Students at two Utah Catholic Schools claim top honors in this year's national Latin exam

Friday, May. 13, 2022
Students at two Utah Catholic Schools claim top honors in this year's national Latin exam + Enlarge
Learning Latin helps students at The Madeleine Choir School understand the sacred music they sing. Several received awards in the recent National Latin exam. Shown are some of the students who took top honors in this year's National Latin Exam. Courtesy photo

SALT LAKE CITY —Madeleine Choir School seventh- and eighth-grade students took home 17 top honors recently from the National Latin Exam, a standardized test for Latin students. 
Darya Ispolatova, eighth grade, won a gold medal (summa cum laude); silver medal (maxima cum laude) winners were Ines Borjon-Vallejo, eighth grade, and seventh-graders Ronak Tathireddy, Lexi Young and Jude Payne. Receiving magna cum laude honors were seventh-graders Olivia Lemaitre, Viveca Peterson, Abe Johnson and eighth-grader Tai Fluchel. Named cum laude were Noah Nix, Ben Klemesrud and Chris Salinas, seventh grade; and David Lupash, Marlo Trewitt, Bella Mares-Sanchez, Lupita Medina and Amelie Tan, eighth grade.
At The Madeleine Choir School, Latin is a required subject, teacher Claire Oberle said. “The majority of the songs the choir sings at Mass are in Latin, so teaching them Latin allows them to actually have an idea of what they’re singing.”
Beginning in fourth grade, MCS students are schooled in Latin roots, history and mythology. The formal Latin curriculum begins in sixth grade, and students sit the National Latin Exam in seventh and eighth grade.
“I enjoy teaching at The Madeleine Choir School because it has an exceptional faculty, exceptional administration and the students are really great,” said Oberle who has been teaching Latin at the school for four years. 
Judge Memorial Catholic High School Latin students also took the National Latin Exam. Forty percent of Judge’s 50 participants received awards, according to Latin teacher Tim Soran. Among the winners were Paul Florence, 12th grade; Peter Stokes,11th grade; CJ Stokes, 10th grade; and Isabella Haile, ninth grade; who all received silver medals.  
“The National Latin Exam is more than just results on a test, much more than just the understanding of Latin alone; it is the culmination of a breadth of information,” Soran said. “When someone today makes a comment like ‘Don’t fly too close to the sun!’ ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!’ or ‘He was listed as persona non grata,’ this current generation has no idea of the context, how to relate to the analogy, or even have the curiosity to find out their meanings. An early education rich in the classical studies of Latin, Greek, mythology, history and literature is the real reward in later life.”
Soran taught Latin at MCS from 1997 to 2000; he began teaching Latin at Judge Memorial in 2001. He currently instructs about 50 students in four different levels, based on students’ experience. This year, he piloted a Latin program for the Lourdes Academy seventh- and eighth-grade students, and will offer a full program this fall.
Getting students interested in learning Latin can be challenging, he said. “Everybody talks about Latin as being a dead language, but it literally is the cornerstone grammar of all the Romance languages, including English, so it really is to learn English. It helps you be a more effective communicator both verbal and written.”
The National Latin Exam covers Latin vocabulary and grammar, Roman history and mythology, and reading comprehension. The 40-question, multiple-choice test with a time limit of 45 minutes is offered to students on seven levels and is sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League.
Judge Memorial CHS Latin students also recently participated in the National Mythology Exam. This entails a preselected topic, selected months in advance, and allows students to prepare by studying primary and secondary source information. Results are due next week.

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