Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Enrichment Academy

So on Tuesday I mentioned my Enrichment Academy Medieval Times class. I’ve since been informed by my very dearest and oldest friend (who took that class with me) that the class was in fact called “Life in a Castle.” It is such an awesome name for a summer class that I can hardly believe I forgot.

Some kids in my school filled their summers with barbecues, camping trips, afternoons by the pool, and whatever else it was that ten-year-olds with lots of friends did. But for me, summer was the time when I got to do all the nerdtastic things I hadn’t had time for during the school year. I spent half of two summers at a fine arts camp studying singing and acting. I did a ridiculous amount of community theater. And during my brief respite from school, I voluntarily took summer classes.

Mind you, these were not typical school classes. The Enrichment Academy was a set of extracurricular summer classes available to the “gifted” kids at my school. So, basically, only geeks could take them. Truth be told, we were the only ones who would’ve signed up for Enrichment Academy in the first place. The cool kids had all those parties and cookouts to occupy their time.

But let me just say that those kids missed out. Enrichment Academy was fucking awesome. You could take acting classes, model airplane-building classes, and classes in which the main objective was turning a soda bottle into a rocket.

In “Fact, Fantasy, and Folklore,” we learned about the history of fairy tales and had a mock, Hansel-and-Gretel themed murder trial. I was the lawyer prosecuting Hansel and Gretel, and called up the dead witch’s bereft niece as a surprise witness. Not to brag, but … let’s just say those little monsters won't be eating any more nice old ladies' houses any time soon.

In “Write Your First Book,” each student was given a slim, bound book with a white cover. We were then given art supplies so we could write and illustrate our books. Mine was about a little girl who fell through a mirror to a fantasy world, and was commissioned by the king to battle a terrifying monster. But once the little girl sneaked into the monster’s cave, she found that the monster turned out to be less evil and more misunderstood.

And then there was, of course, “Life in a Castle.” We met in the auditorium of the local Arts Center once a week and learned about how medieval society had worked. We each got to choose our own titles (Lady Jillian of Shetland, since my dog was a Sheltie) and wore blue tunics over our clothes. We were given a fencing lesson and another on medieval fashions. On our last day of class, we were encouraged to dress up in medieval costumes and were served a period-appropriate feast.

Though the dragon we ate was made out of cake, and not actual dragon.

Much as I enjoyed my Enrichment Academy classes, I still envied the popular kids their cool bonfires and Cedar Point excursions. But with the hindsight of adulthood, I'm damned glad I was such a little nerdenheimer. Those Enrichment Academy classes taught me a lot that I never would’ve learned in an elementary school class. They helped to spark my interest in storytelling. 

They also gave me the excuse to wear a beautiful medieval gown a full six months away from Halloween. If that’s not a childhood well-spent, then I don’t know what is.


  1. I am so jealous! Enrichment Academy sounds awesome. Really great posts lately lately--keep it up! (And maybe update Unbidden Royalty when you get a chance? Please?)

    1. Right?? A lame cookout's got nothing on a fencing lesson in full medieval costume. And thanks so much! I'm trying very hard to find time to update Unbidden Royalty--hopefully it shouldn't be too much longer...

  2. Ha, that sounds awesome. I would've loved a program like that. My school couldn't ever figure out what to do with me, I was too bored and undisciplined sadly. But I did get to spend three weeks with my grandparents in NY every summer. I grew up with the Bronx zoo and botanical garden, the natural history museum and aquarium, and Broadway a couple times. I appreciate it a lot more now; I rarely went to the zoo in Kansas or museums here, so I never realized how spectacular they were til later.

    1. I used to visit the Bronx every summer till I was six to see my grandparents, but I was too young to appreciate much more the FAO Schwartz back then. And now I feel so guilty living where I do and not taking advantage of it more. I haven't been to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens or the Brooklyn Museum in ages.