Carrissa Swiger wins Custer Contest
Monday, May 20, 2013 11:00 AM
Madison Consolidated High School senior Carrissa Swiger won the 102nd annual Custer Contest for her character-driven depiction of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis.
The annual oratorical contest is for five seniors who rank at the top of their class academically and who have attended MCHS all four years. The event was held Sunday night at the high school auditorium
Swiger, the daughter of Hilary and Jeff Wiseman, is involved in color guard, winter guard, the National Honor Society and the German Club.
Tate Turner finished second, while Hannah Norris, Katie Demaree and Quentin Tingle tied for third. Each student was placed with a coach or coaches and prepared for the competition for at least a month.
Swiger received a $700 prize, while the second-place winner received $350. The remaining contestants each received $175. The Custer Contest is named for former Madison teacher A.S. Custer, who provided an endowment for the prizes.
Lee Strassell, math teacher, senior sponsor and event coordinator, said the Custer contest is his favorite event of the year. He complimented the students and coaches and the work they put in together.
"I'm glad I don't have to be a judge," he said.
He added that he sees most of the students in class, but it's different seeing them perform on stage.
Swiger's performance covered one of the more gut-wrenching scenes of C. S. Lewis' fantasy novel, the death and resurrection of Aslan the lion. The scene had the senior break into several different characters as the White Witch has her henchmen and ghouls tie up Aslan before he is killed.
Her voice effortlessly switched between the chilling whispers of the White Witch to the echoing baritone of Aslan the lion on stage.
After her performance Swiger said she was so nervous, she almost made herself sick before she began.
"I've never done any performing before, besides color guard. That's the closest thing."
Turner performed another heartbreaker, the finale of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."
All of his characters had a distinct voice while running through the chaos that lead up to the final minutes of his performance.
Hannah Norris performed "The Friendly Persuasion" by Jessamyn West, Katie Demaree performed "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams and Quentin Tingle performed "The School Board Meeting" by Garrison Keillor.