Welcomed by Zeus and Athena, singing “Glorious Apollo,” spouting Odes to Hermes, Aphrodite, and Poseidon (see below), the fifth graders of the coalition of Waldorf Schools of Southern California recently joined together on Coronado Beach in San Diego for one of the pinnacle events of their elementary school years, the Fifth Grade Pentathlon. This event is the culmination of the fifth graders year of training during Games class in the five disciplines of the Pentathlon: Javelin, Discus, Long-jump, Circle Wrestling, and Running. With a focus on building three aspects in each discipline: Form, Dynamic, and Measure, the athletes were continuously challenged to progress and learn how to more fully express truth, beauty, and grace in each of their movements.
All of the fifth graders hear stories and participate in artistic studies of Ancient Greece in their main lesson classes as part of their introduction to ancient civilizations. Reflecting this work, the games/movement curriculum deepens the experience of understanding the influence of the ancient Greeks by exploring movements which aim to balance the forces between gravity and levity. Fifth grade, when children are circling eleven years old, is looked to as a period of amazing harmony in the body. These five disciplines call upon each child’s capacity to stand more upright and to expand their movements to the fullest expressions of each form. Using the tools of the pentathlon, the children are also held to a strict regimen of safety protocols, as they must respect the potential dangers of misusing or carelessly handling the equipment. It is an important aspect of the training to adhere to boundaries, offer awareness to surroundings and give their full attention to their teachers for instructions.
Unifying the athletes from each school into the four city-states of Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Corinth, the fifth graders were able to build friendships and explore similarities and differences with children from each of the nine represented schools. Representing Pasadena Waldorf with enthusiastic joy, striking poise, and outgoing friendliness, the students from Mr. Cazares’ fifth grade class were wonderful Ambassadors of our school. Offering inspired javelin and discus throws, leaping and meeting each other eye to eye and hand to hand with courage, and running with swiftness and grace. All in all, it was a glorious and unforgettable day!
Ode To Athena
O’ Athena, born from Zeus’ own head
Of all the gods you are most wise
Though on earth you do tread
You also float on the breezes of the skies.
Your wonderful eyes shine with a grey light
And a fire within me they do ignite.
So today, the Pentathlon
From the real world let me breakaway
And through the sky my spirit be drawn
To watch below the display
Let my body act with such strength, courage and beauty
That my spirit dance with glee.
And then to my body return again
To worship you in your power
A shining light among all men
Beautiful as a new spring flower
So now for your help I do plea
Bring courage, strength and beauty to me.
Ode To Hermes
O Hermes, give me speed
So I may push forward in times of need.
Given me some bright light
So I may send my javelin off in flight.
O Hermes, make me strong
So I may send my discus along.