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Gatsby-Themed Party Allows Greely Students to “Rub Elbows with the Rich and Famous”

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The Roaring '20s arrives in the library.

The Roaring '20s arrives in the library.

Abigail Cloutier

Abigail Cloutier

The Roaring '20s arrives in the library.

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Duke Ellington’s jazz music sounded throughout the Greely High School library — not as echoing, perhaps, as it might have been in Jay Gatsby’s mansion, but close enough. Students portraying writers, actresses, criminals, dictators, and athletes gathered in small groups, chatting about the ups and downs of the 1920s.

This Great Gatsby-themed party is not new to Greely, says English teacher Lori Gunn, who came up with the idea when she taught 11th grade humanities at her former school. The event, a fun and unique change from day-to-day classroom discussions, is for 10th graders in Gunn’s and fellow English teacher Jackie Young’s classes.

After studying the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, students were assigned to choose an important person from the ‘20s, research them, and dress as them for the soirée. Coco Chanel, Al Capone, Henry Ford, and even Fitzgerald himself were on the guest list, to name a few.

The party was meant to help students understand “the influential people of Fitzgerald’s time” Gunn says, “as well as the time period in which the novel was written.” She said that because Fitzgerald lived through the ’20s, The Great Gatsby “offers an authenticity that other novels might not have,” and the event as a whole lets students experience the “food, music, and frivolity” we see the American aristocrats experience in the book.

Great Gatsby characters work on a lockbox challenge. Photo: Abigail Cloutier

From left to right: Bridget Lary, Katie Bernheisel, Elsa Dean-Muncie, Bridget Frost, Camilla Lattanzi, Mrs. Gunn, Ava Poperechny, Maddie Hall

Gunn did note that though the event’s main focus was on the high society of Long Island, the Jazz Age didn’t revolve around it. Grand parties were “reserved for the upper echelon of 1920s society. Not everyone had the means to flock to Long Island looking to rub elbows with the rich and famous.”

And students definitely get into character — aside from being in costume, they walked and talked like them, some staying in character the entire period.

Gunn remembered a past student who took this assignment to the next level: having portrayed Charles Darwin, the student attended the party “dressed head to toe,” his costume complete with “a full suit with a heavy wool coat, a wig, a beard, a cane and a top hat.” Without breaking character, he read from The Origin of Species, “spouting his theories of evolution.”

Indeed the party allowed 10th graders, dressed as Darwin or not, to take part in the festivities of the Jazz Age.

 

About the Contributors
Kate Ramseyer, Ranger Review Staff Writer

I am a sophomore at Greely, class of 2021. My work is mainly focused on reporting and writing stories, but I also record podcasts, edit, and help manage...

Abigail Cloutier, Ranger Review Photographer

Abigail Cloutier is a senior who contributes by taking pictures for the Ranger Review. While she likes to jump right into the action, she prefers to be...

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