Annual Recitation Competition Takes a New Approach
Despite the restrictions in place within school, this year's annual Poetry Recitation Competition continued as ever, adapting to an online format for Wednesday's final.
This event brought as usual, the five winners from each year-group, to a live event in the Chapel, to perform before an audience: the entire Third Form, socially distanced across the nave. However, this time they had also each pre-recorded a live performance of their poem, which thanks to the AV-wizardry of Chris Hoad, meant pupils viewing in classrooms and common rooms around school were afforded a front-row seat for all the performances and had no trouble hearing the words.
In another development, rather than the usual judging panel delivering their collective decision, the event embraced democratic decision-making and trusted the pupils to judge each performance and cast their vote. Those in the Chapel ticked a voting form, rapidly processed by a small force of Sixth Form tellers, while those watching remotely voted via Microsoft Forms, which did the maths electronically within seconds.
Tutors watching with their tutor-groups, commented how rapt the remote audiences were, taking their responsibilities seriously, and above all enjoying the recitations. There was some voting along year-group and house lines, but the overall winner came from what is currently the smallest year-group in school: even before all the votes had been added together, a long way in the lead was Upper Sixth F pupil Cameron Bennett, for his performance of a Nineteenth-century Scots ballad, 'Erin-go-Bragh'. This poem, by an unknown author, takes a sideways look at Irish nationalism and the passions that it engenders, but also concludes that it doesn't matter to the speaker, where people come from. Cameron's convincing handling of the Scots dialect, and the confident demonstration of the reasoned anger and explanation of his actions, were clear to everyone in the Chapel and beyond, and he was an impressive overall winner.
The runner-up, by a narrower margin, for a very controlled and detailed performance of Prospero's Epilogue from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, was Lower Sixth Form pupil Louis Benneyworth. The other finalists were Will Hiles (Third Form) reciting 'The Wind' by Stanley Cook, Ted Phillips (Fourth Form) reciting 'St Kevin and the Blackbird', by Seamus Heaney, and Amalie Janeckova (Fifth Form), who delivered a moving recitation of 'Futility', by Wilfred Owen.
Commenting, our Head of English, Toby Smith, said: "Overall this was an exciting event as usual, and hopefully inspiring to those who witnessed both the skill and confidence of the year-group winners performing, and also to the emotional and technical possibilities of the written word."
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Recitation Competition Montage
Upper Sixth Form – Cameron Bennett, 19th century Scottish ballad, Erin-go-Bragh.
Lower Sixth Form – Louis Benneyworth, Prospero's Epilogue from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare.
Fifth Form – Amalie Janeckova, 'Futility', by Wilfred Owen
Fourth Form – Ted Phillips, 'St Kevin and the Blackbird', by Seamus Heaney.
Third Form – Will Hiles, 'The Wind' by Stanley Cook