Skip to main content

The City Journals

Ancient Greece not so ancient at Early Light Academy

Feb 26, 2019 03:30PM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey helps a first-grader tape his Greek column as part of Early Light Academy’s Day in History. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It was a school day like no other. School children dressed in togas filling in the hallway under paper grapes strung in bunches from the ceiling. 

In the younger grades’ classrooms, first-graders were creating ancient Greek architecture, learning about the capital, shaft and base. Second-graders were recalling the myth about the Minotaur, and third-graders were sampling Greek pita bread, figs and olives after learning about Roman aqueducts and the Olympics in Athens. 

The students held a mini-Olympics after watching third-grade teacher Megan Morris’ husband, Taylor, compete in last year’s Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea. Their competition wasn’t quite on the same level, but students took part in events such as running the hallways and competing in the long jump. 

In the older grades, students created and performed their own one-act plays based on Greek gods. 

It was all part of Early Light Academy’s Day in History studying ancient Greece, Director of Curriculum Shannon Berry said.

“Our Day in History allows students to experience life in a different time period,” she said, adding that it is the charter school’s sixth Day in History, with previous years exploring the 1400s, 1776, 1863, 1920s and 1968.

Berry said the traditions and cultural committee, comprised of teachers, looks at time periods in history each year for students to explore.

“Teachers choose a topic to teach and students within the grade level rotate to learn a number of subjects on the time period,” she said. “Learning about these days in history is a fun way to get out of the normal classroom route but still learn about the time period and how it helps make us who we are.”

While second-grade teacher Michelle Lalor was teaching the basic structure of columns, she also gave students a chance to construct one out of paper.

“This gives them a chance to think outside the box, build confidence to create and use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to construct a column,” she said.

Third-grader Charley Ott said many of her classmates liked dressing up.

“We got to learn what they did back then and how they lived,” she said. “I learned how they brought their water into cities using aqueducts.”

Sixth-grade teacher Rob Abney asked his students to not only write scripts but to direct the plays, complete with props and costumes. Students learned skills from writing and oral speaking to teamwork and leadership.

He hoped students made the connection that today’s entertainment has roots in ancient Greece.

“Through their research, they learned that Greek plays and drama impacted us today in our TV shows, movies and video games,” Abney said. 

Fifth-grader Anna Elggren said she learned the Parthenon was a place where Greek people worshipped Athena.

“I learned she’s the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration and strategy,” Anna said.

Classmate Ava Montague made the connection to today.

“Even the Statue of Liberty is based on a goddess,” Ava said, adding that she likes Day in History so she can “understand history and see how our ancestors lived.”

In their math class, the two girls and their classmates had a chance to create the Parthenon out of blocks, LEGOS, math manipulatives or paper in small groups. 

While Ava wants the next year’s Day in History to be in the Renaissance and Anna wants the 1980s, Berry said the committee already has decided on the 1820s.

“We try to alternate between ancient and more modern times,” she said.

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey took in the students’ activities and learning.

“I love Day in History at Early Light,” she said. “It’s a fantastic hands-on way to not just learn but to experience history. The faculty and staff have done an amazing job incorporating not only history in the day, but subjects from theater to architecture.”