Florence’s Rock Challenge experience

When I was younger, I was shy. If you know me now you might not believe that, but it is true. In class I couldn’t focus and was very quiet, then I discovered performing. After helping my friend learn a script, I pestered my mum asking if I could join a weekend drama class. Soon I started to get more involved at school and felt much more confident. The nervous feeling that used to accompany performing disappeared and drama became hugely important to me. Six years ago, my passion for performance led me to Rock Challenge®.

I initially got involved as a dancer in the first year my school competed in Rock Challenge®. The (then) teacher-led project started as a hobby and quickly became a defining part of my life. I began dedicating more and more time to it, painting set in the holidays and helping with fundraisers.
My involvement continued into my first year in sixth form when the teacher in charge of our project explained she would be moving school. That came as a complete shock to me; I was heartbroken, what would happen to Rock Challenge® at my school? No other teachers were involved and I knew they wouldn’t take it on. That evening I decided it was my turn to give back.

Six months of hard work followed. For anyone who doesn’t know about what a Rock Challenge® performance requires, our completely student-led team organised costumes and set, auditioned other students, choreographed performances, taught drama, fundraised (through danceathons and bag packs), edited music, planned video and lighting and a poetry workshop. Half of our school were involved in subsequent workshops on wellbeing and tackling addictive behaviour. And that doesn’t even cover half of the process!

Performance date arrived, and I felt oddly calm. It was the first student-led production of my school and student leadership was just one of the 18 awards we received. Although we didn’t win first place, I wouldn’t change our performance.

One of the greatest rewards of being a student leader for Rock Challenge® is seeing younger students progress and tell you about their experiences. But that isn’t the only thing that Rock Challenge® has given me. The leadership skills this process taught me have proved invaluable to me over the past few years. I even based my application to an American College on my involvement in it – I am now studying there full time, continuing to develop the skills and passions that Rock Challenge® sparked in me all those years ago. In addition to this, it helped me build a family from the people who surround me at each event.

If you are wondering if competing in Rock Challenge® is too much of a commitment, or if you’re feeling nervous about getting involved, think about all the things that you (or your students) will gain from the journey of the competition. You won’t regret getting involved.

Florence x

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