GENOA - According to Jose Garcia, "it's all about having fun and teamwork."
"Only if you win is it fun," retorted Ludyka Mercado, Jose's sixth-grade classmate at Genoa-Kingston Middle School.
Unfortunately, Jose and Ludyka's team, the Medieval Minions, finished fourth in the school's 11th annual Medieval Faire May 30. The all-day event is the culmination of a month-long study of the Middle Ages.
In the morning, each of the six sixth grade classes - or kingdoms - hosted a different activity. In Karley Lynch's class, students painted while lying on their backs, pretending to be Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Another class played Ring Around the Rosie outside, while some students dressed all in black to demonstrate how rapidly the Black Plague spread.
"This is a highlight for the teachers as much for the kids," sixth grade teacher Ruth Olle said.
The afternoon was filled with games in a tournament-like setting in the gym, including the three-legged race; races using scooters instead of horses; a football tackling dummy toss; and jousting, with pool noodles instead of swords. The grand finale, which drew the largest chants, was the tug of war.
Despite losing a close battle in the semifinals, the Shadow Dragons rallied to win. The Flaming Phoenixes were next, followed by the Medieval Minions, the Treacherous Gladiators, the GKMS Warriors and the Green Gargoyles.
Dragons coach Clayton Johnsen said the fair is an end-of-school year tradition that the students look forward to.
"You even see some seventh graders here wearing their shirts from last year," he said.
"I heard from the older grades it's a lot of fun," sixth grader Alexis Shirley said. "I just finished the three-legged race, and it is fun."
Marcia Rease of Glendale Heights, one of the few adults in the gym, was there to cheer on her granddaughter.
"I think it's wonderful for the children," she said. "There's a lot of collaboration and cooperation between the teams. It's also good to see the kids having fun."