Renaissance club opens doors to the past

GVL / Emily Frye
Students dancing with the club members

GVL / Emily Frye Students dancing with the club members

Rachel Huck

What began nearly 20 years ago as a small group of students with a shared interest has since developed into Grand Valley State University’s Renaissance club. Over the years, the club has progressively become more complex by welcoming additional members and hosting new events such as Duke’s Ball, which took place on Friday.

Duke’s Ball, held annually in March, is an educational seminar during which the Renaissance club gathers and welcomes all GVSU students to attend. In addition to informative lectures regarding medieval times, the ball also includes traditional attire, dances, games, displays and food, as well as a different theme each year.

“Last year’s theme was myths, and this year the theme is witch hunts,” said Misty Weiner, president of the Renaissance club.

The event is also LIB 100/201 approved, which means that students who attended could receive class credit.

“Our hope is that people learn something while they get credit and eat food,” said James Cory, vice president of the Renaissance club.

When they aren’t working on Duke’s Ball, Weiner said the 42-member club is busy pouring their efforts into their annual GVSU Renaissance Festival, also known as GVRen.

“We definitely really take pride in the Renaissance Festival,” Weiner said. “Everyone looks forward to it. Our goal is to entertain people and have fun at the same time.”

GVRen is a free festival created and run by students and takes place on campus during the fall semester. Weiner said GVRen is the club’s biggest event, and that much of the time at meetings is dedicated to planning and preparing for it.

When the club isn’t working on Duke’s Ball or GVRen, they participate in a number of other events, such as their winter Yule Festival as well as educational demonstrations at local schools and libraries.

Cory said they are also hoping to work with The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum this year.

“We want to read to them and act out stories, like Where the Wild Things are,” Cory said.

Weiner said that, for many of its members, the Renaissance club is like a family. A number of the alumni who were members when the club was founded are still actively involved.

“Everyone has an imagination, and the club allows people to show their imagination without being judged,” Weiner said. “It’s an outlet to be yourself.”

Additionally, Weiner said the club also participates in sword fighting on Fridays, which is a great way for students to build confidence.

“It allows people to get to know new students, and it allows an opportunity for students to open up and explore who they really are,” Weiner said. “It helps many to come out of their shell and interact with people, and it’s also an opportunity to learn leadership skills.”

The Renaissance club meets on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in Kirkhof Room 0072.

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