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Learning through living history

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunMatt Duncan and Kaydie Carr joust during Renaissance Day at Alder Creek Middle School on Friday.
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When the queen of Scots entered the room, the students knew exactly what to do: They bowed.

After nearly two months of preparation in the classroom, seventh graders at Alder Creek Middle School were ready for the 10th annual Renaissance Day, held Friday. Dressed as nobles and peasants, pre-teens, parent volunteers and teachers learned about an era that they had only read about in history books.

“I think that living history allows the kids to experience it and learn it well,” said Cathy Rudolph, who is in the queen’s court of the St. Andrews Guild, a group that has volunteered at the event for seven years. “Experiencing the Renaissance will allow them to remember this part of their curriculum better than anything else.”



During Renaissance Day, students jousted, made quilts, played games from the period and feasted on Renaissance-era fare.

Teachers encourage students to either recycle past costumes or to go to the thrift store to buy clothing. One teacher, Gina Stephens, started Castle of Clothes, a place for students to pick out costumes that have been donated by the community.



“The image is if I don’t spend $200 (on a costume), then I don’t come,” Stephens said. “That’s not the way it has to be.”

The middle school’s Renaissance Day precedes a larger upcoming event, the Truckee Renaissance Fair, held at Truckee River Regional Park in late summer.

“The Truckee Renaissance Fair was kind of founded off of this event,” said Sandy Horn, director of the Truckee Renaissance Fair. “The goals of the big Ren fair have to do with education and historical education, specifically. They kind of go hand in hand.”

For many students, like seventh grader Pat Forbes, the event at Alder Creek Middle School gets them excited for the bigger fair, which will bring them living history on a larger scale.

When asked if he was going to attend the Renaissance fair, Forbes said “Totally. I’m going to go in costume.”


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