July 17, 2019

World As Our Classroom: GREECE!

World As Our Classroom: GREECE! DATE: 06-03-2015

June 3- OPA! is the celebratory exclamation that students had upon their return home from the fabled Adriatic locales of Greece. Teacher leaders from the English and Music departments, respectively, Melissa Wyman & Erin Stevens; Rob & Sue Gattie, and Danielle Fraser, took 24 students to the mainland and isles. Students cannot stop talking about their wonderful adventures. As a side note, Hartford ninth graders read Homer’s Odyssey; this particular group of students read Rick Riodan’s Percy Jackson series as middle schoolers, so they were prepared to drink in all the myth possible from the motherland.

One unexpected lesson that emerged from the trip was learning about the state of stray cats and dogs in the country, many of whom inhabited the ancient sites now rife with tourists. The situation of the homeless pets shocked students and they reflected upon the contrasting state of Americans’ favorite animal-companions in Greece versus here in the United States. They even went so far as to adopt one of the dogs for the day, dubbing it Katniss, after the Hunger Games survivor-heroine. Hunger Games played a part as well when they visited the ancient Athenian Theatre of Epidavrus, where the acoustics of the arena allow spectators in the nosebleed seats to hear the actors on stage down below. One student, standing on stage, whistled the first part of Katniss’ “mockingjay” call, and a like-minded stranger whistled back the response. See video below!


As far as the itinerary goes, teacher-leader Erin Stevens shared the general outline with me, which I’ve added on to after speaking with students:

Day One: Athens walking tour: students glimpsed the ancient sites that they’d be visiting in subsequent days. This is when students first encountered the feral pets, and noted how extraordinary it is that modern-day residents live and walk by legendary sites on a daily basis. Students were lucky enough to overlap with Easter celebrations and joined in the festivities on the night of their arrival.

Day Two: Hadrian's Arch and the Acropolis, the  ancient shopping-mall of Athens; students enjoyed the modern-day shops as well! Acrop-o-Cat was a cat who lived at the base of the Acropolis: students were drawn to her because unlike the other cats who seemed to be wandering all over the sites, Acrop-o-Cat was seated quietly, taking in her visitors.

Day Three: Travel to Delphi and hiked up to the Oracle of Delphi. The tour guide, Penny, was wonderful and the kids loved her. This was the favorite site for many students because they could not believe the gravity of this ancient, sacred site. Kenna Hausler told me, “I mean, it was just so cool!” Spent the night in Delphi in a really great hotel in the middle of the main street and had a family style dinner overlooking an incredible view of an immense valley. Victoria Stevenson explained that it was too spectacular for words, “It’s just indescribable.”

Day Four: Travel to Tolo via Olympia. Saw ancient site of Olympics, where the Olympic torch is still lit from as it begins its journey to each Olympic village. Saw the ruins of the monuments to the cheaters, which was very interesting. Traveled to Tolo, a beach community that was hopppppin' in the 1970s and 1980s and still gets quite busy in the summer months. This is where they found a puppy and named her Katniss.

Day Five: CRUISE! We went to Hydra, no motorized vehicles at all, which was a first-time experience for many. Then Spetses, the young, hip place to go.

Day Six: Travel back to Athens. Stopped at the Theater of Epidavrus. We also stopped in Mycenae and saw the ruins of the city. We ventured down to the Tomb of Agamemnon that is said to be inhabited by his spirit. Most everyone who took a photo has a weird orb or streak of light across the picture. Back in Athens. Shopping, again. =)

Day Seven: Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Shopping and lunch in the downtown area. Back to the hotel to enjoy the beach and rest up before packing =(

-Alexis Nelson