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DARMSTADT, Germany — The time was right for a party, according to Dr. Liz Dunham, principal of Darmstadt Middle School.

“To liven up this somewhat dreary winter month,” she said.

Friday was the annual Theme Day at the middle school, and this year’s theme was the Renaissance.

Pupils dressed in the garb of the day. Some played human chess on the gym floor with kids as the chess pieces. Some acted out scenes from Shakespeare’s “MacBeth.” They built catapults and did other Renaissance activities.

“We believe that middle school kids are capable of fabulous things,” Dunham said. “The staff tends to relish the characteristics of adolescence and channel the students’ energy in positive ways.”

In past years, the school celebrated Hawaii, Africa, immigration and other themes. The school honored the Renaissance several years ago and brought it back as an old favorite.

The Renaissance was a rebirth of European culture that began in Italy in the 14th century and spread north throughout the rest of Europe over the next 300 years.

Lunch was a Renaissance feast of homemade foods.

The Renaissance was built into the pupils’ history, science and art lessons in the weeks leading up to Friday’s big blowout. The idea was to have fun and make learning fun.

Some children had worked for weeks making their costumes, learning their lines and perfecting their catapults.

“It’s fun when we get to build up to something and then get to do something entertaining,” said Katja Greeson, a 13-year-old eighth-grader. “I liked the games we played and the performances.”

If Theme Day was fun at school, then what’s not fun at school?

“Just sitting there and not doing anything,” Katja said. “And homework, because we work the whole day and then go home and do more.”

For Arrin Cooper, the best part of the day was the Renaissance feast and the games.

Arrin said he wished his mom could have been there.

But Sgt. Felecia Brown, of the 66th Military Intelligence Group, 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, couldn’t make it.

“She would have had fun,” Arrin said. “But she had to work.”


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