Latin club tackles Roman culture

From left: Sophomore Justin Wong and juniors Henry Varona and Thea Hobson prepare for a Dec. 7 Latin tournament. Photo by Conor Amrien.
From left: Sophomore Justin Wong and juniors Henry Varona and Thea Hobson prepare for a Dec. 7 Latin tournament. Photo by Conor Amrien.

Gods, monsters and epic quests: the Latin Club immersed itself in all these topics at a tournament in Dover, NH on Dec. 7.

The club competed against other high school teams in their area at the event, called Certamen, in two separate teams, based on their levels in school.

For weeks, the Latin Club has met X-block to practice for the competition. Certamen is a trivia-based competition, which includes Roman history, culture, mythology and language.

It has three rounds, which teams are assigned to randomly. Two or three teams compete and buzz in for each question. Questions are worth ten points, and if the answer is correct, the team has the chance to answer two bonus questions.

To master each section of competition, the club assigned each subject to a different person, which helps keep the team organized and better able to answer the vast array of possible questions, sophomore Hank Gilbert said.

“It’s much better than if everyone was trying to answer everyone else’s questions,” Gilbert said. “It’s good to know that there is an expert who knows the answers to certain questions and that they’re the one who is going to buzz in.”

WATCH: Latin Club competes in Certamen

The club prepared for the competition using mock competitions with old Certamen questions to test their understanding of the material. Each team member was given an individualized study packet to learn from, sophomore Arthur Chen said.

For junior Sean McDonough, much of the appeal of being in the club is the opportunity to study and make use of his passion for Roman mythology.

“Mythology is more of a fun thing for me because there are more stories of gods and goddesses interacting with humans, just things out of the ordinary that don’t happen to us. To me they are just interesting to hear,” McDonough said.

On the other side of the Latin subject spectrum, Chen looks forward to answering the grammatical questions. This focus on technical questions allows him to study more of what he likes to do best, he said.

“I have always been a grammar guy, which I know is kind of weird, but I love grammar,” Chen said. “I love the rules, regulations and conjugations, that sort of thing. And Latin declensions and cases have always been an interest for me.”

Chen said that by working mostly on personal interests, the Latin club has created a dedicated team that works hard to perform its best in competitions, while maintaining a positive environment.

“I like competition a lot, and I definitely like Latin as a language a lot,” Chen said. “And I like the people, too. So it’s fun.”

“I remember X-blocks before, and that was just like going to Village Fare with your friends, but I find this as enjoyable because I can relax as well as learn more. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Isabel Meyers can be contacted at [email protected]