Latin as part of a Challenge Program (is that G&T equivalent?)

From the Prescott Daily Courier

Why oh why don’t journalists ask a Latinist before attempting to write a Latin phrase? ANyway, here’s the puff for a school’s Latin.

Eruditio antiquus lingua

MAYER – About 50, fifth- through eighth-graders in the Challenge Program at Mayer Unified School District are learning another language – Latin – and enjoying it.

Mayer Jr./Sr. High School principal Judith Andrews said she proposed the idea of Challenge to MUSD Superintendent Pat Dallabetta in 2005, who bought it because it fit with what he was trying to offer in Mayer’s schools.

The Challenge Program Andrews developed includes: project-based learning, a robotic program, a Latin curriculum, character education, community involvement, yearbook coordinator, presidential physical fitness program, environmental studies and resource management.

“It is a rigorous academic setting for students in grades fifth through eighth,” she said.

An educator from New Jersey, Andrews and her husband moved to Yavapai Hills after retiring. She taught for 22 years before serving 10 years as principal at elementary and high schools.

“When my husband suggested we retire and move to Arizona, I said, ‘Only if we take our friends with them,’ which we did,” she said.

After getting tired of being retired and selling Dallabetta on the Challenge Program, Andrews called on one of her friends, Mary Lou Scalise, a retired teacher from Connecticut to teach Latin and math.

Using the Latin textbook, “Ecee Romani – IA” and “Ecee Romani – IB,” Scalise, who has taught Latin for 35 years, developed a curriculum that helps bring Latin alive for her young students.

Toward that end, each student gets a Latin name and must learn what that person’s significance was in Roman history. The students also study Roman history to help bring the language alive.

The students also use Latin in the classroom. They even do the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin.

On a visit to the class Tuesday, Andrews said, “Salve,” or “Hello/Good Morning.” The students answered, “Salve, Primo Magistra” or “Hello, most important teacher.”

As one of the class projects, Andrews said, students design Latin games. One group designed a Rome-opoly with Roman money, she said, while others have designed television game shows. All the words in the game and shows were Latin.

“They were really neat,” she said.

While Latin is a hard and rigorous language to learn, Andrews said students enjoy learning roots of words. An example is “agrae,” meaning agriculture. Students also are seeing many connections in other subjects, like “canis” for dog or canine.

The textbooks are set up so the students do the vocabulary first, then read the story and answer a list of questions. Andrews also said the book has a test for students at the end of each chapter.

At the end of each school year, the National Latin Exam tests students on their Latin skills.

Kya Teskey, a MUSD eighth grader in the Challenge program, got 37 of 40 questions correct when she was in the sixth grade.

“She was one of our top students. Most of the students get 25 out of 40 correct,” Andrews said.

She said Latin is now one of the Challenge students’ most favorite classes.

Teskey said she likes Latin because she likes to learn different things.

“In Latin, I’m learning a new vocabulary that I can put to use. It makes scientific names easier to understand,” she said.

To help students learn more Latin, Andrews got the Rosetta Stone Latin program for seventh and eighth graders to work with on computers. Four students an hour or 28 students in one day can work with the Rosetta Stone program, she said.

By taking two years of Latin on the Rosetta Stone program students get one credit.

She plans to offer the Rosetta Stone Latin program at the high school in 2009-2010. During the next three school years, she hopes to add a year of Latin until students can take four years of Latin at the high school.

Andrews said she likes the Rosetta Stone program because the students can see instantly if they are pronouncing the word correctly or not.

She would like to take her Latin students to Rome to complete their Latin education.

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