Avo Reid ’22
MERCERSBURG, PA—On Tuesday, the judges of the 128th Annual Speaking Contest reversed their original decision, and unanimously granted the John Marshall Society the victory this year.
I am primarily a wildlife correspondent, and after chronicling the plight of the nine-banded armadillo (aka, “the poor man’s pork”), I was on assignment to report on the sometimes predatorial squirrels that frolic across Mercersburg Academy’s wide plains and quaint walks. I had been assigned lodging in a strange little building full of model trains and tiny people who ride around in them incessantly, and was recapping the day’s research when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. I looked outside my window, and saw hundreds of students flood Mercersburg’s quaint walks. The horde carried sticks and cardboard cartons of skim milk. “JUSTICE FOR IRVING! WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS TYRANNY!” Greta Lawler ’23 shouted, wearing a black cloak and wielding a scythe.
That day, I discovered an email had gone out to the student body announcing the decision to reverse the judgements. In it, the judges cited a “lapse of common sense…. It occurred to us, after a couple of weeks had passed, that awarding first place to a piece in which the protagonist is called a ‘f***ing idiot’, watches pornography, murders two people, and injects herself with crystal methamphetamine was an unwise decision.”
Mercersburg students responded in uproar, both at the news of the reversal and at the ad hominem attack on the porn-addicted, drug-addicted murderer Finn Sipes ’22 portrayed at Declamation. “Finn’s character gave me strength,” said Will Sokolski ’22. “Her performance empowered me to finally take care of those two old British women who live under my bed.”
In the same email, judges said of Avo Reid ’22’s performance: “Stop playing the victim, nerd. It’s pathetic.” In response, Emma Shuford ’22 giggled, “@#$%&*! THOSE *&%$#@!-ING *%&$@#!-S.”
As I cowered at the window, I watched the mobs take to the streets, alleys, and walks, which were quaint. As Marshall students cowered in their rooms, the crowd swarmed to the steps of Main Hall, where Sokolski was delivering an address.
“AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” he remarked, and the crowd roared in agreement. In a lactose-induced craze, Brant Warner ’23 brandished his gallon of whole milk and screamed vociferously. “Take a deep breath,” Sokolski commanded, and the crowd breathed meditatively. “Imagine you are in a safe place, your happy place, on a white sand beach, or maybe by a river.” The sea of shoulders noticeably softened. “AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” Sokolski roared again, and led the crowd charging up the walkway to the quad, which somehow, amidst the chaos, still appeared quaint. Accompanying Sokolski at the front of the pack was an unidentified faculty child, wielding a small club and screaming. Lawler sat unnoticed by the wayside, her scythe confiscated, handcuffed to a tree by campus security.
As they careened up the path, the ground started to shake. Over the mountains, a collective bellow was heard, and moments later a sea of red appeared over the crest of the hill behind the chapel: six years of spited Irving graduates had arrived, ready to take back what was rightfully theirs. Behind them were alumni, both Irving and Marshall, who were “just kind of, like, sad that it wasn’t fun anymore.” Near-instantly, the alumni relations office appeared at the scene, handing out Mercersburg-branded water bottles and reminding them of the tradition in the “long blue line” of donating to the annual fund.
The entire crowd turned to face the Burgin Center for the Arts. “BRING THE JUDGES BACK,” they chanted in unison. “Yeah!” said Lawler, meekly, from her vegetive post. The energy was palpable; like the infamous Boxer-Bikini Run of 2021, the horde began to approach the Burgin. (Also like the infamous Boxer-Bikini Run of 2021, the entire event was livestreamed on the Mercersburg Athletics Instagram.)
Suddenly, a pillar of fire erupted in the quaint walkway between the horde and the Burgin Center’s front doors. A figure emerged, eyes literally aflame behind black-framed glasses, wearing a leather jacket, a Captain America hoodie, and a Dungeons and Dragons t-shirt. It was Matt Maurer, English teacher, Declamation adviser, and long-suspected sorcerer. “Oh, God,” someone said. Another voice softly muttered a Hail Hary. “YOU SHALL NOT PASS,” Maurer bellowed, his voice imbued with the force of a thousand generations.
I watched this unfold from the refuge of a tree, after the little men who lived in the train museum drove me out of my quarters. It was the only place away from the mob’s reach. I have a small consolation. I have finally encountered the squirrels I have come to write about. Before, on campus, they were all extraordinarily mean to me—one made off with a small chunk of my left earlobe. This tree, though, appears to be the only place safe from Maurer’s fiery maelstrom. So now I can finally watch them in peace—oh, no, one just bit me. Ow. That hurt. Why–OW! Oh, no, oh, God. Please. Not…no…NO!!!