In Latin, it means ‘to kill.’ For Latin teacher Dr. Athanasia Worley’s students, it has become the rallying cry that has kept them out for glory in the Junior Classical League. Most of Worley’s students, from Latin I all the way to Latin IV AP/IB, participate in the league, which holds a convention each year for students from all over the area to compete in Latin-themed events.
This year’s competition is scheduled for April 25, and the Lancers intend on keeping caedo in the back of their minds as they cut down the competition.
“It started last year,” junior club member Peter Bautz said. “[Dr. Worley] said we had to chop away at the vocab and she said, ‘Caedo,’ and moved her arm like an axe falling . It’s become the battle cry of the Latin class.”
The JCL members have kept the axe falling on the competition at the state convention the past few years, particularly in “Certamen,” the Roman equivalent of “Jeopardy!” The conventions consist of Certamen games and prepared oratory, but the novice Latin students can still take their crack at scoring some points with readings as well as games of dodgeball.
The JCL consists of Latin students from schools from all over the country. Latin students are East are encouraged, but not required, to join.
Dr. Worley explores a variety of teaching methods.
“I’m very bottom-line oriented,” Dr. Worley said. “I don’t care how you know it, but I want you to know your stuff in the end.”
The group has proven that they do know their stuff. At the convention last year, they placed first in all three levels of Certamen (Latin I, Latin II and Advanced Latin), as well as receiving the runner-up honor for Latin Club of the Year.
Daniel recalls the scene as the groups found out, one-by-one, that they were the champions.
“The Latin I and II students told me, ‘We won! We won!’” Daniel said. “I just said, ‘Oh my gosh,’ you have to go tell Dr. Worley. It was so nice to see them excited about Latin, which I care about and my friends care about. There was a lot of high-fives and jumping up and down”
Dr. Worley is still able to sprinkle in some entertainment. If they’re not playing ultimate frisbee – known as ultimate discuss to the Latin aficionados – one can spot them constructing swords and shields out of duct tape in preparation for gladiatorial combat games. Also on the docket for this year’s activities are chariot races in the gym, with carpet squares being used as makeshift modes of transportation.
The gladiatorial games were prohibited last year by the school due to fears of liability from serious injury. Two years ago, the event took place in the cafeteria. After running from the villains, several Latin Lancers suffered massive bruises to both their bodies and egos.
“I had this little wrapping paper stick,” Daniel said. “They immediately broke it, trashed my shield and he kept hitting me with his big stick. I had bruises, and other [East] people got beaten similarly.”
However, JCL members are eager to get the games brought back this year.
In the center of it all is Dr. Worley, who cranks out state convention success with her Latin liturgy.
“She’s one of the few doctors in the school,” Daniel said. “She has so much information inside her head. Her knowledge is so vast you couldn’t catch everything that she says.”
In Daniel’s first day of Latin as a freshman, Dr. Worley stopped the class during roll call to see if anyone had any super glue with them. From that moment on, Daniel knew she had a different kind of teacher.
Earlier this year, Dr. Worley was concerned about the cold air in the new classrooms on the fifth floor. In order to file a complete complaint, Dr. Worley got a kestrel from environmental education teacher Jim Lockard in order to measure the wind speed. She stood on a chair and held the device up to the vent.
Dr. Worley has found that the state conventions are a great way to help the students retain the knowledge.
“When you’re competing against somebody else and they got it, it’s motivating,” Dr. Worley. “Even if they only study for half an hour before the event, they’re up for it and they’re more excited. We’re a minority language. It helps to know that there are students [that speak Latin] elsewhere in the nation to connect with.”
She said that with all of the information to be taught, it’s important to keep things interesting, and she keeps the cult-like club humming with all sorts of activities that bring the Latin culture to East. The league meets once a month, and no meeting is complete with Latin-style food. Pita bread, hummus, grapes and sparkling grape juice used to imitate wine all adorn the tables.
Once a year, the group holds a party complete with candles, chants and, of course, togas. The ceremony, set for October, is for initiating the newcomers into the Latin world that Dr. Worley, Daniel and Bautz are already immersed in.
Other activities planned include a movie night and a Roman feast at Macaroni Grill,
“Latin club is a great way to get involved outside of class,” Bautz said. “It’s just a great way to have fun, and it shows you were willing to go outside of what was required.”
As the awards and recognition continue to pile up for the eccentric group of Latin lovers, only one thing can be said about their successes at the conventions.