Every year at the close of winter term in late February, the Mercersburg Academy student body divides in half as members of the Irving Literary Society and Marshall Literary Society face off in a variety of athletic contests and the all-important and highly anticipated Irving-Marshall speaking contest, Declamation. Throughout the week, societies compete to claim the most points, but the opportunity to earn these points actually starts prior to the official competition.
This year Community Engagement sponsored a hygiene product drive for My Neighbors Bounty food pantry in connection with the Irving-Marshall rivalry. Items were collected January 27 to February 13, with the society that donated the most items receiving 15 points toward the Irving-Marshall Week scores. Marshall won this competition.
In addition, the Irving-Marshall Annual Fund Challenge runs through February 27. Throughout the challenge, alumni and parents can make a gift to either their own society or their student’s society. Donations earn points. Each student in the society that wins the Annual Fund Challenge will receive a surprise gift. Students called alumni society members Tuesday, February 21, and will be calling again on Thursday, February 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.
“Irving-Marshall Week is such a fun and exciting week on our campus,” said Amy Shaffer Post ’02, who is one of the Irving Society advisers. “It’s an experience that is hard to explain to others until you’ve gone through it. I’m hopeful this year that all students, faculty, and staff make time to attend events, participate where possible, and to find moments of joy in the week.”
School Counselor Bethany Galey ’02, one of the Marshall Society advisers, said she is “eager to see how old traditions and new practices are brought to the competition” since she graduated.
“My hope for this year is that students, faculty, and staff give themselves the time and space to relax more and have fun, as well as to experience the school spirit this long-standing tradition creates,” Galey said. “I hope the students go outside their comfort zone and try new things, and feel the support of faculty and staff. I am also impressed to see students take leadership roles and observe their moments of success, bravery, and talent.”
The official Irving-Marshall Week kicks off with swimming and diving on Sunday, February 26, and the competition continues each afternoon through Thursday, March 2.
Shaffer Post, Mercersburg’s social emotional learning counselor, hopes the experience helps students learn how fun and rewarding it is to try new things.
Competitions include basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, squash, table tennis, chess, billiards, and checkers.
At Declamation, the culmination of the week’s events, each society is represented by five students who perform prepared monologues in front of the entire school.
Following Declamation, the judges’ critiques will be compared, the results will be tallied, and Head of School Quentin McDowell P ’25 will announce the winning society at an all-school dance that night. Read more about Declamation here.
“I also hope this helps bring our community together,” Shaffer Post said. “Declamation is always the highlight of the week! It’s so wonderful to see these very talented students be so brave and courageous as they share their skill.”
Follow the competition on Mercersburg’s social media channels.