She can do it all!
Twelve-year-old Bay Ridgeite Athena Bardis is a rising star, having developed passions in so many fields. Along with being a straight-A seventh grade student at Hellenic Classical Charter School, she loves to dance, play sports, give back to the community, and compete in prestigious history competitions.
Last year, Bardis and four other students competed in and won several awards during the National History Fair on the city, state and national levels.
“Our school participated in the National History Fair. Five students do a group performance for a topic in history,” she said. “Last year, the theme was exploration, encounter and exchange in history. So four other students and I wrote a play and performed it at the competitions in the city, state and nationals.”
The team studied Lord Elgin and the Parthenon sculptures (known as the Elgin Marbles, which were scavenged out of Greece in the 19th century and never returned) and was chosen to represent the school by two teachers who determined Bardis and her group showed the most passion, best grades and the maturity for the topic. “We really bonded. We were like brothers and sisters,” she said, adding that it was an unforgettable experience. “I never competed in a history competition before. It was amazing to be on the national level because there are hundreds of other schools competing. It was really cool just to get there and meet children from all over America and some other countries.”
The group won first place in the city, and second place in the state. Although they didn’t crack the top 10, they were given the honor of competing in the nationals at the University of Maryland.
To do research, Bardis traveled to London and Greece to study; she interviewed the president of the Acropolis Museum Dimitrios Pandermalis. “She also interviewed Ian Jenkins, senior curator of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum,” said her mother, Elleni. “He gave us a two-hour tour and took the kids to places visitors are not able to go. For example, they jumped the ropes and actually touched the Parthenon marbles. It was amazing.”
“It was scary competing, but I loved the whole experience and I will remember the whole year, the hard work, and the amazing trips,” added Bardis. “We had a lot of fun doing it.”
The trip meant a lot to the rising star and her group. “It was a great experience because [the interview subjects] were so passionate about the topic,” said Bardis, who has traveled to the country every summer. “My feeling towards this topic is strong. Being of Greek descent, I wanted to study the Parthenon sculptures more in depth.”
Along with her love of history, Bardis also loves to give back as a part of the Bay Ridge Lemonade Coalition Group, an organization made up of middle school kids working together for the greater good of the neighborhood. “I love helping out and doing anything I can for the less fortunate,” she said. “One of my favorite things we did last year during the holiday season was we sold hot chocolate and raised money raised for food pantries.” She also distributed gifts to children during Christmas.
As far as her hobbies go, the seventh grader plays soccer and her favorite sport, basketball, for her church league, the Youth of Kimisis Theotokou (YKT). “I don’t like being in spotlight but I love when people cheer me on and being part of a team,” she said.
Dancing is also an integral part of her live. Bardis has danced for nine years and currently practices 11 hours a week. “I participated in Greek dance at my church. I do ballet, lyrical jazz, hip hop,” she said, adding that she and her team participated in several competitions. “I am in Greek dance competitions. I do two per year and go to Maryland with my team. It was really awesome. We got to meet other churches from different parts of the country and see skills of other Greek dancers. We won first place.”