Thanks to Harbor Ridge Middle School’s Suzanne Johnson, I had the pleasure of attending the school’s “Revolutionary Tea Party” last month, an annual event that is nearing 20 years in the running.
Always held in mid-December near the time of the original Boston Tea Party, this event was first started by Carol Johnson, Sharon Shafer and Suzanne Johnson, and it continues today with HRMS social studies staff members Tammy Channel, Molly Olmstead, Rachel Robuck, Rob Brown and Johnson.
It’s a day in which eighth-graders celebrate ending their study of the American Revolution by enjoying “a very civilized tea party.”
The school library is transformed into a formal setting complete with white tablecloths, candlelight, tea cups and saucers. Student musicians perform throughout each of three Revolutionary tea parties. All students dress formally and, during their Social Studies class period, they practice etiquette while they sip tea and eat scones.
All of the tea, jam, butter, candles, tablecloths and other needed items are donated or loaned by parents and staff members.
“In fact,” Suzanne Johnson said, “hundreds of cups and saucers have been donated over the years. We really appreciate parents and grandparents who help set up, serve and take down when the day is done.”
I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, but, lemme tell you, this tea and its accompanying scones were fabulous!
Student Ryan Lynch’s mom, Lori, said it was fun to see the students celebrate what they’ve learned about history.
“Ryan said there were kids at his table that he didn’t know, so he enjoyed meeting and talking to them,” she said. “My husband, Jim, and I enjoyed seeing the kids dressed up, serving them, listening to their conversations and how they presented themselves. All were very polite and had fun.”
Almost all the kids said they felt HRMS should continue the event forever.
“As I walked into the library, I remember thinking that this is just going to be quick, simple and maybe even a little boring,” eighth-grader Gretchen Golden said. “When I got to my table, looked around and took everything in, it was beautiful. I really enjoyed eating and drinking and socializing.”
Classmate Alexis Walker loved getting to feel like she was there during colonial times in Boston, enjoying scones and tea.
“My favorite part was getting to visit with my friends and pretending I was in the past,” Walker said.
“I had a marvelous time,” eighth-grader Daren Johnas added. “The scones were delicious, and the tea was nice and warming. This was a great event to start the ending of middle school.”
Classmate Dane Richards thought it was cool to celebrate one of the most historic events to ever occur.
“And all those volunteers were great and very helpful,” Richards said.
Luke Reed said it was serious yet fun because it allowed the students to feel like adults and gave them responsibility.
“I even tried talking like I lived in Georgia during colonial times throughout the party,” Reed said.
“It was a fun different experience,” Ben Roberts added. “I liked how everyone pitched in to help make the whole thing happen.”
“It was very difficult for me to talk British,” said Patrick Stacy, “but it taught me if I really want something, I just let myself be open to it.”
Lucia Lopez said the tea party was fun.
“The tea and scones were good, and hanging with my friends was awesome,” Lopez said. “You should keep doing the tea party so people can experience what we felt.”
I couldn’t agree more, and hope I get invited again next year.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.