For Educators
Curriculum Title:
Lighting the Torch

Greek Gods to know:

Hestia:  Goddess of hearth and home, Goddess of sacrificial flame

Zeus:  King of the gods, God of sky and weather, law, order and fate

Hera:  Queen of the Gods, Goddess of women and marriage

Note: Images are for educational purposes only.

Grade Level:
Sixth-Eighth Grade
Common Core: ELA 7.1 and 7.2, ElA W.HST 7.2, RL6.4a (for details visit

Illinois History State Standard: 16.D Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations. Understand Illinois, United States and world social

District 427: Students will examine the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome in order to differentiate among other cultures and relate to the United States.
Guided Questions:

How is Sycamore connected to Ancient Greece?

Suggested Activity:
  1. Ask the students how they could connect Sycamore with Ancient Greece.  See how many different ways they can make connections. Then show them the photo of the 1984 Torch Runner, Michael Fuller. Ask students if they can make a more specific connection.
  2. Explain to students that in 1984 the Turner Corporation was commissioned to create the Olympic Torch for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Nearly 3000 torches were made to be used in Greece and the USA.
  3. AT&T sponsored the Olympic Torch run in 1984. This press release explains the significance of the Torch, but also the history of the torch lighting ceremony. Students can read the press release. Then ask why they think we need to have a torch relay and ceremony?  Why have we found value in this old tradition to include it in our modern Olympics?  Why does the relay and ceremony change with each Olympics?   Should there be change in such a deep–seated tradition?
  4. Connecting our ceremonies today to those of ancient times shows a commonality among humans.  We competed then as we do now in peace and through a sense of brotherhood.  The poem, “Light of Olympia” points heavily to that theme.  Reading the poem with the class may help students further understand the value in connecting the past, present and future through our Olympic traditions.  As you read the poem have students underline the parts that show why the Olympics are valued by cultures both past and present.
  5. The Torch has become a symbol of our connections to the world past and present.  The Torch can also symbolize the human spirit striving to succeed.  As it lights the way for our Olympians, it also provides the light of success.  Ask students what sorts of light do each of us need to strive for success.  What does the light symbolize in our own lives?
Suggested Assessment:

Use the discussion guide as an informal assessment.

Resources & Extensions:
  1. Listen to the Olympic Anthem and examine its lyrics.
  2. Write poems about what ignites our lives.
  3. Research more about the ancient Olympic ceremonies