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posted: Thu, Oct 18th, 2018

Brandon Lazier with a turkey leg snack suitable for the king's table 

Living history

The year is 1520. Henry VIII is on the English throne, an outbreak of plague in France is just beginning, and a great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe brews.

Welcome to the Renaissance. A group of 41 seventh-grader and eighth-graders recently experienced the time period they learned about in school by visiting the Renaissance Faire in Manheim, Pennsylvania (15 miles north of Lancaster). The students, members of the gifted and talented program and Aspire afterschool enrichment program, spent five hours exploring the 35-acre theme park and learning first-hand about life five centuries ago.  

With costumed characters and entertainment such as glass-blowing demonstrations, jousting, and human chess, the trip back in time provided a fun, immersive educational experience. Students saw the ingenuity and people-power required to do the simplest things we take for granted in the 21st century. They had to walk on a wheel to crush the ice for snow cones, for example, and used ropes to operate amusement park-type rides. 

“It was an eye-opening experience for the kids,” said David Eisenberg, MOMS’ library/media specialist who guides the Aspire program. “They learned so much about the culture and how different it was from today. They loved interacting with the actors in costume and learning about the artwork of the period.”

The fair also provided a glimpse the disparate worlds of the wealthy and the poor. 

“The life styles were so different,” said Jenna Alessandrini. “Rich people had so much better lives.” 

For seventh-graders in the G&T program, the field trip was a culmination of three weeks of intensive research and project development. Under the direction of teacher Ann Greszczak, the students worked in small teams to explore every aspect of the Renaissance including art, scientific advances, government, and living conditions. The groups then created projects of their own choosing to summarize their learning for each other and their Aspire peers. 

The field trip took place during the fair’s special junior high day and a variety of competitions were held for on-site events and for previously developed projects. Jenna, Natalie Algeri, and Jillian Penczak won a special award of merit for their Renaissance trivia game.

Jenna Alessandrini makes a very tall friend

Mount Olive Middle School
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