LLR Books

Fairhope Elementary class celebrate year of studying Greek mythology

FAIRHOPE, Ala. - The yearlong third-grade reading program on “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” which resulted in PowerPoint presentations and other activities and ended with a festival where Fairhope Elementary Students played their favorite characters from Greek mythology, began with a few students who just loved the books.
“I wanted to see what the big deal was,” said third-grade teacher Lesley Davis, about the best-selling series that a few of her students were reading on their own. “I saw what the appeal was, and eventually the class not only read all five in the series, but also was inspired to carry on a yearlong unit on Greek mythology.”

The wildly popular series of books is about 12-year-old student Percy Jackson, diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia – like author Rick Riordan’s son – and his adventures. Jackson discovers he is the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, and that his legendary counterparts were out there as well.

The series has sold more than 20 million copies in 35 countries since the 2005 publication of the first book, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” according to promotional materials, which was made into a popular movie in February 2010.

Last Wednesday, May 11, the class celebrated their reading of the series and study of mythology with a Greek festival.

The students took on the roles of their favorite characters from Greek myth as follows: Emily Adams, Athena; Meagan Blosser, Aphrodite/Venus; Morgan Blosser, Artemis; Elizabeth Coleman, Aphrodite; Tyler Gilbert, Persephone; Bethany Graham, Persephone; Kaleb Hill, Zeus; Hudson Holloway, Hades; Ben Kendall, Charon; Alex Mansmann, Zeus; Will Mclean, Poseidon; Olivia Penry, Aphrodite; Savannah Reid, Athena; Diamond Smith, Athena; Dylan Smith, Poseidon; Joe Smith, Zeus; Claire Wagner, Athena; and Mrs. Lesley Davis, Athena.

“We had activities to follow the chapters of each book in the series,” Davis said this week. “My goal was to give each student the skills needed to begin the books with me but finish the series themselves. As a result, I have seen a dramatic change in students’ reading confidence and a growth in their love of reading, which for me is the whole point.”

Sixteen of the students also achieved at least 100 points or higher for the Accelerated Reader program and were able to participate in the AR parade, Davis said.

“Students researched and completed PowerPoint’s on their favorite gods and goddesses, as well as a book unit covering the Percy Jackson series,” she said. “On the day of the festival, students celebrated by wearing Greek costumes, participating in authentic Greek dancing, and enjoying a Greek feast. Opa!”

Several possible explanations of how May got its name

2011-06-01 / Editorial

By John Arnott

“A goddess smiled on the month of May,

When mortals marked her sacred day.

Then blossoming boughs and emerald fields,

Gave promise of their fruitful yields.”

May is thought to have been named after the ancient Greek goddess, Maia, much associated with nurturing, She is the mother of Hermes (called Mercury by the Romans), the messenger god. The Romans also had a goddess called Maia, who is associated with growing things. It is not clear to historians if the Greek Maia and the Roman Maia were indeed the same goddess or two different entities as the Romans tended to associate this Greek goddess with their goddess of fertility, known affectionately as Bona Dea, meaning the good goddess who they honoured with a May festival.

“The wise old ones the May sun sought,

In forum squares and gardens fair.

They sat and mused on days now gone

When life was sweet and youth was theirs.”

However in his six-book poem Fasti, the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC - 17 AD), popularly called Ovid in the Englishspeaking world, proposed that the month was named for seniors or elders, in Latin, called maiores. The Latin fasti means calendar or chronological events or lists, and each book of the probably unfinished poem covers one month January through June.

“Today we honour

Queens in May,

And fill the night with coloured flares.

The sun is strong and frosts now rare.

It’s planting time we do declare.”

For centuries May Day or May 1 was a spring festival and a feature of the day was a beribboned may pole, around which two circles of folk dancers danced one clockwise and the other anticlockwise, each holding a brightly coloured ribbon one end of which was attached to the pole. As the dance progressed, the ribbons braided originally symbolizing, it’s thought, male-female union and the creating of new life, all harking back to the pre- Christian Maia-Bona Dea May festival. Today, May 1 in many countries is equivalent to our Labour Day.

By the by, the distress or “mayday” call has nothing to do with May. It is the anglicized spelling of the French “m'aidez,” meaning help or aid me.

Here, we honour Queen Victoria, born May 24, 1819, who was for 64 years so much a part of our history, and the first sovereign of a self governing Canada. We also hold the Canadian celebration of our present Queen’s birthday the Monday closest to the 24.

Of course, May 24 is the traditional date for safely planting annuals, as almost all danger of frost has past. But here in the Tottenham- Orangeville area, the “maiores” tell us to wait until the first week in June.

“Our garden tasks have now begun.

We work the soil with fork and trowel,

We plant the seed and watch it come,

Nurtured by the warm May sun.”