Among my many duties at Regents Academy, I teach the junior and senior Omnibus course each afternoon. I enjoy it immensely because I love being in the classroom with students, and I love literature and ideas. This year we are studying the Medieval millennium and its many worldviews and impacts. Augustine, Boethius, Dante, Machiavelli – the authors we are reading are an honor roll of some of the most influential thinkers of Western civilization.
The timeline of events, personalities, and history in our class this year has paralleled the 4th grade class’s study of history as they, too, have focused on the years from the close of the Ancient period to the opening of the Renaissance. Mrs. Katrina Terrell, the 4th grade teacher, and I decided to seize the opportunity of our two classes studying much of the same material and bring them together to work side-by-side on some projects.
First, at the end of last semester my class studied the Crusades by reading a firsthand account written by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, a general in the Fourth Crusade. The 4th grade class also studied the Crusades, so the juniors and seniors prepared brief presentations to share what they knew with the 4th graders. They were delighted to discover that their younger schoolmates knew much of the same material and had eager minds to take in new information. Afterward, the 4th graders were allowed to ask questions of the high schoolers: “What is Omnibus?” “What science do you take?” “Do you drive to school?”
Also, we decided to team up the classes for a Medieval Feast. Boy oh boy, what a great time! Parents decorated the Great Room as a banquet hall and prepared authentic Medieval food for the students to eat with their fingers in authentic Medieval style. There was a castle cake and a stained-glass window with a knight fighting a dragon. The students came in costume and presented entertainments. And the students worked together in young-old teams to give presentations on various facets of life in Medieval times. Then after the feast they went outside to play games together.
One of the real blessings of the whole event was the preparation for it, when the juniors and seniors teamed up with 4th grades to prepare their presentations. They were like big brothers and sisters (at their best), leading their younger schoolmates and encouraging them to contribute to the presentations. It was a real delight to see them busily and happily at work side-by-side, laughing and discussing Medieval monks, scholars, soldiers, ladies, artists, pilgrims, and lords.
As I reflect on our classes’ partnership, Mrs. Terrell and I really are very thankful. Groundwork laid in the grammar school is reinforced and built up on the secondary school; ideas and events come around again, and students are allowed to build on what they know. Regents students really do love each other. Seeing the older students working with the younger students is a treasure. Class events like the Medieval feast are memories that students take with them forever. They will remember the day they dressed up in costumes, ate strange food, and feasted in Medieval style with the big kids.
And then, too, I am reminded that at our school, school really is about learning, and learning can be fun. Sounds revolutionary, eh?