Latin may be the historical language of ancient Rome—but last week it also belonged to the over a thousand teens in togas and tunics attending Connecticut State Latin Day in Cheshire. Students from nearly 50 middle and high schools around Connecticut experienced a day full of camaraderie, fun, and interdisciplinary learning that strengthened their Latin skills while boosting their interest in the language.
“The popularity of the event shows Connecticut is one of the best places to study Latin,” says organizer and Farmington Latin teacher Drew Warchut. “We have a strong learning community in our state, and Latin is alive and well.”
Latin Day, organized by Connecticut teachers and now in its 37th year, offers students the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops, academic contests, presentations, and athletic events. Held at Holiday Hill, a camp in Cheshire, students fanned out over the grounds to create mosaics, learn about Roman herbs, decorate tunics, play soccer and volleyball, get quizzed on geography and mythology, learn about astronomy and the role of women in ancient Rome, and much more.
The event is clearly popular among students, who laughed and joked with each other between activities. Newington social studies teacher Katie Smith says her students were eager to go even though they had to be on their bus by 6 a.m.
“It’s a great event, and it’s nice to see the students coming together from all over the state,” says Smith.
Simsbury Latin teacher Chris Chan says the event is inspiring to students because it shows them that what they learn in Latin class has applicability outside of the classroom.
“My students get to see that they aren’t the only ones who study Latin, and that it’s useful outside of just sitting in class,” says Chan.
The activity Chan lead, a puzzle room, utilized the Breakout EDU learning games platform and required students to use teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking as well as their knowledge of Latin mythology, vocabulary, and history to solve the puzzle and open a locked box.
Spanish teacher Adria Bernard, who teaches with Chan in Simsbury, says “It’s important for the students to get to see all of the elements that they learn about in class come together.” Bernard first attended Latin Day as a chaperone, but this year taught Greek dancing to students, along with her sister, CEA Legal Council Rebecca Mitchell.
Warchut, who attended Latin Day back when he was a high school student in Glastonbury, says that Latin is still popular today because it gives students important fundamentals. “Students learn a language that’s an important influence on English and many other languages. They learn about their own place in the world by looking at another language and culture.”
Students brought a variety of art work and crafts to be judged at Latin Day.