC participants from pre-test to post-test.
  • Future intention to smoke increased amongst non-participants in the other two groups.

Summary Conclusions

  • Both students and teachers involved in the REC invariably express how much fun they had being involved in it: "The REC was a lot of work but great fun" was a common reaction.
  • To use something that is fun as a prevention tool is ideal. Furthermore, since the young people actually participate in an event rather than passively absorb information the REC is an effective prevention tool.
  • By participating in the REC the individual in fact discovers for him/herself that it is possible to have fun without the aid of alcohol and drugs.
  • It has been shown that the most successful prevention programs are the ones that involve indirect approaches and skill building. This is exactly what the REC does.

The report will be published in full later this year - details of its availablilty will be posted on this website.

BRAND-NEW ROCKA IN THE US of A ! (Apr 11th 2002)

Sunday April 7th 2002 saw a brand new Rock Challenge event in the United States of America: named the "Global Challenge", the event kicked off what we hope will be many years of the US joining the world wide Global Rock Challenge family.

Five schools teamed up to compete at the 'Egg' Theatre in Albany State Plaza, Albany, New York. (The theatre is actually formally called the Van Eyke Theatre but is shaped like an Egg and hence the nickname is now more widely used than any other). The Theatre is accessed by an underground complex of malls and corridors, very strange until one realises that, in the Winter months, it would simply be too cold to walk through the Plaza above ground.

Around 250 participants entered from the following schools:

  • Philip Livingstone Magnet Academy
  • Catholic Central High School
  • Cohoes High School
  • Albany Boys' and Girls' Club and
  • Mont Pleasant Middle School.

Philip Livingstone chose 'Runaways - Life on the Street' as their theme, looking at the life of a runaway boy who finds out through his experiences that home is the place to be and to value that before it is too late. Philip Livingstone were the overall winners and secured the design award for Choreography and Dance Skill with their fantastically tight hip-hop routines and very well rehearsed ensemble numbers.

Catholic Central had 'Intolerance through History' which examined the womens' rights movement through the ages and the impact this had on the roles of women in society. They came second overall and took the design award for Set Design and Staging with their rotating triangular flats and clever use of material as set dressing.

Cohoes High used 'I Believe' as a way of reminding us that we all have something to offer and this should give us confidence in ourselves to be the best we can be. Cohoes received the design award for Costumes and Make up recognising the huge amount of hard work that must have gone into to producing a wide range of colourful costumes that reflected and enhanced the theme from beginning to end.

Albany Boys' and Girls' chose 'Uptown Versus Downtown' looking at the divisions of a gang culture and how barriers such as these prevent children from talking or playing with each other across those cultures. They took third place and were hot contestants for the Costume Award with their individually designed outfits reflecting the division of a gang culture.

Mont Pleasant looked at 'Date Abuse' and how important it is to recognise that abuse within a relationship is not acceptable but it takes a great deal of strength to move out of a tough situation. They gained the award for Concept with their brave and well developed theme that treated a sensitive subject with reality and integrity.

I was fortunate to be invited to judge the event along with five other industry judges including Peter Sjoquist, Executive Producer of the Global Rock Challenge. We had a tough time with the decision making and were extremely impressed with the high standard of the entries as a whole: you would not have known these were first time schools.

The Global Challenge in the US is sponsored in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady (not easy to pronounce believe me!) by the Healthy Capital District Initiative who organised the event. A number of other sponsors support the event including the Tobacco Free Coalition, Health Departments from the three counties, Catholic Charities Board, Community Foundation and others with a similar health drive.

There is no website for the US Global Challenge currently but watch this space!

Story: Juno Hollyhock April 2002

TWO HISTORIC SUBSTANCE-FREE DAYS FOR BRADFORD ! (Mar 22nd 2002)

In Wednesday's edition of Bradford's "Telegraph & Argus" newspaper was a 4-column heading that read "Children in city are taking more drugs".

The accompanying article outlined what was described as the worsening situation in Bradford and Leeds. 200 delegates at a Hilton Hotel Conference on Tuesday were told "More people are experimenting with drugs with more opportunities opening for them in Leeds and Bradford. Dealers wait outside schools and offer young people a free trial package. There is also an increase in youngsters admitting to solvent abuse which is rearing its ugly head again. This is what we are working against across the region."

What a pity that the delegates could not have moved en bloc out of the Hilton Hotel and walked a short distance along the pavements, for as they were receiving more and more of the same depressing news and the public read the story in their papers, just a few hundred yards away (and largely ignored by Bradford across that same Tuesday and Wednesday) hundreds of 11-to-18 year olds from schools and colleges across Bradford, Leeds and beyond were thronging into St George's Concert Hall to indulge themselves in one of the things they look forward to most of all throughout their year - their annual participation in the anti-substance-abuse Be Your Best Foundation / Pulse FM Bradford Rock Challenge.

And each day they chanted, cheered, sang, swayed, stomped, rocked and conga'd around the hall to the background music from the moment the very first arrivals walked into St. George's (8am!) to the moment the very last leavers had finally climbed aboard their coaches in the dark streets outside and been driven away some 14 hours later. Two typically and traditionally loud, noisy, energetic, fun-filled Bradford days. Friendships renewed from last year's Events, many new friends made, many new teams involved (all wondering quite why they had never come and joined in with the family of UK Rock Challengers before), all those promises to "see you all again next year !!!"

However, Bradford has historically been the only Rock Challenge venue in the UK where, every year, individual team members have been ejected from the event because they have failed to stick to their no-substance-abuse commitment, and their teams have been banned from any further progress through to the finals. Because of that history, the Rock Challenge organisers are even more diligent than usual to ensure that they are out and about both inside and outside the venue and in the city centre streets during the day.

In the Hilton Hotel Conference the message was reportedly one of unremitting gloom.

In the unreported Bradford Rock Challenge the message was one of elation, for this year a historic first for Bradford was achieved - NOT ONE participant throughout either of the two 14-hour days was found by anyone, anywhere, breaking their Rock Challenge commitment to stick to the rules regarding substance abuse.

This is a really positive, heartwarming "First For Bradford!". A brilliant outcome and a heartwarming piece of news particularly when seen in the context of that really sad newspaper article headed "Children in city are taking more drugs".

Unlike other venues across the UK, UK Rock Challenge has received no support or funding from any local firms or organisations after it first came to Bradford in 1997 (apart, that is, from a single and very welcome grant of £1000 from Bradford City Council this year). However, UK Rock Challenge and the Be Your Best Foundation (a registered charity) have continued to put on the Bradford Rock Challenge every year (and extended it from one to two days) simply to satisfy the growing demand from the region's schools and their students. Let's look forward to another loud, energetic, frenetic, fun-filled and substance-abuse-free Bradford Rock Challenge in 2003 !

Story by John Arrowsmith: 22/03/2002

HUNSLEY FLY THE ROCKA FLAG YET AGAIN ! (Mar 10th 2002)

For the third year in a row, South Hunsley School's Rock Challenge squad were invited along to perform a 'piece of entertainment' for the University of Hull's SciX Finals and Awards Evening at the University's Middleton Hall on March 8th 2002 before an audience of students and their parents, teachers and lecturers drawn this year from across Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and Tyne & Wear.

Using elements of their forthcoming 2002 Rock Challenge entry blended together with elements from routines they had produced in previous years, the 74 squad members from years 7 to 13 performed a routine the show organisers called "BioDiversity" - neatly giving it something of a loose connection to science.

As always, the whole point of taking part in Rock Challenge (anti-substance-abuse, team spirit, performing on a big stage ... well, sheer fun!) was aired by the two Hunsley student presenters before the lights dimmed, the curtains parted, the squad stepped forward to their starting positions, and the colourful routine (largely choreographed by Y11 student Jenni Gatland) started, finally ending some 11 minutes later to tremendous applause - they even heard some cheers ...

The organisers included two separate mentions of the squad plus a 150-word article on Rock Challenge in their eight-page glossy programme. The Humberside Police Lifestyle Unit - sponsors of the forthcoming Bridlington, Grimsby and Hull Events - provided their Lifestyle Rock Challenge display for the evening, and squad members fielded a lot of enquiries for more information from other school and college students, parents, teachers and lecturers during the course of the afternoon and evening. Supporting the squad were teachers Lesley Murray and Paul Wood and past student Paul Walker, while retired teacher Sue Straw, teacher Georgina Myers and past students Eleanor Coveney, Vicki Green and Vicky Harrison did a tremendous job on the makeup

Hunsley's various Rock Challenge squads have been no strangers to spreading the message to the "unitiated". With their Liaison Teacher Wendy Arrowsmith they have performed at a Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme Day at the Hull Arena (several performances plus demonstrations - 1997), at a regional anti-drugs conference held in Hull (performance - 1998) and in the open-air of a sports field they put in several performances (as well as demonstrating costuming, hair and makeup) throughout the 'party day' on the occasion of the Humberside Police and Fire Brigade's 25th Anniversary in 1999. They demonstrated routines and ran workshop sessions at the Bridlington Leisure Centre for that area's students in 1999, while 2000, 2001 (and now 2002) saw them appearing at Hull University's SciX Awards days. In addition, they performed several specially-created routines on stage at the Hull New Theatre in 2001 during the Humberside Police Lifestyle Awards and Presentations evening. The 1997/8 squad also appeared at the York Barbican and London's Drury Lane as part of the Australian Global Rock Challenge "EuroTour 1998' shows, and the 1999/2000 squad appeared at Drury Lane as part of the Global Rock Challenge 'Round-the-World 2000' show.

"Give us a date, an area (plus sound and lighting if at all possible!) and we'll be there to spread the word" has very much been the motto of Hunsley's soon-to-retire Liaison Teacher Wendy Arrowsmith (who teaches Design & Technology - Textiles as her 'day job'.)

"With no Performing Arts faculty at South Hunsley, no dance teaching, no tradition of annual school plays etc, Rock Challenge appeared in 1997 like a blast of rejuvenating fresh air just as my ability to put on an annual school musical had finally been squeezed out by timetabling, curriculum and exams pressures. The friendliness, energy and commitment of the young people in Hunsley's Rock Challenge squads has kept me in teaching for two years beyond when I should have started drawing my old-age pension. This year's squad will be my last, and I will miss Rock Challenge enormously."

Has your team been involved in any similar sort of performance of your routine that helps promote UK Rock Challenge elsewhere in your town, county or region? Write up the story, making sure to include the name of your school or college, your reporter's name, a contact email address plus the name of your Liaison Teacher, and send it to john@rockchallenge.co.uk.

UK ROCK CHALLENGE IMPRESSES ABERDEEN FC ! (Feb 25th 2002)

One of the parents in the audience at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Feb 13 was Dave Macdermid, Aberdeen Football Club's Marketing Manager. He had gone along to support his son's band in their onstage performance during that time when the Rock Challenge judges retire to consider their verdicts.

Dave said "I had never heard of Rock Challenge before, and went along expecting it to be an evening of 'thump thump thump' dance music performances. It was totally different from that."

"I was delighted by the standard of performances on view in the Global Rock Challenge event at Aberdeen: it was a thoroughly entertaining evening and Rock Challenge certainly deserves a wider audience. Everyone I've spoken to thought it was excellent."

So enthused was he that Dave immediately set about inviting the Peterhead Academy Rock Challenge team to perform at a forthcoming Aberdeen FC fixture to be held during April. He said "One of the things we try to do here at the club is to make our matchdays more of an 'experience'. We're always looking for something a bit different, and I thought that the winners Peterhead Academy's 'story of fishing' performance fitted the bill admirably. Obviously we will assist in publicising their appearance (and the event nationally) as much as we possibly can."

This support may not just end there - Aberdeen FC's Marketing Manager says "Rock Challenge is very much worth doing - in fact, I would like to see Aberdeen Football Club more involved next year if at all possible."

PETERHEAD WIN PARLIAMENTARY RECOGNITION FOR UK ROCK CHALLENGE - NOW DESPERATELY SEEK ACCOMMODATION FOR YORK FINAL!(Feb 22nd 2002)

Peterhead Academy not only impressed the judges so much that they won Scotland's first-ever Rock Challenge Event held at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre on Feb 13 but also impressed the area's MPs !

A fax received at the school carried the following message from Stewart Stevenson, the MSP for Banff & Buchan:

"This is a thoroughly well-deserved win for Peterhead Academy students who beat off competition from other schools to bring the Scottish Rock Challenge title to Peterhead. The students' effort and talent has been recognised, and I am sure the whole town will be wishing the Academy every success for the next stage of the competition when we will hopefully see another Academy Award!"

Not only was Stewart Stevenson kind enough to send that message to Peterhead Academy, he also tabled the following congratulary Motion in the Scottish Parliament AND the Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond matched it with a similar Motion put before Parliament at Westminster:-

"That this Parliament congratulates Peterhead Academy on winning the Scottish heat of the 2002 Rock Challenge, an international performing arts competition, with their superb production and performance "When the boat comes in"; endorses the aims of the Rock Challenge which encourages young people to be the best they can without the use of alcohol or drugs; and wishes Peterhead Academy every success in the next stage of the competition to be held in May."

However, Peterhead Academy are now faced with a logistics and accommodation problem - with transport to get the team the 600+ miles / 1000km to York and back likely to cost somewhere approaching £3000 there is an urgent need to seek the cheapest possible accommodation available for the 90-strong team (plus staff) on Thursday May 23rd ie the night before the Northern Grand Final at the York Barbican.

Offers of assistance to ease / entirely solve this problem would be gratefully received by Peterhead Academy's Liaison Teacher Vanessa Geib: are there any Army / RAF barracks anywhere in the vicinity that could accommodate (and preferably also feed!) 100 or so dedicated Scottish Rock Challengers at minimal cost, or any unused-that-night but also minimal-cost college or university student accommodation that could similarly be used, or any other Rock Challenge teams (within easy travelling distance of York!) whose parents could perhaps make an offer of accommodation to help out ?

Anyone who feels they might be able to help Peterhead Academy's 100-strong Rock Challenge Team can contact Vanessa through this website by emailing vanessa@rockchallenge.co.uk or can fax her at Peterhead Academy on 01779 472 055.

ABERDEEN OPENS THE 2002 SEASON IN FINE STYLE(Feb 14th 2002)

The UK's first Rock Challenge Event for 2002 (and Scotland's first-ever Rock Challenge Event!) took place on Wednesday 13th February in the cavernous Aberdeen Conference centre: judging by team members' reactions throughout the day and the audience reaction in the evening, the north-east of Scotland took Rock Challenge to their hearts and the Rock Challenge crew will once again be heading north to the Granite City for 2003.

This was a small event numerically, and only Peterhead Academy had ever experienced Rock Challenge before, having travelled to Carlisle in 2001. Teams from Harlaw, Mackie, Northfield and Westhill Academies were all new to Rock Challenge but soon got into the 'Right Type of Mood'!.

The relaxed schedule gave every team ample time for rehearsals, and the cavernous acres of the Conference Centre were also used by teams as practice spaces. The relaxed help and professional approach of the Rock Challenge crew eased the fears, while the sheer fun to be had soon made everyone realise that UK Rock Challenge really is different.

"Have you enjoyed your day?", "Would you do it all over again?" and "Will we see you again if we have an Event here next year?" were questions I asked of pretty much every co-host, team representative and many team members too, and in every case the answer was a resounding "Yes." New-to-Rock-Challenge teachers, too, were hugely appreciative: the day had been different in so many ways to what they might have expected, they too had enjoyed it and had seen the great effect it had on their students.

Enormous thanks go in particular to the Grampian Police Force, to Ansvar Insurance, to Northsound radio and to BP for their vision in getting Rock Challenge to Aberdeen and their determination to make it happen! A special framed CD was presented to Peterhead's Liaison Teacher Vanessa Geib, for she it was who had been the driving force behind getting Rock Challenge to Aberdeen. Vanessa was also awarded with a Teddy Bear during the day - not only had she got Rocka to Aberdeen but she had also been buddying some of the new schools - a real star!

Aberdeen Results

Report by John Arrowsmith: 14/02/2002

DRIFFIELD FLY THE ROCKA FLAG(Dec 25th 2001)

Every so often one of the Rock Challenge teams makes such an impact in their region that they get asked to perform again on stage somewhere again during the year. East Yorkshire's Driffield School Rock Challenge team has been such a one this year, having been asked to travel the 24 miles (38km) to Hessle and repeat their routine during a drugs-awareness conference.

Driffield Team Reporters Naomi & Polly take up the story ....

We had already won the Event against other schools in our area, and we had also come third in the Northern Grand Finals. Now came the day that we were going to perform our Rock Challenge dance for the last time this year.

We all went to morning registration and then went to the hall to start hair and makeup. The tribal dancers were painted first. It was a simple but effective design: brown body paint with green, red, yellow and blue patterns round the arms, legs and face. While this was happening all the Indians were having their hair plaited, in preparation for their black hair spray. The tappers helped with the hair and we had extra helpers (i.e. parents and friends) helping with costume, hair and makeup.

Mrs. Ventress had made the costumes for all the dancers. These included the Indians' dresses, trousers and tops, the Tribals' shorts and crop tops, the White Settlers' dresses, bonnets, skirts and blouses. She had also had to measure us all - on the whole we thought that she had one of the hardest jobs of all.

Two busses came to pick us up at about a quarter past ten. All the costumes and props went on one bus (with some of the dancers) and the other took the rest of the dancers. The journey was a short ride compared with the one to the Grimsby Event.

We were first taken to a youth centre in Hessle where we finished all the makeup, got changed and sprayed the hair. The dancers that were all finished wandered around trying not to get in the way of the rest of performers getting ready. When we were all dressed and painted we were sat down by our teachers (Mrs. Mulligan, Mrs. Lunn, Miss Durham and Miss Govern) who gave us a few ‘wise words' and wished us good luck, and then it was back on the busses to the drug awareness conference.

By now most of us were starting to get butterflies but trying to keep our cool so as not to ruin the performance by forgetting the routine. The busses stopped a few minutes from the conference and we all had to walk the rest of the way. It was pretty windy and our costumes and hair were beginning to fly about. We reached the centre and had a couple of quiet practices because a policewoman was still speaking to the delegates.

Finally, we had some photographs taken for an East Riding newspaper, then we all got into position and the curtains went up!

The performance went well overall (except for a few minor problems such as there being no wings space and the floor being carpeted so the tappers could not be heard very well) and when we had finished we were applauded loudly: we felt that we had done well and the audience had thoroughly enjoyed it.

Back on the bus we were given a package of food (courtesy of the conference) and then headed off back to Driffield, most people getting changed on the way . We arrived safely back in Driffield to be told that there would be a farewell for Mrs. Lunn and Miss Durham as they were both leaving to teach elsewhere.

We were asked not to remove our makeup in the school toilets when we got back so we all set off home (most of us to our school busses, but some to walk home) with our face paint on, though our costumes had to be returned.

This was a fantastic experience for Driffield School, and was a great pleasure for all involved. A big thank you to all the teachers students who gave up their time to make this a brilliant day for all to remember.

Naomi & Polly

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