HUDSON — Seventh-graders at Hudson Middle School spent their Friday immersed in the 1950s and ’60s in homage to “The Outsiders.”

The students read “The Outsiders” every year, but as the years have gone by, the seventh-grade teachers have continued experimenting with how to connect their students with the messages in the book.

“This was to get them fired up, to take them to do something that was out of the norm while still learning,” teacher Anita Boyd said. “They will never forget this. They’ll talk about this when they’re 60 years old.”

The students read the novel and did research on the time period. Then they all dressed up in time-period attire and saw the movie in The Pines Theater downtown. After that, they returned to campus and toured a vintage car show and danced in a sock hop.

“It’s been a really neat experience to see what it was like in the 1950s and 1960s,” 12-year-old Anna Hancock said.

“I never knew that this many people would own this many vintage cars,” 13-year-old Remi Radke said.

“I like how they’re old, but they look brand new,” 12-year-old Casen Cryer said.

Irv Engelbrecht brought out his 1955 Chevy that he has had for 19 years to the car show.

“I want to show them the beauty and the style of the cars from the past,” Engelbrecht said. “They all have their own individual look.”

Inside the cafeteria, the students were grabbing their Coke floats and practicing their time-period dance moves together in between games of Twister and hula-hoop competitions.

“I loved watching the movie and dancing and dressing up,” 12-year-old Leilani Tarbutton said. “I like finding out how life was in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Twelve-year-old Elaina Day said she loved the movie, especially Dally and Ponyboy because they were really good looking. She and Anna said they were surprised at how similar their lives were to the lives of the students in “The Outsiders.”

“I didn’t think it was that similar at first, but it’s pretty similar other than the technology,” she said.

Twelve-year-old Sydney Lowery said everyone reacted every time one of their favorite characters hit the screen.

“It was fun to see how it was almost seven decades ago,” she said.

Teacher LoriLea Craft said she wanted the students to be able to better relate to the characters they were reading and to live out the research they were conducting. Out of 241 seventh-graders, only two were absent on Outsiders Day, Craft said.

The teachers said this was their “dynamic moment,” a concept that principal Richard Crenshaw introduced to them at the start of the year. He said it is something that they have been building toward for a while now.

It arose from the district deciding to become a District of Innovation, a title given by the state based on a number of qualifications.

“Once the teachers really and truly became masters of incorporating technology in the learning environment, I started looking at what causes kids to want to go to school,” he said. “I started talking about creating an environment where kids wake up and they can’t wait to go to school.”

With all of the requirements that are on teachers today, Crenshaw said he told his teachers that he didn’t expect every day to be like this, but he encouraged them that they could achieve a moment. A dynamic moment is something that a student is bursting to talk to their parents about after school, he said.

“It doesn’t have to be TEKS-related; it could be social skills-related or humanities — anything that causes the kids to leave school and feel good about what they did,” he said. “These kids, regardless of their attitudes or environments, they will never forget today.”

Grace Juarez’s email address is

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