The annual Spencer Van Etten ninth grade Shakespearience presentation night took place on May 28 with a flurry of Renaissance food, garb, weapons, and punishment tools.
At the beginning of this four-week unit, which dovetails with reading “Romeo and Juliet” and Global Studies of the Renaissance, the students choose an area of Renaissance life to research and illustrate. The students form groups of two or three and prepare a board with illustrations and paragraphs of information.
Depending on the topic, they may also bake or build something to illustrate their topic. They are encouraged to dress up in period costume for the culminating event.
This year’s topics included music, weapons, clothing, catapults, shields, gender roles, diseases, laws, punishment and instruments of torture.
The evening presentations start in the lobby of the high school with students, most of them dressed in period clothing, answering questions on their topic. Family and friends are invited to attend and visit all the different project boards to learn more about that era and listen as students practice public speaking.
Following the lobby presentations, everyone moves to the cafeteria to sample the food prepared according, as much as possible, to Renaissance recipes. This year’s food contrasted what the peasants ate versus what the wealthy ate. Some of the foods shared were a meat stew, barley soup, shepherd’s pie, pottage, rice pudding, gingerbread, garlic bread with cheese, corn bread, lemon tarts and an apple dessert. Students who had prepared food answered questions on eating habits, daily meals and Renaissance cooking tools.
The roughly 250 parents and community members who attended the event voted on their favorite presentations. The first place winners were: Best Dressed: Mike Connor and Nick Brazo, who researched Renaissance clothing; Best Communicators: Caelan Lanning, Hannah Martinez, and Rhiana Lawrence, laws and punishments; Best Information: William Grier on laws and punishment; Best Food: Katie Smith, Miguel Jofre, Rose Tarentelli, and Sophia Dutra, with the lemon tarts, biscuits, and tea.
Best Product was Aiden Swayze, Jayden Grube, and Logan Jewell, with laws and punishment. This group built a life-size pillory. Logan explained that stocks are for the feet; when hands and wrists are inserted, it is called the pillory. Best Board was Chris Anderson, Hailey White, Logan Grant, and Kevin Doane, who researched and made examples of weapons.