Hark! What voices doth carry through the halls across campus this time of year? It’s the seventh graders reciting Shakespeare to teachers, parents and guardians, staff members, and Head of School Matt Culberson as part of their annual contest.
This tradition is the precursor to the seventh grade field trip to Ashland in early March, when they participate in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival by attending plays and workshops with actors, directors, set designers, and other professional theater staff. By memorizing a quote from plays across the Bard’s canon, they gain exposure to Shakespeare in addition to building up their public speaking skills. The recitation contest assigns points that increase as students extend beyond their comfort zone—parents and guardians are worth one point each, while asking a member of the maintenance crew to listen earns students 15 points. Making an appointment to recite a quote to Mr. Culberson garners students 20 points.
“Many of the quotes contain phrases written by Shakespeare we use in common speech, but the students don’t know their origin,” says seventh grade English teacher Jamie Evans. “It helps with literary allusion later on, and when a teacher says, ‘Once more into the breach, dear friends,’ they have a point of reference. There is connection to their study going forward as students of literature; it lays the foundation of British literature and Shakespeare for the rest of their time here.”
Be not afraid of greatness, Class of 2022!