106 Years of Prize Speaking and Counting

A century-old tradition continued last week when the Upper School held its annual Prize Speaking competition. This 106th public speaking contest, sponsored by the English department, occurred during Upper School assembly on Friday, December 9. Four students took to the stage to take turns individually reciting a literary excerpt in front of the entire Upper School. These four finalists made it through auditions earlier in the fall to earn a spot on the Brauer Auditorium stage.

“The competition was steep this year,” stated Nicole Trueman-Shaw, Director of Upper School Student Leadership. “We had 14 students interested in being included and were able to narrow it down to four after auditions. All four of our finalists did an outstanding job, and I loved working with them on their pieces.” Ms. Trueman-Shaw coached each of the finalists through three rehearsals.

Each competitor performed a memorized, well-rehearsed, one-and-a-half to two-minute long monologue from a play or literary piece. Judges then selected the speaker whose delivery best connected with the audience during the performance. Students were evaluated for their vocal choices, body language, and connection to both the audience and to the piece itself. One lucky student was then selected as the 2022 winner.

First to take the stage was Ali Oak ’23 who performed a piece from Free Churro” by BoJack Horseman. Next was Aanya Tiwari ’23 who delivered an excerpt from John Boyne’s historical fiction, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Third to the stage was Nina Schuerer ’25 who recited “The Mothman Pronounces Appalachia” from Mothman Apologia by Robert Wood Lynn. And lastly, Ash Aranha ’23 performed an excerpt from Scooter Thomas Makes it to the Top of the World by Peter Parnell.

This year’s judges were Upper School History Teacher Andy Cox, Upper School Performing Arts Teacher Carolyn Hood, Upper School Science Teacher Brian Coco, and Upper School Library Assistant Aaron Elliott.  They certainly had their work cut out for them with such talented monologues to judge.

After the performances, the judges deliberated in the Hearth Room while Grayson Marks ’23 gave a stunning piano performance of a transcription of Silent Night by Clarence Kohlmann.

Soon, it was time to announce the winner of the 106th Prize Speaking competition. A huge round of applause goes to Aanya Tiwari for being declared the 2022 champion! As such, her name will be inscribed on the Dartmouth Cup which will remain on display on the MICDS campus.

“Following all of our performances, it truly did not matter who won because each and every one of us was equally deserving,” reflected Aanya. “Ash, Ali, Nina, and I left the stage knowing we did our best in our respective, unique pieces. Truly, I enjoyed competing with them and am so proud of each and every one of them.” Aanya also loved connecting with the audience. “Throughout the piece, I found my peers focused and engaged which felt extremely rewarding in itself. All in all, this is now a core memory I take away from MICDS and I could not be more grateful for it. I would also like to give a huge shoutout to Ms. Trueman for her constant time and support as well as a big ‘thank you’ to Ms. Voss and Ms. Williamson for their guidance. Finally, I encourage everyone to be the voice of reason and change by way of their actions and reactions. As John Boyne wrote in my piece on the Holocaust, ‘Their lost voices must continue to be heard.'”

Congratulations to all of this year’s talented participants! It can take great courage to get up on stage and perform a monologue in front of your peers. Well done, Rams, and congratulations again to Aanya for being declared this year’s Dartmouth Cup winner!