Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

February 03, 2016

#Education and School Days

"Statue as a human...or human as a statue." photo by Abby McMorris, Pin Oak Middle School, first place portrait
"Statue as a human...or human as a statue." photo by Abby McMorris, Pin Oak Middle School, first place portrait

Last week, we shared the winners' photos and stories from the high school School Days journalism contest. This week, we'd like to present the middle school winners!

Most of you don't have the opportunity to attend Festival on a School Day, but we believe that these days are some of our best- eager, excited kids make a delightful audience.

One of my favorite stories ever, hands-down, was Emilie Janicek's (Nixon Smiley MS) feature about one of the unsung heroes of the Festival- the workers who maintain the privies!

Whither be the Privies?


"The average female experience in a public restroom includes waiting in an exceptionally long line, finally getting into a stall, then realizing that there is no toilet paper. At the Texas Renaissance Festival, females rarely, if ever, suffer these inconveniences.

What makes the lavatories at the Texas Renaissance Festival stand out are the well thought out designs and amenities. There are eleven restroom structures for the "Lords" and "Ladies" on the faire grounds. The "Ladies" side consists of twenty-plus toilet stalls with six rolls of toilet paper in each, hand-washing stations, several elaborately framed wall mirrors, and ornamental greenery. All of the counter tops, stalls, and toilet paper holders are made of wood.

The most important feature of the facilities is the bathroom attendant (Mariana Rocha, pictured left). These behind the scenes personnel keep the restroom facilities sanitary and restock complimentary toiletries such as toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels, and feminine products. The attendants are also equipped to deal with minor plumbing issues such as clogged and over-flowing toilets.

The restrooms at the Texas Renaissance Festival weren't always this extravagant. Modern restrooms weren't added until 2012 as part of a 3-year expansion project. During this time, potable water stations, trees for shade, and other conveniences were also added.

As guests, we need to show our appreciation and respect of the bathroom attendants for all the hard work they do to make our bathroom visit another memorable experience at the Texas Renaissance Festival."

"Up, up, and away!" photo by Emory Irvine, Pin Oak Middle School, first place action photo

Kelly Abels, second place story writer) of Kelly Lane Middle School had this to say about the Royal Falconer show:

"A flash of grey and white swooped over the heads of the crowd, only leaving enough time to catch a glimpse of a wickedly curved beak and talons. The shocked faces of the crowd stared in awe as the bird perched twenty feet overhead, holding the audience's attention.This amount of spotlight will faze all but a few, and O'Ryan, the African Augur Buzzard, is one of the few.

Birds of Prey, one of the many performances put on at the Texas Renaissance Festival,has many performers, most of whom have two wings and a beak. O'Ryan and his trainer, Robbie Sinkler, along with the other birds in the show, were able to put on quite the performance, and even answered some questions about O'Ryan and his daily life."Most African Augur Buzzards have a lifespan of 15-25 years," informed Sinkler. "He came here when he was two months old and he's been in the program for 15 years." The African Augur Buzzard mainly eats reptiles, along with some mammals and small rodents, and its diets consist entirely of meat. In the wild, it does most of its hunting from a perch or from the air, swooping to the ground before grabbing its prey. "He likes to eat rabbits, rat squirrels, mice, and snakes," Sinkler replied when asked about O'Ryan's diet. The average weight of a human is 137 pounds, more than fifty times O'Ryan's own weight. Interesting enough, most African Augur Buzzard females weigh more than males, a fact that only revealed itself when Sinkler touched upon it. "The average weight of males is 2 and a half pounds. Females usually weigh about 3 pounds."

While O'Ryan was very active during the show, demonstrating various tricks to theastounded crowd, his favorite pastime came as quite a surprise. "When O'Ryan has free time, he likes to do absolutely nothing. Birds of prey tend to spend about 85-90% of their day out in the wild doing absolutely nothing."

After fifteen years of performing, however, it's no surprise that he likes to have a bit of time to himself. Being an important tradition since 1975, the Texas Renaissance Festival plans to come back next year, and hopefully O'Ryan will be with them." (editor's note- "Orion" is the correct spelling of the bird's name)

"Every Renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free." (Anne Sullivan Mcy) [sic] photo by Claudia Patriarchi, Pin Oak Middle School, first place, feature photo

The Texas Renaissance Festival: Entertainment Review (Third Place story)

by Nelly Moake

"The Renaissance Festival is bursting with different activities and shows that submerge you in to the famous era of the Renaissance. There are numerous and diverse activities you can seek. The cuisine is beyond fantastic and the little shops that line every path allow you to embrace the atmosphere, and practically everything stimulated my senses.

Above all other shows the fire whip show was the finest act! The liveliness the performer had draws you in from the exact second you glance at him. I could hear the adrenaline crashing through my ears with each crack the whip made and once the whip was set on fire my eyes bulged out of my very head. He never combusted in to flames, most likely because he was a trained performer, but it gave me a start to see someone be so daunting. If you ever get the chance to attend the Renaissance festival, I highly recommend you pay a visit to this act.

Generally speaking the entertainment is not only confined to shows, but the actors also stroll around in costumes from that era and will never break character no matter how many times you ask them to. The school acts from the performers were decent and did not bore me, although the actors were a bit reluctant at the beginning they began to warm up to the audience, that mainly consisted of teachers, parents, and fellow students from other schools. The expressions and acting used was enough to captivate many.

"Approaching a joust...Huzzah!" photo by Lauren Holcomb, Pin Oak Middle School, first place, news photo
"Approaching a joust...Huzzah!" photo by Lauren Holcomb, Pin Oak Middle School, first place, news photo

For instance the jousting act was an educational submission that helped you understand how certain sporting events were performed during this epoch. The jousting appeared so realistic and was executed in an intriguing way that piqued my interest. The jousting event also contained beautiful and healthy horses that many little children at the Renaissance festival adored. Not only was the jousting engaging it was also family friendly and could enthrall the attention of even the most impatient children.

Overall the entertainment provided during the School Days Renaissance Festival was enthralling, humorous, and a remarkable experience not only for education, but for quality family or friend time. I would return again just for the entertainment if I could, and I formidably ask you to do the same! Do not even contemplate going, because I am expressing to you that it is worth it."

"Colorful gypsy scarves are displayed in front of many shops at the renaissance festival. They were very popular, and many people enjoyed wearing them around." photo by Lauren Lebakken, Kelly Lane Middle School, first place fine art photo