This year we have a very active PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) which is a rather nice change. We've had great PTO leadership in the past but it was, in truth, maybe about 5 parents doing it all. This year we have enough people that they're actually out there en masse doing things for the school - landscaping, providing food packages for our hungry kids for the weekend, selling t-shirts, etc. This year they wanted to revive the Medieval Festival that apparently was done at our school years ago. It was ambitious to say the least - cakewalk, basket auction, jousting area, carnival games, face/hair painting, human chess match, and the fall dance. I'll be honest and say I was wondering how it would pan out. I knew the kids would be there (if there's a dance, they're there), but would we get enough people to make the money the PTO was hoping for?
I think they may have. I haven't heard any figures, but the place was packed.
That morning, however, we started things off with a bang. A local merchant donated a couple of sets of armor that were set up in the core and each advisory room had a class banner (kid designed and made) hanging outside the room. Mine had a chessboard, musical notes, a skateboard, a knight's helmet draped in yellow ribbon (my Army kids wanted something to represent supporting the troops), and in the middle a white hamster (for our class pet). The kids had all made coats of arms in reading class and they were hanging everywhere.
The kids and teachers were encouraged to dress up and I was astounded at how many kids did. I had knights and maidens, a couple of monks, a pirate and a few musketeers, as well as a couple of executioneers. And amazingly, although a lot of the costumes were homemade, they were awesome. Some of the boys did a great job making knight's helmets out of cardboard and silver paint. Mrs. Eagle and I, both being science teachers, dressed up as alchemists. You can do a lot with an old graduation gown and some cool drapey fabric. I did knit up a quick hat out of a velvety ribbon that looked somewhat like Dumbledore's in one of the HP movies. In any case, it was tremendous seeing the kids all entire the spirit of the thing, even the ones who I wouldn't have thought would have.
Some of my students from last year came by to show me their outfits which was really fun. One of my favorite kids, Metalhead, had a great peasant outfit, complete with a cap and looked like he walked out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Fortunately he actually knew what I was talking about.
The festival started at 5:00 and it didn't even look like the same old school. The booths were packed with kids making feather face masks, magic wands, little pendants with colored sand, getting their hair painted and their faces decorated. The jousting booth was popular where the kids paid fifty cents to wack each other with foam swords.
And then there was the human chess match. Out behind the cafeteria and the In School Suspension (ISS) building was, much to my surprise, a slab of concrete with a very faded chess board painted on it from years gone by. The PTO bought the paint to have it repainted, a few teachers worked on it in the afternoons, and it was fantastic. We had run a tournament in chess club to pick the four players, and they were ready to go once they drafted 32 kids to be the pieces. We had signs made up to hang on them so they knew what piece they were. We ran two games and it was just hysterical! First off, getting middle school chess pieces to be quiet enough and still enough is a challenge. Then, because they've all seen the Harry Potter movie with Wizard Chess, they got into the whole idea that chess is the ultimate war game. Our chessmasters (and I'll brag here and say that 3 of the top 5 players in the school are on my team and one is in my advisory), would walk up to a piece and point at a player and go, "take him out", and the kids would yell and scream and just have a riot. One little girl that I have was beaming all night because she "killed the king!" and helped win the game. Most of the pieces haven't a clue how to play, but they had a lot of fun. So much so that they wanted to know when we'd do it again. I think I should thank the folks who made the Harry Potter movie with the Wizard Chess match because, honestly, it has revived interest in the game among kids.
The dance was a typical middle school dance with one big exception - they got a popular DJ from a local radio station to come down and DJ the dance and she was great. The kids were just besotted with her and the place was packed. We did have to sit a few kids down on the benches for a time out for inappropriate dancing - body slamming, touching too much, or just being lewd. They duplicate what they see on TV and some of it can be pretty raunchy.
I got home at 10:00. I'd arrived at school at 6:15 am. I was whupped, but we had a blast.