News And Events

News And Events

Lexington Branch Members Enjoy Robert Burns Night

Lexington Branch members enjoyed a night of poetry, bagpipes, haggis and a "wee dram" as part of the Robert Burns Night held on March 4, 2018 at VMI's Moody Hall.  Speaker Les Strachan spoke on "Robert Burns, Scotland's Poet", quoting extensively from the poet's work.  The haggis, generously provided by ESU members Lyn and Carol Dent, was sampled by many and even enjoyed by some!

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Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition participants, January 20, 2018

Dianelys Mustelier-Mayeta, from Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, Virginia, won first place at the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition Lexington Branch contest on January 20, 2018.  Mustelier-Mayeta, a student of teachers Cecille Deason and Michael Villacrusis, performed Parolles monologue from All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV, scene i, as well as Sonnet 127.  She will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City along with 55 other contestants from around the country to participate in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition in April. 

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Lexington ESU members were treated to a fascinating presentation and slideshow on April 4 by experimental gardener Paul Wilson. Wilson, a resident of Fairfield, Virginia spoke on the subject of "Capability Brown Comes to Fairfield".  The lecture was followed by a buffet dinner held at the Lexington Country Club.

Wilson described how he has strived over the past 40 years to adopt on his Fairfield property some of the landscape gardening principles of Lancelot "Capability" Brown.  Brown, an18th century English landscape architect, designed over 170 English gardens, many of which still endure.  Brown's naturalistic style including broad sweeping lawns, serpentine lakes and strategically-placed trees.  Wilson has toured many of Brown's gardens, and included photographs of them in his presentation.  He also showed "before" and "after" photos of his property, showing a remarkable transformation over the past 40 years.  

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With a performance of a sonnet and monologue from Shakespeare, Donna Boyd  from Lexington, VA, a student of Janie Thames at Spotswood High School in Penn Laird, placed as a semi-finalist in the 34th annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. The Competition took place on May 1, 2017 on the stage of the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center with 54 semi-finalists from as many ESU Branch competitions nationwide. Donna previously won the ESU Lexington Branch competition.

The winner of the 34th English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, Ogechi Egonu, representing the San Francisco Branch, received a full scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, VA, this summer.  Second place winner, Brandon Burk, from the Kentucky Branch, won a cash prize of $1,000 from The English-Speaking Union, while the third place winner, Trevon Wainwright, representing the Kansas City Branch of the ESU, received an award of $500 provided by The Shakespeare Society.

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BUSS Scholarship winner Janie Thames with Maxwell Caskie,

Education Chair

Lexington ESU members heard from the recipients of three awards provided by the group at its October 14, 2016 opening meeting and reception held at Kendall Hall.  The speakers were Mausam Mehta, winner of the Lexington branch Shakespeare competition in May, BUSS scholarship winner Janie Thames, and Oxford scholarship winners Sarah Lemon and Danielle Hughson.

Mehta, a junior at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia, treated the audience to a monologue from "The Winter's Tale" that she had performed onstage at the Lincoln Center.  After winning the Lexington branch competition in May, Mehta participated as a semi-finalist in the 33rd annual ESU National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. 

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Lew John visits with ESU Lexington members before his speech

ESU Lexington member Dr. Lewis G. John, Professor of Politics Emeritus at Washington & Lee University, spoke to fellow members November 15 on the topic of "Brexit Revisited".   The lecture followed a buffet dinner held in Moody Hall at Virginia Military Institute.

Dr. John outlined the evolution of the European Union, beginning with the European Economic Community which was founded after World War II.  The United Kingdom had been a member of the EU for 42 years prior to this summer's unexpected vote to withdraw from the union. According to polls, migration and economic issues were the primary concern of "leave" voters. 

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2016 Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition

Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition participants, January 16, 2016

Mausam Mehta, from Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia, won the ESU Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition on January 16, 2016, at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton.  Mausam was coached by John Fregosi, mathematics and theater teacher at her high school. The 2015 winner, Nora Oeschlin, was also from Robert E. Lee High School and coached by Mr. Fregosi.

Mausam was one of eight area contestants.  Kasey Britt, a student at Turner Ashby High School, Harrisonburg, was runner up and Ryan Boloix, a student at Spotswood High School, Penn Laird, placed third.  Each of the three winners was awarded a partial scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) summer camp.

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2015 Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition

Nora Oechslin, a sophomore at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia, won the ESU Lexington Branch Shakespeare Competition on January 17, 2015, at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton.  Nora was coached by John Fregosi, mathematics and theater teacher at her high school.  She was one of eight area contestants.

To read more about the contest, please click here. 

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2015 National Shakespeare Competition

We invite schools serving Grades 9-12 in our area to celebrate the Bard's 450th birthday this year by participating in the 2015 ESU National Shakespeare Competition. The Competition provides teachers with a free performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare that satisfies Common Core State Standards. High school students from the local arearecite Shakespeare's monologues and sonnets and compete for the chance to win a trip to New York City.  Learn more on our ESU Lexington, Virginia Branch Shakespeare Competition page - Click Here


The 2014 opening meeting of the Lexington Branch of the English Speaking Union was held on September 26.  The meeting featured reports from the two local university students who had spent the summer studying at Oxford University partially sponsored by scholarships provided by the Lexington Branch.  The students were Brittany Norwood, a junior at Washington and Lee and Joseph Amato, a third classman at Virginia Military Institute.

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The English-Speaking Union

Lexington Branch

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.