On Friday, March 9, Springville High’s AP Composition and Literature students in Mrs. Lisa Simmons class participated in the 6th annual Austenesque Regency High Tea held in the transformed SHS Library.
Students enjoyed a five course buffet. Tea was substituted with a hot chocolate bar and authentic period food included English scones with cucumber tea sandwiches, gourmet European cheeses, jams, jellies, authentic French macarons, chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecake petits fours, Belgium crème puffs, and chocolate eclairs.
Dancing, promenading, and playing games such as “Pass the Slipper” were some of the activities the costumed guests enjoyed.
“Lady Rabner,” Mrs. Lanell Rabner, SHS Media Specialist, schooled the students in proper etiquette and comportment (conduct and demeanor). Students learned proper tea drinking etiquette.
All of the students dressed in realistic time period dresses and/or men’s formal wear. Emma Ferrin wore an authentic Regent period pattern dress based on an authentic design sewn by her mother, Sarah Ferrin. It took a solid week to sew the dress with a total of 25-30 working hours. The dress consisted of ten yards of fabric made from cotton and cotton muslin. In the time period, it would have had to been sewn completely by hand.
In preparation for today’s event, Mrs. Sarah Ferrin (SHS substitute teacher) also hosted a six-hour viewing of BBC's Pride and Prejudice at her home with breakfast and lunch for her daughter, Emma, and five or more of her classmates on Tuesday, March 6, while the juniors took the ACT.
Student Ryan Stevenson put his calligraphy to work by creating a unique “calling card” invitation for each student. Stevenson said, “It took me about two days and 15 minutes per card to calligraphy one for each student.”
Each student took part in preparing the day’s events through displays, food preparation, costumes, and games.
Senior Erin Call was delighted to be a part of the tea party. Call prepared for the event by learning how to play time period games and reading a book by Jane Austen, “Sense and Sensibility.” Call came up with her costume from a lot of pictures online and then headed for the DI. There she found everything to make her costume.
During the tea party, Call explained how she felt about learning etiquette, “It’s a lot harder than it looks, but it is still a lot of fun!” Call’s favorite food was “the cucumber sandwiches.”
Parents Sarah Ferrin and Amy Stewart volunteered their time to set-up and take-down the event and to bake, prepare, arrange, and serve. These parent volunteers also filled in for dance partners and ensured that students had a fantastic learning experience.
Mrs. Leslie Christensen, SHS Library Aide, created invitations and bookmarks, assisted with decorating; and, as a former dance teacher, she mentored the student Regency Dance Leader.
Christensen researched timer period dances clothing; she dressed as a chamber maid. Her favorite food was the cucumber sandwiches and she enjoyed the game “Pass the Slipper.” She liked how the dances had more contact with all the party guests and you could dance with more than one partner.
Joslyn Morrison watched videos on how to do her hair. Her costume was made custom for her sister. She made gummies and learned proper etiquette to not fidget or talk across the table while eating. Morrison’s favorite foods were the grapes and hot chocolate. She enjoyed playing the game, “Pass the Slipper,” in which you try to guess who as it.
Mckay Carr wore a costume made by his aunt to the event. He brought a game called “Pass the Shoe.” Everyone stands in a circle and passes a shoe behind their backs. The person in the middle of the circle can’t see the shoe and must deduct where it is.
Dancing was also a part of this event. Carr explains that it is different than how we dance today because everyone is coordinated. It’s a more sophisticated style. Carr said, “This event took a lot of work and preparation from lots of different people to make it happen.” Carr and others were grateful to all who worked to make this day an amazing experience for the students.
Gavin Karren, Senior, brought some of his best regency formal attire, and also borrowed some from the school drama department. In preparation for this event, he watched the six hour version of Pride and Prejudice, and from it, got a pretty good idea on how to dress. In etiquette training, he learned that you don’t hold a tea cup by its handle, only by the actual cup. His favorite menu item was the Wassel. A new game he learned was “Pass the Slipper,” which is basically the game signs, but with a slipper. Dancing in Jane Austen’s time, according to Gavin, was very structured.
Senior Miriam Hall talked and read a lot about Jane Austen to prepare for the day’s events. She borrowed her cousin’s prom dress for her costume. Hall brought different European cheeses to share. Hall learned very strict and structured etiquette. Her favorite item on the menu was a chocolate covered cream puff filled with chocolate mousse. Hall also learned how to play “Pass the Slipper.” She said it was like signs but with a slipper. Hall said, “Dancing in Jane Austen’s time was different because it was more like a group dance.”