Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Medieval Evening Honor Roll Party for Lords and Ladies

The end of the second quarter arrived and it was time for another honor roll party.  Our students were excited, and so were we.  It was decided to have a medieval theme, but instead of knights, kings, and castles, we went with more of a “peasant and stable” approach. 

First of all, the students found these on their desks a few days before the party.
We try and keep it somewhat of a surprise, and it is always fun to hear their guesses.  Our favorite guess this time was “pirates”, which confused us a little because of the arrows, and “Indians”, which was also a little funny.  I never heard of Indians proclaiming “Hear Ye, Hear Ye”.  Working with students is so much fun. 

The decorating part is always the most enjoyable for me.  We had a brainstorming session with the two sets of parents who were helping us with this one.  Someone suggested a fireplace, which I thought I could pull off, and a drawbridge, which I thought I could not. 

We asked for leftover black tablecloths from an employee holiday dinner we attended.  Taking a big car washing sponge, I dipped it in gray paint and blotted it on the tablecloths in a brick-like pattern.  For the fireplace we removed the insert to one of those electric log-looking fireplaces that one of the families already owned.  We set it up on top of a bench, and then the two dads stacked limestone blocks leftover from the building project around the base.  
For the “drawbridge”, one of the teacher’s sisters brought a few old pallets and one of the dads attached ropes and tiki torches to them.  
We threw hay all over the floor, brought in the four picnic tables from outside and stacked them end-to-end, and added burlap, candles, and a few plastic rats to make it look really authentic.  Next I added a few medieval-looking flags I had sewed. 
Torches were made from two podiums.  We placed a small fan, a string of white lights, and cut up red and yellow tissue paper.  Around the podium top we taped more of the black tablecloths with bricks painted on them.  (It looked neater in the candlelit room.)   
When the students arrived, a horse and a pony were waiting to be ridden which they greatly enjoyed.  After this, the three peasants (teachers) arrived dressed up and organized a joust-throwing contest.  (The jousting sticks were broomsticks with the brooms removed.)
A relay was next, with horse-riding, basket ball hoop shooting, and jousting decorated canning rings hanging from a tree. 

Next, each lord was knighted by the principal and given a lovely paper hat with a feather in it.  Each lady had a wreath of flowers placed on her head, and we all entered in through the “drawbridge”.  

The students were served lemonade in water goblets the two lady teachers found for about fifty cents apiece at a thrift store.  Then we passed around a big bowl of roasted peanuts, and the students were instructed to throw the shells on the floor.  (We already had hay everywhere anyway, and it kinda fit the mood of the evening, although the students remained very polite using “please” and “thank you, my lady” the whole night.)
Here is the complete menu:
Roasted peanuts
Rolls with slabs of butter and apple jelly
Chicken legs with spices
Potato wedges
Carrot sticks
Chocolate dipped strawberries
Jam thumbprint shortcake cookies

They were served on silver platters which we got at a dollar store and plopped down in front of them.  No eating utensils were used (they hadn’t been invented yet), although we did provide napkins as it got pretty messy :-).

The peasant servers were the teachers.  It is a blessing to serve polite students who have worked hard.  They enjoy it too.  

After dinner, we had a girls vs. boys singing contest.  Each group got about fifteen minutes to come up with reasons why a medieval party or a travel-themed party was better, and to choose two representative “singers”.  The boys won, probably because of the added effect of picking up hay off the floor and throwing it at the girls during their song.

Next we all sat around the fireplace and listened to a rendition of “King George and the Dragon”, while the reader made sure that we all knew that the fable was probably based on truth, and that the dragon was very possibly a dinosaur.   We all were happy at the end when King George requested that all the villagers become Christians.
Lastly, most everyone strode outside for our favorite end-of-the-honor-roll-party game, kick the can, while the rest of us cleaned up, undecorated, and swept up hay.  I was especially blessed by the teachers from Grace Mennonite School in Bastrop, Texas, who not only drove up to enjoy the evening with us, but also offered to do all the dishes while I cleaned up all the mess.  Several students stayed late to help sweep up the hay and carry my bins full of costumes and decorations up to the attic.  By 10:00 all was well -- the kitchen was clean, the hay was swept up, the picnic tables were back outside, and we were driving home with some yummy leftovers.  Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was worth it.  We all had fun, and the students have some extra incentive to make really good grades.