English faculty member David Schmittgens hosted his AP English class for an annual favorite movie night to watch William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Here he shares more about the event and why it means a lot to host it each year for his students.

“My AP English class recently finished a unit on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. For the uninitiated, this play is a tale of a woman (Viola) who survives a shipwreck and disguises herself as a man to preserve her safety in a foreign land. The play famously begins with the line, “If music be the food of love, play on,” and music and festivity frame the narrative. In line with this theme, I recently invited my classes to my home for dinner (pizza) and a viewing of a film adaptation of the play. I started this tradition seventeen years ago when I first began teaching here, and I hope to continue it until I retire. However, it was a hectic day for my students. Between their packed school schedules and various extracurricular activities like swim meets and track meets, many of them arrived exhausted. Despite this, their energy picked up once the movie started, and I believe they found value in this interpretation of the play, which highlights Shakespeare’s enduring relevance. At the very least, this communal gathering offered a refreshing change from the usual classroom routine (which sometimes included my one-man rendition of scenes from the play). After the movie ended, numerous students even volunteered to help clean up before heading home, showing once again the exceptional generosity of Stevenson students.

I intentionally introduce this play near the end of the school year. Much like Viola, our seniors will soon venture into unfamiliar territories, leaving behind the comfort of home. They will have the chance to start anew, perhaps reshaping themselves or simply growing into better versions of who they already are. As I watched my students enjoy a work written centuries ago, it was easy to feel optimistic about the future. In fact, I was reminded of one of my favorite artists when I was in high school, musician Pete Townshend, who summed up things rather nicely in one of his songs: “The kids are alright.”