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Serf party

Robert HugginsAt MIners Foundry Tuesday, seventh-graders Nate Currier (left), Michael DeMaranville and Lance McIntosh sit in front of a "stained glass" window made by students.
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Come, ye lords and ladies, and let’s spin a tale of olden times, where dancing, frolicking and singing rule the day, where maidens and squires sit side by side in an ode to 12th century merriment.

It’s a world where the seventh-graders from Seven Hills Middle School learn they can actually survive centuries removed from PlayStations, DVDs and the peer pressure that comes from boys wearing frilly shirts and jesters’ hats to school.



Students spent Tuesday in Miners Foundry Cultural Center eating – sans utensils – stew in a bread bowl, role-playing and dancing jigs from medieval times.




It was – in a nod to old and new cultures – most excellent, milord.

“This helps the kids relate to this time period,” said humanities teacher Tim Floyd.

Just how did Jay-Z disciples turn into jokers and jesters?

The students practiced medieval dancing for 45 minutes a day for several weeks, read King Arthur stories, and discovered that yes, popes are groovy guys.

It’s not hard to get them interested in medieval mischief, Floyd said.

“The kids parade around the school in their costumes before the feast, and the sixth-graders, the first thing they ask when they come into the seventh grade is, ‘When can we do this?'”

The students spent weeks making shields representing their classes and then hung them from the rafters of the Foundry, along with coats-of-arms they created.

Each class chose a ceremonial king and queen to sit at the head of long tables bedecked with white tablecloths and holly branches.

Many girls wore white dresses, their heads adorned with crowns of leaves. Some of the boys wore long overcoats and crowns.

“I think a few of them were a little embarrassed on the bus ride to school,” Floyd said.

“I could wear this to school all the time,” said seventh-grader Alyson Dorfman, 13, dressed in a floor-length gown that hid her shoes. “I think I’d be tripping a lot.”

A few of the girls questioned whether they could live like their noble ancestors.

“Life was like, really hard, and they didn’t have TV,” said Jentrie Helfter, 12, “and I couldn’t live without TV.”

As parents recorded the archaic moment with modern video cameras, the students danced a jig harking back to the Crusades, when Europeans learned the ways of Arabic culture, as a seven-piece recorder band played.

Teacher Brian Dowling said he could understand why some of the students found it hard to relate to the differences in a class-based society, where rulers in the Foundry sat high above the peasants and serfs as the Nevada Union High School chamber choir sang.

“It’s hard treating your friends like serfs,” 12-year-old Trevor Jackson said.


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