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Vox clamans in deserto: Save Latin!


Date published: 7/3/2011

I have heard that Latin might not be offered at Freedom Middle School next year, even though numerous students requested the Latin course. I am concerned that many people dismiss Latin as a "dead language" because they are unaware of its tremendous value.

More than 60 percent of the English language is derived from Latin or Greek; the study of Latin improves students' English comprehension and composition skills. Studies show that Latin students perform better on SAT and ACT tests than other students.

Latin also creates outstanding extracurricular opportunities. Several Spotsylvania schools have very active Latin clubs and chapters of the Virginia Junior Classical League.

The VJCL, with chapters in 84 schools across Virginia, sponsors academic competitions known as Certamen, which draw teams from throughout the state; at the 2010 Riverbend High School Certamen, more than 80 teams competed. Teams from Spotsylvania County are consistently among the best in Virginia, and have won several state championships. The Virginia state team, which frequently includes students from Spotsylvania County, has won 35 national championships since 1971.

VJCL also offers superb opportunities for leadership. Local students have been elected to numerous state and national offices over the years. Several recent Riverbend graduates have received scholarships based on their involvement with Latin.

Improved academic performance, extracurricular leadership, and enhanced opportunities for scholarships sound like positive benefits that anyone would endorse.

Latin offers greater advantages than any other language taught in our schools. I hope that Spotsylvania County will ensure that a robust Latin program is available to students at every middle and high school in the county.

Morgan Locks

Spotsylvania

The writer is president of the Riverbend High School Latin Club.