Latin Is Alive and Well in West Hartford

National Latin Honor Society officers Grace Polk, Sophia Pedro, Avery Polk, Jackie Greene, and Leann Gardner help to distribute awards. Submitted photo

The Latin program is thriving at West Hartford’s Hall and Conard high schools.

Submitted by Jim Crabb, Hall High School

Grace Olson received The Oxford Classical Dictionary this year because she earned a gold medal on the National Latin Exam for all four years of high school! Submitted photo

Although Latin may not have changed in the past 2000 years, the Latin classroom has.  

Gone are dusty textbooks and rote memorization. In their place the students find Smart Boards, Google Classroom, Kahoot/Quizlet Live games played on cell-phones, and memes with Latin punchlines. Many West Hartford Latin students travel to Rome during their two to four years of study to observe the remains of ancient Roman culture in person. Because the Romans traveled everywhere, Latin students do too: in the past 15 years, Hall and Conard students have studied ancient Roman culture in Italy, Sicily, France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, England, and Scotland!

In West Hartford, the Latin program is thriving at Hall and Conard. More than 200 students take Latin each year, from beginners who are just learning to conjugate verbs to advanced scholars who read Catullus, Vergil, and Ovid in the original Latin.

In the past year, more than 130 Hall Latin students took the National Latin Exam, the Connecticut State Latin Exam, the National Classical Etymology Exam, and the Medusa Mythology Exam. Of these exams, Hall students earned 106 certificates and 118 medals. In fact, 78 percent of all Hall Latin students earned a certificate or medal on one or more of these exams.

On Tuesday, June 5, Hall held its 16th annual Latin awards ceremony.  Notable award recipients were:

National Latin Exam

Latin I

Gold Medal: Ashley Gelber, Mica Lovell, Sabrina Bramble, John Marx, George Townswick, and Margaret Rousseau

Silver Medal: Gavin Belcher, Madison Jennings, Chris Murray, and Sean Dyson

Katherine Plotkin, Mika Orszulak, Olivia Norton, and Jeremiah Sink

Latin II

Gold Medal: Ella Novitsky, Aeva Silverman, and Beau Williams

Silver Medal:  Ava Duprey, Andrew Bristow, Cole Mertes, Jameson Carnes, Anna Cates, Rachel Silver, Samah Mohamedzein, Crystal Thomas, and Nick Campbell

Latin III/IV

Gold Medal:  Grace Olson, Joey Kornman, Matthew Thomas, and Leann Gardner

Silver Medal:  Kathryn Dyson, Adam Smith, Jacqueline Greene, Alissa Palmer, Sophia Pedro, Samuel Katz, and Grace Polk

National Classical Etymology Exam

Gold Medal:  Shaina Schnog, Leann Gardner, Joey Kornman, Matt Thomas, Andrew Bristow, Beau Williams, Madison Jennings, George Townswick, Margaret Rousseau, and Olivia Norton

Silver Medal: Elliot Duprey, Harlan Neiditz, Adam Smith, Kathryn Dyson, Roger Hogendorn, Scott Steinmetz, Rachel Silver, Matthew Schwab, Nicholas Campbell, Ava Duprey, Jameson Carnes, Sabrina Bramble, and Christopher Murray

Bronze Medal: Olivia Pomerleau, James Marks, Grace Polk, Jacqueline Greene, Samuel Katz, Alex Liew, Alissa Palmer, Sophia Pedro, Siobhan Boyle, Anna Cates, Rachael Jopeck, Samah Mohamedzein, Katherine Plotkin, Jed Sink, Sophie Tulchinsky, Grace Crespi, Sean Dyson, Leah O’Brien, and Quillian Taylor

Medusa Mythology Exam (This year’s theme: “Magnificent and Maleficent Women”)

Gold Medal:  Scott Steinmetz

Silver Medal:  Rebecca Gold, Katherine Washburn, and Madison Jennings

Bronze Medal:  Olivia Pomerleau, Grace Olson, Leann Gardner, Joey Kornman, Rachael Jopeck, Ella Novitsky, John Marx, Olivia Norton, Sabrina Bramble, Mika Orszulak, Ashley Gelber, and Mica Lovell

The fact that Latin helps with English grammar and vocabulary can’t be disputed. As a language in and of itself, it’s dead in that it is no longer a “first language” for anyone. Yet, it lives on in English and the Romance languages (French, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish).

When asked by an acquaintance recently: “Why would anyone want to study Latin today?” My response was: “Why did you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last weekend? There is a beauty to the grammatical structures and such a rich history within Western culture beyond the language itself: etymology, mythology, history … ars gratia artis (art for the sake of art). What other Western language can boast that it has been actively studied in the original for over 2,000 years?” Indeed, nerd pride is alive and well at Hall and Conard.

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Joey Kornman, Scott Steinmetz, Jake Zweifler, and Sam Katz
Proud award winners: Joey Kornman, Scott Steinmetz, Jake Zweifler, and Sam Katz. Submitted photo

Hall’s 16th Annual Latin Awards Ceremony. Submitted photo

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