Barry McNamara  |   Published April 14, 2022

An Instant Classic

Monmouth College’s Classics Day V earns honor for outstanding promotional activity.


V IS FOR VICTORY: Monmouth College's Classics Day V earned recognition as the outstanding pro... V IS FOR VICTORY: Monmouth College's Classics Day V earned recognition as the outstanding promotional activity of the year. Above, classics professor Bob Simmons speaks at the Oct. 2 event. Also pictured are Olivia Matlock (to Simmons' immediate left), Brie Stumbo (in blue) and Todd Fowler (far right).MONMOUTH, Ill.
– It was an instant classic.

That was the consensus of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South’s Committee for the Promotion of Latin and Greek, which honored Monmouth College’s Classics Day V from last Oct. 2 with its Outstanding Promotional Activity award.

“This is, in many ways, the best honor we’ve received yet,” said Monmouth classics professor Bob Simmons. “And the thing that made this one stand out for me was how much student ownership there was. The responsibilities that the students took on and their level of professionalism was outstanding.”

Some of that ownership was done for a grade, as Simmons had 12 students enrolled in a Classics Day leadership class, which began meeting in August. Technically, though, said Simmons, the planning for each Classics Day begins the day after the last one was held. In the case of Classics Day V, that meant three years of planning, as the biannual event had last been held in 2018. The 2020 date was postponed due to the pandemic.

“This is, in many ways, the best honor we’ve received yet. And the thing that made this one stand out for me was how much student ownership there was. The responsibilities that the students took on and their level of professionalism was outstanding.” Bob Simmons


Five students from Simmons’ class last fall joined him to discuss their roles at the event and their love of the classics. One of them was Brie Stumbo ’22, a classics and data science major from Shelley, Idaho.

“I was in charge of setting up the six virtual reality headsets,” said Stumbo. “It was a tour of the Acropolis of Athens. It was so cool. You could fly above it, you could walk through it, you could go up and sit on the roof.”

Olivia Matlock ’22, a classics and English major from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, held several behind-the-scenes roles and was also charged with checking out the authentic Roman and Greek clothing that was worn. She even checked out some to herself, wearing what she said was “a very beautiful teal palla with gold and pink flowers” for the event.

ROMAN AROUND: Visitors to Monmouth College's Classics Day V were able to stop and learn at va... ROMAN AROUND: Visitors to Monmouth College's Classics Day V were able to stop and learn at various demonstrations and booths, including this military one featuring Todd Fowler. A new addition to the slate of Classics Day activities was a collaboration with the College’s theatre department, which staged adaptations of classical works as part of its annual theatre festival, known as FusionFest.

“The theatre department gets a lot of credit,” said Simmons. “Their participation made the event as a whole even more vibrant and energetic.”

Before joining Monmouth’s faculty in 2014, Simmons conducted four Classics Day events at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and his former school has since continued the tradition. He said the College’s versions have their own qualities that make them “very distinctly Monmouth,” and he also appreciates that the five Classics Day events on campus “have been different every time.”

“We had more events for this Classics Day than any other,” said Simmons. “It was the most complicated one we’ve done yet, and on top of that, we did it in the middle of the pandemic. We didn’t have the busloads of high school kids that we normally have from around the state, but the turnout from campus was great, and the turnout from the local community was great.”

Todd Fowler ’23, a classics major from Chatham, Illinois, and a member of the Fighting Scots baseball team, was heavily involved with the athletic and military reenactments. He was also charged with coordinating the food and drink supplied by the College’s food service company, Aramark, as well as by Tin Cup, a downtown coffee shop.

Rahm Pandey ’24, a classics and accounting major from Chicago, and physics major Elisa Riedesel ’22 of Davenport, Iowa, worked together to help organize the volunteers. Riedesel also portrayed the Oracle of Delphi. Famed throughout the ancient world for divining the future, the Oracle of Delphi was consulted before all major undertakings. Riedesel took on similarly “significant” questions from Classics Day visitors, ranging from “Should I change my major?” to “What should I have for lunch?”

“Classics Day was a powerful example of being able to apply what I’ve been studying,” said Pandey.

As Simmons mentioned, he’s already thinking about the next Classics Day, which is slated for 2023.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. The work they’ve done on the construction of props and other items has really saved us time and allowed us to focus our energies on other elements of organizing the day.” Bob Simmons


“We made the decision a while ago to move it to every other year,” he said. “It’s a huge task, and some of the specialness was lost by having it every year.”

That said, some of the prep work is not as extensive, thanks to Monmouth’s classics students of the past few years.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Simmons. “The work they’ve done on the construction of props and other items has really saved us time and allowed us to focus our energies on other elements of organizing the day.”

An award-winning day for Simmons, his students, and the College and local community.

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