For over 20 years, the Greek Olympics has been one of the signature traditions for 6th grade students at Jacksonville Country Day School. Dressed in togas and representing the city-states of Ancient Greece, students compete in field games such as relays and tug-of-war. This experiential learning activity helps what they have learned about ancient Greece to stay in their memory, in addition to promoting healthy activity and teamwork.
The Greek Olympics are just one part of the culminating experience for the 6th grade study of Ancient Greece. This year, students also learned Greek dancing, in addition to the traditional “Gods and Goddesses” feast of Greek food, which featured Greek food made by parents.
“JCDS families are the best. They share their rich culture, including food, stories, and even dancing. This helps to bring the experiences alive for our students,” 6th grade Lead Teacher Nancy Hockenbery said. “We also had a debate between ‘Athens’ and ‘Sparta,’ which was a new activity this year."
The culminating day for Ancient Greece brings the events that happened so long ago to life. The activities make the culture of one of the most important civilizations come to life. “Music, theater, art, philosophy, architecture, the sciences, and math can all be traced to Ancient Greece, which was also the birthplace of democracy,” Ms. Hockenbery added.
“Students enjoy the study of ancient Greece and learn so much because it is an integrated unit of study that culminates with the Olympics. The requirement to dress in authentic costumes, coupled with the physical activities, is appealing to 6th graders and makes learning fun. The Greek Olympics are a much-loved tradition at JCDS and another example of the creative ways teachers engage students to optimize learning,” said Pat Walker, Head of School.
The students have been studying Ancient Greece throughout the school year from a variety of angles, including art, language arts, physical education, and even in the library and lunchroom. “There are so many connections between modern life and Ancient Greece,” 6th grade student Sonia said.