Two Comal Independent School District students from Mountain Valley Middle School walked away from the Texas Renaissance Festival with top honors on Nov. 5.
In their first year to participate in the nation’s largest renaissance festival, 33 students, all members of Darla Blaksley’s gifted and talented class at MVMS, competed against their peers from across the state in the following contests: drama, journalism, trebuchet challenge, costume, poetry and art.
Sixth-grade students brought home honors for their entries including Eli Hammons, who received first place honors for his costume design, and Evelyn Wahrmund, who received first place honors for her artwork. Additionally, Lucy Peters earned second place for her costume design, and Jessie Waddle and Katelyn Lowth received honorable mention for their designs. All three are sixth-grade students as well.
“I am proud of all of our students,” said Blaksley, who had competed in the festival years ago and knew it would be a great way for students to be challenged and show off their talents. “We have very talented and hard-working students who represented MVMS and our district well.”
The festival’s contests fit perfectly into the mission and philosophy of Comal ISD’s gifted and talented program which strives to foster critical and creative thinking, collaboration and problem-solving. In fact, these contests incorporate many different disciplines including science, art, history, theatre, music, language and literature. Furthermore, they require participants to build their own products and present them to a panel of judges, which helps students develop their communication skills and provides them with a sense of ownership and responsibility.
In addition to fostering student collaborations, these contests provided the perfect opportunity for teacher collaborations too. From English Language Arts Teacher Rachelle Killian and Tech and Manufacturing Teacher David Gould to Science Teacher Ronald Fey, Blaksley had no trouble finding colleagues at MVMS to lend their expertise in order to get students prepared for the contests.
One of the most collaborative efforts came with the trebuchet challenge. A trebuchet is a type of catapult that uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile. Trebuchets were used before the invention of gunpowder. This competition challenged students to use math, science, physics and problem-solving skills to research, design, build and launch a trebuchet during the festival.
The MVMS trebuchets were launched at the festival successfully, and while they did not place in the top, their designers learned a lot along the way.
“A great amount of research must be completed and documented for each presentation,” Blaksley said. “Learning is happening throughout their preparation. Overall, it is a unique, challenging and unforgettable learning experience. We had fun, and we hope to do it again.”
Mountain Valley Middle School students took top honors in the costume contest at the Texas Renaissance Festival on Nov. 5. Pictured from left are Eli Hammons, Katelyn Lowth, Jessie Waddle and Lucy Peters. Hammons took first place, Peters took second place and both Waddle and Lowth received honorable mention.
Mountain Valley Middle School students competed in the trebuchet challenge at the Texas Renaissance Festival on Nov. 5, and successfully launched their trebuchets.
Evelyn Wahrmund’s artwork received first place at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
Eli Hammons shows off his winning costume from the Texas Renaissance Festival.