Romans! Countrymen! Fellow students!
After hearing enough speeches to satisfy Cicero, Mike Grambo led his fellow Roman citizens out of the gymnasium, past the Coliseum and down the Apian Way to the Atrium, formerly the Blaine high school library. He and his cohorts were headed for a dinner of roast hummingbird eggs and quail tongue (or reasonable facsimiles) last week at Toga XVII, the 17th incarnation of an all day gathering topped by the best in sybaritic banquets whipped up by the ever-present and often under foot slaves.
For the many soldiers, courtesans, seers and sages, senators, charioteers and others out of this cross section of Rome in the days when it was the only place that mattered, this was a day to remember, learning the way it should be, thanks to the hard work of a lot of people behind the scenes and Grambo’s creative hand.
The first roman banquets Grambo put on were done during the sophomore World History classes he still teaches. Now they involve all 150 sophomores in a day long blitz of presentations put on by the students organized into groups of up to six. Everyone’s welcomed into the Roman holiday spirit, from superintendent of schools Dr. Mary Lynne Derrington, to over 75 parents dragooned like vassals of a conquered state into cooking the food, to the juniors and seniors who are turned loose like ravenous seagulls on the rest of the banquet once the royalty (the sophomores, of course) have eaten their fill at least once. The slaves are left behind to swab the decks as the bluebloods adjourn to the Senate for the last of the day’s festivities, what in ancient Rome would have been a very futuristic experience – a movie about the Roman Empire.
Grambo said he’s made over 20 togas himself to encourage faculty participation. It’s the feedback, he said, that he gets from people years after their toga party that keeps him going. “They remember this kind of thing for a lifetime,” he said, having developed a learning experience that’s also a lot of fun.