Six Straight: Marshall Wins Irving-Marshall Week 2021
The John Marshall Literary Society won Irving-Marshall Week for the sixth consecutive year when Clara Getty ’21 of Marshall took first place at Declamation March 29. Marshall claimed the overall competition over the rival Washington Irving Literary Society by a score of 1175—900.
Finn Sipes ’22 (Irving) placed second and Aden McCracken ’21 (Irving) was third, and Irving was chosen by the judges as the strongest of the two Declamation teams, but Marshall held on for the victory to match the longest winning streak by either society in the 128-year history of the competition—joining Irving’s six-year run of victory from 1911 to 1916.
Getty, of Allentown, PA, earned top honors for her performance of "Educated" by Tara Westover. Getty finished third at Declamation 2020, and is the first declaimer to place in back-to-back years since Ava Paul ’18 in 2017 and 2018.
Sipes, of Mercersburg, placed second with "History Lesson" by David Lindsay-Abaire, while McCracken, of Tyrone, PA, took third with a piece titled "Chapter 17," which was written by McCracken and 2020 Irving declaimer Aidan Ferrin ’20.
Along with Sipes and McCracken, Irving’s five-person squad of declaimers also included Wren Dahbura ’21 of Hagerstown, MD; Avo Reid ’22 of McLean, VA; and Emma Shuford ’22 of Hickory, NC.
Marshall entered Declamation with an 875—500 advantage in the competition, which is typically held over an entire week but was compressed into four days this year. The first-place declaimer’s society earns 300 points, with 200 points for second place, 100 points for third place, and an additional 100 points to the team chosen by the judges as the strongest overall.
The school’s two literary societies face off each year in athletic and other competitions before Declamation. This year, contests were held in swimming and diving, basketball, dodgeball, volleyball, soccer, and board games and video games. Points are awarded for victories in each event (with separate contests for boys’ and girls’ teams) prior to the all-important Declamation (officially known as the “Irving-Marshall Prize Speaking Contest”), featuring five declaimers from each society clad in formalwear and offering prepared monologues to a distinguished panel of judges.
Declamation took place in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre—though to accommodate physical-distancing requirements, most Irving and Marshall members gathered instead in the Hale Field House to watch a live closed-circuit broadcast which allowed for appropriate spacing.
A celebratory event was held outside on campus following Declamation, where Head of School Katie Titus P ’20, ’23 announced the results.
Madi Norris ’21 (Irving) and Ryan Bland ’21 (Marshall) are this year’s society presidents.
Listen to a Burg’s Eye View Irving-Marshall podcast featuring interviews with the society presidents (hosted by Chelsea Seaby Bruno ’21)
Every member of the Mercersburg student body is a member of one of the two societies, and students with family members who previously attended the school can choose to link up with that society.