The Association for Latin Teaching

respice prospice

Newsletter 24: April 2005

Dear Classical Friend,

No, you didn't miss out on a March Newsletter. Sorry, there wasn't one. This one is very long, but I've tried to put the most important items first.


Matters of death and life


I have to begin this newsletter with Angela Felgate, whose death from cancer ten days ago at the age of 55 saddened all of us who knew her. It was expected and yet a shock. Coleridge has an achingly beautiful marginal note in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

"In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying Moon, and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and everywhere the blue sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest and their native country and their own natural homes, which they enter unannounced, as lords that are certainly expected, and yet there is a silent joy at their arrival."

Angela's death was 'certainly expected' and yet there is a silent, deep, shared sorrow at her departure, among ARLT members as well as at Talbot Heath School. I wrote briefly in the ARLT Blog when I heard the sad news from Robert West - you can see what I wrote at .

Robert has explained: "Since her diagnosis four to five years ago, she had become progressively less active in ARLT, which is why some of you will not have known her, but she made a very deliberate and brave appearance for one day at the Summer School in 2003."

He says: "She edited the JACT Review for us for some years, and enlivened many a Summer School."

Her funeral service will be at St Aldhelm's Church, Branksome on Friday, 22nd April at 2.30 p.m. followed by committal at Bournemouth Crematorium. Inquiries re flowers or charitable donations to Tapper Funeral Service, Poole (Tel. 01202 673164). I am sorry that I shall be at the memorial service for a cousin at just that time and so shall be unable to be present. I believe that she has entered her 'appointed rest and .. native country' and her own natural home, and there is joy in heaven, whether silent or tumultuous, at her arrival.


Roll up, roll up!


To turn to something more cheerful - much more cheerful - let me urge you to sign up for the Summer School right away. This year it is timed to come at the end of term, so that you don't need to interrupt your summer break in the middle. It runs (as I noted on the Blog) from Thursday afternoon to Sunday midday, July 21 to 24. As well as being wondrously informative and enjoyable, it is almost miraculously good value: only £190 all inclusive, or only £85 for students. Beat that! But there is more. Generous bursaries are available. ARLT is so convinced of the worth of this INSET that it does all it possibly can to make sure that you can come and enjoy it. Working teachers should be able to get their schools to pay out of INSET budgets. Check the details on /home/arltcouk/public_html/arlt_db.php?catID=4 and sign up - you won't regret it. You might like to see pictures from last year's Summer School here: .


What news from the chalk face?


This is from Lynne Primmer: "Glad you liked the Classics bit on our website: you're right about the site being done professionally! I've just been looking at David Swift's website, presumably done when he was still at Blackburn College, and he has done such an excellent job that it puts many of us to shame.

"Classics here at South Craven is just hanging on. Basically we're a large comprehensive (1750 students, the largest school in N. Yorkshire) which is creamed by grammar schools 5 miles away in Skipton and 20 miles away in Bradford. Classics started when I was appointed (too many years ago) and I've managed to keep something going, if only the JACT Class. Civ. course at A Level, although I do have a Latin beginners' course in Year 10 at the moment, another attempt to do GCSE in 2 years. The rest of my timetable consists of 'fillers', in various subject areas about which I know very little, including ICT, Geography, History, RE, Humanities, English, etc., and I also run A Level General Studies. I suspect that when I retire in just over 2 years' time, Classics will be conveniently dropped from the timetable. All my hopes of winning the Lottery, getting out early but leaving the school with an endowment to ensure the future of Classics have come to nothing!"

To visit Lynne's departmental site, you'll have to use Internet Explorer - it is not at home to my favourite Mozilla - and navigate via "Departments" - "Classics", and then use the little drop-down menu to get at some good stuff. Look at 'trips' and 'past successes' for instance. David Swift's site, which he has left up on the web for you to quarry for ideas, is here:


Nearly overwhelmed by visitors


Our own humble efforts at ARLT are attracting ever more visitors. I have a look each morning at the number of Blog page views the previous day. It has been hovering around the 1,000 plus mark for weeks now, with only one dip below 1,000. Imagine my delight when last Wednesday it was 2,677, and even more this morning, with a sudden leap to 5,542 views yesterday.

The main web site has fewer visits, only 6,867 page views during the last 30 days. In the last couple of hours our visitors have come from India, Denmark, Florida, Germany, Portugal, Canada, and of course the UK.

I was greatly cheered by a couple of messages from Wilf O'Neill, who has for years given about 36 hours a day to the cause of the Classics (when he's not exercising his fine palate for Real Ale) and has the MBE to prove it! He said "Congratulations, by the way, on the blog (brilliant idea, ghastly word!)." And when I told him how I searched for references to Latin on the web, he commented: " ... And keep up the searching - you're doing us all a great service. I hope people appreciate the amount of time that must go into it." Thanks for the encouragement, Wilf!


And, speaking of encouragement ...


Why is it that almost all the celebrations of Latin in the world's press come from the USA? I'd love to have more from our islands, but in the meantime here are a few from across the Pond:

++++ Whoever said Latin's a dead language obviously never ran into the live-wire Latin team at San Luis Obispo High School. Tom Weinschenk's group of scholars whipped 47 other schools statewide to take top honors for the second year in a row at the Junior Classical League State Convention. And so we offer bouquets, a tip of the toga and a toast to the team as it celebrates its victory:

Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum. [ouch! David]

(Translation: A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.) The team has earned a well-deserved rest on its laurels.

This year's event was held last weekend at University High School in Irvine and featured 1,500 students from 48 schools, many of them private. This year's motto was "Nil sine magno labore" -- or "nothing without great work."

Tom Weinschenk, San Luis Obispo's Latin teacher, said the motto was appropriate for his students and gives credit for their success directly to them. "It speaks to the quality of students we have -- their enthusiasm and their desire to achieve," he said.

Many on the team of 38 students spent extra time studying together Thursdays after school since early February, Weinschenk said. Latin has gained popularity at the school, which has about 110 students in Latin 1-4 plus an Advanced Placement course. That total is up from about 80 students five years ago. "It's a valuable language for college preparation," Weinschenk said. "It also excites people about mythology, history and Roman culture."

++++ Benefits of learning Latin - Louie Villalobos, The Arizona Republic Mar. 14, 2005 12:00 AM

Parents: Do you want your children to learn a foreign language that exposes them to the ancient cultures they read about in their history books or see in the movies? Want them to improve their test scores and make themselves a little more appealing to colleges?

Valley Latin teachers think they have a way for all those wishes to come true.

Have your student take Latin.

Latin is the language of several ancient cultures, including that of the Romans and Greeks. It's the foundation for several languages, such as Spanish, Italian and French. And it's slowly gaining steam in Arizona.

About 25 schools in Arizona offer Latin classes, said Sarah Knapp, a teacher at Desert Vista High School and state chair of the Arizona Junior Classical League.

The problem, she said, is that few of those schools are public. So she's leading an effort to increase Latin offerings in the state and is encouraging parents to take up the cause by contacting local school officials. There has been a slow increase in public-school Latin classes, she said.

"It's not just a private-schools thing anymore," she said. "It's easy to spread the program; we just have to get the districts on board."

++++ (A demonstration class in front of University students:) "I never thought kids this young could be taught Latin," Merritt said. "It is truly amazing how much they can learn so quickly."

To help her students learn the language, Merritt created Latin chants and songs. She also uses the Latin verb endings and first and second conjugation to create crosswords puzzles. She also rewards her students with candy and toys as a way to help them learn.

"People wouldn't believe how much better the kids' vocabulary is after they are in this class," Merritt said. "It can even improve their SAT score."

Brooks Gillispie, a third-grader in Merritt's class, said he enjoys the class because it challenges him. "I like something that makes me think," Gillispie said. "Plus, the teacher is really fun."

The young students performed their chants all afternoon for Lloyd's class. Through bursts of laughter, even the university students learned from the elementary students.

"This is so exciting and interesting to see how someone can teach children this young," said Leisa Muto, a junior at Marshall. "This is incredible."

++++ This one is bitter-sweet - the Latin teacher is not to be replaced. Familiar scenario?

Latin lover set to retire, By Ann McGlynn (Quad City Times)

[Don't count the mistakes in the Latin in para 1. - imitate the enthusiasm - David]

Perhaps ultium Romanorum (the last of the Romans) would be best. Or acta est fibula (the story is done, applaud!), nunc dimittis (now let's depart) or respice finem (look to the end). But probably the best Latin phrase for the occasion of Pat Burr's upcoming retirement is exempli gratia, or by grace of example.

Burr is one of three public high school Latin teachers left in the state of Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of education. The others are in West Des Moines and Pekin, Iowa. Burr will retire at the end of the school year from his 40-year stint at Bettendorf High School.

He tells students: "If you're planning on talking, reading or writing for the rest of your life, you will not regret taking Latin." The argument convinced 16 students to take his class this term. He teaches 10 first-year, five second-year and one third- year student in the same class period. Burr teaches philosophy, European history and world history, too.

It is expected that Latin classes will not continue to be offered upon his retirement, he said.

Burr has a way about him that endears him to students, several members of his class said. They bring him pictures for his wall devoted to his strong dislike of cats. They desperately seek the answer of where he went to college. They tease him about the subtle way he seems to know just about everything.

Two of his freshman students took Latin just so they could say they had Mr. Burr for a class. "His ideas are just insane enough that he can mix them with reality," Blaser said.

Burr first took Latin at college, an institution which shall remain nameless, because he needed a foreign language credit. He decided learning Latin was fun. "The language is very mathematical. It is beautiful and simple." Then he added while gesturing to his students: "They don't always agree with that."

Burr expects that it will take his first week of retirement to clear all of the stuff out of his classroom. After that, he will teach his usual College for Kids class this summer. After that, he is undecided about what he will do.

For his dedication, students are grateful from the ab imo pectore (bottom of the heart).

Elizabeth Flesch said Burr's compassion for his students is evident. "He sits down and talks with us," she said. "He really cares."

++++ Students bring Rome to life

Monday, April 18, 2005


SPRINGFIELD - Sophomores in Wanda Gallagher's honors English class did more than just pore over the acts in William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar."

The Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical High School students brought the architecture, customs and culture of the Roman Empire to life.

The 18 students in the class researched aspects of Ancient Rome as it pertained to their vocational shops and created projects reflecting what they learned.

Six students in carpentry, commercial art, and pre-engineering worked together to build a three-foot-long model of the Colosseum, the first-century amphitheater in Rome. Nursing students focused on the medical instruments used in Roman times, while students studying auto mechanics and auto body focused on Roman chariots. Cosmetology students styled mannequins' hair the way Roman women did and researched their beauty secrets. Culinary students focused on the Romans' food preservation and cooking methods.

Students spent a month on the interdisciplinary unit. "One of our biggest initiatives at the school is to increase the integration of vocational and academic programs," said assistant principal Linda A. Tammi. ....


Print out and stick on the classroom wall


1. Michèle Gaudreau, Mezzo-Soprano, Translator

Already at the age of 12, Gaudreau felt a strong affinity for language. "I loved Latin while others didn't understand anything. After my translation studies at the Université de Montréal, I continued my musical studies by travelling the world..." Gaudreau recognizes that the training received by translators is not the same as it was twenty years ago. "Unfortunately, the younger generation no longer has Latin or Greek. That makes translation much more difficult, not knowing the sources or the etymology..."

2. "I miss the Latin Vulgate – and the cadence of that beautiful language which represented learning and was the lingua franca of our Catholic Church through almost two thousand years, in truth dating from the Church of the Catacombs, to the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, and throughout the consecutive reigns of those who inherited the 'Shoes of the Fisherman.'" - a commentator in, a site for the Filipino global community.


The Pope, and all that Latin


The funeral of John Paul II and the election of his successor have renewed interest in Church Latin. I have noted examples in the Blog. Here's another.

Latin not lost at some area Catholic churches

By Joan D. LaGuardia

Published by on April 18, 2005

Latin — a so-called "dead" language — is having a lively resurrection in Southwest Florida.

Ave Maria University, northeast of Naples, and St. Martha Parish in Sarasota regularly celebrate the Roman Catholic worship service, Mass, in Latin. Ave Maria, a Catholic university, requires the study of Latin in its core curriculum. St. Leo Parish in Bonita Springs has a Latin choir.

"What happens during the Mass is so beautiful, the Latin words truly reflect the beauty and the majesty," said Mary Jo Klein after a Latin Mass in the Stella Maris chapel of Ave Maria on Sunday.

She and her husband, Darryl Klein, home-school their five children in Latin. One son sings in the St. Leo Latin choir. The Kleins said the ancient language inspires a deeper richness, beauty and spirit in their worship.

Interest in classical languages is not limited to the prayerful. Movies such as "The Passion of the Christ," "Gladiator" and "Troy" encourage general interest.

Many cardinals who begin selecting a new pope today are not fluent in Latin.

The Rev. Christian Beretta, principal of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, said most priests ordained since the late 1970s have little experience with Latin.

"Personally, for me to have (Mass) in a language I have been speaking my entire life is the way I prefer to do it, both as a worshipper and a presider," he said.

Renewed interest in Latin will be handicapped by the lack of places to learn it. Even that, however, is gradually changing. Seminaries are increasingly requiring the study of Latin, said the Rev. Michael Beers, a Latin professor who came to Ave Maria after teaching in seminaries. "I have trained priests who serve in 20 percent of the nation's dioceses," Beers said. "There has always been an interest in the Latin Mass for as long as I have been alive."

In the Catholic community, however, interest in Latin can be more than preference. It can be a signal of displeasure with changes made after the Second Vatican Council. That gathering of Catholic officials from 1962 to 1965 made nine changes in the Mass, including allowing it to be celebrated in the language of the community, rather than in Latin.

At Our Lady Queen of Angels chapel in Fort Myers, Mass is celebrated only in the Latin Tridentine rite used before Vatican II. The Society of St. Pius X, which generally opposes documents of Vatican II, supports the local chapel. Because the society's founder consecrated bishops without approval from Pope John Paul II, the society is often regarded as schismatic. The local chapel is not affiliated with the Diocese of Venice.

Vatican II did not forbid celebrating mass in Latin. However, Latin rites quickly lost popularity in the United States. Eventually, most Catholic universities, high schools and many seminaries stopped teaching it. That disappoints those who love the language.

"It's tradition in the Roman rite. The Mass was long celebrated in the Roman tongue, and it connects me to the saints of the past," said Matthew Gear, 25, a graduate student at Ave Maria. "I myself have a lot of hopes that this new pope will in many ways help out the traditional cause," Gear said.

St. Martha and Ave Maria use the same rite of the Mass that is routinely used in most Catholic churches. They substitute Latin for English, Spanish, Creole and other languages spoken here.

Many Catholics, such as Franciscan Sister Marie-Josee, will choose the Latin option when available.

"The Latin gives a certain reverence and majesty that give depth to the Mass," said the nun from Alberta, Canada, who will graduate in May from Ave Maria


And there's more where that came from


Try this page of links for more articles promoting the study of Latin:

Best wishes,