For the Class 6’s, Greek Olympic fever was alive and thriving this term. The excitement of previous year’s games had been handed down through stories from older siblings and the children arrived with enough energy and enthusiasm to tackle an international competition let alone an inter-Waldorf event.
Preparation for the different sporting events became a daily ritual and the class eagerly rushed outside each morning to sprint, jump, hurl a shotput, throw a javelin and spin a discus before commencing their lessons. In-between these the various wrestling events would be practiced in earnest and the children quickly gauged worthy competitors and who best to challenge. They also pounced on their rough wooden shaftas with glee and sanded them until they were as smooth as glass – I can now understand the effort earlier warriors put into creating beautiful weapons of war. In the classroom, odes to the Greek gods were sung, poems about famous battles learned and oaths to the spirit of the games were pledged.
As the day drew nearer practice became a ‘during break’ ritual too and the spider jump took preference. Not surprisingly it still fills the gaps between classes even after the event! Nerves mounted as the children prepared to pack and head off to Stellenbosch Waldorf School for their campout. Their arrival on the Friday was a delightful reunion with old friends and a shy making of new ones as they were all split into their different cities. In attendance were Waldorf Schools from all over the Eastern Cape and we had the pleasure of meeting children and teachers from Constantia, Dassenberg, Gaia, Hermanus, McGregor, Michael Oak, Stellenbosch and Zenzeleni.
The children quickly set up their makeshift camps on the open, grassy slopes of Athens, Corinth, Delphi, Olympia and Sparta. It was then straight to the sports field to practice each of the field events in their new teams. At the end of an arduous afternoon in the sun, the sprint semi-finalists were chosen and the first gold medallists were announced for the spider jump championship. Sadly, we narrowly missed this. After dinner we witnessed the different classes sharing some wonderful performances. Our children spoke well and with such confidence.
It was then the task of putting 180 super excited children to sleep after working out their roster for keeping the Olympic flame alive through the night. In-between the late night banter there were tears of tiredness and squeals of laughter, and much envy directed at the children who could block out the noise and fall asleep in the din. The teacher’s eventually retired sometime after 2.30am defeated by this task.
On the Saturday of the finals the children surprised themselves; the events they had hung on to with zest fell aside to other competitors whilst others they had not thought they triumphed in. Booming war cries kept team spirits going as the weekend wore on. Everyone then moved to the coolness of the hall for the wrestling, here the excitement intensified as Imhoff children representing different cities came up against each other in the final rounds. There was a fantastic turn out of parents to cheer the children on.
At the closing ceremony our Class 6’s did fantastically bringing home seven of the gold medals. All of the class made their teacher proud with their brilliant level of sportsmanship and perseverance when the odds seemed stacked against them.
The games really were a team effort; from the tremendous assistance of our support teacher Bilqis to our parents who ferried children with bedding and gazebo’s to and from the event. They braaied a commendable amount of boerewors and made enough tasty salads to feed the horde of hungry children.
The Greek Olympic Games was incredible fun and the Class 6’s especially loved the socialising. Over the weekend the children had to overcome many personal challenges. They missed having close friends on their teams, were homesick, dealt with extreme heat and exhaustion and had the discomfort of cold damp sleeping bags. These young people returned with a new inner strength and resolve, exuding confidence in their ability to push themselves beyond previous hurdles.
Sandra La Blanc, Class 6 Teacher