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Olympic torches part of Odyssey Charter School's 10th anniversary celebration

Wiki Commons
Torch relay in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games.

Greek athletes visited Odyssey Charter School Saturday for an Olympic torch and cauldron lighting ceremony celebrating the school’s 10th anniversary.


The torch used, from the 2004 Olympic Games, will be displayed permanently at the school.

But it wasn't the only torch there this weekend.


A torch from the 1936 Berlin games – the first year of the torch relay - was also on display Saturday. It belonged to the uncle of Delaware resident Paula Gatos.  Three of her uncles participated in that initial Olympic torch run through Greece - created by Hitler’s Olympic committee.


Gatos says Nazi Germany wanted to link ancient Greeks with Germans because of the belief they descended from ancient Greeks.


The top of the steel torch is engraved with the German eagle, with the stem detailing the route the runners would take to deliver it from ancient Olympia to Berlin.


“You can see the major cities: it went from Olympia to Athens, Delphi, which is near where my father was from, Salonika, Sofia, Bulgaria, Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia, Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Prague and onto Berlin," Gatos said.


There was a magnesium tube for the flame, designed to last about 10 minutes. A car followed the relay, carrying a back-up flame in a lantern.


Each of the over 3,000 original relay participants got to keep their torch, and Gatos stumbled upon this one while visiting her uncle in Athens many years ago.


“It was sitting on a shelf and I saw it and I said, what’s that, you know? And he pulled it down and I looked at it and my jaw dropped," Gatos said. "You know, Berlin, ok? He said yeah, he carried it and so did the other brothers.”


She said her father – the youngest son in the family - was disappointed that he didn’t to run in the relay.


Gatos said she keeps her uncle’s torch in her home.


But while the Olympic torch lighting ceremony and relay has continued, the design of the torch – and the method of its transport – has evolved.


The ceremony Saturday also marked Odyssey’s 10th anniversary, and the recent expansion of its campus to include 36 acres and serve just over 14 hundred children in grades K-9.


Dimitri Dandolos is president of the Odyssey Charter School, and says the ceremony represents a new partnership with schools in ancient Olympia.


Through the three schools and the academies that they have there in the ancient groups, are students can be directly linked to those ideals of the Olympics that are global, represent humanity and the values they can embrace, and they can get first-hand information from them and where it came from," Dandolos said.

Dandolos says Odyssey students in lower grades score very high in math, in part because they receive math lessons in both Greek and English. But he notes only 3 to 4 percent of the kids are of Greek origin or heritage.




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