Dec Contest: How I almost missed out on one of Peddie's oldest traditions

The thought of participating in one of Peddie's oldest traditions intimidated Kate '21. But taking a step outside her comfort zone paid off.

I have always loved being on stage. As a freshman, I had the chance to play "belly dancer #6" in the annual Freshman Musical. While it wasn't the first time I had been part of a theater production, it was my first time acting on stage as a Peddie student. From there, I continued to make appearances elsewhere, including singing at dessert theater, performing in the musical theater showcase, and two of our school's winter musicals. While challenging, all of these performances made me feel at peace.

Participating in the Declamation Contest, our school's oldest tradition, was intimidating compared to these other stage opportunities. In the Declamation Contest, students have to memorize and perform a monologue of their choice. If I'm being honest, I never thought of auditioning because being completely alone on stage frightened me. The contest has multiple steps to it: auditions, semifinals and finals. I always loved attending the Dec Contest and had watched a couple of my close friends compete. I liked listening to the fascinating stories of the characters portrayed through the speeches, and I liked watching my peers finally get to showcase what they have been practicing for months.

In my sophomore year, while helping my friend memorize her lines, she told me she thought I would really enjoy being part of this contest. I laughed and told her I would audition next year, with no real intention of doing so. When winter came the next year and students started receiving emails about auditions, the same friend reminded me that I had told her I would audition. What could I do? I decided to go along with it and began researching possible monologues. 

Most of the monologues were very serious in nature, and while I found them to be interesting, I felt that comedy was more my style. For weeks I practiced and memorized my monologue for anyone that would listen, perfecting my monologue delivery every step of the way. 

The Dec Contest was just one of the opportunities I've had at Peddie to step out of my comfort zone over the last three years.”

The night of the finals, the theater was filled with the student body and faculty, which was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Adding to my nervousness was that my monologue was about a woman who suffers — let's say — a "crappy" first date. I found the monologue to be humorous, but I could also feel my character's embarrassment while performing it. My performance ended to the applause of my peers and I felt proud that I had done it, yet relieved that it was over. 

The Dec Contest was just one of the opportunities I've had at Peddie to step out of my comfort zone over the last three years. I don't know what my senior year will hold, but I know that being on the Peddie stage in some form or another will be a part of it.