For about 20 years students have looked forward to becoming a god or goddess. But sadly that tradition is coming to a close. Every year students study mythology anticipating the event that finishes off the lesson.
Each year both students and teachers put in a lot of work to make the mythology banquet successful. During the event it may seem that teachers sit on the sidelines but behind the scenes they do a whole lot more. They have the most important jobs: assigning, evaluating and explaining. They spend a lot of time reading over the many optional application letters asking to be a special character. They invent handouts and spend hours explaining step-by-step instructions. They continue getting the room set up, they order the room decorations and tables, consult with the main characters, and then finally evaluate the main project.
With all of the work that the teachers do it might be hard to believe that there is anything left for the students to do! But there's still much more left on the agenda! The first thing the students have to do is find out everything they can about their characters. They can use books or specific Internet sites picked by teachers to be the most useful. Once the students are experts they create a skit, invent a costume with sheets, try to fit everything they learned into a short nine-line poem and write a toast to a character attending the mythology banquet. The skit is an opportunity for the student to share a myth that they play a part in. Students really get into the spirit of the whole program.
When you walk into the classroom on banquet day you'll be taken to Mt. Olympus. The desks are pushed to the sides, the students are putting on their costumes that they put together with sheets and safety pins the night before, and kids are running around as they frantically put together their information packets.
Around the necks of transformed gods, goddesses, heroes and monsters are the nametags that tell who they are and what they do. There are some special roles when it comes to the mythology banquet. There are the caterers, Persephone and Demeter. There is the musician Apollo. There is also the decorator Athena. The most important roles are the merit roles: Hera and Zeus, the King and Queen of all the gods and goddesses. They are the ones that do everything else. Just make sure that they get along, because they plan the schedule, consult with the decorators, caterers and the entertainer, and explain what they're doping to the teacher.
The student's costumes, poems, toasts, skits and nametags must be done. There's no late work allowed. The decorators have arrived early to school so that they can decorate the room and still get to their first class on time. The caterers have bought all the food and drinks and made a beautiful display. In the center of the room is a long table with decorations and a place card directing each character where to sit. Once everyone is seated, Hera and Zeus welcome every character to Mt. Olympus. Then the festivities begin!
The characters perform their skits and recite their poems and toasts. Somewhere during the banquet there is a special time where characters can exchange gifts for extra credit. Zeus and Hera bring the banquet to an end with one final speech. Then moments later, the bell dismisses them.
Everyone is sad to see this tradition go. Teachers pass the lesson to the fifth and sixth grade teachers, and say goodbye one last time. Mr. Sherrell, principal of Waluga Junior High says, 'The mythology banquet is one of the best, most exciting traditions at Waluga and I'm sad that it might not happen again.'
Playing the part of a character is a great way to learn because it helps the information stick in the heads of students. They learn the information as though it's their phone numbers; they're never going to forget it.
Burke and Calhoun are seventh grade students at Waluga Junior High School.