While many still consider it to be a “dead” language, Latin is thriving in the Huntington School District. It’s been a banner year for the program as students sparkled in several contests.
Huntington students excelled in the Suffolk Classical Society’s annual Certamen competition at Stony Brook University and on the National Latin Exam, which drew the interest of about 155,000 students from all 50 states and 20 foreign countries.
Similar to a Quiz Bowl, but for teenagers studying Latin, the Certamen covered areas that included grammar, vocabulary, literature, syntax, mythology, Roman culture, history and word derivations.
Most of Long Island’s best Latin students vied against one another at the event, which featured teams of four squaring off against each other in a fast paced academic battle. Huntington place third out of 24 teams in both the Level I and Level 2 categories. “To place at this competition among the top schools is a huge achievement,” Huntington’s Latin teacher Kristin Fortunato said.
Winning Level I eighth grade team members from J. Taylor Finley Middle School included Ella Seipel, Sahar Nadi, Kyle Colleluori and Jack Krisch.
Winning Level II ninth grade class members included Matt Gennarelli, Ryan Knowles, Zubair Ali and Robert Jean Gilles.
The two teams received recognition plaques, which are now on display at both Finley and the high school. “Students look forward to the event every year,” Ms. Fortunato said. “It is not only a competition, but an event of unity. Students are able to meet others taking Latin classes and come to realize just how popular the language has become.”
“The Certamen is great because you get to compete against schools from all over Long Island,” said one of the Huntington participants. “It is surprising how many students there are that take Latin.”
Huntington students also claimed awards in record numbers on the National Latin Exam, an optional test available to students in grades 7-12 who are taking classes in the language. “It assesses students’ full grasp of the Latin language and Roman culture, such as skills in grammar, vocabulary, derivation, reading comprehension, literature, oral Latin, Roman life, history, geography, mythology and Latin in use in the modern world,” Ms. Fortunato said.
“The National Latin Exam was a great opportunity for me to use all of the things I learned in class to win an award and prove my knowledge of Latin,” a Finley eighth grader said.
Among the 54 Huntington students who sat for the exam, 39 won awards. The honors included 12 ribbons for excellence, three silver medals, five gold medals and two perfect scores.
The difficult 45 minute test featured 40 multiple choice questions. The exam is offered to students on seven different levels, including: Introduction to Latin, Latin I, Latin II, Latin III, Latin III/IV Prose and Latin III/IV Poetry.
“The philosophy of the National Latin Exam is predicated on providing every Latin student the opportunity to experience a sense of personal accomplishment and success in his or her study of the Latin language and culture,” according to the initiative’s website. “This opportunity exists for all students since they are not competing with their fellow students on a comparative basis, but are evaluated solely on their own performance on the exam. The basic purposes of the NLE are to promote the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student.”
Fourteen Huntington High School students captured honors. Ryan Knowles notched a perfect score on the exam and a gold medal. Matthew Gennarelli, Zubair Ali, Kaitlyn Sage and Ryan Hoffman all earned Summa Cum Laude certificates and gold medals. Madeline Meidenman, Cori Thomason, Riley Tucker captured Maxima Cum Laude honors and silver medals. Aniyah Toro, Brandon Varady and Griffin Bluemer qualified for Magna Cum Laude recognition. Maggie Lalor, Katie Stock and Nathaniel Gamboa garnered Cum Laude honors.
Finley students were also sensational with 25 winning honors on the challenging exam, including Chloe Buffone, who earned a perfect score.
Andrew McKenzie, Ella Siepel, Jack Krisch, Kyle Colleluori, Sahar Nadi, Grace Collevecchio, Nick Tudisco, Anna Koulakova, Aidan Heller, Gracie Renkewitz and Andrew Florvil, Grace Collevecchio qualified for Magna Cum Laude recognition.
Baris Toprak, Katie Renkewitz, Grace Kata, Jake Burton, Jean Marie Maleszewski, Sabeena Ali, Sydney Cordeiro, Alec Cordeiro, Ally Kustera, Will Spada, Morgan Colleluori and Caroline O’Rourke earned Cum Laude certificates.
Huntington students have been ramping up their performances annually in Certamen contest and on the National Latin Exam.
“The National Latin Exam and Certamen were big experiences for me,” one of the Huntington students said. “I can’t wait until next in to do this again.”