It’s not a curriculum area that receives a lot of attention, but it’s still very possible and desirable for teens to be learning Latin and classics in high school. More than 60 students from three schools in West Virginia attended the West Virginia Junior Classical League Convention recently held in Bethany. They tested their knowledge of the Latin language, shared their Roman toga style and even learned how to modify video games for an immersive language experience.
Nicoletta Villa-Sella, the convention’s organizer and West Virginia representative for the National Junior Classical League, said there is a misconception that Latin is very serious.
The convention provides students a fun opportunity to test their mastery of the language while interacting with students from other schools.
Mastery of the Latin language
“Latin has been part of the American education field for a very long time. We are really hoping and fighting to keep it alive since there are fewer and fewer people who are (learning Latin). It’s really good for (students) to see that there are other people who are sharing their same interest,” said Villa-Sella, who is also a Latin teacher at Linsly.
Throughout the two days, attendees participated in a “certamen” – a Jeopardy-style quiz game – took written exams with topics including mythology, reading comprehension and Roman life, and elected officers for the upcoming year. Judged based on qualities such as “most authentic,” students sported Roman fashion during the popular toga fashion show.
Parallel to that lighthearted means of expression, Villa-Sella emphasized the importance of keeping the Latin language alive as it improves students’ ability to master communication of English, much of which is derived from Latin.
“People do not realize how much more they learn of the English language through Latin,” she said.
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