Gigi Ekstrom
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On February 25, freshman Alanna Stern won the English-Speaking Union (ESU) National Shakespeare Competition, defeating the top ten students from public, private, and magnet schools around the Metroplex. Her performance of Portia from Julius Caesar and Sonnet 116 earned the praise of the three judges from Shakespeare Dallas, including Artistic Director Raphael Parry. In critiquing the contestants, Parry drew parallels to gymnastics. "Alanna started strong, stayed focused and poised through the middle, and really 'stuck the landing.'" 
The ESU National Shakespeare Competition provides high school teachers across the country with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. Through the competition, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. "I have been impressed with Alanna's dedication and commitment to doing justice to Shakespeare's words," said Elizabeth Schmitt, Shakespeare Club sponsor. "Her performance Saturday was nuanced and clearly set her apart from the other contestants."
Students read, analyze, perform, and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community, and national levels. 
As the winner of the Dallas/Fort Worth ESU competition, Stern takes home a $100 prize and will go on to represent DFW at the ESU National Shakespeare Competition in New York City on May 1. Students will perform their monologues and sonnets before a distinguished panel of judges as well as their fellow contestants from across the country.
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