Welcome Parents and families!
Thank you for choosing to be a part of a unique tradition here at Berkeley High. It is my hope that you will find in BHS Latin a supportive learning community, and that your child will enjoy the many opportunities that Latin offers, both during and beyond their time at BHS.
Lingua Latina Pro Omnibus! (Latin for everyone)
You may have noticed that our Latin program does not resemble other Latin programs at many other schools, and certainly not the Latin programs of previous generations. This is very intentional. Many years ago, I started learning Latin the traditional way (memorizing vocabulary and noun/verb endings, deciphering exercises, etc), and quickly became frustrated. But then I discovered that some teachers and students were approaching Latin as a living language, and were getting great results, as well as tremendous enthusiasm and a global community of “Latinists,” thanks to social media (which was basically e-mail back then). I then attended a Summer program in Rome taught by Reginald Foster, who at the time was the Vatican’s Latin secretary. It was there, in Rome, that I realized that Latin could be brought to life for all kinds of learners. That was 2002, and I haven’t looked back, working with many of the teachers and scholars featured in this article on the movement.
Having immersed myself for almost 20 years in Classical studies (Latin and Greek language and literature) and second language acquisition theory, I have developed a continuously-evolving curriculum which uses contemporary methods (communicative, student-centered activities and readings) to bring students to a high level of proficiency in Latin using listening, reading, writing, and speaking. This not only gives students the necessary academic skills traditionally associated with Latin, but empowers students to take ownership of the Latin language. Latin becomes a part of them, whether they are reading something in Latin that was written in the first or the twenty-first century, or sharing their own Latin stories in speech and writing.
In addition to my teaching work, I have been a contributor to the American Classical League’s revision process of the national standards for Latin teachers. I am also mentoring and collaborating with Latin teachers around the country to help them make Latin accessible to a growing and diverse student population. Your children may notice an occasional visitor to our classroom. This is because my door is open to fellow Latin teachers and other educators who want to share ideas and give each other feedback.
BHS Latin students are encouraged to participate in Latin Club and Junior Classical League meetings, events and activities. The JCL has regional, state and national conventions, in which hundreds of Latin students gather to celebrate their shared interests in the ancient world and Latin language. Activities include academic competitions, ancient art workshops, events involving chariots, catapults, plastic swords, etc. It is A LOT of fun.
We have also been working with Miramonte High School’s Latin club to host joint events like Classical Movie Night, Pumpkin carving, academic practice, and more. By participating in Latin Club, students will become part of an international community of like-minded students, teachers and enthusiasts.
Through National tests like the National Latin Exam and the SCRIBO Latin composition contest, students can earn recognition for their Latin skills for scholarships and college admissions. Membership in JCL also is a great example of student leadership, which can also be added to the college resume.
What about AP and IB?
Proficiency and test prep involve overlapping, but distinct sets of skills. We want to empower students to reach whatever learning goal they choose when it comes to Latin. During 3rd and 4th year Latin, students will be learning the skills and reading texts which will also help them succeed on these tests. Through a combination of in-class practice, and more specialized independent work, students will receive a thorough preparation to confidently tackle the challenges of AP and IB exams.
How can I help?
Please encourage your child to get involved in Latin Club events. Chaperons are necessary for us to attend JCL conventions. Parents who can afford it can help additional students cover registration fees for JCL events. And last but certainly not least, please spread the word about BHS Latin, since our program depends on enrollment, and many many families in our district do not know how much fun and how helpful Latin can be no matter what a student’s interests are. I am also happy to share or print flyers which explain the many benefits of studying Latin.