PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional High School students had to wait in line yesterday for a bowl of soup and a slice of bread for lunch.

About 125 students simulated the experiences of soup lines during the Great Depression for their American studies class, to learn more about the time period and the trials Americans went through.

The same group of students attended the Great Gatsby Gala two weeks ago to learn about the Roaring 20s, but this is the first time teachers decided to bring the Great Depression to life.

American studies teacher David Morse walked around in character as a hobo all day, wearing overalls and rattling a tin can full of pennies. He asked students if they had any work for him.

"This is our simulation of the Great Depression, especially of the 25 percent who were unemployed," he said. "We just finished "The Great Gatsby" and now we're going on to "The Grapes of Wrath." This is to help students learn more about the time."

The entire day was planned with activities designed to give students a better understanding of the era. They started by watching "Cinderella Man," a movie about a boxer trying to support his family during the Depression.

For lunch, students had to wait in a long line for soup made by the high school cooking class.

Junior Taylor Langlois, 17, said no one liked waiting in line and a few people complained.

"You could only have one piece of bread and one bowl of soup," she said. "But some people broke that rule. The soup lines took forever and everyone was hungry. Some people stole extra food, which is pretty accurate."

The students were asked to dress down for the event. Junior Ben Padellaro, 16, wore a cowboy hat, an old plaid shirt and jeans.

"This is my poor farmer outfit," he said. "We went to the Gatsby Gala and this is the exact opposite. When we went there, we were wearing suits and nice clothes, now we're dressed like poor people who had to wear rags. It makes you see how tough it was."

Students also built their own version of Hooverville using cardboard boxes and looked at historical documents to learn about the lives of Depression-era farmers.

Junior Abbi Clegg, 17, said she learned a lot from the experience.

"I think it's a lot better than just sitting in class taking notes," she said. "You get a feel for it. I think it's very relevant to what we're studying. It showed us how they lived."

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