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Yorktown schools embark on Shakespearean tradition

By KBell
May 14, 2011 at 12:14 a.m.

Sam Foegelle, 16, plays "Avoid the Hangman's Noose" with students from Yorktown Elementary School during the second annual Shakespearean Festival at Yorktown High School.

Sam Foegelle, 16, plays "Avoid the Hangman's Noose" with students from Yorktown Elementary School during the second annual Shakespearean Festival at Yorktown High School.

YORKTOWN - If all the world's a stage, all of Yorktown's school kids are its players.

The second annual Shakespearean Festival, has become a much-anticipated, schoolwide tradition in Yorktown.

"It was low-key last year. This year, we are using everybody in the school," said Teresa Childress, an English teacher at the high school.

The English classes, student council and art classes - to name a few - spent a good portion of the semester contributing to the fair to "introduce (the students) to Shakespeare and see it can be fun," Childress said.

Beyond the vine- and flower-covered posts outside, first-graders were battling it out in one of the Renaissance-inspired games, "King of the World."

While they put on helmets and jousted on a log, 17-year-old Isaac Imes stood tall and surveyed the yard.

The student council president, who was in charge of overseeing the games, was dressed as none other than Julius Caesar.

"I used it as an excuse to buy all this," Isaac said, showing off the body armor and a red tunic he made himself.

Isaac, who's an aficionado of the Roman empire, said he hopes the younger kids become excited about the curriculum that's in store for them in high school.

Shakespeare "was a revolutionary person of the time, and history is an important thing to know," he said.

Isaac's peers had learned to appreciate the English playwright thanks to the festival, too.

Inside the library, decorated with tapestries dedicated to some 30 Shakespeare plays, a group of students were presenting a puppet show version of "Romeo and Juliet."

"I never knew the story until now," said Logan Romans, a 16-year-old whose hand starred as the play's Romeo.

Logan and his classmates said they adapted what they've read of the play into a modern-day romantic tragedy, played out by puppets they made themselves.

The translation, which they pieced together the day before, forced the students to really understand what the 16th century Englishman was trying to say.

"We just read it. We don't really pay attention to it until now - when it's fun," said stagehand Emily Guerrero, 15.

It was hard to tell who was having more fun - the performers or audience - during the puppet show.

Logan and 16-year-old James Castaneda were the puppeteers, an assignment perfect for the duo who everyone labeled the class clowns.

"Not only do you get out of class, but it's cool to see the little kids smiling," Logan said.

The smiles undoubtedly came when it was time for Romeo and Juliet's passionate kiss.

James's Juliet, with her yellow-yarn hair and beaded smile leaned in to Logan's Romeo, sporting an aluminum foil sword.

Just before the embrace, narrator Trever Reed stepped in front of the playhouse theater to block the two steaming hand puppets.

"There's no kissing allowed in school," he said to a laughing crowd.

After the performance, Trever said he thinks the festival will teach kids that learning can be fun.

"Every school should do something like this," he said.



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