MONTVILLE, NJ - World History students at Montville Township High School competed this month for the title of Best Renaissance Fair Project.

In the spirit of the Renaissance, three first-year Social Studies teachers developed an academic joust of sorts. The task assigned to students in Alyssa George, Christopher Trzepinska and Ryan Vallery’s freshman classes was to create a project that typified some aspect of the Renaissance.

“The purpose of the project,” explained Trzepinska, “was for students to pick either a person, place, piece of art, or building and create a ‘museum exhibit’ explaining their topic’s impact on humanism, classical culture and/or modern impact.”

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Teams of students presented the projects to their classes.  Ultimately, the best projects in each class would be chosen to compete at a 22-minute Renaissance Fair held during lunch. Within each class, two groups of students were selected by their peers to compete at the lunch-time faceoff.

The diverse projects presented at the Renaissance Fair ranged from culinary and confection to art and architecture. Among the finalists, an array of tools, devices, materials and media were used to create a variety of projects including: Scale models of the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica, working printing presses, rap songs comparing Renaissance artists, dioramas of the Sistine Chapel, live musical performances, cooking and music videos and museum themed brochures and displays.

Minecraft, the open world, virtual reality video game, was the medium of choice for winners Paul Giancaterino, Chancellor Mazzo, and Darrel Tsinadze. Using the Minecraft platform, the three freshman programmed a virtual reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Italy. Minecraft players can explore the MTHS team’s recreation on-line.

Giancaterino, Mazzo, and Tsinadze spent over 16 hours each – more than 48 hours – researching and reconstructing minute details of the classic Renaissance structure. Their project allows Minecraft fans to explore the inside and outside of the building, including the dome, roof, alter, side chapels and square.