Mequon, WI – Ask just about any alumni of Steffen Middle School what their favorite memory of middle school was and you’ll get the same answer: The Medieval Banquet. This annual celebration for sixth-grade students marks the culmination of an extensive academic simulation of the Middle Ages. Over 400 students, parents and community leaders are expected to gather for this year’s 15th anniversary celebration at Steffen Middle School, 6633 West Steffen Drive, on May 14 from 12:45pm to 3pm.
The banquet was established by Steffen’s sixth grade ancient civilizations teacher, Tim Stark, who wanted to turn a traditional textbook lesson plan on medieval times into a real-life learning experience.
“I’ve always believed that hands-on learning is more engaging than strictly using the textbook as curriculum,” Stark said.
So Stark took the basics of a teaching simulation on restructuring a classroom for medieval history and made it his own.
“I took the framework of the simulation and elaborated on parts that were exciting. Now, 15 years later, it has evolved into an unforgettable event for Steffen students and parents,” he said.
Dressed in historic costume, the students (a.k.a. Lords and Ladies) will hold court and present a feast of medieval proportions, eating only with their fingers (no utensils) and sampling the foods of the period (pig head, anyone?).
“We always enlist dads to cut the pig heads with a machete,” Stark joked. “It’s become quite a novelty.”
Students provide the entertainment, which ranges from juggling and jousting to dancing and re-creations of court hearings.
The event also allows for some cross-curricular opportunities as well.
“The students develop stories in their English Language Arts class and storyboard it on tapestry using no words, just pictures,” Stark shared. “These tapestries are then hung throughout the Grand Hall (also known as the gym).”
The event is an enriching and enjoyable flashback in time that leave students with a firm understanding of medieval times, as well as a middle-school memory that will last a lifetime.
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