Campus, Food & Dining

The old heritage of King’s Academy

The first thing that you see when you arrive at King’s is of course the wall. But, as you drive through towards the middle school, and once you park, you would walk through the olive trees. Giving a shade over you; acting as a protector from the heat of the sun. You will feel refreshed and alive when you look at its wrinkled and twisted trunk. A feeling of strength would pass through you, when you see it standing tall, even with holes in its trunk.

Everyone knows what an olive tree is. Especially if you are living in the Middle East. But, what many might not know is its history. Olive trees spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine. Its cultivation can be found in many cultures; including Greek, and Egyptian. To give you a perspective of its age, olive trees were grown before the first written language even existed. Olive trees have a special value for some religions. It is used for baptism in Christianity, and prophet Mohammad considered olive trees to be blessed, and in Judaism olive oil is used to light the menorah, an important symbol for Jews.

What surprised me the most is the fact that olives are fruits. They contain seeds and develop from flowers, which gave them this title.They can live for up to 2000 years if the right conditions are met. Their root system allows them to survive drought. When the tree dies, the root will just sprout another tree.

From its use for food and cosmetics. From the famous Zeit and Zaatar to dressings in salad, Hummus and Labneh. We almost eat it every day. Taking its health benefits for granted; for it lowers cholesterol and stroke risks. As for the beauty lovers, olive oil can be used for hair treatment, moisturizing your skin and   improving your nail health. Its benefits are abundant.

Your correspondent decided to write about olive trees. A task that one of my friends told me not to do; for what can you even write about olive trees? A statement that made me want to write about it even more. For I realized, that we do not observe and look around nature in general; unless of course if we lost our phones in nature, we would frantically start to observe and search every inch. People in general are becoming less observant about nature, and more observant about keeping up with this hectic world that we live in. Hence, I decided to write about the olive trees in school.

The old Olive Tree

A picture of the olive tree in front of the middle school, which I took in my search for the security, who turned out to be a visitor to King’s in similar outfits to the security.

The freshmen closed weekend for Halloween includes the activity of olive picking. An activity that might seem irrelevant to Halloween, but I guess that is what makes our school different, and Halloween a memorable activity to many students. Even Nour Karadsheh, a senior, still remembers olive picking, that made her feel as a part of the community, an important feeling for freshmen to have, since some might feel alienated coming to a new school with a different educational system or environment. She felt proud when she saw the olive oil contained and spread on every table in the dining hall. For some, it was not the first time for them to pick olives, but they enjoyed picking  them with their friends and seeing everyone doing the same thing.

Currently, there are 2102 olives trees, that are used to make olive oil, while 500 of them are used as decoration. You might have seen the line of shining olive bottles in the upper shelf of the Dukaneh. The creation of these bottles dates to 2009, when nine tanks were made. Now, we have 93 tanks of olive oil. The olives are picked after the first rain in September, by certain ladies who are mostly housewives living in Madaba, so King’s offers them money in return for the olives.  Olives are not only picked by freshmen during Halloween, but also some of the Round Square activities include picking olives during the harvest. All information given by Miss Ola.

The process of turning olives to olive oil can be done in factories or even at the comfort of your own home. In factories, there is a machine, which separates the leaves that might have been picked with the olives. Then, they are washed, an important step if you have ever picked olives, you might remember scrubbing your eyes from the dust. The olives are ground, and water is separated from it; finally, we get the oil. If you want to have fresh homemade oil, you crush the olives in the stone mill, then collect and put them in fabric bags with a stone on top of them for all the impurities to be precipitated, and the oil is collected from the top, so that the impurities are not collected with it.

A picture of the stone mill used to crush the olives. Taken from a Youtube tutorial

For me, the olive trees in king’s have always amazed me. Because I’ve never seen old olive trees. The fact that they are much older than King’s makes me feel as if I am walking through history whenever I walk nearby the olive trees. A feeling I hope many would feel, once they remove their noses, that are stuck in their phones.