The 4th Grade Greek Odyssey Sleep Under: An Epic Night at ISB
By Maggie Carson, Maria Falgoust, & Danielle Valenti
Did you know that George O’Connor’s graphic novel series, The Olympians, is the most popular series in the ISB Library? This inspired the Library team and the Middle School Booklets Club to host an immersive extravaganza that would transport 4th Graders to Ancient Greece!
Earlier in the year, 4th Grade students had a mysterious visit in their Library class from Hermes (ISB parent Alessandro d'Ansembourg), inviting them to the evening’s festivities. From that moment, 4th Graders weren’t exactly sure what to expect from this new ISB tradition, but they were certainly intrigued! Leading up to the event, 4th Graders read Greek myths in their classrooms and Library class, while behind the scenes, students, parents, and teachers volunteered their time to create decorations, write scripts, and so much more! The result was a true celebration of imagination, storytelling, and creativity.
"The Sleep Under was something fun for both the kids and the people organizing it. It was a special event and we had never done anything like it before." -Mischa, 7th Grade
When the 4th Graders arrived at ISB on the evening the Sleep Under, they were delighted to meet each other dressed in togas. As Greek lyre music played, students were guided by lantern-wielding pans and muses into Athena’s Workshop. Thanks to the talents of lighting designer and ISB parent Lucrecia Briceno, the Cafeteria, Movement Room, Learning Commons, and Music Room were completely transformed to the setting of a Greek myth beyond all of our imaginations! Teachers and administrators appeared one by one, dressed as Greek goddesses and gods. The odyssey kicked off with an original song, written by Director of Middle School Richard Brownstone, and performed with the musical and vocal talents of teachers and students. As Poseidon, Mr. Brownstone was searching for his missing trident.
Students were divided into four teams (Team Persephone, Team Apollo, Team Artemis, and Team Poseidon) that they would remain with throughout the night on their hunt for the trident. Each student was given a custom-made button to signify what team they were on. Before the quest truly began, students participated in a wreath making workshop, creating felt crowns to sport throughout the night. In Ancient Greece, wreaths were associated with Greek attire and celebrations, and it was believed that wearing these wreaths would bring you closer to the gods, and the leaves you chose would indicate which god you were looking to for favors. In order to fit into the ancient world and win favor with the gods, students donned their wreaths and set off for Mount Olympus (ordinarily known as the ISB Library)!
"I am Athena. I am known for my wisdom, handicraft, and warfare! I sprang from Zeus’s head, full-grown, and clothed in armor, no big deal. Welcome to my workshop! Tonight we are here to create wreaths for you to wear so you can walk amongst the gods in style."
4th Graders ready to begin their Odyssey!
The immensely popular author and illustrator of The Olympians series, George O’Connor, made an appearance as Pan, rocking Hermes shoes and horns (as Pan explained, his goat legs were at the cleaners). George led the kids in a “Create Your Own God” workshop in Mount Olympus, among hand-painted mountains, blue-hued lighting, and clouds. Enchanted, the students worked with George to create a new goddess called “Alexatricos,” the goddess of computers and modern technology. O’Connor left his illustration of this new goddess hanging in the Library, where she can be visited and enjoyed by the community. As 4th Grade student Milo explains, "She has a computer head of a robot, a torso, a wire skirt, robotic horse legs, and radio to speak.” The workshop culminated in a lively Q&A, during which students asked George questions about publishing.
"I feel like I was part of a legendary event, and not just because we were dealing with Greek mythology, but because everything was so well thought out, creative, and fun. I have no doubt that people will be talking about this night for years to come. The whole evening was incredibly special, and I was honored and thrilled to have played my small part in the festivities."
-George O' Connor, Author and Illustrator of The Olympians
All of this excitement had worked up quite an appetite for a Greek feast. Students dined in Hestia’s Hearth (the Movement Room), while former ISB teacher Sophie Forker serenaded the students with gorgeous instrumentals on her harp. They ate scrumptious Greek food from the local restaurant, Avlee, and drank apple cider from goblets amongst Greek vases and grapes. George O’Connor dined with the group, conversing and toasting “Opah!”
After dinner, teams tested their knowledge of Greek mythology with Artemis (French 4th Grade Head Teacher Molida Khuon) and Aphrodite (Director of Lower School Delphine Michaud).
Meanwhile, up in the amphitheater (the Music Room), 8th Grade student Jillian MCed a theater and comedy show. Middle School Booklets performed a lively rendition of George O’Connor’s play, Poseidon, two times, the first performance straight through, and the second performance with improvisation using input from the audience. Hilarity ensued!
Next, ISB parent Michele Ceres-Clarke performed an original dynamic comedy routine as the goddess Thalia in “Thalia’s Comedy Cloud!” 4th Graders cracked up and clapped along to the beats of Thalia’s rap song which included the refrain:
“I am the Greek Goddess Thalia…God of Comedy,
I’ll make you laugh, giggle, and jump – that’s my remedy.”
Since the event, 4th Graders have been heard reciting some of Thalia’s lines and cracking each other up.
"Bringing centuries-old Greek gods to life in 2019 - through rap - was a lot of fun. It was a real pleasure working with Maria, her team, and fellow parents!"
-Michele, ISB Parent
The grand finale featured Michele as Cassiopeia, an incredibly famous and vain goddess. She rapped while her bodyguards — her husband Rudy and their son, ISB 8th Grader Wade — swayed to the beats behind her. Suddenly, the trident appeared in the night sky! Head of School Joe Santos (a new Poseidon) was thrilled to be reunited with it!
Students left ISB with amazing memories and goody bags to commemorate the evening, filled with custom-designed magnets made by Maggie, lightning bolt cookies made by Nia Judelson, bookmarks, George O’Connor’s "mad libs," and more. It was certainly a night the 4th Graders will remember for a long time to come, and we’re honored to work in a community that embraces such adventure.
"We were amazed by the number of people — teachers, students, parents and outsiders — who were inspired by this brilliant idea to transform ISB into another world, and who helped to create a truly unique night of magic, fun and learning. Seeing the excitement of the kids in togas at the threshold and hearing the non-stop avalanche of stories on the trip home was a treat…it’s a gift that our son will not forget. A huge thank you to the library staff and everyone involved! Homer would have been jealous." -Tal Nawy, ISB Parent
"The Greek Night was the most amazing thing in the world. What could be better than that? It was so good. The best of my life." -Sebastian, 4th Grade
A big thank you to all who helped to make this evening magical. This event was a beautiful showcase of our community's creativity, generosity, and talents. Click here to view a slideshow, made by the Library and the Booklets, with more photos from the event.
A special thank you to Lucrecia Briceno for designing the lighting, Regan Penaluna and Eileen Ley for spearheading the decoration team, Richard Brownstone for writing the music, Molida for directing the Booklets’ play and creating the trivia game, and Michele Ceres-Clarke for performing as not just one, but two goddesses.
This event would not have been possible without the help of our Library team and Middle School Booklets: Maria, Maggie, Amelia, Anna, Elsie, Filipe, Filippa, Lara, Jillian, Margaux, Marina, Max, Mischa, Verena, teachers and administrators: Amanda, Chavelly, Danielle, Delphine, Hector, Jocsan, Joe, Kelly, Isabelle, Marc, Melanie, Molida, Natalie, Paulina, Richard, and Verónica, student volunteers: Amalia, Camille, Clio, Darian, Elsie, James, Jonas, Jonny, Kaleb, Loic, Marina, Marvin, Mathis, Milo, Paloma, Seres, Simon, Tiago, and Wade, parent volunteers: Florencia Tateossian, Gretchen Drobnyk, Ashna Chopra, Heloise Bebear, Jasmine Chu, Jennifer Wheary, Jimena Bruguera, Marianne Gimon, Melissa Magallanes, Miwa Koizumi, Pauline de Vivie de Regie, Rudy Ceres, Shayna Wellington, Sophie Amieva, and Stephanie Arpage, friends: Karen Eberle, Sophie Forker and Tae Won Yu, and author and illustrator George O'Connor! Our Greek feast was prepared by local restaurant Avlee and the sweet treats were baked by Nia Judelson.