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Eighth-grade Latin students at Spotsylvania Middle School are gearing up for another season of certamen, a trivia game about the Latin language and Roman culture.
Date published: 11/27/2002
The makeup of the teams "boils down to the kids who can prove they are the fastest and know the most," Winn said.
The four students who do the best on weekly quizzes and during the tryout practice will make up team A, the next four will be team B, and so on.
"This group has the ability to be first," Winn said. "They're beginning to get that hunger."
The competitions take place all day on Saturdays, Winn said, so in addition to staying after school and studying at home, students must be willing to give up some Saturdays to participate in the activity.
But they don't seem to mind.
"[Latin] is such a fun class already, and Mr. Winn is such a great teacher. I thought I could have even more fun [playing certamen]," said Joseph LeFebre.
"It's given us a head start," in subjects that also are covered in regular Latin class, said Elizabeth Tiblin.
The other students all seem to agree with her.
"You get to know more stuff like mythology than you would learn in class," said Karoline LeFebre, Joseph's twin sister.
Krystal Garrison said she likes learning more about the language and Roman culture.
"I like that it's on Friday," said Karoline LeFebre.
"It gives you something to do," Megan McDonald, chimed in.
Students like Joseph Quinn participate in certamen because they want to do well on the National Latin Exam.
"This helps tremendously with their performance on the National Latin Exam," Winn said.
Certamen also helps with the students' performances at the annual Junior Classical League convention, he added.
Last year, 14 of Winn's students won gold medals on the National Latin Exam, and the top-scoring eighth-grader at the JCL convention has come from Spotsylvania Middle School for the last three years.
"Certamen questions are higher-order and cover more things than what's covered in the normal curriculum, " Winn said.
He added that the curriculum is well planned out, but there just is not enough time to cover everything, especially in level one, which concentrates on grammar and vocabulary.
Other schools in Spotsylvania also have had success in certamen tournaments. Ni River Middle School's level one team, taught by Susan Lee, came in first in the state last year.
The students who are successful in middle school will carry on in high school, Winn said.
Not surprisingly, almost all of Winn's 62 students are planning to study Latin next year.
"It's the best place to have a powerful program, in the eighth grade, because they get hooked by certamen and the JCL convention," Winn said.
"They just don't want to stop."