Dressed as jesters, Tracy Hallman, senior English teacher, dances to medieval-style music with seniors Jonathan Jones and Joe White.

Medieval Feast takes WRHS
seniors to centuries past

John Bland

For a couple of hours on Friday, Walnut Ridge High School 12th-grade students brought to life an historical time period from centuries old England. Senior English teacher Tracy Hallman, with the help of students, teachers and parents, reenacted the Middle Ages with the WRHS Medieval Feast.

The Medieval Feast is not a new event at WRHS but is a tradition begun a number of years ago by retired English teacher Vicki Jones. Hallman said Jones did not hold the feast every year so that it would not become monotonous. This was the first time for Hallman to try the project since becoming senior English teacher.

Food, music, entertainment, costumes and decorations set the medieval tone for the event held in the high school's library. Costumes varied from the upper class lords and ladies, to knights, court jesters, squires, crusaders, monks, friars, nuns, executioners and peasants.

Senior English students are studying "The Canterbury Tales," written by Geoffrey Chaucer who lived from 1343 to 1400. The study has included a week of history lessons, with students researching characters from "The Canterbury Tales" or the medieval age.

"I asked the students to be creative (in their costumes), but not necessarily spend money," she explained.

Hallman said the project was definitely a collaborative-learning effort among several WRHS faculty members. Among those faculty helping were: Mary Smith, Raelyne Massey, Carilyn Rouyer, Sloane Kelley, Jerry Haynes, Lindy Baker, Debbie Findley and Linda Ross.

An added bonus was that several of the faculty members listed above also have children in the class. Raelyne and her husband, Cary Massey, cooked much of the food, including the smoking of chicken leg-quarters. Mel Fender, whose niece, Anna Fender, is a class member, donated potatoes. Judith Holland was one of several who donated decorations.

Hallman had previously taught this group of students when she was a ninth-grade English teacher. She knew the students and believed they would respond well to the assignment.

"I'm very pleased," she said. "It went very well. Everything just kind of fell into place."

Enhancing the feast was the participation of three members of the Jonesboro chapter of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), including Bryan Gibson and Chip and Renee Carroll.

The SCA is an international educational organization that is dedicated to preservation, research and re-creation of the crafts, arts and experiences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Approximately half of the 20 members of the Jonesboro chapter are students at Arkansas State University.

Gibson played and discussed musical instruments, such as penny whistles and the hurdy-gurdy, while Chip Carroll discussed and showed various armor and fighting instruments and led students in a mock fight. The Carrolls led students in a medieval dance.

"One of the mandates of the (SCA) organization is to teach, Gibson said, adding that the Medieval Feast was a perfect opportunity for them.

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