When it came to choosing a song for their 2020 Christmas showcase there was a clear winner for staff and students at The Whitehaven Academy.
Queen’s The Show Must Go On was the apt tune chosen by the academy’s Expressive Arts Team (EAT) on which to focus their creative skills.
Like all schools, the academy has faced a disrupted year thanks to coronavirus. The school was closed to the vast majority of students in March, partially re-opened in June and then welcomed students back in September into isolated year bubbles.
But the academy has a fine track record for developing young people in expressive arts – and was determined a pandemic would not change that.
EAT is made up of students from all year groups who share a love of dance, drama, performing or visual arts. Normally they meet weekly but with restrictions in place, this year’s performance entailed video workshops to learn the routines and then shooting a video in a covid-secure way.
The performance became an instant hit on Facebook with more than 2,000 views in its first 24 hours. The EAT membership was bolstered by a – one-off – performance from Headteacher Nigel Youngman.
Abi Skillen, Curriculum Leader of Expressive Arts, said she was delighted with the video.
She said: “We decided on this routine as the perfect way to say, ‘despite everything, we’re still here. We’re still loving performing arts even with the restrictions that are in place’.”
“EAT provides students with all kinds of extra skills, from teamwork and leadership to exercise, making new friends and it is also a lot of fun. Performance gives a real buzz and it is something of which the students can be proud.
“They really have danced through adversity. It shows we are determined to carry on the academy’s traditions even in a covid world.”
In 2019 the academy scooped awards for choreography, drama and performance among others at the Global Rock Challenge Northern Premier Final. Its other regular productions include a celebration for International Dance Day and events such as U Dance.
Miss Skillen said: “What was really nice this time was we had some Year 7 students taking part who, because of the restrictions, had never been to a rehearsal in person. Even so they felt confident and part of the team and everybody welcomed them.”
Mr Youngman said: “We are proud of the continuing achievements in expressive arts. The team has been going for just over a year and we know this is something that adds so much value for those that take part.
“It was great fun and I admire those students involved who wanted to make this happen for themselves, the academy and to bring a little cheer to their community.”