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Latinists attend Junior Classical League Convention in San Francisco

The+Archer+delegation+cheers+during+the+Spirit+Competition+at+the+2017+JCL+Convention+at+St.+Ignatius+College+Prep+in+San+Francisco%2C+CA.+Archer+won+first+place+among+small+high+schools.+
The Archer delegation cheers during the Spirit Competition at the 2017 JCL Convention at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA. Archer won first place among small high schools.

The Archer delegation cheers during the Spirit Competition at the 2017 JCL Convention at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA. Archer won first place among small high schools.

Photo by Lily Lee

Photo by Lily Lee

The Archer delegation cheers during the Spirit Competition at the 2017 JCL Convention at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA. Archer won first place among small high schools.

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Many consider Latin a dead language, but for the Junior Classical League, it is alive and well.

This year, six Archer Latinists traveled to San Francisco, CA for the 62nd annual CaJCL State Convention at St. Ignatius College Preparatory on April 21 and 22.

Their trip had a rocky start when they arrived at LAX to find that their flight was canceled. The students and two faculty chaperones were then put on another flight that got delayed.

“We had some adversity at the beginning when our flight got canceled, so we didn’t get there as early as we liked,” junior Cybele Zhang said.

Despite the initial challenge, the Latinists arrived at the convention prepared to take their academic tests.

On Friday night, students took different exams covering various Latin-related subjects. Even though four of the students on the trip do not currently take Latin, they were still able to complete a few of the tests.

From left to right, (back row) Lola Vescovo, Zoë Webb-Mack, Cybele Zhang, Anna Brodsky, Kate Webster, Justin Vorhis, (front row) Portia Freeman and Gaby Lu pose with the bouncy ball they won after the Spirit Competition. The Archer delegation wore matching purple shirts. Photo courtesy of Zhang.

“I personally don’t take Latin, so the tests I took were mythology and derivatives because those are the ones you need to know the least Latin for,” freshman Anna Brodsky said. “There’s also Latin grammar, Roman geography [and more].”

Saturday was when most of the activities happened, such as scavenger hunts, Latin Jeopardy — also known as Certamen — and workshops about Ancient Rome led by university professors from the area. There is also the highly anticipated Spirit Competition.

“[The Spirit Competition] was probably my favorite part,” Brodsky said. “Basically, everyone screams for 15 minutes straight. It’s very tiring, but whichever school has the most spirit wins a silly prize.” 

Archer won first place in the small school category for the third year in a row, and their “silly prize” was a bouncy ball with a handle. 

“We only had six people and we were competing against groups that were up to twenty,” Zhang said. “We made signs and had cheers. We also had matching togas and pom poms.” 

Zhang submitted two art pieces, a bowl engraved with the Latin phrase “panem et circenses,” or bread and circuses, and a sewn doll of a Roman senator. She won second place for each in the categories of pottery and textile arts.

Brodsky said she appreciated how St. Ignatius organized the convention compared to her experiences in previous years. 

“This was my fourth year [going], and I thought it was really well organized,” she said. “Generally, it’s at big public schools and for the first time — at least since I’ve been going — it was at a private school. It was interesting to see that change in the way that it was organized.”

St. Ignatius introduced new activities including glow-in-the-dark mini golf, bubble soccer and edible mosaics.

Although most students’ favorite parts were the various activities, Zoë Webb-Mack ’17 said her favorite part was spending time with everyone in the Archer delegation. 

It was Webb-Mack’s fifth year attending the convention and her sixth year taking Latin. For her, taking Latin and going to convention has been a very important part of her time at Archer and has fostered her love for the language and culture. 

“I feel like Latin was such a big part of my Archer experience. I could always look forward to my small, weird, nerdy class of Latinists. It’s a close community,” Webb-Mack said. “But there’s always Senior Classical League! I want to try to minor in Latin in college.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Latinists attend Junior Classical League Convention in San Francisco”

  1. Sonia Arora on May 15th, 2017 2:17 pm

    This is wonderful! I love the spirit of creativity and intellectual engagement of the Convention. Glad to see that Archer represented strong and enthusiastically!

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