From Mount Olympus to 6th-grade classroom

Festival: Concluding a unit on folklore and mythology, pupils write poems and create myths that explain natural phenomena and human behavior.

February 10, 2005|By Christina Hernandez | Christina Hernandez,SUN STAFF

Bryce Manubay wore a toga and carried a tinfoil trident. Against a painted backdrop of Mount Olympus, the sixth-grader put his creative touch on the role the Greek god Poseidon might have played in the origin of hurricanes, thunderstorms and floods.

Because Poseidon didn't like it when people dumped trash into his ocean, Bryce said, "he put a curse on the sea, such that when he commanded it, the water would churn, the skies would darken and Zeus would go crazy with thunderbolts, summoning a storm."

Writing the myth was his favorite part of the Greek god and goddess festival at Dumbarton Middle School on Tuesday and yesterday, Bryce said.

"I've always liked being at the ocean" he said. "Poseidon is my favorite god."

Aphrodite, Zeus and Poseidon were among the gods and goddesses portrayed in sixth-grade language arts classes during the festival, which concluded a three-week unit on folklore and Greek mythology.

Each pupil wrote a narrative poem based on Greek mythology and created a short myth, based on a well-known or fictional god or goddess, that explained a natural phenomenon or aspect of human behavior, said teacher Briget Koch.

Each pupil was asked to dress as the main character of the myth or poem when their works were presented to the class.

"Some are brave enough to wear [their costumes] around the school all day," Koch said. "Others take it off right away."

Koch wore a patterned maroon sheet tied in the shape of a gown, tan sandals and a headpiece of leaves and flowers to represent Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Another pupil's Poseidon myth explained the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

Skylar Paltell, representing Poseidon's sister Serena, described how an angry Poseidon punished mortals by sending tsunamis to the coast. Serena appealed to Zeus to stop her brother from killing hundreds of people, the myth says, and Zeus banished Poseidon to the Bermuda Triangle, which is why that area of the sea remains well-known in ghost stories and sea tales.

"I've always been fascinated by the Bermuda Triangle, so I thought it would be interesting to write a story about it," Skylar said.

Skylar spent a day making her costume of light blue fabric and white straps.

"It's the first thing I've made that I could wear," she said.

On a table, traditional Greek food -- hummus and pita bread, tzatziki, baklava, nuts, fruit and punch -- surrounded a Greek bust at the center of the table.

After the presentations, pupils and parents dined in the classroom accented by light-blue balloons and white streamers.

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