Good Hope School sweeps the girls' choral speaking awards Tigers roared, women screamed, insects buzzed and chains clanked. One moment the audience was in a community hall, next it was transported to a jungle, beneath the sea among imprisoned mermaids, or into a classroom where a student was being bullied. The dramas unfolded at the Martha Boss Community Centre in Ho Man Tin as contestants in the girls' section of the English choral speaking competitions of the 56th Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival brought poems to life with their recitations, ably assisted by props and special effects. Some of the more overblown performances impressed the audience more than the judges. Adjudicator Margaret Tomlinson said all she was looking at was how the words were presented. 'I don't usually give extra marks on props,' she warned the students. 'The main point is to give life to the black words on the piece of paper and make the poems come alive.' Good Hope School, a frequent winner at the festival, swept the titles in all three sections - Form Two choral speaking, Forms Five to Seven choral speaking and Form One harmonious choral speaking. Good Hope was the only school to enter the Forms Five to Seven section. However, Ms Tomlinson did not give it the title by default. The school still had to deliver its performance 'because I wouldn't have given them the title if they did poorly', Ms Tomlinson said. In the end, Good Hope got a high mark of 90 for a performance of Louis MacKenzie's Prayer before Birth, which Ms Tomlinson described as a 'very difficult poem which I had no idea how students could perform'. 'It was almost a perfect performance, despite the fact that they pronounced the author's name wrong,' she said. After the contest, the teams from Good Hope School cheered and rushed to their teachers, Corina Chen and Betty Tham, to read the remarks given by Ms Tomlinson. The festival, which started last Monday, will end on December 11. More than 160,000 pupils have participated this year.