Carpe diem: community of Latin students compete extensively, gain invaluable life experiences


Gracie Blackwell

The Coppell High School Latin Club competed at Junior Classical League (JCL) regionals on Feb. 17 at Garland High School. They won first place for the highest number of Certamen points and took home their first ever trophy, placing second out of 39 schools overall. Additionally, students in Latin I to Latin IV classes earned individual awards in various events.

A diverse set of students, those in Latin class and those who are not, come together to explore an equally diverse set of topics regarding Classical literature, arts, grammar. They grow together through mutual experiences and a love for the immense knowledge Latin provides.


“Latin club is unique because it allows us [members] to bond over passion of the classical world,” Coppell High School sophomore James Cook said. “We learn about Latin grammar, Roman and Greek history, mythology, classical literature, daily life and more.”


In recent years the small community of Latin students has grown as more students are excited about the opportunities offered.


“There has been a lot more growth recently,” senior and Latin club officer Tyler Huang said. “I think the club is becoming something students want to come to afterschool. We have been advertising a bit more so people know we don’t just study, but play games and there’s usually food.”


While many have the misconception that Latin is an obscure language that is no longer necessary to learn, club members assert it is truly a beautiful and powerful tool that explains ancient world contributions to the present day and teaches precision in grammar and root words.


“My membean score is insanely high because of Latin,” Cook said. “Also, Latin allows us to read original texts of famous authors such as Virgil, Cicero and Julius Caesar so you do not lose meaning in translation.”


Latin teacher and club sponsor Gina Powell also emphasizes the deeper knowledge students can gain in every subject through Latin.


“If you know Latin it just permeates into so much more,” Powell said. “I enjoy just how deep the language is rooted. It is not just the words and sentences, but the history and geography. Everyone studies the Renaissance and knows it has something to do with rebirth of classics, but without understanding what these Classics actually are, it is not the same.”


In the club, students keep themselves busy throughout the school year with countless contests such as regionals for the Junior Classical League (JCL), TSJCL the Texas State Junior Classical League (TSJCL), Certamen at Baylor Latin Day and studying for the National Latin Exam (NLE), which was held on March 8 this year.


“We [35 students] took the NLE and we expect a lot of gold papers as the result,” Cook said. “Last year Coppell had two perfect papers and several gold papers that only missed one or two questions [out of 40]. It’s important because students can qualify for scholarship money.”


Latin competitions encompass much more than a day of studying and academic tests for these students. For example, Baylor Latin Day 2017 includes oratory competitions, a humorous adaptation of a play of Plautus, a graphic arts contest to create designs that promote study of Classical culture and Latin singing.


“I really like going to the competitions because we usually do really well and its fun,” Huang, who has been in the club for the past four years, said. “We are not just competing we [the members] just have a lot of fun and do things we can’t in class, it’s an enrichment activity.”


Certamen, a part of Baylor Latin day and JCL regionals, is similar to an academic decathalon quiz bowl where two teams of four are given buzzers to answer questions. When a team answers a question correctly, it is given two bonus question opportunities.


“Certamen literally translates to competition,” Cook said. “These matches are exciting, fast paced and intense.”


At JCL regionals, CHS Latin earned first place for total points in Certamen and their first ever trophy for overall second place out of 39 schools around the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, many of which are private schools that begin teaching foreign languages from early elementary or middle school levels.

Photo courtesy of Gina Powell
From left to right, Coppell High School freshman Isabella Jaiku, sophomores Melody Shen, Karina Teruya and Se Han Jeong participate in the Certamen which is similar to an academic decathalon quiz bowl where two teams of four are given buzzer to answer questions. Junior Classical League (JCL) regionals took place on Feb. 17 at Garland High School, this team earned first place for highest number of Certamen points and CHS Latin took home their first ever trophy, placing second out of 39 schools overall.


“[Coppell students] are just really driven,” Powell said. “These guys are going up against those with more knowledge but it just makes them all the more competitive.”


A large part of these students’ success comes from a passion that Powell ignites within the students by bringing lessons alive.


“[The main goal for these competitions] is just to foster a love for the classics,” Powell said.


It is evidence Powell herself has a deep desire to to immerse herself in the world of Classics. Just over spring break, Powell explored Spain to observe Roman ruins, which she will compile into a slideshow lesson for students to better appreciate the richness and intensity of the ancient world they are studying.


Following are the individual results from the JCL Area Latin Language Competition held on Feb. 17 at Garland High School where Latin I – Latin IV students earned various coveted awards.


The competition is hosted by the The Texas State Junior Classical League (TSJCL), a branch of the National Junior Classical League (NJCL), which works to promote the importance of Latin and Greek classics and is the largest classical organization in the world, encompassing over 45,000 middle and high school students.


  • First place in Decathlon Latin I: Adithya Pillai (freshman)
  • First place Greek Derivatives Latin IV: Nikitha Vicas (senior)
  • Second place Mythology Latin I: Adithya Pillai (freshman)
  • Second place Mythology Latin II: Melody Shen (sophomore)
  • Second place Roman Life Culture Latin II: Se Han Jeong (sophomore)
  • Second place Greed Derivatives Latin IV: Tyler Huang (senior)
  • Third place Latin Derivatives Latin II: Se Han Jeong (sophomore)
  • Third place Oratory Latin II: Melody Shen (sophomore)
  • Third place Mixed Media Art: Karina Teruya (sophomore)
  • Third place Latin Derivatives Latin I: Luke Spencer (freshman)
  • Third place Ancient Geography Latin I: Luke Spencer (freshman)
  • Third place Ancient Geography Latin IV: Nikitha Vicas (senior)
  • Fourth place Roman History Latin II: James Cook (sophomore)
  • Fourth place Advanced Grammar Latin II: James Cook (sophomore)
  • Fourth place Mottos/Monuments Latin II: Nicole Smith (sophomore)
  • Fifth place Reading Comp Advanced Latin II: Karina Teruya (sophomore)
  • Fifth place Reading Comp Beginner Latin I: Janya Janeev (freshman)


Encouraged by their many successes this year, 14 students are gearing up for the state competition March 31 to April 1 in San Antonio where they will compete against around 150 schools.

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