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Latin Club Modernizes Ancient Culture

Illustration by Tanya Bearson

Berkeley High School’s (BHS) Latin Club isn’t just about language, it’s about culture. They learn about art, architecture, and mythology. Some students have even made a catapult. “I really feel fortunate to have a job where I’m able to share with students something that I love,” said John Piazza, head of the Latin Club and teacher of Latin levels one, two, and three. “I’ve had a great time getting to know the ancient Greek and Roman authors in their own language. It’s a wonderful thing for me to be able to share that with students to learn about the ancient world and the people who lived in it, and to read and hear their own words as they said them, because that’s what the language gives us.”

When Piazza came to BHS four years ago there wasn’t a Latin club, but he wanted to promote the study of Latin at Berkeley High and give students the opportunity to connect with the broader community of Latin students and teachers across the state and country. “I gathered a few students and we started to put together a little Latin club that met once a week,” said Piazza. “Mainly what we do as a Latin club is promote the program and make sure that people in the Berkeley High community know that there is a Latin program here and help educate students and parents about what it’s like to study Latin at Berkeley High.”

The club also prepares for events like the National Latin Exam and the Junior Classical League events. The Junior Classical League (JCL) is an organization of Latin teachers and students who host regional, state, and national events.

At the event, there are multiple academic competitions, as well as artistic and athletic events that students can participate in. Students have an opportunity to dress up in togas during the event. “The Latin Convention is full of a lot of people who are passionate about the same stuff. Even if we have different areas of expertise, maybe one person knows more about art but another knows more about mythology, it all comes down to the same thing, connecting with people when we find common ground,” said Amelia Muñiz, a senior and a member of the Latin Club.

BHS sophomore Sam Wrinkle is the president of Berkeley High’s JCL chapter and is truly passionate about Latin club. “Freshman year, I went to my first JCL convention and I had an amazing time, meeting Latin enthusiasts from other schools all over the state,” said Wrinkle.

The Latin Club is a supportive and exciting community, where Berkeley High students with different interests are brought together over a mutual interest in Latin.

“Latin is more than just a language to us, it is a passion, a community, a world, a cause, and an experience that I will never forget,” said Wrinkle.

They have spent the school year organizing BHS’s Latin program and working to further and push “for our chapter to be a voice for diversity in a very uniform world,” Wrinkle continued, “It is our responsibility to push JCL towards the future.”

The Latin club meets every Tuesday in Room C-113.