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Marist School’s Classics Program Promotes an Appreciation of Mythology Among Younger Students

On February 1, gods, goddesses, monsters, and heroes took over the Marist School campus for the 8th annual Mythopaloosa, hosted by Marist’s Junior Classical League (JCL).
A key element of the JCL’s Myth Madness Program, Mythopaloosa provided an opportunity for over 50 5th-8th graders from six local schools and programs to come to Marist to explore themes in Greek and Roman mythology as part of their preparation for the National Mythology Exam (NME). Earning indirect and direct community service hours, 28 Marist students in grades 9-12 served as helpers and mentors, sharing their enthusiasm for mythology with the younger participants.
 
Since 2012, Marist's Latin students have worked with students from other schools to create interest and build knowledge about ancient myths and legends, the foundations of a classical education. Mythopaloosa is just one of the ways Myth Madness helps the JCL reach out to provide support for students in grades 3-8. Marist Librarian Ms. Angela Williams has been instrumental in promoting the program to librarians in Archdiocesan schools, who have responded enthusiastically. As a result, participating schools and programs this year include nine Catholic schools such as St. Catherine of Siena, St. John the Evangelist, St. Peter Claver, and St. Jude the Apostle, among others (with more hoping to participate next year). Other participants include students from DeKalb Path Academy and the Society of Mary-sponsored REACH for Excellence. The JCL provides materials, contests, workshops, book prizes, and mentoring for these students in preparation for the NME. Their goal is to promote an appreciation and love of mythology among younger students who otherwise would not have the resources, access, or support.
 
Myth Madness supports students by purchasing the exam (which is administered at the participating schools); providing information and resources; awarding participation and merit certificates; and hosting Mythopaloosa. Funded in part this year by a grant from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South and the Committee for the Promotion of Latin, this year’s Mythopaloosa included fun and engaging activities and games designed to review for the exam. Marist’s Latin IV Honors students created a “journey” in Laird Gym, featuring interactive games, props, and stations so that the younger students could travel as Aeneas from Troy to a new home in Italy.
 
JCL Co-Moderator and Marist Latin Teacher Dr. A-W Saunders said, “At the heart of it, Myth Madness is really a reading program, and we bring together students who like to hear and read stories and who are hungry for that kind of experience.”
 
Mr. Tom Marier, JCL co-moderator and Marist Latin teacher, added, “We are huge fans of national contests like the National Mythology Exam. Kids want an excuse to do something that they already enjoy, and it’s like a sporting event for them. They prepare like it’s a game coming up, and they had better work on their skill sets.”
 
In order to give programs with few resources the ability to participate in the Myth Madness Program, the JCL raises money through special events like its annual Readathon held this year on October 18, 2019. From dawn until dusk, hundreds of faculty, staff, and students served as readers and listeners and filled Alumni Plaza for the Readathon, where they enjoyed the entirety of Homer’s Odyssey. During the 12-hour Readathon, JCL members requested support through pledges, with proceeds going to Myth Madness. JCL Co-President Sydney Smith ’20 said, “This year was even more of a success because we incorporated ‘bookmarks’ while we read the Odyssey. These bookmarks summarized what had occurred in each book and were signed by those who had read that book. By the end, we had 24 bookmarks signed by a mix of students and faculty.”
 
The schools participating in Myth Madness are grateful for the support provided by Marist’s JCL. Media Specialist Ms. Vinita John from St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School said, “We are very appreciative of the Latin Club at Marist for sponsoring the NME for us. We are thankful for their generosity and all that they do to promote the classics…What a wonderful way to truly experience a hands-on approach to community service—they are touching so many lives, as I know our kids will carry their love of mythology with them.”
 
Enjoy highlights from Mythopaloosa 2020 in this brief video created by Nick DeCarlo ’23.

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Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers