There were about 30 names that filled the air in answer to the question quid est nomen tibi? during the Roman Explorers workshop for elementary school children at the Collinsville Public Library last week.
Dressed in togas and sporting tridents, students from Collinsville High School’s Latin Club spent about three hours talking to and interacting with the younger kids as they explored Latin greetings and Roman culture. The Roman Explorers workshop was created by Ascanius: The Youth Classics Institute, a nonprofit group whose mission is to promote Latin on an elementary school level.
Collinsville High School Latin teacher and Latin Club co-sponsor Kristen Bortner is the program director of the Boston-based group and has been involved for about 10 years she said. Ascanius provided the materials for the program and the Collinsville Public Library donated the space.
Bortner said conducting the workshop was a way for students from the Latin Club to share what they’ve learned and to show their appreciation.
A couple of years ago, the community really rallied around the Latin program when it was in danger of being cut, Bortner said. Part of the reason we wanted to start doing this series of events is to give back to the Collinsville community. And I hope (the students) take an interest in serving others.
Bortner said as a result of saving the program, Collinsville High School is one of two schools in the Metro East to have a Latin program. The other is Althoff Catholic High School.
The Collinsville High Latin program was headed by Mary Lee Muniz for more than 30 years before she retired two years ago. Bortner said she is trying to build on the foundation that Muniz established. She said more than 100 students take Latin at the high school and most of those are members of the school’s Latin Club.
I think (Latin and Roman culture) is cool because of how similar it is to modern times, said freshman Jace Plute, 15. You can relate many of the Latin words back to English.
High school freshman Persephone Seidler brought her two brothers Elijah, 10 and Camden, also 10 to the workshop to help them become just as excited as she is about Latin.
A lot of people think Latin is a dead language, but it’s not it’s useful, said ‘Persie,’ 14. It’s such a large part of what we do today.
During last week’s program, the youngsters used Fruit Loops to re-create the Roman art of mosaics and candy to build Roman roads. For many of them, the best part of the program was guessing who the Roman gods and goddesses were. After teaching about the traits of the different gods, the high school students displayed Roman-style helmets, shields and garb to portray gods like Zeus, Apollo, Venus and Mercury. At the end of the program, the students and their parents dined on a Roman banquet of grapes, cheese, olives and dates.
Latin club co-sponsor and history teacher Kayla Hartmann said the high school students tried to make the workshop a fun event for the younger kids.
If they know they’re learning something fun, they’ll be more excited about the language,Hartmann said.