Going Back in Time; Students Get a Taste of Middle Ages

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

In a fuchsia and black court jester's outfit, Principal M.C. Jeffrey strolled through the hay-covered hallway of Southside Middle School.

"Nice costume," a student told her. Jeffrey smiled her appreciation.

It was that kind of day.

Guidance counselor Nat Michelson was in a brown monk's cowl. Art teacher Kelly Delaney was regally attired in a purple, white and gold gown that her grandmother wore in the '60s, gold slippers and a crown.

Indeed, most of the teachers and many of the students looked as if they were auditioning for a movie set in the Middle Ages.

You see, Southside's mascot is the knight. And the school is on Knights Lane off Barnes Road.

So for the past 10 years, Southside has celebrated Knight's Day with last week's festival being the best and biggest ever, said Russell Langley, a technology teacher and fair chairman. Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an educational research and re-enactment organization, were even there to add to the authenticity.

Southside's central hallway was transformed into a market, with banners, booths that resembled castles, a hay-strewn floor and coats of arms hanging from the ceiling. A suit of armor occupied a prominent spot.

With vendors urging them on, students bought books at the Knight's Library, munched on Knight Riders popcorn, bought herbs to season food, threw pennies into a water tank containing shot glasses, tossed a wet sponge at a student peeking out from a castle turret and tried to dislodge someone else from a dunking booth perch.

Admittedly, not all the booths were medieval in nature, school officials said. But hey, there has to be some concession to modern times.

The students have been studying the days when knighthood was in flower in world history and language arts classes.

"They learn about the castles, living on the manor, what it took to be a knight and the different levels of feudalism," said teacher Janet Armour.

A highlight of the festivities was a parade of the king, queen, lords and ladies. Eighth-grader Mario Serrano, who said he was chosen for the royal court because he has style and is a nice dresser, cast a lordly presence in his red velvet robe. …

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