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Learning old lessons

February 27, 2002

Deirdre Newman

Togas were the fashion statement of choice Tuesday at Eastbluff

Elementary School as sixth-graders took a walk through history back to

the ancient times of Romans, Greeks and Egyptians.

It was the third year that the Newport Beach students have been

raiding their parents' linen closets to emulate historic figures and test

their knowledge of ancient history for the Walk Through Ancient World

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event.

Leading the students in their retrospective was presenter

extraordinaire Kate Rosa, from California Weekly Explorer.

The reenactment enabled the students to get a visceral sense of

ancient history by assuming the personas of various characters ranging

from Roman Emperor Nero -- complete with fiddle -- to the Egyptian sun

god, Ra, who wore a hawk-like mask.

"It's that in-depth kind of knowledge you get from involving yourself

in learning," said parent Steve Johnston, who kept a stapler close at

hand to keep son Dane's toga -- a la Julius Caesar -- from unraveling.

For Rona Pomerico's class, the event formally began when the students

sat in a semicircle divided into three civilizations and Rosa began

lobbing questions at them. Rosa navigated through ancient history with

the seasoned expertise of a scholarly historian, while keeping the

atmosphere lighthearted.

Students had to prove their expertise in defining words relevant to

the civilizations, and students who came as historical figures acted out

their characters.

Evan Livadas came as Spartacus, bedecked in a silver helmet with a

silver-coated shield hanging from his neck, silver strips hanging off his

belt and silver shin guards.

"It's pretty fun because there are a lot of activities, and we get to

learn a lot," Evan said.

Mary Henderson came as Saul, who persecuted Christians until he had a

vision of Jesus and changed his name to Paul. Mary, who was wearing a

lilac toga, said she thought the day's events were cool.

"It's very fun and educational," Mary said.

This is one of three reenactment days the school holds on an annual

basis -- the other two are Walk Through California for fourth-graders and

Walk Through the American Revolution for fifth-graders.

Principal Charlene Metoyer said the reenactments are the perfect

complement to the inquiry format students are encouraged to use, which

includes asking questions they want answered and finding the information

on their own.

"It's fabulous that kids actually get to take part in what they're

learning. It solidifies everything and gives them a way to express their

creative side," Metoyer said.

* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at o7 deirdre.newman@latimes.comf7 .

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