All involved in this event should feel very proud

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At Portsmouth Guildhall this week the focus has been on youth – and deservedly so.

Many famous names have appeared on stage at the city’s biggest entertainment venue over the years.

But surely none can have put more effort into their performances than the schoolchildren involved in Rock Challenge.

This excellent initiative, which is aimed at encouraging young people to lead healthy, fulfilling lives and not turn to tobacco, alcohol or drugs, showcases spectacular and thoughtful routines in a powerful mix of emotion, energy and fun.

We have been delighted to feature photographs from the event in The News and applaud all those who have worked so hard to put on a great show.

This includes the performers themselves and also the many teachers and parents whose help and support behind the scenes has been invaluable.

What has also impressed the packed audiences is the willingness of the schools involved to use Rock Challenge to explore some difficult issues through music and dance.

At one time, some of these might have been considered too taboo to tackle.

But students have highlighted topics ranging from domestic violence to inequality and the horror of the Columbine High School massacre in America.

In the latter performance, relaxing music was punctured by the sound of terrifying gunshots. Judges said they were impressed by slick, flowing dance moves and the bravery of taking on such a difficult topic.

The innovation on show has certainly been impressive, with pupils from Park Community School in Leigh Park cleverly using the medium of a Monopoly board to depict the difference between the world’s rich and poor.

Whatever their eventual results in the competition, we think all those involved should feel very proud of themselves.

They are a shining example and a powerful reminder that the vast majority of young people are a credit to themselves, their families and their schools.