The Pentathlon Beckons
By Jason Burnstein, Movement and Games Teacher
Every year I sit down to reflect on the Pentathlon and I must admit that after 13 years of writing about it, I feel that I begin to repeat myself. So to keep things interesting, I figured that this year I would walk you through some of the highlights of the three days of the Pentathlon… in reverse order.
We arrive back at the school Friday afternoon. Students filter in with smiles on their faces, bright city-state shirts worn with pride; a precious medal around their necks.
The students enjoy a yummy ice cream treat on the drive back to celebrate all the hard work and fun that was shared by all.
After breakfast, we hike in the rain to the top of the hill. We look out over the field where the games took place, where the memories live on. Together with the Minnesota Waldorf School, we sing once more an ode to Apollo, the Sun God, as the rain gently falls. We slip in the mud on the way back down.
The evening after the games is full of playing, exploring nature, chatting with new friends. The students share a bonfire until the rain chases them back into their cozy cabins.
We feast on gyros, greek salad, and baklava. Thebes gets to eat first because they won the relay race.
The torch is extinguished by Zeus. The 2018 Pan-Waldof Pentathlon Games have come to an end. A great cheer erupts.
The children are all recognized at the closing ceremony. Every child has been witnessed throughout the day and we get to hear a bit about where they shined. A laurel wreath is placed on their head by Zeus; a medal hung around their neck by Athena and Artemis. The students beam with pride.
The last event of the Pentathlon is a long run relay race. Finally the parents and students are encouraged to let it all out: to shout and hoot and holler and cheer each athlete on as they make their lap.
The sun peeks out for the finals round of the Pentathlon as students are selected to represent their city-state in an event that they had excelled in during the morning round. We end with a speedy 40-yard dash. We watch the students fly by to victory.
We witness amazing, surprising, perfect javelin throws that take our breath away. Discus throws that soar to the heavens, wrestling matches that prove how strong and grounded they can be, and long jumps that seem to defy gravity.
Lunch is delicious. A break well deserved.
The morning is cool, cloud-covered excellence. The students all have the opportunity to strive for the ideal form in all five events. They move through the day in reverence. Parents silently, proudly witness the result of all their hard work and training. The beauty of their striving is reflected in the truth (measure) of each event. Wow.
With nerves and excitement we open the 2018 Pan-Waldorf Pentathlon Games. Zeus lights the torch. We warm up and witness the city-states take a lap in the “chariot race” where they do their best to stay together as one group running at the ultimate speed of that group. It is a beautiful beginning.
The frogs croak as the children sleep; excited for the big day.
We have a wonderful welcoming ceremony on Wednesday night. Each school shares a little performance from their “homelands.” The students discover which city-state they are in. They easily make so many new friends.
We arrive at the most glorious location for a Pentathlon; rolling hills, a silent pond, the open space of the games ready to receive the pentathletes.
They sing, together, for the entire three and half hour bus ride.
We walk out the back door of the school and are met with the powerful sound of the entire school cheering us on. A grand adventure awaits. The students are ready, and nervous, and excited. Oh so excited. It is finally their turn to shine before the gods.
The Pentathlon beckons.