Although it is the shortest month of the year, historically February has proved to be a time of year brimming with activities for the Burlington High School Latin Club.
Firstly, Burlington Latin students once again travelled to Boston on a cold Saturday morning to compete in the annual Certamen tournament at Boston Latin School. Certamen, the Latin word for “competition” is a quiz bowl style event drawing schools from all over the greater Boston area to test their knowledge of the Latin language, ancient history and classical mythology. The competition is always steep as for many of the schools which participate, Latin is mandatory for every student. This year, Burlington brought two teams to participate, including Freshmen Pranav “Regulus” Ramakrishnan, Josh “Brutus” Coughlin, Sophomores Max “Maximus” Hovasse, Mark “Zenobius” Czerwinski, Akash “Arcavius” Kuncham, and Junior Shailin “Avis” Shah. Although they did not win any individual matches, both teams delivered strong performances, setting new records for scoring at this historically difficult competition. All players are looking forward to the upcoming Brookline Certamen in April where the playing field is a bit more level as only those schools where Latin is not mandatory are permitted to compete.
Next up were the bi-annual Latin field trips to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, both in Boston’s Fenway district, on February 11th and 12th, respectively. Juniors and Seniors, who visited the MFA back in February of 2014, instead travelled for the first time to the Gardner Museum where they explored the 19th century socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner’s immense and eclectic assemblage of art masterpieces from around the world. The collection includes both authentic Roman artifacts as well as countless priceless Medieval and Renaissance works of art inspired by the history and mythology of the ancient world. These were acquired by Mrs. Gardner over several decades during her extensive travels. Students impressed the museum guides by their ability both to read the many Latin inscriptions and to recognize and interpret the many historical and mythological allusions depicted. Titian’s masterpiece “Europa” and was a particular favorite as it was a story the students had recently read in Latin in the days leading up to the trip.
The following day, the Freshmen and Sophomores braved the cold and ventured to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston where, Mr. Stringer dusted off his tour guide skills for an hour-long visit. Then, the students were divided into four groups for a friendly scavenger-hunt style competition. Chaperones Mrs. Dacey, Mr. Parkin, Mrs. Wojtaszek and Mrs. Dembrowski each led a team of 10 students as they rotated through four interactive “stations” within the museum. In one room, students were asked to match historical and mythological clues to items in the museum’s extensive Roman coin collection and in another, to locate individual pieces of authentic Roman jewelry by means of riddle-like descriptions. Then, students had the opportunity to select both an individual Greek and Roman object for close study. The winners of this friendly competition are as follows: The Green Team, headed by BHS history teacher Rob Parkin, took top team honors. Members included Freshmen Caroline Allain, Rishabh Prakash and Kristina Wollinski and Sophomores Rutvi Shah, Shirin Bakre, Peter Rabazzi, and Dan Xue. The team also boasted three of the four individual prize winners: Alexander Viglione who won the Roman Coin Bingo, locating an impressive 11; Rayna Parry in the individual Roman object description for her impressive drawing of a statue of a Roman priestess (pictured here at left with sophomores Jenny L’Heureux and Zyann Sharkah); and finally Charlie Paras who, incredibly, located all but one, 24 of 25, of the Roman jewels. The final individual winner was the Red Team’s Gati Aher for her beautiful drawing and description of a 5th century Greek vase.
Last but not least, on Friday, February 26th BHS’ Latin V students made their annual trek to Marshall Simonds Middle School to encourage 7th and 8th grade Latin students to continue their study as they make the transition to high school. The visit began with a brief introduction by MSMS principal Richard Connors, followed by an explanation by Mr. Stringer of his background and how and why he became a Latin teacher. Next, students watched a short, student produced video on what taking Latin at the high school looks like. (Watch it here!) Then, Mr. Stringer and his Latin students put on two short plays to demonstrate what studying Latin looks and sounds like at the high school, where students are taught to use all four communicative modes, including speaking and listening. (Watch one here!) After another short video promoting the bi-annual April break student trip to Rome (check it out here!), MSMS students then heard from the students themselves about their experience as Latin students and why they felt it was valuable and were then encouraged to ask questions. The event was wrapped up with a brief meet and greet with snacks generously provided by MSMS first year Latin teacher Patrick Finnegan.