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Greek Day at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi dates back to 2004 when the campus’ first junior class was studying the subtleties of Homer's “The Iliad.”

Greek Day tradition continues at KS Hawai'i

Sept. 4, 2014

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

Togas are the rage among KS Hawai‘i juniors today as the students celebrate Greek Day, a high school campus tradition.

Greek Day at KSH dates back to 2004 with the campus’ first junior class. A teacher had selected Homer's “The Iliad” as a summer reading assignment. Students were to come to class on the first day of school having read the text and prepared to demonstrate what they had learned, either by test or “other activities.”

The grade 11 English and world history teachers met to determine how to make the text come to life. Those teachers conceptualized an interdisciplinary, project-based experience that involved students being clustered into Greek city-state teams.

Each team project involved creating several performance elements:  a cheer with information about the city state, a Greek dance, a reenactment of part of The Iliad and a mini version of the funeral games for Patroclus, which occur toward the end of The Iliad.  Each team also created a banner with symbolism related to its city state.

The timing of the assignment was ideal. In 2004 the summer Olympics were being held in Greece which built additional excitement about the history of the Olympic Games—both ancient and modern.

“While the elements have been basically the same for the last 10 years, the event has gotten far splashier and far more elaborate than the original ‘bring a sheet and wear it over your PE clothes’ costumes and props,” says English teacher Elizabeth Truesdell.  

“Greek Day is a touchstone for the junior year and, arguably, for the KS Hawai‘i High School experience.”  

In 2012 when the one-to-one laptop program was rolled out, the live reenactments shifted to films created by the classes.  Each major element of the day is scored, and the winning class has its city-state name and year inscribed on the perpetual plaque; the 2013 winner—Olympia—fills the last spot on the original plaque.

And since every great tradition involves food, students enjoy a delicious Greek lunch catered by the campus' food service staff. The menu inlcudes Greek salad, beef and lamb prepared separately for gyros, tzatziki sauce in break bowls, fresh grapes and baklava. 

English teachers Elizabeth Truesdell and Clint Anderson are two of the "founding parents" of Greek Day, along with Jan Gapero in world history and Tony Hynes, who teaches US history.  Last year Solveig Lamberg also rejoined the English 11 teacher team.

Mahalo to Elizabeth Truesdell for sharing the history of Greek Day and to Cyndi Bartels for providing photos from last year’s event. News on this year's Greek Day festivities is coming soon.

Watch highlights from Greek Day 2013 in a video from teacher Nader Shehata:

Students are divided into Greek city states, here Athens is represented.

Costumes over the last 10 years have gotten far splashier and more elaborate.

Spirited entrances and presentations are a part of what makes Greek Day a special campus tradition.

Students compete in games as part of the Greek Day festivities.

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