It is a truth universally acknowledged that an AP English student will enjoy her class twice as much if it involves pretending to live in Jane Austen’s world for a day. An enterprising English teacher from Eastchester High School gave her students that chance by turning back time to Regency England on Dec. 18 in an event dubbed “Gentlemen’s Tuesday.” “There is this interest and resurgence in Jane Austen,” said teacher Jennifer Gavin. “Kids are fascinated by that formality, back when there were rules for dating.”
While the most enthusiast participants were the students in Gavin’s fifth-period AP English class, the entire school was included in the event. The students were encouraged to dress up in formal wear and employ manners to the manner born to emulate the genteel ladies and gentlemen who populate Austen’s novels. “It was great to see the kids who really threw themselves into their roles with gusto,” said Gavin, who said the girls had a hard time finding skirts that covered their knees, never mind their ankles as in Austen’s day.
“Gentlemen relished the role as well, holding doors, escorting the ladies to class and even bringing them roses,” she said.
Student Nina Kozak said the event was not only fun, but reminds today’s youth to be polite. “People during the Regency era were so proper, and spending a whole day in that mindset makes you notice how informal today’s society is,” she said.
Linda Zhang said everyone was very friendly and polite throughout the day as they put long dresses and black jackets on display. “You could see that everyone was standing taller and straighter, and that there was a lot more eye contact in the room,” she said.
Briana Travers said that spending a day talking face to face instead of via text message makes her realize how much today’s society has lost the art of direct communication. “I think that if Jane Austen were to come to see the modern day she would be shocked,” Travers said.
Roisin Wiley, Pamela Tiavises, Humayra Mayat, Raylla Chan, Alessandra Grillo, Stephanie Chan, Paulina Cruz, Linda Zheng, Casey McMahon and Grant Cohen dressed up and used their best manners on “Gentlemen’s Tuesday” at Eastchester High School. Contributed photo.
Grant Cohen, Pamela Tiavises and Raylla Chan talk about manners during “Gentlemen’s Tuesday” at Eastchester High School on Dec. 18. Contributed photo.