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March 10, 2021: Sophomore advances to national Shakespeare competition

Headshot of student

A Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District student is the first to be representing the district at the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition.

In April, J-D High School sophomore Anka Chiorini will compete in the national competition and vie for one of three top prizes: 

  • First place: British American Drama Academy Mid-Summer Conservatory Program

  • Second place: American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp

  • Third place: $1,000

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based educational program open to students in grades 9-12, according to its website. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities, including Syracuse, participate each year performing a Shakespeare monologue and sonnet of their choice.

“I grew up around a lot of theater and saw a lot of shows as a kid, some of which were Shakespeare plays,” Anka said. “A few years ago, I read a monologue from Shakespeare's “The Tempest” that felt so unbelievably real and relatable, despite having been written hundreds of years ago. It completely changed my view of Shakespeare, and when the Shakespeare competition rolled around the next year, I knew I had to sign up.”

Anka went on to win J-D’s 2020 school-level competition and participated in the Syracuse Branch competition. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, J-D High School held its 2021 competition virtually in January. Four students, including Anka, submitted video recordings of their monologue performances. J-D High School English teachers Joe DeChick, Connie Myers and Joe Goldberg served as judges, selecting Anka as the school-level winner. Sophomore Will Cooper was named runner-up. English teacher Matthew Phillips was the school coordinator, organizing the J-D competition. 

Anka then advanced to the Syracuse Branch competition that was held March 6 via Zoom. Each contestant performed from memory a portion of a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays as well as one of his sonnets. Anka’s monologue was Henry VI, Part 1, Pucelle, Act 5, Scene 4, lines 37-54. She recited Sonnet 134, "So now I have confessed that he is thine."

“I have loved being able to compete this year and last year,” she said. “Through the competition I have learned so much about public speaking (in-person and on Zoom), and my love of Shakespeare has only deepened.”



Dr. Peter Smith, Superintendent

P.O. Box 606
DeWitt, NY 13214

Phone: (315) 445-8300

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