High School Students Toast Works of Jane Austen

Article excerpt

Byline: Sammi King

The invitation was for high tea with one of the most famous writers of all time.

Forget the cucumber sandwiches and delicious pastries. To have a chance to join others in conversation about Jane Austen is an invitation that is hard to turn down.

Austen was a writer's writer. The daughter of the rector of the local parish, she lived from 1775 to 1817 in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Her novels mirrored the life that surrounded her, with carefully crafted words that gave her fictional characters charm and wit.

In honor of Austen's birthday, members of the Humanities and American Literature classes at Batavia High School held a tea, complete with a viewing of one of her most famous works, "Pride and Prejudice."

English teachers Sandy Flannigan and Elizabeth Murphy are kindred spirits when it comes to Austen's novels. They have read every book, seen every movie and hold memberships in the Jane Austen Society.

I had the pleasure of sitting at the tea with Batavia High School students Liz Evanoff, Patrick Hanlon, Noel Bradac and Becky Clausius, who were enjoying the tea.

Noel, an American Literature student, told me that the kids in his class were included because they read a variety of the classics in literature, including "The Scarlet Letter," "Red Badge of Courage," "The Great Gatsby" and "The Crucible."

The difficult part of the class, students say, is the term paper.

"We have to do three drafts," Noel said. "But I have really learned how to research and write a term paper now. …