COAL TOWNSHIP - Moussaka, baklava, spanakopita, rumaki and tzatziki aren't regularly on an American teen's menu, but in the mythology classes at Shamokin Area Middle-High School, students had an opportunity Thursday to taste some of these traditional Greek foods during a "big fat Greek food celebration."

"Trying all the different kinds of Greek food was so much fun," said Megan Sheriff, a senior in one of Patricia Rhoads' mythology classes. "Tasting the dishes gave us a good understanding of the types and variety of the foods the Greeks ate."

The food celebration was an activity that corresponded with the students' study of Greek mythology. In addition to learning about the telling of myths in ancient cultures, how the stories explained natural phenomenon and the unique deities and creatures involved, they also discussed the importance of hospitality and other cultural values.

"This is a culture that still, today, emphasizes welcoming guests and treating everyone like family. Sharing a meal is a big part of that," explained Rhoads. "The students - and some of their family members - really got involved to make these tasty dishes. I appreciate everyone's contributions."

In conjunction with the educational connection, students also had an opportunity to earn bonus points by bringing in food and snacks related to Greek mythology or the Greek culture. Marielle Miller, a senior, brought in a rainbow licorice candy to represent Iris, the goddess of the rainbow.

"I thought the celebration was an awesome way to learn about what the Greeks ate and the ingredients of each dish. My favorite was the spanakopita, which was the spinach turnover," said Miller.

Cheyenne Popewczak, a junior, made baklava - a dessert of honey and nuts layered between thin sheets of Phyllo dough - under the supervision of her mother, Cindy. "Baklava is certainly more interesting than other desserts I've made. Phyllo sheets, though, definitely are not fun to work with." Overall, Popewczak enjoyed the event. "It was a fun part of the class."

Freshman Paige Sherman agreed. "It was a nice way to look into the Greek culture - at least a little bit," she said. When asked about her favorite treat of the day, Sherman said, "The zucchini bread. That was delicious!"