New Gatsby Party was the bee’s knees!

Last Friday, the Gatsby Party, an annual event inspired by much of the junior class reading the classic novel The Great Gatsby , was revised: The party was not an evening event held in the cafeteria but was instead held during the last half of the school day in the English wing. The whole wing was decorated to resemble a garden party straight out of the roaring 1920s. The party included parlor games, silent films, a speakeasy that served root beer, and music performed by the Ames High Jazz Band. There were many more things to do at this year’s party than the Gatsby parties of Ames High’s past. According to English teacher Joe Brekke, this was how he originally conceived the party when teaching in Atascadero High School in California. “I started the party as a way to build anticipation and create excitement for The Great Gatsby ,” Brekke said. “The students were worn out because it was at the end of a period of California standardized tests.” When Brekke brought the idea to Ames, it became a celebration after reading the book. However, this year Brekke wanted to return to holding the party before reading the book. Brekke said he wanted to help juniors to enter the text, “hooking” them before they even opened the book. “I believe that the party is a much more effective way to teach about the setting and characters of the book than a lecture,” Brekke said. The party also gave juniors (as well as some seniors who read the book last year) a chance to practice improv acting, as each student was assigned a 1920’s era persona that they developed and embodied during the event. “It was interesting to see everyone acting like somebody else,” said junior Ben Wu, who attended the party. “It gave me a good background of how things might have been back in the day.” “Incorporating elements of a murder mystery,” students tried to identify who among them was playing the character of Jay Gatsby, the mysterious host of the party. Brekke felt that it was a great “opportunity for the majority of the junior class to bond.” He also said that so far, feedback about the new and improved Gatsby party has been quite positive. So does that mean that there will be another party like this next year? “That is yet to be determined,” said Brekke. “But there are numerous things that could be done differently to improve it.” Brekke said that some things on the list of possible party-enhancements were a better sound system for announcements, more activities like scavenger hunts, and more air-conditioning, because the English wing was really, really hot. And I’m not even referring to the gams on that sheba.