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Garden City Life - Schools

2013 Afternoon Tea—A Community-Affirming Event

Words fail in describing the fantastic event that was Garden City’s 2013 Afternoon Tea held on May 9. In its fourth year, the “Tea,” as it has affectionately come to be known, welcomed 132 elegantly dressed ladies and suit-coated gentlemen, more than 100 student performers, 40 student servers, and dozens of parents and staff. The event is sponsored by the Garden City Public Schools, the Garden City PTA, and nearly 20 local businesses. Tickets to the Tea are free, and this year, guests were treated to hand-packaged teas by Kimberly Orlic, owner of A New Leaf Tea Emporium on Seventh Street, yummy finger sandwiches and scones prepared by the district’s food services, and an assortment of fancy desserts donated by Bagelman, La Bottega and Riesterer’s. Each table had its own student servers—volunteers from the high school who opted to spend the afternoon getting to know Garden City’s distinguished senior citizens and past parents.

Magically, in just over an hour, the high school cafeteria was transformed from the final seating of the high school lunch into an English country garden complete with individual “tablescapes” created for each of the 18 tables by parent Alma-Lillian Abruzzo and dressed by a dozen PTA volunteers. The tables again featured china and silver creamers from The Garden City Hotel and, thanks to new donations from the PTA and past high school PTA director Beth Kramer, new hot water carafes. Additionally, Past PTA Executive Director Liz Menges donated ice water pitchers so guests could refresh between courses and tasting the various tea selections.  

The colorful backdrop of a district-wide K-12 art show coordinated by Advanced Placement art teacher Shawn Uttendorfer enhanced the setting with the visual voices of the district’s talented art students. High school sculpture students even surprised one guest at each table with a gift of a handmade ceramic bowl.

The much-anticipated live entertainment included seven musical performances ranging from excerpts from Stewart’s opera, The Tales of Hoffman, to “Steam Heat,” a dance number from the high school’s spring musical, The Pajama Game, choreographed by Scholar Artist and current “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant, Liesl Jaye. Guests enjoyed three lively songs from Stratford’s The Little Mermaid, amazing string performances by the high school chamber orchestra, toe-tapping selections from the middle school’s Bye Bye Birdie, and moving vocals by the high school vocal jazz ensemble.   

Also much anticipated were the results of the Tea’s first-ever “Ladies Hat Contest.” The student servers were asked to circulate through the room and anonymously select “My Favorite Hat” for the two prizes generously donated by The Garden City Hotel and Annastasia Salon. In a surprise turn of events, one of the winners the students selected was Bob Kaliban who sported a jaunty cap. Seven additional door prizes were donated by local businesses.

Plans are already underway for next year’s Tea, with new surprises sure to please. Remember ticket requests are by mail only using the form to be included in next year’s Spring 2014 Continuing Education brochure sent to every home and published on the district website in February.