The Riverside School in Lyndonville sent Vermont's first ever delegation to the National Junior Classical League's annual convention this summer. The trip followed on the heels of the their Latin club's testimony at the State House last spring, proposing a Latin motto for the state of Vermont.
Riverside teachers Roy Starling and Des Hertz loaded 10 eager Latin students (all Riverside students or alumni) into their vehicles and embarked on a 3,000 mile journey to Atlanta, Ga. The genesis for the trip was last December when the Latin club competed in the Granite State Certamen in Dover, N.H. A certamen is a contest in which teams of four answer questions on topics that range from Latin grammar and vocabulary to Roman history and classical mythology. Riverside's novice team of seventh and eighth graders finished in second place against many high school students and came home excited to do more.
In March Riverside's students traveled to Boston to participate in the Harvard Certamen, where they rubbed elbows with top high school students from New England and beyond. They were thrilled by the experience and began in earnest to raise money and plan for a summer trek south.
On the way they visited museums, monuments, the Botanical Gardens, and the capitol in Washington, DC. They also navigated the Blue Ridge Parkway and white-water rafted through the Appalachian Mountains.
Arriving in Atlanta on July 28, the students then spent five days on the campus of Emory University with 2000 other exuberant Latin scholars. Simply joining in the community of dedicated competitors was a learning experience in itself. "Our students got to apply what they had learned inside an old house in the Northeast Kingdom to an entirely new context, and they were eager and proud to do so," said Starling, "There is almost nothing more valuable for a gifted young person that to see just how much other students with similar intellects are able to accomplish."
"My favorite memory was walking into the gym and seeing 2,000 other students. That showed how many people love Latin and were there for the same reason I was," said eighth-grader Kate O'Farrell.
Of mention were accomplishments by the following individuals: Angela Kubicke of Peacham won first place in Mottoes, Abbreviations and Quotations, and second place in Latin Literature. Kate O'Farrell of Burke won eighth place in Academic Heptathlon, seventh place in Roman History and third place in Reading. Cameron Dwinell of Kirby won 10th place in Mythology and sixth place in Roman History. Gabe Starling of Burke won eighth place in Mythology and fourth place in Roman History.
In May, Angela Kubicke had also visited the state house to testify before the Committee on Institutions and propose an adoption of a state motto. "Stella decima cuarta fulgeat" means "let the 14th star shine bright" and was on a coin in the late 1700s, at a time when the Republic of Vermont first sought statehood. Sen. Joe Benning of the Caledonia District is a member of the committee and commented that he thought "it was a great idea" and would "see what he could do."