By Aruna Jain
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Billie Holiday sang in one room. Harlem showed off its Renaissance in another. There was a literary salon, a silent film and a vaudeville act. Girls stepped to the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, the tango. And, of course, there was jazz.
The 1920s came alive in classrooms Friday night as Poolesville High School freshmen recreated elements of the Jazz Age to cap off a semester spent studying it in history class.
The event, called a Jazz Cafe, was organized by the Humanities House, which is part of the school's first-year magnet program. The school's other magnet programs are the Global Ecology Program and the Science, Math, Computer Science House.
About 150 friends, family members and students attended the event.
"It was phenomenal," said Emily Sigman, head of the school's humanities program.
"The kids loved being a part of it, the parents were stunned, the teachers were amazed," she said.
In addition to performances, students talked to the audience about the social and cultural changes of the 1920s.
In English class, they also read a book normally reserved for juniors: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," a signature book for the time period.
Sigman said a highlight of the production came near the end of the event when students rushed the hallways blowing whistles, and led family members and friends to the auditorium in a mock arrest. There, the audience was treated to a video montage of the program.
The creative approach to studying history was a success, Sigman said, and one that will likely be repeated next year.
"All of the teachers agreed that this was probably the hallmark moment of our teaching careers," she said.