The 2023 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 Irving-Marshall Week.
The 2023 edition of the weeklong competition is scheduled to take place Sunday, February 26, through Thursday, March 2, with Declamation (officially the 129th Annual Prize Speaking Contest) set to close the week at 7 p.m. ET March 2.
Manny Ponce ’23 of Union City, NJ, has been chosen as a Marshall declaimer for the fourth time in his four years at the school. He will be joined by Mel Cort ’23 (Brookeville, MD), who was a declaimer last year and a declaimer-in-training for Marshall in 2021. Ryan Casey ’23 (Vienna, VA) and Talia Cutler ’23 (Falls Church, VA) are also repeat declaimers. Keri-Ann Denis '25 (Arverne, NY) rounds out the squad, with Anne Sehon '25, (Oakton, VA) being named 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 a new slate of declaimers, having lost all of last year’s contenders to graduation. This year’s Irving contenders include Owain Herbert '23 (Germantown, NY), Matvey Ivanov '23 (Lexington, MA), Ingrid Janney '24 (Brookfield, CT), Tyerra Rooffener '23 (Osage Beach, MO), William Tutt '25 (Carolina, Puerto Rico), and Nina McDowell ’25, declaimer-in-training (Mercersburg, PA).
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 that night.
Heading into last year’s competition, Marshall had a six-year winning streak in the series, having emerged victorious every year since 2016. However, Irving broke that winning streak, winning the 2022 contest. No society has won the competition in seven consecutive years; Marshall’s run of success was tied with Irving’s dominance from 1911 to 1916 as the longest winning streak in the event’s history.
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.
This year’s society presidents are Caroline Wilkinson ’23 of Hagerstown (Irving) and Isabel Su ’23 of Hagerstown (Marshall).
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.
Pictured: Irving Declaimers are, top row from left, Owain Herbert '23 (Germantown, NY), Matvey Ivanov '23 (Lexington, MA), and Ingrid Janney '24 (Brookfield, CT). Bottom row from left, William Tutt '25, (Carolina, Puerto Rico), Tyerra Rooffener '23 (Osage Beach, MO), and Nina McDowell ’25, declaimer-in-training (Mercersburg, PA).
Marshall Declaimers are, top row from left, Manny Ponce ’23 (Union City, NJ), Mel Cort ’23 (Brookeville, MD), and Ryan Casey ’23 (Vienna, VA). Bottom row from left, Talia Cutler ’23 (Falls Church, VA), Keri-Ann Denis '25 (Arverne, NY), Anne Sehon '25, (Oakton, VA), declaimer-in-training.