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Epic Battle Between Greeks and Trojans Reenacted at North Cross School

Charlie Eggleston (L) portrays Achilles locked in a battle with Hector, played by Joseph Quinn.

by Cheryl Hodges

“Getting cold feet” before a performance took on new meaning this past Tuesday for the fifth graders at North Cross School who took part in a reenactment of the story of “The Iliad.” The morning event, which included the famous dual between Achilles and Hector, and of course a Trojan Horse, was held outdoors on the football field. None of the “soldiers” or “gods” appeared to be nervous, but the cool morning and wet grass from the repeated soaking rains of late had many pairs of bare and barely-sandaled feet looking a bit chilly to say the least.

The excitement was in the air, as the students, outfitted like ancient Greek and Trojan soldiers, prepared to engage in an epic battle. Parents, staff and the rest of the student body were on hand to cheer them on as shield and sword clashed in dramatic fashion, with the help of the booming narration from choral director and music teacher Andrew Miller.

Behind the effort is fifth grade History and Language Arts teacher Victor Lamas, who has incorporated the reenactment of famous battles from ancient history in the Social Studies fifth grade curriculum for many years. All of this is done to “bring history alive.”

“It gets everybody involved,” says Lamas. “The parents make authentic-looking shields, spears, and swords. (The kids paint them.) The art teacher helps us make helmets. The students themselves read an abridged version of “The Iliad” earlier in the year, so they are very familiar with the story.” This year, one parent, Martin Pruitt, constructed a Trojan horse large enough for many of the Greek Soldiers to hide in as they infiltrated the Trojan army and defeated them.

The reenactment is the culmination of a year-long effort that is much anticipated by the fifth grade students especially.  According to parent Donna Batzel, “My son Adam has looked forward to this day all year. In fact, he attended a different school last year, and this was a big thing that he excitedly talked about before he even arrived here as a new student … I know it will definitely be one of his all-time favorite childhood memories.”

Her son Adam Batzel may have managed to sum up the experience more succinctly: “I really liked it! It was a thrill to actually fight in school–we have a cool teacher!”

Transporting the entire school from 2011 to the time when the Greeks and the Trojans fought for glory and the most beautiful woman in all of Greece, Helen of Troy, was “such a treat for the students,” according to Patricia Eggleston, whose son Charlie played Achilles.

She calls Lamas a “dedicated and passionate teacher” with a vision, adding that “The excitement that surrounds this event is evident in the faces of the students, parents, and community.”

After the event, Lamas said, “I thought it went really well today. The rain paused for a couple of hours for us.”

Lamas appears to be setting the bar higher with each project. “We do a reenactment every year, each covering a different civilization or battle or event in ancient history. Last year was a battle between a Roman legion and a Macedonian phalanx. That one had a catapult in it.”

Once the action-packed display had concluded, Lamas was quickly brought back to present day life in a fifth grade classroom: “All I can say is that afterward, my kids asked if they could sword fight during recess.”

 

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