We’ve had a news report like this quite recently, I think.
High-schoolers make Latin possible for younger students High-schoolers teach language to younger students who lost it to budget cuts
By Paul Tennant
Keeping Latin alive
Haverhill High students volunteer as teachers.
Students in grades 7 and 8 learn the ancient language.
They meet once a week.
HAVERHILL — The words look familiar, sort of.
Agricola means farmer. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, the business of farmers is agriculture.
Aqua is water. Of course. If we like to swim, we enjoy engaging in an aquatic activity.
Then there’s natura for nature, naturally.
These and several other words are part of the vocabulary the seventh- and eighth-graders in the Latin Club at Whittier Middle School are learning. About a couple of dozen of them get together every Wednesday afternoon to study what some people call a “dead language.”
Their teachers are six Haverhill High students enrolled in their school’s Classical Academy. Many of the high-schoolers have studied Latin for four years and classical Greek for three. Recently, students and teachers were hard at work getting ready for a quiz.
Max Shultz, an eighth-grader, said he likes learning another language.
“I think it’s fascinating,” said Massimo Magliocchetti, another eighth-grader. Both Shultz and Magliocchetti said they hope to enroll in the Classical Academy when they start high school next year.
Colleen Hayes, a senior who is in the Classical Academy, is the one who started this program. She and other members of the National Honor Society are teaching the middle-schoolers as a community service project.
Colleen said while Latin used to be taught in the middle schools along with other languages, that’s no longer the case, due to budget cuts. She thought it was unfortunate that middle school students did not have the opportunity to be exposed to the tongue that is the basis of the Romance languages — Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian — and has heavily influenced English.
“A lot of kids just don’t know about it,” she said.
She said she and the other high school students working with her are eager to share their knowledge of Latin with younger students.
Colleen has studied Latin for four years and classical Greek for three. Her ambition, however, is not to teach languages, but to become a lawyer.
Should she pursue a career as a language educator, however, Colleen will undoubtedly achieve success.
“Colleen is a very good instructor,” said Natalie Macdonald, a seventh-grader. “I think it’s important to learn other languages besides the one we speak every day.”
Pat Lawlor, one of the instructors from the high school, said it’s important to expose younger students to the classics — and the languages in which they’re written.
Katie Gibbs, a high school senior, emphasized the value a knowledge of Latin offers when one studies another language.
“It helps me so much in Spanish,” she said.
The other instructors from the high school are Michael Schetrompf, Josh Butterworth and Alex Pigeon.
Deborah Sasso-Flanagan, curriculum supervisor for foreign languages and social studies in grades six through 12, said she would like to see the pilot program at the Whittier Middle School expanded to the other middle schools next year.
“They never miss a week,” she said of the middle-schoolers in the Latin Club and their young teachers.