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Lesson creates Garden of the Nile kingdom
Patrick Silveira, left, dressed as a jester, performs a tandem juggling act with a schoolmate as part of the Medieval Faire celebration at Nile Garden School Friday. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

A group of angry young people stood before their teacher. With them in their midst, and the focus of their ire, was a young girl with long straight hair, a pointed hat, and a carrot for a nose.

The angry crowd said they wanted the carrot-nosed woman to be burned at the stake because she is a witch.

“How do you know she’s a witch?” the teacher asked.

“Because she looks like one!” came the loud answer from the group.

The dialogue went on with insightful responses from the teacher.

This is just one of the many scenes dramatized at the annual Nile Garden Medieval Faire with the seventh graders as the main feature characters, and some eighth graders as supporting cast members and helpers. The teacher, aka King Lewis the Wise, is Nile Garden School’s Timothy Lewis who teaches junior-high grades.

The long-running Medieval Faire held in the school’s quadrangle is a regular class for the seventh graders with delightful exceptions: they wear period costumes portraying the clothes of the day, they pick names of manors to which they belong as well as their medieval names befitting their social rank, they take part in an outdoor feast complete with long tables and food that come closest to the medieval feast fare, and learn dances and tournament games played out to entertain the “guests.” The outdoor celebration even has the Queen and King for the day; they are the students selected by all of the seventh graders. Earning that honor this year were Dylan Heath and Alejandra Pacheco who were crowned King and Queen 2012, respectively.

Even parents and grandparents take on supporting roles in this Medieval Faire outdoor class. They help in the costumes and in procuring the accessories that go with them. Parent Elsa Forrest, for example, made sure her daughter, Nina, had a wreath of fresh flowers and foliage for her hair to go with the gown. Elsa Forrest knew just where to obtain the hairpiece she was looking for - the Lathrop High School Ag-FFA class.

“I ordered it and I paid for it,” she said, adding a plug for the group’s “subscription” program in which they offer to the public monthly supplies and deliveries of fruits, vegetables and flowers through the Manteca Unified School District’s Veggie Express and FFA programs.

“They did a great job,” Elsa Forrest commented on her daughter’s head piece made out of yellow chrysanthemums and delicate ferns.

Emily Kehl also wore a floral wreath with her gown. It was made entirely out of white baby’s breath flowers, and it was made by her mom, Nora.

Many of the students’ costumes, too, were provided by their talented parents and grandparents. Case in point was Patrick Silveira whose green and yellow court Jester’s costume with a matching head gear was made by his grandmother, Sandy Morrison, of Los Angeles. She came up to Manteca to specifically provide this contribution for her grandson’s Medieval Faire event. Patrick’s other contributions to the tournament events include taking part in a group dance and performing a single and a double juggling.

The students’ jugging feats, in fact, earned high praises from their teacher who is a professional when it comes to this type of entertainment. He said his students have only been learning the art of juggling in the last six months.

King Lewis the Wise did not disappoint either. A perennial part of the Medieval Faire at the Garden of the Nile is a sample of Lewis’s juggling acts which include three lighted torches and three knives. And the one that always gets the laughs shows him juggling two balls and an apple which he eats until only the core is left for the duration of the performance.

The Nile Garden Medieval Faire, held toward the end of the school year, is just an extension of the students’ classroom history lesson and is not open to the public. Lewis always credits a large number of people and groups that make this students’ entertainment and educational program a success each time - the Parent Teacher Club, the school staff from the principal to the custodians, and the parents.