WILMINGTON — Twenty-four fifth-graders at St. Edmond’s Academy in Brandywine Hundred have completed their work and are eagerly awaiting being knighted on Nov. 17. The ceremony is the culmination of a rigorous academic exercise and is a rite of passage at the all-boys school.
“They get officially knighted with a real sword in a huge ceremony once they’ve completed all the work,” principal Tricia Scott said. “It’s so popular. The boys so look forward to it.”
Scott said the tradition dates back at least 15 years, when St. Edmond’s was a fourth- through eighth-grade school. Fourth grade was seen as a year of transition, so in fifth grade the students would take on this project. It teaches about life in the Middle Ages, with students learning about the challenges of becoming a knight and living during that time.
Students select an occupation and learn about all aspects of that life, using art, social studies, English and language arts, physical fitness, math and science, music, religion, and Spanish. It takes most of the first trimester to complete, and all of the work is done by the students at school.
“They have to research what it was like back then for their role. What they ate every day, how they dressed, what it was like in the manor, the code of chivalry, everything. And they have to write a journal of what they would do if they were a knight in medieval times. So there’s a research component as well as a writing component,” teacher Andrew Ellis said.
“It’s really labor intensive. It’s a big step for them,” he added.
The boys receive a pin and armband that they wear most of the school year. It is something that bonds St. Edmond’s students.
It is more than an academic exercise, Ellis said. The message is “the knights have a code of chivalry, and we talk about it a lot.”
“They take it very seriously,” Scott said. “The underlying meaning is just helping them understand. Instead of just learning about medieval times during social studies class through a textbook, they live it. They have to become it.
“I think it transforms what we’re trying to do, which is make them chivalrous gentlemen. There’s some meaning and purpose behind it.”
Jill Fella, St. Edmond’s communications coordinator, has two sons at the school, one in seventh grade and the other in second. She said the knighthood ceremony is special for the parents as well.
“I had no idea what to expect until that evening. It was such a really special moment. It was so impressive to see all their work displayed that you had no part of,” she said.