Seniors Carter Hsu and Siyu Lai stand to the side of the courtyard, beady eyed, as if they had just been transported into the 21st century. When asked about their retro garb, Carter had a profound response: “We need extra credit for English 12.”
As an extra credit opportunity for his English 9 and English 12 classes, teacher Brad Weidlich asked students to adorn clothing that mirrored the exciting age of the 1950s to relate to the characters they studied in their summer reading novels (S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders for 9th grade and Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life for 12th grade), both set in that time period.
The courtyard on this particular Thursday morning was a conglomeration of students gathered around a crew that stood out from the rest. Greased back hair, tones of black and white, and rugged jackets could be seen spattered around campus.
Carter and Siyu, adorned with leather jackets and white shirts, was an uncommon sight for the typically Nike-clad dormers. But despite the out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, the boys thoroughly enjoyed their dress up day.
The two confront other members of their class, Tyler Davis and Joshua Hsu, clad similarly, but with slicked back hair and rolled up sleeves on their t-shirts. They pretend to be rival gangs, acting as if they were in the novel This Boy’s Life, which features characters that look similar to the boys, as it takes place in the 1950s and features the “greaser” culture.
Joshua explained that not only does he enjoy dressing up for the extra credit points, but also because it promotes interacting with the material they are learning, a sentiment that was shared with most of the other students.
“I think it’s fun for the students to dress up, and it’s fun for the community, it boosts morale,” said Tyler. “Siyu just looks so cute.”
Mr. Weidlich feels that, though the assignment provided a fun opportunity for the students to relate to the characters that they are studying, there is an even deeper meaning.
“One of the things I like to do is to get a picture of the students in my class freshman year, and over the 4 years to see how they change and develop and give the picture back, to show where they came from,” Mr. Weidlich said. “I then incorporate these portraits into their literature.”
As the day progressed, more freshmen and seniors could be seen wearing vintage clothing, and this particular Thursday became much more exciting than normal.
“Today, as we finish the summer reading unit, coming together and bonding and establishing class unity, providing students with opportunities to participate… [and] leadership opportunities,” Mr. Weidlich concluded. “The seniors were offered the opportunity to earn extra credit…as well as [to be] role models to the freshman and remember their origin.”Share