Latinitais Festum (A Festival of Latin)


Rice Memorial High School students in the UVM Davis Center at Latin Day. February 6th, 2023. (Photo/John Cirignano)

Hannah Cunningham, Editor-In-Chief

At UVM’s 45th Latin Day, Latin was far from a dead language. After a two-year Covid hiatus, the Davis Center welcomed back students from eight different schools, including Rice Memorial High School, to compete in a plethora of activities. 25 students along with Latin teacher John Cirignano and Spanish teacher Juan Garcia Urbiana.

“It’s a bunch of different schools in the area coming together to display the Latin they’ve learned and show appreciation for the classics,” junior Nic Newman explained. “There are skits, trivia, tests, and that kind of stuff.”

He also described the benefit of the skits: “It gave us a deeper understanding of Roman history, which is deeply interconnected with Latin because it was their language.”

Students Luke Broussard, Drew Bessette, Jaeger Bowen, Morgan Kenny, Henry Adrian, and Nic Newman practice their skit before competing at Latin day. February 2023. (Photo/John Cirignano)

For all but two Rice students, this was a first-time experience.

“I’ve never really done anything like that before,” freshman Mary Moyer said. “Everyone was so interested in Latin…it was so special.”

It created an encouraging atmosphere and motivated students to continue with their studies.

“At Rice, it feels like such a small thing, not many people actually do it,” sophomore Mehren Blair said. “But then seeing so many people participate; it definitely encouraged me to keep doing it.”

Moyer agreed saying, “I could recognize little words and endings. It just made me want to work harder in Latin, so I could uncover the whole message.”

“Points are awarded for tests, skits, probatio (a Latin test), art projects, and recitations,” John Cirignano said. “Rice students experienced individual and group success in many categories, most notably winning the skit and achieving the overall highest score.”

Rice placed first but gained more than a silver bowl; they gained a greater community in the school and in Vermont.

Freshman and winner of the history and grammar test, Cade Mulcahey said his favorite part was intermingling between grades and talking with the upperclassmen. Students from all four levels of Rice Latin interacted and competed together.

“It’s a lot of passionate people about Latin. It’s cool because…[it] is a niche language. Not many people choose to take Latin over Spanish and French,” senior Catherine Viner said. “I think it’s important because it emphasizes the value that Latin can bring.”

Chaperone and teacher Juan Garcia Urbina noted the connections students made and how “every kid was there because they loved the language.”

Learning in interactive ways is critical to maintaining the language. Cirignano said, “I think it’s vitally important for promoting and for passing on a very healthy and vibrant culture that lives on in the language.”

With the silver bowl soon to decorate their room and classes of kids motivated to compete next year, Latin lives on.