STUDENTS from an Eastleigh college rocked their competition to take top spot on the opening night of an annual performing arts event.

More than 500 school children from across the south took to the stage to mark the start of the 2018 Rock Challenge, held at the O2 Guildhall in Southampton last night.

Barton Peveril College wowed the judges, winning with their performance, 'Tides of Ruin'.

Students played out the story of a family caught in a tsunami in Indonesia – based on the real life 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

The school will automatically qualify for the regional final, due to take place in Portsmouth in April.

Also in with a chance of reaching the final is Peter Symonds, in Winchester.

The school finished second last night with their modern take on Romeo and Juliet, named 'Rosalind and Juliet'.

The school's sport and activities co-ordinator, Sam Jones, said: "I am extremely proud of the team for winning second place in the heats, all their hard work has really paid off.

"They gave an incredible performance. 

"Fingers crossed we have scored high enough to make it to the southern finals, but they are all already winners in my eyes."

Hounsdown School took third place with their performance, 'Is the grass always greener?'.

Students from the Totton school played out the story of a young adventurous girl who explores her new home, only to find an alternative version of her life on the other side of a secret door.

Upper Shirley High School performed on the night and scooped awards for student leadership and cultural and educational achievement.

Southampton City Council's Award for Spirit of Rock Challenge was also awarded to Upper Shirley High School.

The King's School, in Winchester, also picked up a number of awards, including the Rock Challenge Award for School Community Support and Be Your Best Foundation Award for Parental Involvement.

The event attracted a large audience and was supported by Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, Stage Coach, Ian Wright Consulting, ACRO, Radian and Securigroup

Attending this evening were an array of sponsors, local authority figures and invited VIPs.

Ian Readhead, vice chair of the Be Your Best Foundation, organisers of Rock Challenge, said: "We’re at the start of another amazing Rock Challenge season, once again there’s been great acts and enthusiasm, achieving the objects of Rock Challenge.

"It was a brilliant night."

Be Your Best Foundation Director, Glyn Wright, said: "We’ve seen over 500 young people performing to their very best.

"Such amazing talent on stage here at Southampton."

More than 40 schools from across Hampshire will take part in the “achieve the extraordinary” six-day event, which aims to promote healthy living and active lifestyle through performing arts.

Months of preparation go into the five to eight-minute dance-drama performance, with students selecting and recording the medley of music for their soundtrack, as well as designing and making their sets and costumes.

Several schools and colleges have been picked out as ‘ones to watch’ this year, with hopes high for Richard Taunton Sixth Form College, Regents Park Community College, Itchen Sixth Form College, Calmore Junior School and Wellow Primary School.

School performances run until Saturday, with junior schools set to start their performances on Thursday.