Jacinta Misra, who read The Great Gatsby as part of an advanced placement course, said it was hard to imagine the parties in the novel until Friday.
The English wing was transformed into the Roaring 20s. Students wore flapper dresses and vintage suits. provided beverages for a speakeasy and gamblers were playing cards in just about every room except one or two. A band played in the hallway turned ball room.
And there was Misra, “Deliah Thorton” an aspiring actress attending a party in New York's fashionable East Egg. She sat at a game table hoping to rub elbows with a producer who would make her a star.
Reading the novel is a requirement for AP students who wanted to participate in the party that is normally held after school hours in the student cafeteria. This year the American Literature students wanted to join. They plan to begin reading the novel next week.
David Ford, who sat at Misra's table, was in the half the students who hadn't read the book, but he said the atmosphere was helping him understand the setting before he cracked the cover.
“It puts you into the mindset,” Ford said.
Misra said that was probably a good thing.
The book described crazy parties where people were really drunk, she said.
“It was hard for us to picture until now,” Misra said.
Each student was given a role to play and moved from room to room gathering clues trying to find out which one of them was Gatsby. Just as in the novel, the man was mysterious and the student playing him didn't even know who he was.
Craig Walter, a science teacher at the school, was a black jack dealer known as "Fast Eddie" on Friday. He hadn't read the book, but that didn't stop him from playing along.
“We're gambling and gossiping about Gatsby,” Walter said.
Students appeared to have a good time Friday but they also had an assignment to do. Teacher Del Schmidt said the party really helps students understand the excess of the times and the theme of the novel: the shallowness of the American dream of that era.
“The roaring 20s were all about excess and materialism,” Schmidt said.
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