Eighth grader Aubreyanna White enjoyed last year’s Medieval Faire at Nile Garden School so much she came to the annual event on Friday wearing the same costume she wore last year when her class put on the show.
The faire is actually a class session – albeit in an al fresco setting – for the seventh graders. And this is one day of the school year when they come to their Social Studies class in Medieval Age raiment. These are costumes that they, with the help of parents and friends, either put together or rented at a vintage-costume store. As Nile Garden seventh- and eighth-grade teacher Timothy Lewis explained in his welcome speech at the start of the revelry during the noon hour on Friday, this re-enactment – now in its 18th year – is a “living history, …a simulation of life” during the Middle Ages which the seventh graders have been learning during the school year.
The events held in the Panthers’ courtyard complete with juggling acts, medieval dances, jousting and other period games and entertainment, along with other “elements of the culture from the Middle Ages” simply take the class lessons “to the next level,” said Lewis, aka King Lewis the Wise. Each year, he and his students try to incorporate “as many elements of Medieval Age life as we can” – music, literature, drama, cuisine, among other things – into the day’s program, he said. The students even choose the names of their respective manors, as well as the titles of the characters that they pick to portray, the better to authenticate the experience.
“It showed us what the medieval times were like. I’m excited for the seventh graders doing their acts,” White said as she took pictures of Friday’s various events with her father’s digital Canon SLR camera.
Dylann Heath, also an eighth grader and was last year’s Medieval Faire king, echoed White’s sentiments about their class experience last year.
“It was a fun day. It taught us everything we know about the medieval times,” he said.
Although the make-believe medieval class production is a primarily a seventh-grade production, eighth graders earn grade points by working in various capacities to make the event a success. Their chores include helping serve food and drinks to the seventh graders who feast on medieval-type food while seated at covered long tables set in front of a pavilion where the day’s king and queen preside over the entertainments.
Even the parents get caught up in the day’s excitements, as well as in their children’s lessons.
“I think it’s good to get the kids involved in their Social Studies class. This is a good portion of their grade this year,” said Melissa Haines whose daughter, Kamara, was one of the costumed seventh graders.
And, although her husband worked the graveyard shift, the bleary-eyed father made it a point to be there at the celebration.
“He’s tired but he can’t miss it,” Melissa said.
The experience was not just entertainment for the parents who said they also learned a lot about the Medieval Age from their children.
“They come home and they tell us what they learned that day (in class), how much harder it was back then without the benefit of technology,” Melissa Haines said.
“This is as good as it gets,” she said as she got her digital camera ready to capture the event for posterity.
“I always enjoy it,” said another parent, Heather Fogg, whose daughter Katie was one of the costumed seventh graders.
She has been at this event once before when her son was at Nile Garden.
“I came when Andy was here. It’s awesome that they can do this,” said Fogg who is a teacher at San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Venture Academy in Stockton where her son is currently enrolled.
“Kids are still talking about this after high school,” she said of the students’ Medieval Faire experience.