2022 Irving-Marshall Declaimers Chosen
The 2022 lineup of declaimers to represent Mercersburg’s two literary societies—the Washington Irving Literary Society and John Marshall Literary Society—has been finalized and announced in advance of this year’s renewal of Irving-Marshall Week. The 2022 edition of the weeklong competition is scheduled to take place Sunday, February 27, through Thursday, March 3, with Declamation (officially the 128th Annual Prize Speaking Contest) set to close the week at 7 p.m. ET March 3.
Marshall has a six-year win streak in the series, having emerged victorious every year since 2016. No society has ever won the competition in seven consecutive years; Marshall’s current run of success is tied with Irving’s dominance from 1911 to 1916 as the longest win streak in the event’s history.
Watch a video recap of Irving-Marshall Week 2021
Manny Ponce ’23 of Union City, NJ, has been chosen as a Marshall declaimer for the third time in his three years at the school. He will be joined by Mel Cort ’23 (Brookeville, MD), who was the declaimer-in-training for Marshall last year. Marshall’s four other declaimers in an all-11th-grade lineup are Ryan Casey ’23 (Vienna, VA), Talia Cutler ’23 (Falls Church, VA), and Jasmine Zhu ’23 (Chengdu, China). Christopher Tompkins ’23 (Bryn Mawr, PA) is Marshall’s declaimer-in-training, which is a position each society chooses in the event that one of the five selected declaimers is unable to compete.
Irving has three returning declaimers from its 2021 lineup, including Finn Sipes ’22 (Mercersburg, PA), who placed second at Declamation last March. (The competition is traditionally held at the close of the winter academic term, but was moved to early spring in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Emma Shuford ’22 (Hickory, NC) will declaim for the third year, and Avo Reid ’22 (McLean, VA) is back for a second year. Matthew Tavarez ’22 (Paterson, NJ) and Josh Terris ’22 (Annandale, VA) round out Irving’s squad. Bella Tai ’25 (Hagerstown, MD) is Irving’s declaimer-in-training.
This year’s society presidents are Bridget Ahlgren ’22 (Irving) and Evan Howley ’22 (Marshall).
Irving-Marshall Week is a uniquely Mercersburg tradition. Every student is a member of one of the two societies, and those with family members who have previously attended the school may choose to represent the same society as well. During the week, students wear the colors of their society (blue and gold for Marshall and red and white for Irving), and each day, classes end early so students can participate in athletic and other competitions. Societies earn points for victories in these individual events, with the majority of points awarded to first-place, second-place, and third-place winners at Declamation at the end of the week.
At Declamation, five representatives of each society don formal attire and deliver prepared monologues in the Simon Theatre in front of the entire student body and three distinguished judges. The results are announced at a dance later that night.
The competition has been held in every year of Mercersburg Academy’s existence as a college-preparatory institution with the exception of 1936, when it was canceled due to medical reasons.
Read more about the Irving and Marshall societies
Pictured—Irving declaimers (clockwise from top left): Avo Reid ’22, Emma Shuford ’22, Matthew Tavarez ’22, Bella Tai ’25, Josh Terris ’22, Finn Sipes ’22. Marshall declaimers (clockwise from top left): Ryan Cutler ’23, Mel Cort ’23, Manny Ponce ’23, Christopher Tompkins ’23, Jasmine Zhu ’23, Talia Cutler ’23.