Carpe Diem. That’s what the members of the Junior Classical League did over the weekend of March 31st as they traveled to compete in the annual NCJCL Spring State Convention.
These students, more commonly known as the members of JCL, are students who are passionate about Latin and challenge themselves to expand their knowledge of the language beyond the classroom. The convention took place in Chapel Hill, and while Roberson’s JCL did not place overall, several students stood out individually in the state.
“I think the convention went really well,” senior Chloe deBeus said. “We had a lot of people show up and take part in the different activities.”
JCL has participated in NCJCL Conventions for decades, and has a long history of placing highly within the state. Latin teacher Christopher Semper attributes the success to students working very hard and performing very well on tests.
Along with certain tests, the Convention includes a variety of different types of competitions and activities. These classical Greek and Roman inspired events cover everything from pronunciation to a one hundred meter dash.
“There’s a little bit of everything, so it’s a lot of fun,” Semper said.
Some of the most popular events include the banner competition, scrapbook competition, costume contests, oratory competition, chariot race, olympica, and certamen.
“I liked competing in sight reading,” deBeus said.
Sight reading is an event where each participant delivers a speech about a certain topic. The topic deBeus spoke about was the topic “art is but an imitation of nature.”
“It’s interesting to come up with a speech on the spot and practice those skills,” deBeus said.
Beyond the stage of competition, Latin appeals to students for a variety of reasons. For junior Elise Wright, Latin provides a way to better understand English.
“It has so much more structure than English, and it informs and helps with English. A lot of the English words come from Latin, so a lot of the grammar makes more sense if you can think about it in Latin,” Wright said.
For other students, such as senior Theodore Frader, having a teacher who is actively involved and connected with students outside of the classroom is helpful.
“He (Semper) really knows us as more than students, but he realizes that we’re people, too. He tries to understand us, which is really nice,” Frader said.
As for Semper, providing a different classroom experience is what it’s all about.
“I had a bad French experience in high school, so I wanted something different. I knew my last name was Latin, and I knew I wanted something different, so in college I took Latin. I did not do very well in my first semester, but I loved it. It made me work a little bit harder as a student to keep up,” Semper said.
For deBeus, her four years in JCL has been a high school experience she enjoyed very much.
“JCL helps you learn Latin better, and you get to enjoy Latin more as a language,” deBeus said.