Competing in a dead language

JCL takes fifth place overall in area competition


provided by Andrew Hamilton

(from left) JCL Co-President and senior Arthur Fowler, freshman Kate Oguntoyinbo and JCL Co-President and junior Jermy Scarpetta hold up JCL’s fifth place trophy from the JCL Area A competition. Members also placed in individual categories including dramatic interpretation, the decathlon, Roman life, ancient geography, Latin literature, Latin vocabulary, and the softball throw.

Claire Bradford, Reporter

The Junior Classical League (JCL) won fifth place overall and advanced to state in the Junior Classical League Area A competition on Feb. 18. Club members tested their knowledge at Clear Creek High School in history, grammar, vocabulary and translation in a series of events: academic tests, creative contests, a quiz-bowl-like “certamen” (Latin for the struggle) and the athletic “ludi” (Latin for the games).

With members having conflicting schedules, junior and JCL Co-President Jermy Scarpetta expressed how while “[they] couldn’t prepare as much as [they] should have, from what [he] saw from the results, [he]’d say [he’s] pretty happy.”

Scarpetta has been participating in Latin competitions since sixth grade. Having experienced the pressure of competing before, Scarpetta believed “it wasn’t as big of a deal as it used to be.”

“I remember when I first started doing these competitions, I was a little bit nervous,” Scarpetta said. “Now that I’m more experienced, it’s pretty enjoyable seeing how much I know about the topics that are being tested. When it came to the oratory [competitions], it was a little bit more nerve wracking, but I still managed to get myself a pretty good score.”

Freshman Keith Luo, however, found the atmosphere of the competition to be “extremely tense” because of the high stakes of the area competition.

“The most challenging thing was keeping myself calm,” Luo said. “You could tell just by walking in[to your testing room] that everybody was a bit on edge because they didn’t know what to expect on the test. You would feel an enormous amount of relief after you finished the test.”

Even with the stress of the academic portion of the competitions, Scarpetta finds enjoyment in the creative portion.

“The creative contests are my favorite part because that’s where everybody can really express themselves in terms of what they like about Latin and classical-themed stuff in general,” Scarpetta said. Not everybody’s on edge about ‘Oh, I gotta get first.’ They’re just trying to have fun and make connections.”

Club sponsor and Latin teacher Andrew Hamilton was “very pleased” by JCL’s performance and hopes that the club will build up its “certamen” teams for next year.

“It really is fun to see young people get excited about a ‘dead’ language,” Hamilton said. “Latin has had an indelible impact on our literary, historical and political situation, and it continues to shape Western identity in ways which are not always obvious. It is wonderful to see students gain a deeper understanding of why we do the things we do and say the things we say.”

JCL meets every Thursday in Room 2720. Its Remind code is @bhsnjcl.

JCL Co-President Jermy Scarpetta performs a piece titled “Arachne Underestimates Minerva” which he competed with in the dramatic interpretation portion of the Area A competition. (video taken by Claire Bradford)