Sword fighting instructor Zane Echols has Piedra Vista freshman Jennifer Mendoza hold a rapier during a demonstration on Thursday at Piedra Vista High
Sword fighting instructor Zane Echols has Piedra Vista freshman Jennifer Mendoza hold a rapier during a demonstration on Thursday at Piedra Vista High School. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — The sounds of sword fighting rang Thursday morning through the Piedra Vista High School library as students watched and participated in a demonstration on sword play.

The demonstration was part of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a tongue-in-cheek day on Sept. 19 that encourages people to speak like a pirate.

Piedra Vista librarian Margaret Sartin uses the holiday to bring students into the library. This year, she added a sword fighting demonstration.

"I think it puts them into history," Sartin said. "When you can step into history like that, you get a real good feel for history."

Sword fighting instructor Zane Echols led multiple classes during the day, teaching students about bladed weapons and the evolution of sword design from a two-handed claymore to a modern fencing rapier.

Echols, who was dressed in pirate garb, described how the weapons were used and how sword styles changed as metallurgy advanced. Students passed around some of the weapons during the lecture.

"Hopefully, they'll get interested in history and want to learn more," Echols said.

Two high school students from Echols' sword fighting class helped him demonstrate advanced sword play. Farmington High School junior Ben McCune and Piedra Vista junior Austin Maurin have been participating in Echols' classes for about seven years and were eager to demonstrate their skills for the audience.

McCune said he has always had an interest in swords and movies with knights. Since taking Echols' classes, his sword fighting skills have improved, he said.

"It just feels really good to be able to do it with all the practice. It really shows," McCune said. "If I compared myself to when I first started, it's worlds better."

A number of teachers put on fencing gear and took part in lessons on blocking and footwork.

Displaying techniques she learned during a class trip to France, French teacher Alison Goff donned a fencing mask and gloves and fenced with Echols in front of students.

At one point, Echols knocked Goff in the fencing mask with the tip of his sword. Goff, however, took it in stride.

"It's a lot harder than it looks," she said.

Goff's students are currently reading "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," and, because a number of the scenes involve sword fighting, Goff hopes her students will gain an new perspective on the time period.

"It's really, really nice for the students to see what they are reading about actually in action," Goff said. "To see the actual terminology in real life (rather) than in a book makes it a lot more meaningful."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.