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History brought to life at Ripon Elementary
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Using the long sword while wearing his wifes familys Clan Crawford kilt, Chris Reyes demonstrates the aggressive stance of knights who often gave their lives for their king and who participated in the Scottish Festival and Highland Games. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Ripon Elementary School seventh graders received a taste of medieval history.

 Students on Friday wore period costumes, enjoyed a traditional feast, and heard a 14-year-old eighth grader playing bagpipes in his Scottish folk costume.

Colon Speed was the big draw he walked out onto the grassy playground to waiting students while playing the bagpipes. His performance even drew the attention of Ripon High students who gathered along a chain link fence that separates the elementary school campus from the high school straining to hear the bagpipe.    

Speed is ranked No. 1 in the Western United States Pipe Bands Association. He was introduced to the bagpipe at the age of 6 by his dad and grandfather. He plays at weddings, funerals and special events and draws the pay of an adult twice his age. He has been a member of the Irish Isle Pipe Band since the age of 6.  His grandfather Gary Speed was a bagpipe major. 

After graduating from Ripon High School in the next four years, he plans to attend the Simon Frasier University (SFU) in Canada that has won international honors in bagpipe competition for the last 17 years.  His brother Christopher, 17, is accomplished in playing the brass drum and another brother, Brette, 15, the snare drum.  A seven-year-old brother Ricky Ames, 7, is now practicing on drums of his own.

Teachers Shandi Ross and Jaime Thomas dressed in period costumes – Thomas as a monk. They organized the event using both of their classrooms, one for the history presentation and the other for the noontime feast for their students.  The feast involved green beans, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy and chicken.   

Student Rogelio Gonzalez served the students as they made their way through the food line.

Parent Daniel Guevara transported the food to the school from the Modesto Golden Corral restaurant, supporting the class and his son Evan. 

Chris and Syd Reyes were dressed in traditional Scottish kilts and told the students of medieval history explaining how knights used their swords to defend their king and were expected to give up their lives in battle to save his life.  Syd Reyes served as a longtime first grade teacher at Ripon Elementary, retiring last year.  Chris demonstrated the swords and knives the knights carried and shared how wooden shields that they wore covered their chest areas.

Syd told of how young boys became soldiers in medieval times noting they had to shovel horse manure as their first challenge.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email