As 2017 marks the 200th year after Jane Austen's passing, on Friday, December 15, 2017, the entire Nardin Academy High School community gathered to celebrate and commemorate the legacy of author Jane Austen with a Student Austen-tatious Day.
Beginning at 11 a.m. each department from science to world languages offered several workshops showcasing how the voice of its content is represented in Jane Austen's works and in her lifetime. Cross-curricular sessions included include Women's Education, a Regency Ball (dance), Social Context Research, Adventures in Virtual Reality, Musical Narratives, Guided Meditation, and an Escape Room. Students immersed themselves in this empowering day, having selected each session ahead of time based on a course brochure with advertisements from each department.
Miss Emma V. Eddy, Nardin English Teacher who coordinated the event with the Nardin High School English Department, said, "Collectively, we wanted students to feel inspired and encouraged to find their voices. Jane Austen's heroines grow, recognizing their strengths and imperfections, some more subconsciously than others, but the truth is, they succeed by remaining true to their cores and retaining their integrity. Her novels help us see the journey of choosing to maintain, cherish, and heal our hearts. Furthermore, Jane Austen presents heroines and heroes that, even taken out of their social context, reflect the same hearts and emotions as men and women today. She is indeed timeless and, in fact, was ahead of her time."
After the sessions, Dr. Kim Simpson, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Chawton House Library and a Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature at the University of Southampton in Southampton, England, gave a presentation on the global reach and legacy of Jane Austen and her work.
"Austen-tatious is a great example of how the passion of one faculty member can ignite an entire school wide effort in collaboration around a common theme," said Nardin High School Principal Adrienne Forgette. Without the constraints of New York State Regents testing Nardin High School is able to offer creative, hands-on, empowering opportunities such as the Student Austen-tatious Day for students to express themselves freely and find their voice.
As part of the day, even the Nardin Academy Dining Hall also honored the author with an Austen-tatious menu designed by Chef Julie Levin that includes period themed food such as white vegetable chowder, shepherd's pie, baked apple, and a lavender shortbread cookie.
Nardin Academy will continue to celebrate the Year of Jane Austen with a Teacher and Community Conference on March 15, 2018 with a keynote from Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder.