On Wednesday 28th June 2017, the English department at Workington Academy was transformed into Mount Olympus, home to the gods and legends of Ancient Greece. Over 280 pupils from Workington’s primary schools were welcomed for a day of heroic feats, noble quests and lots and lots of fun! Using Greek mythology and the popular Percy Jackson novel series as inspiration, we wanted to welcome some of our Year 5 friends to our new building and show them just how exciting things are at Workington Academy.
Arriving at Olympus
Upon arrival at school, students encountered some of the figures of Greek mythology they would be facing later in the day; some were friendlier than others – I think it’s safe to say that Medusa made quite an impression! Students were divided into teams named after some of these key figures. As before, these teams were made up of heroes from across the different schools in attendance to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and forge some new friendships over the course of the day. Each team was introduced to their guide whose job it was to navigate them safely between their quests; in the Percy Jackson universe, Percy’s guide is a satyr called Grover – at Workington Academy we use Year 9 and 10 students…. though they’re no less heroic or dedicated!
The day got off to a worrying start for our groups. Unfortunately, they were trapped inside Medusa’s Lair with the gorgon herself! It could’ve been potentially life-threatening as the monster’s stare can turn mortals to stone, but fortunately Luna and Persephone were on hand to help our heroes out. They listened to Medusa’s ranting and raving about some of the other gods and goddesses she has encountered, and temporarily pacified her rage by proving their knowledge of these figures. They managed to hoodwink her by creating tableaus which depicted pivotal scenes from Greek mythology and thankfully made their escape while her back was turned. We were only worried for a second!
The exhausting thing about being a hero in Ancient Greece is having to prove yourself time and time again. Before you can reach legend status, you need to prove yourself worthy to complete quests. At Camp Half-Blood – the sanctuary built for the children of Greek gods by Percy’s dad, Poseidon…. yes, the Poseidon – our legends-in-the-making were put through their paces by Nike, who tested their teamwork skills and stamina in a Greek relay event. We are just grateful she didn’t force us to attempt the obstacle tower to be honest…
Hades’ Underworld / Hecate’s Coven
No rest for the wicked. Our heroes were once again unfortunate enough to find themselves in yet another unenviable predicament: they had fallen into the clutches of Hades and Hecate, god of the Underworld and goddess of witchcraft. Now, these two are not particularly warm hosts at the best of times, but on this day they were joined by their buddy Nemesis, goddess of revenge. You can imagine their parties are a hoot! In order to escape with their lives, our champions had to help craft some revenge spells using particularly disgusting and repulsive ingredients. Some of them were scarily good at it… I wouldn’t want to be their younger siblings!
Theseus’ Labyrinth / Athena’s Armoury
En route to the top of Mount Olympus, our heroes came across Theseus’ Labyrinth and Athena’s Armoury. They helped Theseus to design a new mythical creature to sit in the middle of the labyrinth by blending together some of the parts of pre-existing creatures – there were some very strange-looking beasts at the end of the day. Athena was struggling to raise a strong, brave army – mostly because our heroes aren’t really old enough to be full-time warriors yet – so they gave her a hand producing some diagrams of the perfect fighter. Both Theseus and Athena were so impressed by the designs they saw, they’ve not stopped bragging about them since!
The final stop en route to greatness was at Icarus’ workshop. Brimming with confidence after excelling at the other challenges they’d faced over the course of the day, our visitors felt they could offer some assistance to Icarus, who ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun wearing wings made from feathers and wax. They helped to build blueprints and prototypes for more effective, robust flying machines and tested these using strix eggs (don’t feel bad, they’re nasty creatures!) Overall, their machines were a great success. I believe Icarus’ father, Daedalus, even offered a few apprenticeships…
‘It’s All Greek To Me’ was a legendary day (…get it?!) Our visitors showed their worth as future heroes as well as making some new friends and treasured memories. At the end of the day, a fearless warrior or innovative inventor from each school was nominated by our primary colleagues to receive a copy of Rick Riordan’s latest book, The Trials of Apollo, in recognition of their outstanding efforts and exemplary behaviour over the course of the activities.
The English Team would like to thank:
- Box Clever Storage, Embleton for the kind donation of materials to build Icarus’ flying machines.
- Our marvellous Year 12 students who created decorations fit for the gods and helped to feed our hungry heroes at break, as well as those Year 12 and 13 students who worked tirelessly in Icarus’ workshop and our ‘Ancient Greece photobooth’ all day.
- Our incredible guides from Years 9 and 10 who did an excellent job of negotiating some of the perilous settings and getting our heroes back to Mount Olympus safely.
- All other departments and staff within Workington Academy who helped in any way, shape or form with the preparation for and running of the event. Particular thanks go to the PE and IT departments who helped with our Greek relay and ‘Ancient Greece Photobooth’.
- Staff from our visiting primary schools for supporting the day and the activities.
- All of the valiant Year 5 students who engaged enthusiastically in all of the activities and worked so well together in their new teams.