“Two households, both alike in dignity/ In fair Verona where we lay our scene”…thus we began our encounter with the bard of Avon and Romeo and Juliet. Eighth grade completed the play with Muse of Fire, professional actors, in a week-long workshop developing four scenes then performed for our school audience. Choreography, death, and balcony scenes chosen by the class entertained the “groundlings” in the Music Room “on the boards.” Shakespeare’s “star-crossed lovers” touched us even today with their tale of woe. We observed that plans based on secrecy, split-second timing, powerful potions, and ill-advice can fail tragically. The play revealed the often mercurial nature of young love, which retains that quality even in non-14th century settings.
In January, high school recommendations shifted into high gear, and our attention turned to paving the path for intriguing adventures in different schools next year.
Several speakers have visited our class with more to come. They share their life-long experiences with reading, great books, current materials, and THE GREAT GATSBY, our present novel. We de-mystify the green light, the enigma of Gatsby, and ponder the careless lives of the wealthy Jazz Age, as well as unworthy dreams. In RICHARD II Shakespeare wrote, “O, call back yesterday, bid time return,” which is exactly what Gatsby wished to do in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork. Neither Shakespeare’s nor Fitzgerald’s heroes succeed.
We now anticipate more art projects, poetry, vocabulary study, short stories, and grammar review with the introduction of verbals. We shall complete the reading outside class of the student’s choice of a classic novel with essay writing, which improves organization of knowledge and critical thinking as they address the five elements of fiction.
Hopefully, we retain Gatsby’s sheer capacity to hope and dream as “we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”