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Being a knight is the noblest of professions

Through all the career counseling my boys had in school, never did anyone suggest becoming a knight. I don't know why this noble profession would be overlooked. Neither does Nicholas Senecal.

Senecal is a knight, earning his living at Medieval Times at Discover Mills.

With experience working on a horse farm and a degree in theater and mythology, Senecal said, "I figured this job was right up my alley."

But the job requires neither experience with horses nor a degree in drama.

"If you've worked with horses, you must unlearn what you know. The skills here are very exacting and specific," said Senecal, referring to the attraction's Andalusian horses, trained in 11th century maneuvers.

And acting really isn't what it's all about.

"The games are not scripted. Everything is real. You must connect with your audience," Senecal said. "The crowds don't respond if you're not having a good time. They can feel it."

If there is any prerequisite, it would be athletic ability.

"The job requires active, capable people," Senecal said, "guys who can jump off a horse going full speed every night. It's a real thrill-seeking type of job."

Of course, young men don't become knights overnight. They start out as squires mucking stalls and train for five to eight months to earn the title.

"But you're continually challenged," Senecal said. "The learning curve continues."

And speaking of learning, education plays a big role in a knight's life. In addition to the nightly feasts that educate the general public, Medieval Times sponsors special programs for children, providing background information for teachers to tie in with their curriculum.

While the knights may not be rescuing damsels in distress, they nonetheless perform noble acts for their community.

Medieval Times has partnered with the Black Knights of Central Gwinnett High School in their fundraising efforts. For all high school students in Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson and Barrow counties, they offer half-price tickets on selected Sundays. And to show the value they place on winning, players on a winning high school football team can eat free on the Sunday after their victory.

To honor "to the rescue" heroes - policemen, firefighters and ambulatory personnel - the knights of Medieval Times are offering them half-price tickets through the end of October. And to make the medieval experience as inclusive as possible, the cast periodically performs shows for the hearing impaired.

Best of all, in this age of fast-track cubicle careers, these noble gentlemen keep alive the dream that a young man can still grow up to be a knight, and exclaim along with Senecal, "To think I can make a living doing this!"

For more info call 1-888-WE-JOUST or visit www.medievaltimes.com.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.