Wednesday, January 14, 2004
One hundred and sixty-five Egyptian-garbed sixth-graders filed into the multi-purpose room at Hood River Middle School for a special feast on Friday afternoon. They were culminating a six-week study of ancient Egypt by dressing, eating and “walking like an Egyptian.”
This is the sixth year that Hood River Middle School’s sixth grade teachers have given their students this opportunity to learn about the era of pyramids, hieroglyphics and mummies. New this year was a life-size paper pyramid built by the students and led by Tom Merriam, whose daughter Bridget is in the sixth grade.
“It was a two-week project; each class made 72 rolled-up paper tubes and then it took 50 kids two hours to assemble it,” Merriam said. The project doubled as a math lesson; he involved the students in calculating how many tubes it would take and how they would need to go together to create a geodesic pyramid. The final structure was covered with paper and decorated with hieroglyphics.
Individual projects were displayed on a long table — pyramids made of sugar cubes, wooden blocks, sand, Legos, and foil; scrolls, a sarcophagus, travel brochures and more. Projects were assigned a point value — by doing more complicated projects or a large number of smaller ones, kids could earn the status of pharoah. Lesser point totals earned lower status, such as pharoah’s family, pharoah’s advisors, official tax collectors, scribes, and slaves (“skilled workers”).
For the feast, the students dressed in linen robes and tunics and wore jewelry, headgear and make-up of the period. They paraded around the room and did their best Egyptian pose in front of the four judges, who had the unenviable task of choosing the best costumes.
“I wouldn’t want to be the judge,” sixth-grade teacher Wendy Fisk said. “It would be very hard.”
The judges handled it by naming lots of winners.
“We picked two from each group of five — there’s a ‘cast of thousands,’” said May Street Elementary School’s principal Dan Patton, one of the judges.
Pharoahs were served at a table, eating from gold plates and drinking sparkling cider from goblets. The others were not so fortunate.
“We get to eat at a table — the other people have to eat on the ground,” Alex Marchesi said. In addition, the others had to settle for plain apple juice and regular cups.
The fare — olives, pita bread, falafel, tzatziki, hummus, pomegranate and more — was a little new to many of the kids but not all turned up their noses at it.
“It’s awesome — it’s all awesome,” according to Sam Kopecky, who was clearly enjoying his place at the pharoah’s table.