Greasers and Socials, two rival gangs, walked down Fourth Street to The Hamburg Strand Theatre on June 1.

Dressed like characters in the novel “The Outsiders” as part of their language arts class, Hamburg 8th graders walked to The Strand in two separate groups allowing for social distancing to watch the movie adaptation in the theatre. In total, 140 students participated.

Outsiders Day was the 13th annual celebration of the culmination of Hamburg students studying the adolescent novel, “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton.

Set in the 1960s, the story about two rival gangs, the Greasers and Socials, teaches powerful lessons about belonging, social barriers, loyalty, and the importance of family and friends, wrote English teachers Lisa Scicchitano and Kate Skipper in an email to MediaNews Group.

“The novel explores the difficulties of teenage life and social classes among teens and in society. It teaches lessons about breaking stereotypes and learning to look at situations from one another’s perspectives.”

Students come to Outsiders Day in costume as their favorite character, sporting madras shirts or leather jackets and greased-up hair.

“In a year of uncertainty for students and staff, it was refreshing to bring something normal and celebratory to the students,” they wrote.

After viewing the film, the students walked back to the school where they participated in a mock rumble dodge ball game between the two social classes. Students dressed as Socials receive special treatment and are given breaks by the teachers while students dressed as Greasers understand what it felt like to be last simply because of appearances, they explained.

“Generations of 8th graders at Hamburg Area Middle School have grown up reading ‘The Outsiders,’ and it remains true as a beloved novel. Students enjoy reading the novel and participating in this annual tradition to celebrate literacy, and it has truly stirred a love of literature and a connection with the real world they may have never had otherwise.”

8th grader Matthew Carroll loved the story and dressing up to walk to The Strand as a team to watch the movie.

“I learned some important themes such as ‘relationships can be difficult,’ ‘friends can act like family’ and ‘life is short,’” said Carroll. “The novel and Outsiders Day were meaningful to me, and I liked the book better than the movie.”

8th grader Hailey Quinn loved all aspects of the novel.

“If I had to choose a favorite part, it would be how the ending ties into the beginning of the story. I believe that making the beginning the ending is an amazing concept and was the perfect way to end the story,” said Quinn.

Her favorite part of Outsiders Day was finally watching the movie.

“I was very excited to finally see the novel come to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film,” she said.

While there were several lessons she learned throughout the novel, the lesson that stood out to her the most is that everybody has problems that they deal with, and even though it may seem as if someone's life is perfect, it really isn't.

“Just because it may look like certain people have no problems on the surface doesn't mean that deep down they aren't dealing with issues,” said Quinn. “You should always remember that everybody is struggling with something; we all have issues, and we all have problems we must deal with.”

Quinn said she truly loved reading “The Outsiders.”

“I will definitely read it again, and I certainly would recommend reading it to anyone who has yet to do so,” she said. “I believe the novel to be a timeless classic that will absolutely never get old.”

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