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    Host Country Studies Program

    As part of an integrated curriculum, Pinewood's field study trips include in-class student preparation as well as follow up activities and assessments appropriate to the grade level. Overall, they are opportunities to engage in complex, real world experiences that are personally meaningful to our students and bring exposure to the world around them.

    Field study trips in the local area during the school day are regarded as an integral part of the educational program of the school at all grade levels. In the Early Years and Elementary Programs, classroom teachers design field study trips. They are based on yearly units of study and/or capitalize on special events in the Thessaloniki area. At the elementary level, Host Country Studies trips that enhance curricular leaning are also planned throughout the year.

    At the Secondary level, Pinewood offers a carefully planned set of overnight Host Country Studies trips for all students in Grades 6–12. Each trip is aligned with our curriculum in a variety of ways, particularly by integrating classroom learning in many subjects with the art, architecture, history and culture of Greece.

    Each year, students in Grades 6-8  and Grades 9-10 travel to places such as Kastoria/Prespes, Delphi, Meteora,  and students in Grades 11-12 always travel to  Athens. Refer to this year’s Calendar of Events for specific dates of each trip.  Where appropriate, subject area teachers also design day trips for students in the Secondary school.

    Costs for transportation, guides, admissions, etc., may be shared by the school and the participants.  School faulty/staff must supervise all school-sponsored trips and parents may assist in such supervision. Should circumstances warrant, and at the discretion of the administration, a student may not be allowed to participate in a particular trip.

    Below are examples of previous Host Country Studies trips:

    Visit to the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki

    At the end of the 15th century (1493), many Jews fleeing from the persecutions of Ferdinand and Isabella and seeking refuge in the Ottoman Empire settled in Thessaloniki, a city known to the Jews of the Diaspora since the Hellenistic period. The Ottomans were ordered to receive them cordially, with Bayazid, the Ottoman Sultan, allegedly remarking that the Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabella) were considered wise, but wrongly so, since they impoverished Spain (by the expulsion of the Jews) and enriched Turkey.

    The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki was founded to honor the rich and creative Sephardic (Spanish) heritage as it evolved in Thessaloniki after the 15th century.

    The Museum’s Collection is organized in 4 sections dedicated to:

    1. The Jewish Necropolis of Thessaloniki

    2. The History of Thessalonikean Jewry

    3. Folklore

    4. Holocaust

    Pinewood students were deeply touched by the rich heritage of the Thessaalonikean Jews. They listened, questioned, examined, contemplated, wondered, became curious, sad, bitter, angry, shocked, and learnt a lot.  For more information on The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki please visit: http://jmth.gr/web/gallery.htm

    Host Country Studies to Kastoria-Prespa, May 2012

    Back in the 19th century, Oscar Wilde said that “Nature constantly imitates art.” After visiting Kastoria, one of the most picturesque cities of Western Macedonia, and Prespa, a unique wetland with amazing natural beauty, Pinewood Middle School students understood exactly what Oscar Wilde meant.

    Friday, May 25

    Friday was an interesting day dedicated to the city of Kastoria. Our itinerary focused on two very distinct periods of interest for the area, the Neolithic visiting Dispilio, and the Byzantine visiting the Church of Panayia Koumbelidiki and the Monastery of Mavriotissa. Our students were greatly impressed by the small triconch church of Koumbelidiki, its unique masonry work and the rare representation of the “Holy Trinity” in the narthex.

    We all loved however, the Neolithic Lakeside Settlement of Dispilio. What we actually visited in Dispilio is a 1999 reconstruction of the Neolithic village. The reconstruction consists of eight prehistoric huts, equipped with all the artifacts archaeologists assume the Dispilio prehistoric households had. We saw for example, how the huts were constructed, the different types of tools people used at the time, their pots and pans, boats and fishing nets, musical instruments like flutes and many more. We also saw reconstructed “prehistoric” plantations and fields cultivated only with seeds identified in the archaeological data. Dispilio is without any doubt a unique experience.

    Saturday, May 26

    The people in the Society for the Protection of Prespa say that “The impression a first-time visitor gets from Prespa is of a remote, isolated place, lost in the mountains, a place at the end of the world. But Prespa is not at the end of the world, merely at the end of Greece, and actually in the heart of the Balkans.”

    This is the reason why Saturday morning was dedicated to the amazing Environmental Park of Prespa. Mrs. Georgia Paliouris organized and conducted a highly informative educational program on Environmental Studies and our local guide Ms. Eleni was an endless source of useful information.

    Prespa is an area rich in history, archaeology and culture. The day’s trip started at the village of Agios Germanos in order to visit the 11th century small but richly iconographed cross-in-square domed church.  In Agios Germanos we were also greatly impressed by the local houses, their carefully constructed masonry with stone, wood, clay soil and reeds, materials which people could easily find in their natural surroundings, their large balconies and their carefully cared gardens.

    The highlight, however of the day’s cultural program was visiting the 986AD Basilica of Agios Achilleios, founded by Samuel, the Bulgarian king of the time and built on the island of the same name in Lake Mikri Prespa. It is very difficult to describe the rugged beauty of the area, and the almost mystical atmosphere of the ruined Basilica. All we can do is to strongly recommend you to visit Prespa. 

    Visit to the Folk Art & Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace|green

    On Wednesday March 21st the Kindergarten and Grade 4 classes visited the Folk Art & Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace.  The Thessaloniki Folk Art and Ethnological Museum was built by the Israelite Giako Modiano who followed the designs drawn by his son Eli Modiano.

    The building was constructed in 1906 on a seaside field and develops on three levels: elevated basement, two stories and an attic. Its architectural formation has an eclectic style strongly influenced by art nouveaux.

    For the Thessalonikeans, the Museum is known as the "Old Goverment House" and from 1913 and onwards it was successively used as a palace, as the residence of the General Governors of Macedonia, as a Religious Seminary and as a Military School. Since 1972, it houses the Folk Art and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace.

    Today the Museum presents three, very educational, exhibitions. We visited all three of them, and our young students enjoyed every minute.

    1.      “Macedonia-Thrace: Traditional Costumes, 1860-1960”

    2.      “At the mills of Macedonia and Thrace: Watermills, Sawmills, Cloth Finishing Mills in Traditional Society”

    3.      “History of Light”

    Elementary School visit to Macedonian Tombs of Vergina

    The first capital of the Macedonians was Aigai (present-day Vergina), a city founded sometime during the turn of the 1st millennium B.C. Archaeological excavations have unveiled extraordinary riches of the past, a prosperous city enclosed by defensive walls, with an acropolis in the north-east foothills of the Pierian mountains. They discovered impressive temples, monumental public buildings, an imposing palatial complex unique in its architectural characteristics, a theater and several “Macedonian” Tombs, the most important of which is the Tomb of King Philip II father of Alexander the Great.

    Pinewood Grades 1-4 students visited the Tomb of Philip II, one of the largest of all “Macedonian” Tombs found in Greece. The monument was constructed of stone and consists of two vaulted rooms, the main burial chamber and the antechamber. The grandiose imposing facade is adorned with marble double doors, two half-columns and an extraordinary painted frieze immortalizing a hunt of lions, bears antelopes and boars in a semi-forested landscape.

    Students enjoyed a day of myths, glorious history, fine arts, golden treasures, and … sunshine, serene countryside, games and fun.

    Trip to the Thessaloniki  Museum of Byzantine Culture

    Visiting the Thessaloniki Museum for Byzantine Culture is a true cultural experience. In 1989, the Museum’s architect, Kyriakos Krokos, wrote: "I wanted a space within which movement would create a feeling of freedom, stirring up the senses, and where the exhibit would be a surprise within the movement". I believe that as we walked around the Museum with our students, we had many pleasant surprises.  The floor and wall mosaics in the first Early Christian Period Room attracted everybody’s attention, the Byzantine tunics with their fine embroideries were eye-catching and the icons and the intricately illuminated manuscript in the Middle Byzantine Period Room were definitely noticed by our students. Finally, as we were leaving, one last surprise, a beautiful Post-Byzantine golden eikonostasi, one last startling work of art to ponder about.Thessaloniki is considered by many scholars to be a Byzantine city. Our visit to the Museum of Byzantine Culture was just the beginning. We continued our day-trip with a Sight-Seeing tour of the city’s  Byzantine churches, the great Walls and the Acropolis citadel.  It was a full day!

    Visit to the Archaeological Museum ~ Elementary and Middle School 

    by Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou, Host Studies

    Tuesday, October 4

    The history of mosaic goes back to the 4th millennium BC, when the artists of Mesopotamia used coloured terracotta cones, pushed point-first into a soft background, to decorate the columns of the palace in Uruk. It was the Greeks, however, in the 4th century BC, who raised the mosaic technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals, first, with the use of pebbles, and later with coloured stone tesserae.

    By the Hellenistic period, manufactured glass "tesserae" were used by Greek artists to further enhance the quality of the mosaic work. Artists by using very small stone and glass tesserae, sometimes only a few millimeters in size, were finally able to narrate unique stories inspired by the Greek myths.

    The Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki holds some colorful and incredibly detailed mosaics from Roman imperial times. Our Elementary School students, paper and coloured pencils in hand, were guided in the Archaeological Museum mosaic gallery and learnt about the difficulties of making a mosaic as well as the myths depicted on them. Then they tried to become artists themselves, and designed their own mosaics. Suddenly, all you could hear in the Museum gallery was the “sound of creativity”, a wonderful experience!

    Private tour to the Myrtis Exhibition

    Parents, alumni, friends and members of the greater Pinewood community are cordially invited to join our private tour of the Myrtis exhibition, which is currently on display at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Led by our very own art historian, Mrs. Amalia Spiliakou, the tour will take place on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 11:00 am and will be in English and Greek. The meeting point for the tour will be the entrance of the museum at 10:45 am. We hope you can join us!

    Information about the Myrtis Exhibition

    At around 430 BC, a mysterious disease caused the sudden death of many Athenians. During recent works for the construction of the Athens Metro, the common grave with the victims of the plague was excavated. One of the victims was an 11-year-old girl, who was given the name Myrtis. After 2,500 years, Myrtis is given new life in this stunning exhibition featuring the young girl from the time of Pericles. For more detailed information, visit the official website of the Myrtis exhibition at www.myrtis.gr.

    Trip to Delphi, May 3-5, 2012

    Many years back, Zeus, the formidable king of ancient Greek gods, released two eagles in opposite directions.  They met in the sky above Delphi, marking the area as the center of the world. Our trip to Delphi was so full and culturally rich, it was like visiting in just three days, paradise.

    Thursday, May 3

    On our way to Delphi we first stopped at Thermopylae to visit the modern monument for the famous battle of 480 BC, and the local Historical Center to see an interesting 3D documentary on the same subject. Our next stop was the picturesque village of Amfiklia where we visited a very unique Museum  dedicated to Bread. The Amfiklia “Bread Museum” is a small, delightful place where the visitor can really understand the prominent role of Bread in Greek social and religious life. We will all remember the rich exhibition of a variety of breads in different sizes, shapes and intricate designs.

    Friday, May 4

    Friday morning was dedicated to Delphi, its antiquities, and the Ideals it represents. We visited three important areas within the Delphi vicinity: the Angelos and Eva Sikelianos Museum, the Delphi Archaeological site, and the Archaeological Museum.

    Our advice to all Delphi visitors is to start their day with the Sikelianos Museum. The quaint stone-and-brick Sikelianos home is situated on the highest part of Delphi village, mastering a breath-taking view of the Corinthian gulf. It is now a museum commemorating the work of the eccentric 20th-century Greek poet Sikelianos and his equally eccentric American wife, Eva Palmer.  Few tourists visit this elegant place, which commemorates the poet’s attempt to revive the Pythian Games back in the 1920s, and the fine collection of Eva Sikelianos-designed costumes for the Greek tragedies performed during the Pythian festivities.

    The rest of the day was really unique as unique is the Greek countryside. We spent the afternoon visiting  the most famous Parnassus mountain village of Arachova, and we had dinner by the sea at Itea, a beautiful harbor-city on the Corinthian Gulf.

    Saturday, May 5

    On our way back to Thessaloniki we visited the Monastery of Hosios Lukas, one of the finest Byzantine monuments in Greece. The Monastery, set on the western foothills of Mount Helikon it is famous for its Katholikon (the main church of the Monastery) decorated with rare marble revetments and astonishing mosaics. We found however, equally interesting and aesthetically appealing the cloisonne masonry of the smaller church of the Theotokos.

    Amalia Spiliakou,

    Host Country Studies Coordinator

    Read below student impressions of the trip to Delphi:

    Delphi Trip, by Tony Pilato '14

    Delphi is probably one of the quietest places I have visited in Greece: the village is very small and seems to be lost in the middle of the mountains. From our hotel, some of us had a view of the sea and the rest of the village. Delphi is a very calm place; the village has a few taverns, a school and a few markets. Our first day in Delphi was very relaxing after a long ride on the bus; however, the second day was much busier. We first visited the house of a very famous Greek poet, Angelos Sikelianos (1884 -1951). Later, we took the bus and visited the famous archeological site of Delphi. While there, we experienced the very well preserved Athenian Treasury, which was built to commemorate the Battle of Marathon. Then we saw the remains of the temple of Apollo, a Doric styled temple which was occupied by a mysterious oracle known as Pythia. Next, we visited the theatre, which was one the most impressive remaining structures of the sanctuary: the theatre gave a view of the whole sanctuary to the approximately five thousand spectators it could hold. Finally, we explored the Delphi museum, which housed many impressive artifacts; the most spectacular ones for size were the identical statues of Kleobis and Biton and the Naxian Sphynx, and for their quality of preservation was the bronze charioteer and the statue Antinous. The museum also holds many other striking gold artifacts and remnants which showed the richness of this area. Delphi is a deeply spiritual place, which arouses very calm yet captivating emotions. This is probably due to the density of the natural landscape, the relaxing feeling you gain from the tranquility of the village, and the archeological richness the area has to offer.

    All in all, Delphi is a must-go site; it is in fact classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.