Originally Published: June 4, 2003 6:10 p.m.
Jocelyn Hammond, the intermediate level teacher's aide, said this lesson used experiential learning, in which students experience whatever they learn about in class.
Sixth-grader Jon Rummel acted as the governor and landowner for the event, and used the metric system to measure out the back yard and divvy up spaces to each food- and crafts-selling group of students.
Each group then applied for a business license, which they paid for after making some money. Each group also built its own booth.
"An agora marketplace is where people came to buy food and toys for the children and crafts, swords and shields. It was a meeting place," he explained.
Rummel said that as governor, he had to plan out where each booth would operate in the area around the sidewalks and trees. He issued a license for each group, and each group prepared a plan as to what they would sell, what materials they would need, the size of their booth, expected profit and the name of their company.
Poseidon's Treasures and Medusa's Stare were among the names of the booths.
The kids in Poseidon's Treasures sold Greek flax crisps, which, according to Rummel, contained nine vegetables, including Greek olives.
"They're homemade," he said. "That's why they taste so good."
Rummel admitted eating a few crisps out of the bag he carried around – it was meant for free samples, but, he said, "I have to eat some, I got so hungry."
The group running Medusa's Stare sold food, drinks, garlands, hair ribbons, swords, shields and myths, according to sixth-grader Ruby Crews.
"I think we're learning a lot more, doing stuff we wouldn't usually do," Crews said of the marketplace.
She said she especially enjoyed "interacting with people as they come to the booth."
Although business dealings with Greek money and customer service lasted over an hour, the second part of the evening had yet to transpire.
The Persiphone play, set at the site of Skyview's future permanent theater, began after audience members meandered their way through the Greek countryside behind the school (bypassing street signs that pointed toward various Greek cities, and even to "Harry Potter's Diagon Alley").
Crews explained the Persiphone myth as the story of Hades stealing Persiphone into the underworld as his bride. Her mother, Demeter (played by Crews), "is really sad," and Zeus and Hermes "manage to get her back."
However, since Persiphone eats four seeds of pomegranate while she is in the underworld, she must spend four months of each year down there. These four months result in winter, whereas before Persiphone went to the underworld, the land had eternal summer.
"That's four seeds too many," Zeus (played by Rummel) exclaimed upon hearing from Persiphone how many seeds she had eaten. Although Rummel's booming voice earned laughter from the audience, the point – the development of winter – was quite serious.
"So the seasons come and go," said the play's narrator.
With the coming of this year's summer season (in Prescott), Hammond said the money that the students raised from the Greek agora and play will go toward the beginning of the construction of the permanent theater structure, which students designed during an architecture workshop.
Christian Champ, a sixth-grader working with Rummel in the Poseidon's Treasures booth, explained the mix of hands-on versus book-reading education he received about ancient Greek history.
"We have a balance of books and interactive studies," he said.
After all he has learned about ancient Greek life, Champ said, he'd rather live in present-day Prescott.
Of Greek life, he said, "some things are weird, like you had to sacrifice animals. That's just kind of weird. I kind of like modern stuff."
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org