I hope that everyone enjoyed safe travels and time with family and friends during the Thanksgiving Break!
The first few months of this year have come fast and furious, though Class IV has done a remarkable job adapting to the academic, athletic, artistic and social rigors of the fall.
Class IV students are beginning to read Homer’s classic epic, The Odyssey. As a classicist, this is one of my favorite -- among many great -- reads of the years. Beyond offering a phenomenal introduction to Greek mythology and mythic history, a serious reading of The Odyssey brings together discussions across various disciplines, and encourages students to tie together threads from numerous classes into a deeper and more enriching understanding of Homer’s work in our time.
At its core, The Odyssey is about a journey. At the fore of the narrative thrust we follow the physical journey of a weary, though resourceful Greek warrior as he battles geographic and psychological obstacles on his way back to Ithaca from the Trojan War. His motivation? Nostalgia, the painful longing for the familiar comfort of home (derived from the Greek nostos “a return home”, and algos “pain or suffering”).
Less apparent, but no less important, are the parallel narratives of Odysseus’ son Telemachus, and of Odysseus’ wife Penelope. Telemachus must find his voice and his courage in order to confront the imposing pressure of a houseful of suitors, while Penelope uses craft to weave her own destiny and language to direct the narrative. We also encounter recurrent themes of hospitality and loyalty, societal elements that allow family and community to function successfully.
I can think of no work more pertinent to the experiences of our Class IV students as they endeavor to forge their identity, form their voice, and navigate the challenges of a new environment.
Allow me to plot the next few stops on Class IV’s odyssey:
First, an introduction of those at the helm. Class IV has elected a very enthusiastic and motivated group of representatives to the SLC: Cici Henderson, Skye Henderson, Patrick Moynihan, and Priscilla Singleton. These four have brought a number of innovative games and presentations to our Class Meetings and have suggested a number of ways to bring the class even closer in the coming months.
Assessment Period: We have an assessment period at the close of the semester (December 14: Modern Language and Classics; December 15: History and Math; December 16: English and Science). It is important to keep these assessments in perspective. They are NOT exams; rather, an opportunity for a more comprehensive assessment of knowledge and application than is possible within one 50-minute class period. The assessments are spread out over the week, with no more than two subject assessments per day. That said, now is a great time to communicate with teachers and study groups, and to begin to review material and shore up a strong finish for the semester. The last day of the semester, Friday, December 18th, brings the Holiday Long Assembly and advisor meetings to reflect on the semester.
Come January, students will begin with a clean slate regarding grades. They will have the ability to shake off any difficulties they may have experienced during the first quarter of academic adjustment. This will be a great time to implement the suggestions from comments in Q1 and Q2, bolstered by a better sense of course expectations and school norms.
I know that there is a great deal of excitement and a hearty dose of anticipation in the coming months. New material and fresh faces of the current winter afternoon program will help to expand the horizons of Class IV. I firmly believe, however, that our faculty, the upperclassmen, SLC representatives, and familiarity with the rhythm of the school will guide them through the challenges and draw them closer to our ultimate goal: feeling confident and at home here at Nobles.
Class IV Dean