The winter Olympics weren't just held in Italy, this year. Greenbriar West Elementary recently held its own version as part of its Ancient Greece Day.
TOGA-WEARING fifth-graders rotated through each other's classrooms, competing in a variety of events — such as the mighty marble grab and the straw-javelin throw — and then enjoyed a Greek feast in the cafeteria.
"My most favorite thing was the shotput," said Robert Bennett, 11. "We tossed cotton balls and measured how far they went." He also discovered that "you can't throw them overhand; you have to push them. Mine went 160 inches; me and Stuart [Baird] tied."
However, Katie Williamson, 10, liked the marble grab best. "It was easier to do than the other games," she said. Katie wore a white toga made out of a sheet tied at the waist with a white cord and edged at the bottom hem with gold trim. And from her studies of the ancient Greeks, she learned that "Spartans were warriors and Athenians were readers."
In teacher Steven Smith's classroom, students filed into two long lines, preparing for the broad jump. Smith told them the ancient Greeks jumped with weights in their hands for inertia. But in the students' case, he said, "You'll be holding markers."
After completing a long-distance jump, Matthew Calvert, 10, said, "I went farther 'cause I dived. My farthest jump was 65 1/2 inches." He said the Greeks "really had lots of cool architecture and temples. I would love to go see the Parthenon."
Kiana Snekcim, 11, called the broad jump fun and said she'd done it before. As for the ancient Greeks, she said, "They had to take an oath promising to not disgrace their elected officials in the military and to guard their city with their lives."
ALSO A FAN of the broad jump was Eric Allen, 11. He jumped 63 inches and said he especially liked the Greek God Hermes "because he could fly." Travis Godfrey, 10, jumped 65 inches and captured second place in the event. His favorite god was Apollo "because he had so many powers. He would ride across the sky in a chariot and bring light to the world."
Susan Choi, 10, also called the broad jump fun. "I didn't really have a technique," she said. "I just jumped." Her favorite Greek god was Artemis because "she's the goddess of hunts and she protects children. She always wanted to stay a kid, and I want to, too."
Meanwhile, Eric Lee, 10, was proud of his 74-inch jump and said he liked competing against his classmates. "I like athletic things," he said. "I learned that the Greeks also saw how far they could throw spears."
For the marble grab, a hand-strength/math competition, students estimated how many marbles they could grab from a container. Then, after they grabbed, they had to count their marbles, see how close that number was to their estimate and calculate the difference.
Roshni Gorur, 10, said that was the neatest event because "there really was no way to cheat. You just saw how much your hand can hold. I got exactly 20, and that was my estimate — a nice, round number, not too high and not too low."
Roshni also enjoyed playing bingo about ancient Greek facts. "And I liked the gods and goddesses and the Olympics," said the fifth-grader. "My favorite goddess is Athena, and I dressed up like her with a shield and a spear. She's the goddess of wisdom, battle and cities, and I liked her because she's a mixture of a lot of things."
Dressed in a white toga decorated with leaves, plus the Olympic rings drawn in markers, Chris Byrne, 11, said his favorite event was the sponge grab. "You estimate how much water you could squeeze out of a sponge," he explained. "I estimated 400 milliliters and I got 300."
That event was also a hit with Jonathan Wondemu, 10. "I liked it best because I got first place," he said. "I guessed 200 milliliters."
PATRICK NGUYEN, 10, garbed in a toga adorned with black-and-gold braid, especially liked the "javelin" toss. "We tossed straws," he said. "Mine went 5 feet 2 inches. You can't throw it too hard or too light — you've just got to throw it in between."
He said GBW's version of the Olympics was cool because "we actually got to try out everything the Greeks did, so it was like living then and seeing how it was." Agreeing, Victoria Hairston, 10, said the event was "really fun because we get to do different events like they did and try out different foods."