How The Ponds High School won Wakakirri's biggest award in their first year

The Ponds High School (Ponds) came out on top against schools who have performed dozens of times at past Wakakirri Story-Dance Festivals.
Feb 18, 2021
The Ponds High School’s 2020 Wakakirri Team with teacher Katie Duynhoven, Principal Jenny Weal and Wakakirri Festival Director Adam Loxley

Last year’s lockdowns were one of the toughest challenges most teachers have faced and Performing Arts teachers had unique hurdles to overcome. How would it be possible to provide performance opportunities when events were cancelled and students were learning remotely? For one school, these obstacles were an opportunity that led to their first participation in the Wakakirri Story-Dance Festival and ended up crowned one of four National Story of the Year champions for 2020.

Walking away with a national award is impressive, but to do it in the first year of competing is truly noteworthy. The Ponds High School (Ponds) came out on top against schools who have performed dozens of times at past Wakakirri Story-Dance Festivals.

Ponds  takes the creative and performing arts seriously. Many students are passionate about Dance, Drama, Music and the Visual Arts so having a chance to study these subjects with industry-experienced teachers means opportunities to engage in their interests during school hours. But during Covid-19 lockdowns many of the events planned for the year had been cancelled.

With that in mind, teacher Katie Duynhoven went looking for performance opportunities that were offering an online alternative, so that her students’ hard work could still be showcased. A parent who was familiar with Wakakirri suggested the Story-Dance Festival as a way to continue their performance plans. With lockdown measures and restrictions, there were limited opportunities to rehearse together and dance students were sent online tutorials so that they could learn the Wakakirri choreography at home. The final performance of 'Wednesday at School' was then filmed in one day and edited over the course of two weeks.

Speaking about her experience of Wakakirri’s 2020 season, Duynhoven said: “Throughout the process students were given the opportunity to think creatively, collaborate, communicate, problem-solve and grow their confidence. They relished being a part of a production and they were incredibly proud of their final product.

“The film has been shown at numerous school assemblies as well as played for our local primary schools.

“There has been an overwhelming positive feedback from peers, school staff and the community, which really boosted team members’ self-esteem.

“With increased discussion about dance and Wakakirri, we hope that more students become involved with dance and the benefits of the creative and performing arts. ”

Enjoy The Ponds High School’s winning Story-Dance here: Wednesday at School.

Inquire and register for the Covid-Safe Live Performance Season held in theatres across Australia as well as the Wakakirri Video Challenge at