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Medieval Faire gets students working together

May 16, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The seventh annual Medieval Faire is an event welcomed by art teacher Mary Anne Haines.

On Friday, May 26, in the Warm Springs Middle School gymnasium, the faire will begin at 8:30 a.m. and last about three hours, she said.

Each year, Haines' art students create a town that includes shops, a bakery and a blacksmith made from painted cardboard, and a forest backdrop made from painted canvas that the school's art students made over the years.

"There are sheep and chickens and chicken coops as well as a dragon and ogre the students made. There are papier-mach horses that are worn to simulate they are riding them," she said.

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A competition is held between the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Each group is given about one hour to perform medieval activities, she said. Winners are chosen in categories featuring a knight or knightess, jesters, castle builder and banner makers.

The students performing in the faire wear costumes, such as the medieval dress for the girls and the boys are knights in armor, Haines said.

Enjaye Lerner, a local seamstress, makes the costumes every year, she said.

"She likes to support the arts in public schools," Haines said.

Teachers and parents serve as judges and give points in each category, and the overall best score gets a prize. The four prizes go to the sixth, seventh and eight grades, and for the best banner out of all three grades, she said.

Haines has been an art teacher for more than 20 years in Morgan County Schools and has been teaching sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Warm Springs Middle School for about the last nine years.

The medieval faire idea came to Haines because her students were interested in medieval times, she said.

"Kids like knights and medieval dresses, castles and dragons and all the mythology stemming from those times," she said.

Medieval history includes the 11th to 14th centuries, she said. In sixth grade, the students study medieval history in their social studies class. Haines also shows a film to her art class students about medieval times called "Footloose in History."

"It's about shoes worn during those times including Egyptian to the present and the history around them," she said.

In addition to the competition, a half-hour play written by Haines is performed for the classes. This year, about 30 students will participate in "Cinderella Meets Robin Hood," she said.

"I noticed several strong-spirited girls in my art classes and thought Cinderella meeting Robin Hood would show the girls' strength," she said.

There are many girl characters in Cinderella, she said.

"I like to combine fairy tales and you can add whatever you need and be imaginative. I work around the students' personalities to create these characters," she said.

The play's emcee and narrator is Jill Klein Rone, a local artist and performer with the New World Theater Company. Klein Rone will even say the lines if there is a problem, Haines said.

"This is my favorite time of the year," Haines said. "I get to interact with the kids, and the kids get to be creative outside the classroom and they work together to make it happen. They really own the project all the aspects from the props to the development of the characters."

"Each year, it seems to grow. More kids volunteer to be part of this," Haines said.

In conjunction with the first Weekend of Enchantment in Berkeley Springs (June 9-11), on Saturday, June 10, "Cinderella Meets Robin Hood" will be performed by the Warm Springs Middle School students in Berkeley Springs State Park. Three performances will be given with the first one beginning at 1 p.m., Haines said.

"This gives the students a chance to organize the event and to act in a play," Haines said.

Haines hopes members of Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) will attend the Medieval Faire at the school.

Haines also is a local artist, specializing in papier-mach sculpture and masks. She does watercolor portraits and is featured in the Ice House Gallery and other shops in Berkeley Springs.

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