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!”