Classical Studies Are Life Studies at Wahconah
Regional High School in Dalton, Massachusetts

Supporting Classical Studies at Wahconah Regional High School



     THE 21ST CENTURY     


                This page will be dedicated to the support of classical studies (Latin and/or Greek) in our schools, and Wahconah Regional High School in particular.  All present and former Latin students, as well as parents/adults are encouraged to send me through the email address good reasons for studying Latin in the twenty-first century.  All acceptable points of view will be posted on this page with your name, or anonymously, if you so indicate.  Please add your voice to the "support" page.

Let me begin with my two cents' worth, with one man's opinion.  Teaching classical studies has affected my life in ways I would never have imagined. When I was at Haverhill (MA) High School I had an extraordinary Latin teacher--strict and firm, but creative and dynamic as well. She was well ahead of her time for the early 1960's. She made it clear that the world does not revolve around us as much as we revolve around the world. When one is sixteen, who is president, what country in Asia is suffering abject poverty, or whether the stock market is up or down doesn't seem that important. Yet when I look back, whether we were reading Julius Caesar (war) Cicero (politics) Vergil (epic hero) or Horace(philosophy), Miss McCormick took us outside the box and demanded that we be educated in matters of the world, namely in matters related to the human condition. The pedestrian, sometimes painful plodding through the translation of these ancient languages forces us to slow down, to get it right, in short, to think about what's being said.  The twenty-first century, with all its technological wonders, still faces the same issues we study in classical literature. Religion, politics, economics, cultural differences  play the same dominant role in what we think, hear, see and say today. Listening to the voices of the past encourages us to think about the things that really matter in life, the things we might never be asked to explain on some standardized test, the things that make us ask why. And we must never stop asking why!!                                                                  

Charles Bradshaw, Magister, HHS Class of 1962,  1/8/06 

(Students and former students' names appear after their remarks.)

The following are some entries from the 2010-2011 school year.

There is something to be said about a language that has long since died, yet plays an integral part in nearly every person’s life—out of millions who walk the Earth. Theodore Roethke once said that, “deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light”. And indeed, we are all living, walking, and breathing flowers, where much of us stem from the strong and rich roots of the Latin language. Doubtlessly, I can also say that whether consciously or not, we are all instinctively seeking some sort of light in life. I have the great honor to say that as a student of Latin, I have found a little sparkle of enlightenment in my studies with my magister Charles Bradshaw at Wahconah Regional High School.


In the typical train of thought of any modern man, woman or child, Latin and life—with all its mysterious aspects—would not sit on the same spectrum. I don’t expect to do the language complete justice here, but dabbling in the idea of it would fail to do harm. Certainly syntax, grammar, the act of declining nouns or conjugating verbs seems like it would have little to reveal about the world—our world, or we humans as one “gens”. But in the bigger picture, Latin has an abundance of things it pertains to in our lives.


At the least, anyone can observe that Latin is a language (maybe not the only, but certainly one of the more significant ones). That is beautiful and meaningful in itself. Language has given us the gift of a more sophisticated system of communication. So many meanings of words, how they ‘make sense’, or even how we came to give names to things from flamma (flames) to aqua (water) can all found in Latin. We speak to one another because it’s just second nature, but fail to ever—or rarely—ponder from where the words that leave our lips have sprouted. But, Latin has given me, and many others I’m sure, so much more.


The ancient Latin language was the language spoken by the great civilization of Rome, and is strongly tied to every aspect of Roman life, as it did define them. Romans have been accredited for an incredible history told through both oral tradition and literature. That much, a child could probably tell you. In Latin class, I have studied many fine works of Roman poets and writers, and delved into some Roman history to come to the grander conclusion that history is repeating itself. In that, I mean, we are all a little bit… Roman, so to speak. Though the original Roman civilization lies in ruins, Latin has revealed to me that the physical ruins do not mean that the society of that time has perished. No, in fact, truth swims in the pools of thick compilations of Latin text, whether it be Vergil, Ovid, Catullus, or even Cicero.


Here is the biggest gift Latin and my magister have given me: truth. Truth about the human condition, truth about humans, and veritas in general in the things in life that provoke deep thought and exasperation, and other emotions. Cicero offers me wisdom on age and how to face the enemy time and make it my friend. Ovid offers me dramatic stories that teach us moral and ethic. Vergil defines tragedy at its best and teaches us what it takes to be a true hero, or what qualities a Roman virtus possessed, which outlines some of our ideals today. Catullus, one of my personal favorites, reveals the rawness of human emotion, the hurt and anger brought on by love, and yet, the beauty and meaning of giving all of yourself to someone as well. These writers—these voices of the past which define society as we know it today and tell us that we are not all that different from the people living thousands of years ago—shape us. If anything, it seems to me that Latin has showed us we are eternally connected to those people, dead as they may be. Laughably, death has little to do with the change in who humans are collectively and how we act. Maybe we have changed very little at heart.

Was it not Lucretius that said that “the generations of living things pass in a short time, and like runners hand on the torch of life”? If he were alive today, I would have liked to speak to him and tell him how strange it was that so many people are sharing the torch of his time after time flew by, and yet, that the flame they passed on will probably last for an eternity. Latin does not only rest upon people's tongues, stirred in the mixture of modern language, but I do believe it also rests in people's hearts and souls; or, at least, it rests in mine.


 Forgive me for rambling. Though I lack eloquence, I do hope my point is being made. I leave Mr. Bradshaw’s Latin class with one final thought, and one piece of advice for future and current Latin students. Seek out your roots, because there, you shall find your life.                            


Viki Nguyen, Latin IV Honors, 5/18/11 


Anyone reading this who has had Charles Bradshaw as a teacher will understand how absurd it is when I say I will attempt to describe the significance of Latin without telling of what he has done for me and so many others - but I will do my best. This, in theory, is a case for Latin, but after reading previous "Case For Latin" posts I realized that that title doesn't completely do justice to what it is we're talking about here. The nature of this discussion has just as much to do with the case for questioning, learning, evolving, in essence thinking. The crux of a true education must be free thinking and the capacity to always be learning - especially after school. In my four years of Latin I have been challenged to think. 

We study great literature and great philosophy in our English classes, but such writing takes on a new light given the original language used by the author and the context in which such works were written. When we understand the socio-economic background of classic writers and the political landscape upon which their works were painted across, we begin to understand two things: the first is we learn what perhaps was motivating these ideas and therefore learn what human experiences have meant for thousands of year, and second that we are not all that different over 2,000 years later. While learning proper Latin grammar wasn't necessarily my favorite thing in the world, it allowed for that greater understanding just described. 

Life really does get lost in translation, so do your own translating. Interpret for yourself and make your own conclusions. Perhaps you won't build a bridge with Latin. Perhaps you won't save a life with Latin. Perhaps you won't be acknowledged for the work you poured into Latin. But it will most certainly enrich every facet of your life, and who knows it might just make all those things possible. Maybe Latin isn't for money and maybe it isn't for our standard of "success", but it is for life. Nothing is more important than living beyond the borders of a life filled with the superficial sighs of a dangling conversation. 

Ben Kaufman, '11 Latin IV Honors, 5/9/11 

Latin this year has been quite an experience for me. First of all, the Rhode island Trip was a blast! And second of all, I have been learning so much about the Latin language, even though it is a dead language.  Yes, my teacher will sometimes dance around the classroom to one of his old childhood songs, but it helps me to remember some of the things that he his teaching at that moment in class. Latin can be both easy and hard at times. When we are going over some of the cases, or the genders, or whether or not the word is plural or not, etc, I have trouble comprehending it. But I still know that by the end of the class, I will completely and fully understand it. I'm glad that Mr. Bradshaw will be around for another year, and I look forward to taking Latin II next year.



Joey Szczepaniak, '14, Latin I, 1/31/11



Latin is a very fascinating subject. Not only can it be found in everything, everywhere.. but it is rich with history. In Latin class, I have not only learned how to translate and decline Latin words, but I have learned more about the Romans and the Greeks than I could ever imagine. Maybe I cannot translate on sight or decline nouns and conjugate verbs perfectly, but I have learned so much about life and the life of the Romans. My class has learned so many life lessons throughout our 4 years of high school that I can say with full confidence that I am one hundred percent ready for the life ahead of me.

Samantha DiMassimo, '11, Latin IV Honors, 1/28/11

Why do we study Latin today in the year 2011? With the world evolving ever so quickly why do we focus on what happened more than 2000 years ago? It is because what happened more than 2000 years ago has come all this way to everyday life for people. For example, I was watching the news a few nights ago and the news anchor was saying a story and the word “verbatim” came up, it immediately caught my attention and I thought of what that word meant, and being in Latin for 2 years I knew. It meant word for word. I thought to myself there are not that many people who know what this means, but I do. This was thanks to Latin.
            I think Latin is very important to study now even more than before because the world is growing and times are changing. Americans are starting to learn Chinese now. It is because they have to because the world is changing. Latin is something we can look at and study and make connections to life today, but soon it will be a thing of the past and we will not have any connections with ancient history. I feel that in 50 years or so schools will not teach certain subjects because they will not mean anything anymore, but today it is important to learn and study all that we can about the ancient past because who knows how long it will be relevant?  
            Hearing the stories that Mr.Bradshaw tells about Medea and Antigone and such, I think about present day stories like these. When I look in the Latin 2 book and see the words that look like words today, I think -- wow all these years later-- and we have these words which come directly from Latin.
            We can relate Latin to our everyday lives. But only those who have studied Latin can relate it and that is why we should study and continue to study Latin because it changes the way you look at things.  
 Gary Van Bramer, '11, Latin II, 1/27/11

What can we learn from an era that worshiped misogynistic womanizers, unpunished incest, romanitc bestiality, and the killing of one's own children? Of course, these are all modern-day definitions of events that occured in Roman mythology. But, how could such ancient myths be taught in these modern days with actually inspiring some meaning and ethics?

Unless you are a traditional ancient-Greek polytheist, it appears that the Romans worshiped no other god more than their own ability to think. What fun is there on a Monday morning in ancient Rome after you realize there is nothing good on t.v. after The View? Nothing really. The Romans chose to delve into their fascination by understanding the world around them and its relationship to their individual psyche by creating an abstract world of gods who formed a tower of mirrors reflected towards human nature. But how would we know what the meaning of these myths are now-a-days?

Meaning in this modern day society has lost its own meaning. Roman philosophy is being washed ashore in every day life and has been replaced with black and white ethics catering to mindless thought. Roman mythology is now a riddle where an audience must uncode sometimes provocative symbols to find meaning in what the Romans considered our natural human ethics. 

Iliana Hagenah, '11, Latin I, 1/27/11

The following are thoughts about Latin being forwarded during the 2007-2008 school year

As I went through my high school years with an expanding Latin background, I began to notice all of the places where Latin can be found. Staring at the college banners (in A 27), I noticed almost all have Latin on them. State flags, building inscriptions---they all have Latin. Before taking Latin, I never noticed, and it has just opened my eyes so much. It seems that every part of my life somehow has Latin connected to it. Throughout my Latin career, the one statement that has really meant so much to me is "Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit" or "some day we will look back even on these times with fondness." This quote from Vergil made me realize the power that Latin has on me, knowing that no matter what I do, these words will be with me.   

Cassondra Goddard, Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

Every day I would look forward to Latin class where we could have discussions and make connections between the subject matter and the world we live in. Learning about human nature was the most meaningful part of Latin for me. I have no doubt that these Latin classes at Wahconah have helped me make important connections, and also opened my mind to new ideas which I will take with me and use in the future.                            

Emilie Carsell, Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

Latin has been a major part of my life over these past four years of high school. Almost every day I went to class, and every time was a learning experience. It has been a time to take a break from forceful, competitive schooling, and has given us the opportunity to think for ourselves. By looking into the past of the world of Latin, and all of its components, we can learn about what may be to come for us. The discussions that have taken place range all over many topics, and all of the knowledge and wisdom we were presented with couldn't help but influence us all.         

Dakota Keith, Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

Latin has helped me in my studies because a lot of languages have Latin roots. I take French also, and a lot of the vocabulary is very similar. The same goes for my English and science classes. A lot of the science vocabulary is derived from the Latin roots. I believe Latin has helped me the most in my history classes because we not only have to be able to translate and understand Latin, but we must also be able to understand the time period and thoughts of the authors. This is a great help in history because that's what it really is all about, being able to understand past civilizations.

Emily Kaufman, Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

The meaning of the poster above the projector screen that reads "Latin and Greek are not dead....they are immortal" has finally become clear to me. This year especially I have developed a deep appreciation for classical studies. I am not going to lie..I never was very good at the syntax and grammar of Latin. But the philosophical discussions we have daily is what has attracted me to Latin. Whether it was discussing Catullus LXXXV or watching the actor portray the rhetorical power of Cicero, Latin is fascinating and thought-provoking.                                                                     

Bryan Culliton (alias Daddy Kool), Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

Whenever a president leaves office, the question is always "What will his legacy be?" It is true that we judge people and peoples by their legacy, what thoughts and ideas they leave in the minds of those who look back at them. The culture of the ancient Roman people is one of the greatest legacies the human race has ever known.   

Schuyler Smith, Latin IV Honors, 6/23/08

Beyond the actual language of Latin, I always enjoyed "essential questions" and discussing the philosophy behind what we were reading in class. I found Lucretius's writing to be interesting, but I enjoyed the "Music of the Spheres"  the most. Music is another big interest of mine, so hearing Cicero's philosophy on sound in the cosmos was fascinating. His ideas changed the way I think about the music that I play and listen to.......Much of what I learned in Latin carried over into other subjects, and helped me have a fuller more interesting experience at Wahconah.                           

Michael Aleksa, Latin IV Honors, 6/20/08

There are the obvious reasons for people to take Latin. It helps with all subjects, improves SAT scores, and the Latin trip. What people fail to notice is that it provides you with life lessons you won't get anywhere else. Learning about philosophers and poets really made me have a different outlook on life. Being told about mythology intrigued my mind. I no longer thought of learning as boring, and learning about ancient Rome sparked my enthusiasm for traveling and learning about other cultures.      

Martita Staubach, Latin IV Honors, 6/19/08

Recently the study of the Latin language in high school has come under pressure for "not being important" any more. I do not think Latin should be taken out of a high school curriculum. Throughout my years in Latin, I have learned a lot, not just about the language, but about culture, how humans think and feel, and many other things. Before I took Latin, I didn't think very highly of ancient civilizations. I knew they were good at architecture, but that was it. I didn't know anything about their fascinating philosophy, their notions about gods, or anything about their genius!                        

Luke Kendig, Latin IV Honors, 6/17/08

Latin is unlike any other foreign language in that learning the language isn't the whole class. You get the chance to read the writings of ancient philosophers and poets, all of which relate somehow to our current world. Latin gets you to think more deeply about certain topics while concentrating on the basic mechanics of the language.   

Matt Bracci, Latin IV Honors, 6/17/08

While studying Latin, I learned more about gerunds, participles, passive and active voice, noun gender, noun declensions, verb tenses and myriad other ways to put words together for poetry or essays. Studying Lucretius this year showed how one can put both poetry and essay together in one form to provide a beautiful view into almost every aspect of the mind possible. Lucretius managed to put physics, astronomy, theology, and philosophy into a poetic essay that could stand up among today's scientists!      

Brandon Gill, Latin IV Honors, 6/17/08

I take Latin because it is important. We talk of stories from long ago, stories that might not have happened, some that might have. Yet, as you sit watching this class discussion, the purpose all of a sudden swerves. The students have made the connection between this ancient, but not outdated story and the modern day. This is what studying classics teaches us. We are frozen in time. The past is not frozen in time. Stories of importance from long ago still hold viable lessons for us today. If we don't know our past, we can't know our present and we can't plan for our future. In Latin, we learn these stories, we learn their purpose, and we can then take what we learn and apply it to our lives today. If I have learned one thing in Latin class, it's that what the ancients did affects us, and what we do will affect people thousands of years from now. That's why we must learn the lessons of these stories today for our own children's future.  

 Scott Lynch, Latin II, 4/15/08

Let's just cut to the chase. History is not my greatest subject. You are probably wondering why I am talking about history instead of Latin. Well, here's your answer. Latin has always fascinated me, not just the language but also its history. Through the Latin language I have learned many things about the Greek and Roman gods, the founding of Rome, the Trojan War and the list goes on and on. Latin is a language some say is dead. Personally, I don't think it is. A lot of ancient history would not have been discovered if it weren't for Latin texts. So it most certainly is alive. That's what I enjoy most about the Latin language: you're not just being told about history, you're finding it through the Latin!                                        

 Thomas Bartels, Latin IV Honors, 2/7/08

I will be very honest; I have a great disdain for work involving syntax, grammar, translation, and anything of that sort. Why is it, then, that I take Latin?  I, Patrick D. Nguyen, am not a Latin student for the syntax, or for the grammar, or for the translating. Allow me to explain. In a day and age of standardized testing and the "higher" academia, the usual high school program of study emphasizes four subjects, those being language arts, mathematics, social studies and the sciences. Now, I am not here to denigrate their value, but that list is one short; there exists a study that should be inserted as much, if not more than its counterparts--the study of the Humanities--the study of who we are, and why we are here. Taking a course in classical studies mends this fault in the education system, for whether you are reading the clever orations of Cicero and the risque poetry of Catullus, or whether you are lending an ear to the insightful verbal exchange among teacher and students, a deeper understanding of the human condition is attained. I can safely say that I have a benefit that anyone else oblivious to the humanities would not have; while they are assigned to the tediousness of some microscopic point on an infinitesimal coordinate-plane, I have the pleasure of considering ideas far more grand!                                 

Patrick Nguyen, Latin IV Honors, 10/30/07

I believe it is important to pour over these ancient texts and history because it teaches us something about ourselves. Many people believe that history repeats itself, and by reading these ancient texts you can see that this is true. 

Tressa Gamache, Latin IV Honors, 10/25/07

I've always loved the question "Why bother taking a dead language?" I really just like to look at the person and usually tell them to say something.  After they finish what they've said, I tell them they just spoke that language inadvertently. Latin has been something I have always liked, and I firmly stand behind the idea that it is not dead. It is seen all over in our language, and I'm not even going to get into specifics. It greatly improves your vocabulary list, especially with words such as "osculate" coming from the Latin "osculum" meaning to kiss. It's amazing how much of the Latin language can be seen in the English language, and that is a definite reason to learn it. So if you ever meet anyone who says why bother taking a dead language, just tell them that half of what they say is directly derived from Latin, and they'll probably give you a confused look.                   

Christopher Drosehn,  Latin IV Honors, 10/22/07

The following are comments sent during the 2006-2007 school year:  

The summer after my sophomore year in high school, my family and I went with another family on a trip to Europe.  We travelled to London, Paris and Rome.  After travelling to London and Paris, I was amazed by all of the sights.  I figured that what I was going to see in Rome wasn't going to be as great as our other two destinations.  This is where I was wrong.  Going to Rome is actually the reason why I am still taking Latin to this day. Everything that I saw there was exactly as we had discussed it in class.  It was then that I realized that I wasn't necessarily taking Latin for the translating part of it, but instead for its history.  I remember during my sophomore year being intrigued by our discussions of the Colloseum and Circus Maximus.  When I actually visited these sights, they were so amazing to me because I already knew what had gone into making these places so great.  As I see it, the case for Latin is obvious.  Not only does Latin teach you grammar and syntax, but more importantly it gives you a better perspective of how the world used to function.  How the world used to function is so important, because as everyone knows, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF!   

Brian Pedrotti, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

Why study Latin at Wahconah?  There are a host of reasons that everyone normally states.  They have heard stories about the fabled Latin Trip, or they want to improve their English vocabulary.  And while the Latin Trip has been one of my favorite memories at Wahconah, and I have mastered the English language much better than I did as a freshman, these are still not the most cherished things I am taking from Wahconah's Latin program.  I love to study history, and when I became interested in Latin, I found a rich history of stories, both fiction and non-fiction.  I became fascinated with the interweaving of the two, and how blurred the line between them could become.  The more books I read, the more stories I began to find correlations with in our own country.  There were times when I felt like I was reading the history of the United States rather than that of Rome.  I found myself reviewing past occurrences of the U.S. in a different light, and in some cases predicting the way events would play out in the future.  For me, Latin did not only offer the rich history of Rome, but also a way to peer into the future of our own country.                                       

Gordon Fickett, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

I was thirteen years old, and I was about to go to high school.  It was time to sign up for my freshman year classes.  When it came to choosing a foreign language, I had three choices.  French I had studied in seventh grade, and Spanish I had studied in eighth grade.  But Latin?  We had never learned anything about that in middle school.  I had my doubts.  Wasn't Latin a dead language that all the nerdy kids study?  After some consideration, I decided I should give it a try any way.  Of course, after I started taking Latin, I realized I was very wrong about it.  I learned that Latin is not a dead language, a statement that any Latin student would defend.  I also learned that the kids in the class were most definitely not the nerds of the school.  The Wahconah Latin program has had students involved in various activities including sports, student government, community service and various other clubs.  In fact, football, volleyball, baseball, tennis, swimming, cross country, track, hockey (almost all Wahconah sports) have captains currently enrolled in Latin IV Honors.  The language has attracted a well-rounded group of students, which says a lot about the language itself.  When I was signing up for my freshman classes, I had no notion as to what I would experience these past three and a half years.  I would never have imagined that conjugations and declensions would be less crucial than reading epic similes, relating the life of the Romans to our own, or trying to get that "Gilder off our sleeves." (A reference to the intensive grammar text by Gildersleeve)  We Latin students cherish the experiences that the Latin courses have to offer.  

Hannah Osthoff, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

When I was in the eighth grade, I took French.  My mother had told me that in high school I should try Latin because it could help me with most of my other subjects.  I thought it might be challenging but I knew I could handle it, so I decided to take Latin and French freshman year.  At first I wasn't sure if I liked Latin, but as the year progressed I learned how much I enjoyed my Latin class.  It not only helped me with my English, but also my French and history.  At the end of my sophomore year when I was signing up for classes for the following year, I thought I should either focus on Latin or French.  I decided that Latin was a very unique language and could help me with many different things I would encounter in my future, so I dropped French and decided to move on to Latin III.  Since then I have learned all about the language, classical literature, the life of the Romans and the history of Rome.  I don't understand how some people think Latin is "dead" if it is seen everywhere in the world today.  And if one day my children have an opportunity to take Latin, I will tell them that Latin is a language that not everyone has an opportunity to take, but everyone should be required to take, because it is the foundation of so many different important aspects of life.  

Kristin Wood, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

As I embarked on a journey into a new school (Wahconah from Nessacus) I had to make the decision about what language I wanted to take.  As a seventh grader I had taken a half year of French and a half year of Spanish.  Then in eighth grade I took a full year of Spanish.  Since I had already been familiar with French and Spanish, I wanted to try another language, Latin.  Latin caught my attention because of its ancient history and unique nature.  Having taken Latin for four years, I have learned a lot of Greek mythology and Roman history, and even some of life's lessons from what we have been reading in class.  Latin is a fun and exciting class, and if you want to try a new language, I would recommend Latin for anyone!        

James Errichetto, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

Studying Latin for four years has helped me understand what it means for something to be epic.  Epic doesn't necessarily mean  great battles such as those found in the Trojan War, or the adventures of Aeneas in Virgil's poem, but it can be that which is worthy to be the subject of an epic.  For example, in terms of American history, the defense of the Alamo could be defined as epic, as well as the events of 9/11, or the events that took place in the life of Anne Frank.   Also, works of Greek mythology and those such as the Iliad and Odyssey  are often subjects for study in freshman English courses.  Latin has been important to me because it has helped me apply what I have learned from classical studies, such as defining the term 'epic', and knowledge to help me in other aspects of my life.  

Ryan Kovacs, Latin IV Honors, 1/8/07

Four years ago, many newcomers at Wahconah Regional High School elected to take a classical language.  We started the year off with rudimentary information such as what the genitive case would look like for Latin words.  For the purpose of helping us to remember, we sang short songs to help understand certain case endings.  For example, our teacher would begin with "M", then we as a class would follow with "or O, S, T, MUS, TIS, NT."  Once in a while we would play a Latin version of "Simon Says" to further our knowledge of Latin.  Our teacher would begin with "Simonus dicit manus".  Then, if translated correctly, everyone would need to touch their hand.  As days went on and we "newcomers" became Latin IV Honors students, I began to realize something.  I am a pretty good Latin student, but by no means a scholar.  The past three years have been preparation for the biggest year in the classical langauge.  However, I do not excel at some key elements of Latin where others do, and vice versa.  Worry and frustration come to me when it is time to translate in class or go to the overhead projector, and begin to write down subjunctive mood forms while everyone watches.  The only time I know when I am sure of myself is when I can answer opinion questions which makes the study of Latin more enjoyable for me.  Because we have translated so many passages recently, it has become clearer and clearer how our world is connected to that of the past.  By relating to what has already happened I have come to understand that we are living in a world very similar to the one described in Vergil's AeneidIn Book IV of Vergil's epic he writes about rumors and why they exist.  While relating that to the present and what has happened in America's own past, I decided to state my opinion about "Fama" to my teacher.  "Rumors could be a test for mankind." Just like that I made a connection to both "worlds" which could only be understood by someone in this class.  Latin has shown me how mistakes are made and triumphs occur even when clouds darken the world.  The best thing that it has done for me is teaching me to think critically and to understand how our society runs parallel to those that have been forgotten.   

Brian DiNicola, Latin IV Honors, 1/7/07

It's quite obvious that I am not destined to be any type of Vergil scholar, nor expert on the Aeneid or Odyssey.  Though I will not be a Latin scholar on these epic poems, however, I will know their stories, and I will be able to relate them to modern tragedies.  An example would be the connection between the storm passage in the Aeneid (Book I) and the "Perfect Storm" off the U.S. northeast coast in 1991, or the annoyance of rumors being spread constantly (Dame Gossip in Book IV).  From my four years of Latin study I have realized that, despite the fact I may not have much of a future in classical studies, I will be surrounded by their stories, Latin phrases and even the influence of the Roman Republic on my own government. It says at the top of this page that "Classical Studies are Life Studies at Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, Massachusetts." When I think about that quote, it couldn't be more appropriate.  

 Rudy Sacco, Latin IV Honors, 1/4/07

As I was sitting in Directed Learning Time, one of my best friends was completing an assignment in French.  I looked at his book, and I recognized certain French words because of my studies in Latin.  I was actually able to help him with some of his translating.  Not only does Latin help with your language skills, it can also impress your boyfriend's parents. I was at my boyfriend's house recently, and we heard the phrase "The die is cast."  His brother then proceeded to ask his father who said this.  Immediately, I turned to my boyfriend and blurted "Julius Caesar did when he crossed the Rubicon River and started the civil war with Pompey."  Latin is more than a "dead language" (in fact, it's immortal.)  Behind the language, I've learned so much about the world's history through the Romans' eyes.  It's also helped me understand more about the world today.  After all, history repeats itself.   

Alexandra Fassell, Latin IV Honors, 1/4/07

When defending the study of Latin as a foreign language, I've found that most will argue it assists in developing a wider English vocabulary.  This has been somewhat true for me over the past four years, but honestly, my vocabulary has always been lacking.  Latin is much more important than a couple of big words.  It's become incorporated into cultures across the world and is everywhere you look.  I've especially discovered this during extensive college research I've carried out this year.  Those 100 Latin phrases or so we've frantically studied each year are all over colleges across the nation.  Brown, Harvard and Dartmouth are a few colleges which use Latin phrases as their school mottos.  These phrases are also located on countless landmarks from our country's founding.  You only have to go so far as looking on the dollar bill to find Latin phrases including "annuit coeptis", "novus ordo saeclorum", and "e pluribus unum."  Not only is Latin all over buildings, dollar bills, and college mottos, but I can guarantee you there will be at least one question on JEOPARDY per night relating to Latin expressions or word derivations.  With all seriousness, Latin is everywhere, and whether we notice it or not, it is an important language.   

Mitchell Cooper, Latin IV Honors, 1/2/07

When I began my freshman year at Wahconah Regional , I was excited about being in high school but knew I would get bored if I did not challenge myself.  I decided to take both Latin and Spanish.  There were only a handful of people taking two languages; it was seen as a daunting task.  I threw myself into both of the languages and learned to love them both.  In fact I loved them so much that I decided to immerse myself in Spanish.  I did this by spending my junior year in Spain with the program School Year Abroad.  While there I was able to enjoy different aspects of the European world.  Because I had taken both Spanish and Latin at Wahconah, I was able to get more out of my year (in Spain).  I could walk into a cafe and order "cafe non leche" or what Americans call a latte.  But I was also able to walk through the ancient Roman theaters and understand the Latin that had been written on the arcs above the stage.  Because of my understanding of Latin and ancient Roman culture I was taken back to the time when the country that I knew as "Espana" was called "Hispania" by the Romans.  I felt an even closer connection to my background in Latin when I realized that Zaragoza, the name of the city I was living in, had Roman roots.  The original name was Caesaragusta and over time transformed into Zaragoza!   

Emmalyn Smith, Latin IV Honors, 1/1/07

I've been speaking and studying Latin for about sixteen years now, but I only started admitting it about three years ago.  It's no secret.  Everyone knows that our language comes from Latin. Who cares?  That is exactly what I thought. When I came to the high school, French was what I chose to take for a foreign language (more denial).  French was a roundabout way of learning more Latin.  However, when it came time to choose my classes for sophomore year, my dad told me I should take Latin in addition to French (by saying 'should', his meaning was more like 'better.') At the very least, he said, I would learn some good new vocabulary.  I was more than slightly upset.  I had no intention of giving up my study hall for an entire year so I could learn a couple of good SAT words.  Against my will I took Latin I.  It took about a month before I was blown away.  The beauty of the language, the history, the astounded me; I needed more.  I am now very pleased that I gave in that day and started learning something important.  I've seen how a single language started so much that's very alive today.  I've seen how epic poetry is no less beautiful or remarkable today than the day it was written.  Most importantly, I've seen how Rome is very alive today in the empires of the world.  They say history repeats itself, but that is a massive understatement.  However, it's one that I would have continued to make if not for taking Latin, or rather the Latin language and classical studies.   

Zachary Glantz, Latin IV Honors, 12/31/06

Finishing up my fourth year of Latin I have decided that the case for Latin is actually quite simple.  It allows someone to gain knowledge not attainable in any other foreign language.  Yes, studying Latin you learn the basics such as syntax and grammar, and of course everyone loves a good gerundive! However, there is so much more that you learn than how to translate.  When really analyzing and looking through a text on a deeper level you discover connections between events throughout history and even to today.  The biggest lesson that Latin has taught me is that history has and will continue to repeat itself.  Latin can be such an intimidating language and when coming face to face with it you really need to stare it in the eye, or else you'll never make it.  Once it's over and done with though, you can proudly look back and say "Veni, Vidi, Vici"--I came, I saw, I conquered!

Kara Burke, Latin IV Honors, 12/29/06

As an incoming freshman, I was nervous about what to expect from Latin class.  I was anxious about the challenges it would present because I had previously learned some Spanish and French in middle school, but I knew nothing about Latin.  However, my older siblings had nothing but positive comments about the dead language.  After three and a half years of enjoying Latin, I argue that the language isn't dead at all, but is still thriving in our culture.  Although Spanish and French are spoken in our country, for me they do not have the meaning and history behind them as does Latin.  Latin focuses on important events in the past and helps to explain the development of our country.  I have not only learned about the language, but I've discovered all of the connections that can be made between ancient Rome and our world today.  I've realized that we are still going through the same struggles that the Romans went through, such as wars and rebuilding countries following them.  Latin isn't just about memorizing vocabulary for a quiz; it focuses on many more aspects of life and has helped to make me a well-rounded student.  

Kristina Kovacs, Latin IV Honors, 12/29/06

Being in Latin for four years, I have found that it is more than just a foreign language.  We have learned the basics of how to translate, the meanings of vocabulary words, grammar, syntax and the history of the Greeks and Romans.  I have found Latin's value very significant.  My Latin studies have provided me with many examples of war, heroes, and epic adventures in the works of Vergil and Cicero among others.  I have learned about the daily lives of the Greeks and Romans and it is obvious that ancient history is still repeating itself.  Latin has offered me many lessons that will stay with me when I leave high school.  It has also given me the chance to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty, and has shown itself to be not dead at all!  

Kaleigh Smith, Latin IV Honors  12/29/06


Right before senior year began, I was conducting tours for incoming Wahconah freshmen.  When we were approaching "Upper A" corridor, one of the freshmen asked me "What language should I take in high school?" Trying not to be biased, I told him all about the languages our school offers.  And then he asked me what language I took.  I told him that I had taken Latin for the last three years, and would be taking Latin IV Honors for my senior year.  Before I knew it, I was telling him almost everything I enjoyed about Latin--the works we translated, the people we study, and the events we take part in.  I was explaining to him how interesting and beneficial the Latin language really is.  Sure, Latin is made up of declensions, conjugations, tenses, etc.  But there's so much more to it.  There are epic poems and legendary myths ranging from ancient cities and all-powerful rulers to love and romance.  Latin is a vast language that relates to every aspect of humanity.  Events and individuals in Latin can be compared to the events and people of our modern day world.  In Latin we find our own leaders.  In Latin we find our own disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.  In Latin, we can find ourselves.  Some say Latin is a dead language.  I believe that Latin is more alive than it ever was!                          

Joe Kovacs, Latin IV Honors, 12/21/06


A couple of years ago, someone called me the most logical and rational person he knew.  He then asked me why I was taking Latin.  "After all," he said, "it's a dead language.  You'll never use it in real life." All Latin students will inevitably hear this same thing at some point.  In response to this, we can just smirk and think to ourselves, "damnant quod non intellegunt." It is true that neither I nor most other students will speak much Latin outside of a class.  The Latin language, however, is not the only focus of a Latin program; we also learn about Roman history and culture.  Repeatedly we see events that happened millennia ago, and are still happening today.  Latin class provides proof that history indeed is cyclical.  Countless connections between the present and Rome can be made in Vergil's AENEID alone.  These correlations will never die.  We're just now learning the Latin language, but we have always lived in a Roman world.  That is merely one lesson we can take from class.  These lessons allow all Latin students to say "non scholae, sed vitae discimus."  

Evan Creer, Latin IV Honors, 12/21/06

When I was signing up for my 9th grade classes, it was only natural that I selected Latin I.  My older brother was currently enrolled in Latin II and he always talked about how much fun class was.  So thus I began my Latin journey, never expecting to learn much more than a language.  Yes, in Latin class we perhaps do not learn to speak the language fluently, but we go beyond the language.  I would have to say that the most valuable lesson I will take away from my four years of Latin will not be how to conjugate a verb, or what a present participle is, but instead a much greater perspective on the world and how frequently life repeats itself. It is in Latin class that my critical thinking skills have developed the most.  After reading books and poems by authors such as Vergil and Cicero, and taking a close look at ancient Rome, I have come to the conclusion that the human condition has never changed and never will.  I have seen so many similarities drawn between life in antiquity and the world today.  It is in Latin class that I am challenged to think beyond what is on the page of a text book and think about the bigger picture.  When I look back on my years in Latin, I may not know what the second principal part of 'duco' is, but I will remember the powerful meaning of "Arma virumque cano." 

Mary Bonnet, Latin IV Honors, 12/20/06

To me, Latin does more than teach us another language, or give us a broader English vocabulary.  It does something vastly more important than that.  It teaches us about a past that we might otherwise not encounter, a past that just so happens to be very similar to our own.  We learn about Rome: the empire, the republic, the city.  But we do not just learn about the battles or the famous names; we learn about the roots.  By taking Latin, we learn how to read the literature.  And this in turn gives us the ability to see into the minds of the writers and the people.  From this we learn about their every day emotions, joys, hardships and concerns.  And I for one feel this is as important as learning a new language or more English words.  Personally, I've never found history very interesting, and I'll forget everything I knew about it the day after my test.  But the history I learn in Latin has stuck with me, and I know it's because of the personal approach of reading their stories in their native language.  For me, that is the real value of taking Latin.   

Cynthia Lynch, Latin IV Honors, 12/19/06

I'll admit that the main reason I began taking Latin in ninth grade was the trip.  Little did I know that Latin would become one of my favorite subjects.  To start things off, Latin is the basis of so many languages, and has really improved my knowledge and use of vocabulary throughout my high school years.  A rather intriguing thing about Latin is that because history tends to repeat itself, many comparisons can be drawn between ancient Roman and Greek events and happenings of today.  Take for example the Trojan War and the war in Iraq.  Neither war had a cause other than "we can fight, so let's fight". The Romans really sparked an interest in architecture, and that interest has lasted to present times.  Looking around town, you can see older buildings that have certain physical features modeled on ancient characteristics.  If it weren't for Latin, and (what we have learned) on the trip, this sort of thing would never even cross my mind. So I would like to say thank you, Wahconah, for helping to keep the Latin language alive.    

Taylor Zink, Latin IV Honors, 12/19/06

At first glance, most other language students point to the Rhode Island trip as the immediate appeal for taking Latin in high school.  However, over the past four years, I have found that the Latin Trip is only the tip of the iceberg for the Classical Arts program at Wahconah.  I have found that I use my knowledge in Latin and Greek in other studies outside of Latin IV.  For example, we recently read the poem "Ode to a Grecian Urn" in English (ironically about some of the very things we learn in Latin).  This poem had some difficult vocabulary, and as we discussed it, we were asked what the word "sylvan" meant.  Immediately from my Latin knowledge, I knew it meant "forest."  Other students asked me how I knew, and I just said it was straight from Latin.  In the future I plan to become an engineer, which has little in common with Latin.  However, I am sure I will be able to apply my knowledge gained from four years of Latin to assist me in whatever field I choose.  So if nothing else, I will have gained a basic understanding of what makes up our language, and I am sure these lessons will stick with me long after high school.                                          

Peter Gillooly, Latin IV Honors, 12/13/06

Over the years I have been enroled in the Latin program at Wahconah, I have never seen a class that more people have been excited to come to.  I think there is something deep inside the Latin language that almost mesmerizes people.  I don't mean to get "cheezy", but how can anyone who has taken Latin class deny there is something special about Latin.  Latin is, and has been, everywhere for the last 2000+ years; it is in our books, our language, our movies, our architecture, our medicine.  If I could identify one thing that ties us together (in the Western world) it would have to be Latin.  Maybe that's why it mesmerizes me, the fact that whomever I may meet, wherever I may go, I can find my roots. The Class of 2007 has become closer and closer during the years we have been together.  Our Latin IV Honors class has 25+ kids enroled in it! I look forward to getting closer with my friends and getting "reconnected with our roots."   

Eric Danforth, Latin IV Honors, 9/10/06

The following comments were posted during the 2005-2006 school year


Although the reasons to study Latin are many and varied, I will offer my unique perspective on the subject.  I graduated from Wahconah in 2002, and have since then been studying in Oberlin College's (Ohio) music program.  One facet of music that I've become fascinated with while here is choral vocal music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras.  Most vocal music from this time was commissioned by, or written for the Catholic church, and is predominantly written in Latin.  The four years I spent studying Latin in high school have served as a great resource for me while pursuing early music.  I have performed in two fully-staged Medieval music dramas (predecessors of opera) that were entirely in Latin, and have sung countless songs in the language.  Knowing exactly what I am singing in this music has been very helpful to me and allows me to perform better musically.  Although most people reading this probably won't run out and become early music fanatics, I'd like to use my example to make the point that you never know what quirky interests you may pick up later in life for which Latin study will prove valuable!                                                

Erin Grady, WRHS Class of 2002, Oberlin College Class of 2006 4/7/06

Why bother with Latin?  This question seems to me synonymous with the question "why bother to think about life on levels other than instinct?" Honestly, when I began the study of Latin, I chose to do so primarily because I knew I wouldn't be required to speak it. (Don't get me wrong, I have always been very interested in ancient cultures too, which was another reason for Latin being my choice, but sadly the first one prevailed.) Yes,  I'm afraid I made the initial choice because I thought it might be easier, for I had rationalized that I should learn correct English before I began to speak anything else. Now that I am in Latin, I love it so much I wish I could speak it fluently.. The study of this language has not only helped me immensely with the understanding of my own (language), but with my own culture as well. Not only has Latin opened my eyes to the world that lies outside of my "Berkshire Box", but it has provided a useful tool even for the studies that I wish to follow in my college career, horticulture. (I suppose the growers who came up with all of these names for their ferns all took Latin as well...) It is my belief that if anyone would like to begin to think about life in an all-encompassing way, he or she should begin to follow the study of Latin and her cultures.                                                  

Tawny Virgilio, Latin IV Honors, Class of 2006  12/9/05

Why bother with Latin? Well, when I first started with it I was wondering that myself. It didn't seem like it would be very useful and was honestly a rather random choice.  But I soon learned that what these people had to say in ancient times--Vergil, Cicero, Horace, Catullus, Lucretius, Caesar--will never stop being useful today. In the second term of what is actually my sixth year in Latin (having taken Introduction to Latin and Latin I at a private school), I have learned more about humanity, philosophy, warfare, in essence life itself, than I have ever learned in a history class or an English class or would have ever learned in another language.  Sure, it will never get you a high paying job translating for government officials or something, but it gives you more wisdom than any other class I've taken.  A lot of people go into Latin figuring because you don't have to speak it, it will be easy.  Well, it's not, especially at the higher levels, but it is definitely worth the experience.                                                                     

Dylan James Morrison, Latin IV Honors,  Class of 2006  12/11/05

To be quite honest, I took Latin because my brother and sister had taken Latin, and told me it was worth it.  I stuck with it, because it taught me more than just some "dead" language.  I've always disliked that term "dead" language.  How can Latin be dead when everyone uses it?  People love to quote things in Latin.  People even quote Latin when they don't know it.  Ever add a P.S. to the end of a letter? That's an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, and "per se" is also Latin.  So many of the words we use in English are Latin ones.  In essence every time we speak English, we are keeping Latin alive.  Every day I learn a new word in Latin that I have been using in English for years.  So if Latin really is a "dead" language, it didn't get the memo.                

Elizabeth Daniels, Latin IV Honors, Class of 2006 12/12/05

Why bother with Latin? Why not? I have found in my years of Latin I am not only able to read and understand a new language (somewhat), but also I've learned a lot of classical history, and political events from the past and how they reflect upon our nation today.  I've also learned Latin things that have aided me in other subjects, too.  Whether it's words that helped me to understand texts in English, or famous philosophers with mathematical concepts still used today. Also, in Latin II we received lists of commonly used Latin phrases which I have found very useful, and notice a lot of them in everyday places.  

 Blake Litchfield, Latin III, Class of 2007 12/16/05

As a proud Wahconah alumnus and four year Latin student, I have trouble condensing the many reasons why one SHOULD bother with Latin.  To me, Latin is more than a language; it is a medium through which we can cherish thousands of years worth of culture, history and art.  Besides the obvious gains that come from studying a work in its original form, Latin is a rich language that everyone can take something away from.  For me, a history buff, learning about Rome's history was an amazing supplement which made learning Latin more exciting.  For others, the mythology is an intrinsic part of the Latin curriculum.  In essence, Latin is not a "dead language", as it can be found everywhere in our daily lives, and we still have so much to learn from it.  Without learning from the past we can never hope as humans to transition successfully into the future.  And why not start with Latin, an amazing language that tells tales of democracy, epics, and human emotion so well!  Languages may have changed over the years, but the poems of Catullus and the reasoning of Cicero still ring true today, even some two thousand years later.                                                                

Rahul Bahl, WRHS Class of 2005, Williams College, Class of 2009 12/28/05

Why bother with Latin?  As I ponder this question, I think back to my pre-Latin days.  I had little prior knowledge of the language as I entered Latin I my freshman year.  One thing I did know was that it was not spoken, and therefore considered a "dead language."  However, as I learned the basic vocabulary, I noticed many similar roots and terms appearing in other subjects, particularly in my English and science classes.  As I took higher levels of Latin, I realized that the writers, poets, political figures, as well as the mythological creatures are not so different from what goes on in today's world.  Many of the thoughts, emotions, actions, and conclusions are presenting themselves in similar ways, despite the huge chronological stretch between the two times.  So today, I answer the question "Why bother with Latin?" by saying that it is the best way I know to learn about the present and the past simultaneously.      

Kathleen Young, Latin IV Honors, Class of 2006 1/2/06

Why bother with Latin?  Sure you can give us the old argument that it's a dead language, but what does dead really mean?  Think of how many modern languages are based on the Latin language: French, Spanish, and yes, of course, English.  The English language would be reduced to a shadow of what it is now without Latin.  All jokes aside, Latin has made me a better, more well-rounded student. English is easier to grasp, and there is no longer a need to look up certain words, because most of the words can be broken down into Latin roots. (Author's note: except for words like "fried clams, Mr. Bradshaw, and, of course, Borax!)  So the next time you think about taking a class or study hall because it will be easier, or less boring, remember this simple Latin phrase: "Scientia est Bona" which means "Knowledge is Good."                                              

Alex J. Simisky, Latin IV Honors, Class of 2006 1/3/06 

I suppose it's hard to twist one's mind around the concept of studying a language which is not used in conversation any more, and this is not unwarranted.  But imagine this: 2,000 years ago there was a culture more dominant, and yet more understanding than any that exist today.  Within this culture there existed complex governments, the most advanced technology at the time, and the most intelligent philosophers and writers.  In its era the culture developed the most eloquent language of its day and used it to further its achievements.  After its fall, the ideas generated from this civilization fuelled thinkers for hundreds of years and continue to do so today.  Not to mention that the Latin language they formed serves as the basis of the languages for the more than 75% of the first world countries.  Therefore, by studying Latin you not only study an incredibly useful language, you study the roots of the entire world.  It enhances who you are and how you think about the world, and the structure of the curriculum prompts you to question why things happen in the world.  Latin is language--Latin is history--Latin is knowledge and understanding. Latin is the language you learn, but life is the lesson you are taught.  

Andrew J. Klein, WRHS Class of 2004, Dartmouth College, Class of 2008  1/5/06

Latin! Who cares?  This guy does.  Latin was a very important part of my high school experience, and in turn will have an effect on the rest of my life. Liz Daniels mentions that she hates the term "dead" language and I must agree.  Latin is only a dead language to those who do not care enough, or lack the capacity to understand the benefits of its study.  You say I have this dead language.  Latin is a base for Indo-European languages, aiding in the study of other popular tongues such as Spanish and French.  I myself have used Latin to help my Spanish and English studies, and plan to use it further in the future when expanding my linguistic reaches.  Latin is also a benefit to those who study law, politics, medicine, and other sciences. The roots of many key terms and ideas in these subjects are traced directly to this "dead language."  Now that we've established that a knowledge of Latin helps as a basis for other studies, let's move on to the fact that it is certainly a worthy study in itself.  Latin is a study that encompasses language, history, culture, philosophy, religion, and many other realms.  As seen by Wahconah's Lucretius projects, any topic we choose can be drawn back to Latin studies. The Lucretius projects in my class included ones on modern computer technology, mathematical trajectory, love, war, fashion, natural disasters, and the list goes on.  We learned from the Latin and we learned from each other.  The study of Latin is a priceless experience that I would not trade back for anything. It allows for a greater understanding of other academics, your fellow human beings, and  the world as a whole.                                                                                                                                                                   

Mark Geibel, WRHS Class of 2005, State University of New York at Binghamton, Class of 2009 1/17/06

If at any time Wahconah Regional is to no longer have a classics program, the superintendent would be in for a lengthy conversation with me.  There are many reasons for which I believe Latin to be necessary for a proper education.  The lack of a set word order in a Latin sentence taught me a valuable lesson.  Though something seems to have little or no order, it does not mean it is insignificant.  If I took the time to sort out and understand the meaning behind its initial appearance, I was able to discover something fantastic.  This is an idea I have been able to apply to many other facets of my life.

Studying this ancient culture and its language are as essential to one's education as science.  One will not see the world as it truly is without it.  One is lost to the workings of the human race and risks repetition of the past due to ignorance.  To demonstrate my point, I will use a simile.  It is like getting onto the highway.  One must look backwards before he can safely go forward.  Failure to do so results in disaster and tragedy.

Throughout the course of time, the faces and names have changed but people remain the same.  By harnessing and understanding the past, one has a fantastic advantage over the future.  Throwing away the treasures that Latin holds because one believes it to be "dead" is nonsense.  Latin is not a "dead" language at all in my opinion.  When none look to Latin as a link to their past, it will truly die.  That day is one I hope to never see.  The voices of the past speak volumes, if one only takes the time to listen.                                                                                                                

Bradley Duncan, WRHS Class of 2005, Saint Anselm College, Class of 2009  2/27/06