Study of the classical world gives you an invigorating insight into the world today. The appeal of Classics is in the variety of disciplines it involves: linguistic explorations of Latin and Greek, History, Geography, Art and Social Studies.
We do all kinds of activities in lessons: detailed, technical language work; brain-stretching translations; open discussions; research, drama and literature... Outside lessons we’re active too, providing our students with a sociable as well as intellectually enriching experience.
Brentwood’s Classics department is one of the largest and youngest in the country. We teachers all love teaching our subject – we have a genuine enthusiasm for what we do and this clearly comes across in lessons. Our broad range of staff interests means that we have a depth of expertise in different areas of the curriculum; we can inspire students to study deeply, while still covering the syllabus in its entirety.
There is a real sense of community, both among the teaching staff and the ‘Classics family’ students. The students themselves seem to adopt us as a home within the School – they come on our trips, chat to us around school and move into our teaching rooms during their free time. Our office door is always open and there’s nearly always a student there, asking a question.
Classicists are everywhere – they do all kinds of jobs. What distinguishes them from everything else? They’re never boring.
Despite arriving in Courage Hall car park at 2:00am on Sunday 19th October with rain pouring down, the sense of excitement for the impending trip was clearly noticeable. Having donned matching hoodies, a group of 40 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th form Classics students embarked on a trip to Greece during the first week of October half term.
Day one of the trip involved the outward journey to Athens from Heathrow airport. The first afternoon was spent in the spectacular Acropolis museum, setting the scene for the next day when we would climb the Acropolis itself. Perhaps the most memorable point of the museum was the transparent floors, enabling us to see just how steeped in history Athens is. Even the train stations in Athens boasted an impressive collection of ancient pottery, although evidently not quite important enough to be housed in the museum. The Parthenon frieze in the museum was the main attraction giving us a sense of the grandeur and scale of the Parthenon before we visited it. Our first meal of the trip involved archetypal Greek yoghurt and honey as dessert, which soon became a favourite among the students.
The next day started with an early morning walk up the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and Erectheum. The views from the top of the Acropolis over Athens were incredible, making it a fitting site for such magnificent structures. In the afternoon we visited the Kerameikos, the cemetery of ancient Athens, giving us an insight into the rituals and beliefs connected with death in ancient times. Like many things in Ancient Athens, the gravestones were intricately carved. In the evening, we went to the roof top of the hotel in order to see the Acropolis lit up at night- one of the few things which looks just as magnificent in the dark as it does in the light.
Day three of the trip involved a visit to Myceanae and Epidaurus. Here we visited the Ancient Citadel with its royal tombs and Lions Gate as well as the tomb of Agamemnon (King of Mycenae). The theatre at Epidaurus boasted magnificent views from the very top seats and the genius acoustics meant a penny dropping could be heard throughout the theatre. A trip to the theatre would have of course been incomplete without a performance - Tom Carswell and Finley Berry treated us to a typically Greek performance before being whistled at by one of the people working at the site. This sound would become all too familiar during the course of the trip, with many of the sites employing people equipped with whistles to police the areas. In the evening we went to the beach to see the sunset and enjoy some fresh air before we retired to the hotel.
The following day was spent in Tyrins and Nimea. We also had the long journey to Olympia, the duration of which remains unknown, as any question beginning with ‘How long…’ was answered with the stock response ’73 minutes’. The hotel was situated next to a Café named the ‘Zeus Café’ which served ‘Zeus coffees’ which provided much entertainment for the 6th form boys on the trip.
Day five was spent in Olympia, in which we saw the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, the Stadium, Palestra and Gymnasium. The sheer scale of Olympia was impressive and the amount of structures that had been preserved amazed everyone. Another long coach journey to Delphi was undertaken in high spirits. Upon reaching Delphi we were given time to explore, once again the beautiful scenery was noted by all. The evening’s activity consisted of a quiz in teams with Mr Hodgkinson’s team coming out victorious.
The penultimate and last full day included a visit to Delphi. This was the first day of bad weather with thunder and lightning - something we all decided was a sign from the Gods. In an attempt to escape the bad weather we visited the museum first. However there was no break in the weather, which meant an atmospheric climb up to top of the stadium in the pouring rain with the odd lightening flash and rumble of thunder. In the evening, groups performed their own Disney songs with a classical twist; some groups showed true vocal ability while others relied upon the humour factor to get them through their performances.
The final day was spent in the Archaeological museum, an impressive building on both the outside and inside. The museum boasts a fantastic collection of items across many rooms, making it very easy to get lost. Most notable was the bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon which remains so well preserved. After a few hours in the museum, we left for our journey home, somewhat reluctant to end what was an incredible experience for all involved.