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February 13, 2023

Red Carpet Events Entice Personalities of the Past to AHA History Class

Two invitation-only red carpet events enticed notable personalities, including Billie Holiday, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Katherine Hepburn, to the Academy of the Holy Angels on February 9 and 10. Their host: AHA Social Studies Department Chair Gail Fair.


Each student in Fair’s Advanced Placement United States History classes selected a figure from the 1920s or 1930s, wrote a paper about that person, and brought that character to life at one of two parties. While most students opted to portray one distinct individual, one Angel stepped into the role of the animated character Betty Boop, and another projected various aspects of the world of the “flappers.”


“They come dressed as that character and interact as people at a party sharing their life stories,” Fair explained. “It covers a lot of the time period in a unique way.”


This interactive immersion event has been a staple of Fair’s curriculum for years. Invitations went out again this year after a hiatus during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the activity is billed as a “party,” guests are expected to share their life stories and spend time learning about their contemporaries.


Guests at the first party included theoretical physicist Albert Einstein (Gabriella Ragucci), actress Katherine Hepburn (Kate Kim), Betty Boop (Bella Butler), writers F. Scott Fitzgerald (Kristina Migliaccio) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Anissa Lena), film director Dorothy Arzner (Lauren Gumban), vocalists Billie Holiday (Natalie Yoo) and Ella Fitzgerald (Aiko Chang), adhesive bandage inventor Earle Dickson (Karina Small), 8-time Wimbledon champion Helen Wills (Nora Giannantonio), “Flapper” (Gigi Ochs), fashion designer Coco Chanel (Kate Hynes), and swimming powerhouse Gertrude Ederle (Kate Hurst). Artist Edward Hopper (Graicen Van Blarcom-Deluise) sent regrets.


The celebrities at this gathering were intrigued by the camera (Smartphone) being used by a visitor.


Those who attended Friday’s party were actress Joan Crawford (Juliet Gelineau), trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong (Tristan Fowler), crime boss Al Capone (Sarah David), composer Cole Porter (Ava Taylor), celebrated aviators Amelia Earhart (Catilin Deiser) and Charles Lindbergh (Alexandra Valdez), inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr (Be’Tania Kiamue), baseball great Babe Ruth (Sarah Machado), and animator/entrepreneur Walt Disney (Natalia Ruiz). Writer Virginia Woolf (Elise Tao) sent her regrets.


Stars who made encore appearances included Katherine Hepburn (Katerina Karlis), Zelda Fitzgerald (Elena Fiorentinos), and Coco Chanel (Annika Watson).


Fair spoke with every guest, asked them questions about themselves, and encouraged everyone to network. Celebrities greeted each other warmly, sharing personal stories, interests, and accomplishments.


For a few hours, each one of these famous figures was alive, well, and back in the spotlight.