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New Class Profile: Greek Mythology

Bridgette Kelly

During a fire drill out on the front lawn, students — inspired by a few lessons on Greek mythology taught in his world literature class — asked Mike Vial if he would consider teaching a class solely focused on Greek mythology, planting the first seed for the new class. Vial has had a love for Greek mythology since teaching a Greek mythology class at a previous district, and after finding that there was a Greek mythology class already in the course book, he decided to make the class a reality.

“Students seem excited about the stories and what the stories might mean for them,” said Vial. “I feel that the stories are pretty entertaining and engaging on their own, and it’s fun to pass that ancient classical history and literature to this new generation of great students.”

The class will first focus on the Battle of Troy by studying recent retellings of the story and comparing their depiction of divine intervention with the original story. Next, the class will examine epic poetry versions of “The Iliad” which will include elements of independent learning, allowing students to gauge the upcoming independent units. The semester will also include love stories and hero stories which Vial thinks will provide more stability and guidance to the class. Later in the semester, the class will examine plays and take a vote to determine which ones they will watch. Finally, Vial plans to implement creative elements into the class by having students use the readings and writing from the semester to form a project.

“There’s been a lot of books on the shelves, and there’s gonna be some possible ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ in a unit, whether it’s independent or in groups,” Vial said. “For example, if some people liked the idea of looking at war through the lens of a woman, there are two or three books that are already out written about that.”

Vial wants the class to be challenging in a way that is accessible, and although he acknowledged that the words “challenging” and “accessible” aren’t usually seen together, his goal is to make the class fulfilling to those who are already experts in Greek mythology and to those who aren’t. One way he is planning on doing this is by going deeper into the readings to find meaning within the text.

“I’m trying to create those little circles where it’s not just ‘go read and then we talk a little bit,’” Vial said. “I want to create the sense that there is a reason why we’re reading and there’s something we’re learning how to do. How we analyze, how we think and how we make connections between different tellings.”

Vial is planning on offering more choice and independence in Greek mythology than he has given for world literature and Intro to Literature classes, with even the final project being more open-ended to promote creativity.

“I’m hoping that choice will create something cool,” Vial said.

Vials feel that the class is already doing very well with the in-class readings and assignments. He hopes that the discussions can become more organic by having fewer hands up and more open discussions. He is also happy with the number of new students.

“I was super excited when I saw the roster for the class,” Vial said. “Half the class has had me before and the other half has never experienced the caffeinated Vial.”

Vial hopes that this class will add to Community High School’s “funky” vibe; keeping the class open to choice so students can explore what parts of Greek mythology most interest them.

“You know, I think there’s a piece of ethos in our building that we are maintaining that is ‘what is an alternative?’” Vial said. “We’re still a public school, but what is the alternative? What does it mean to be a Community High Zebra? I as a teacher need to also ask myself, ‘What is my role in trying to keep it funky.’”

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Bridgette Kelly
Bridgette Kelly, Feature Editor
Bridgette Kelly is a senior continuing her second year on staff. She enjoys playing tennis, eating good food and taking walks.

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