Just 1 Question: Learning Latin at Countryside School

Just 1 Question: Learning Latin at Countryside School

Beware the Ides of March.

That was the theme Wednesday at Champaign's Countryside School, where the seventh- and eighth-graders in Whitney McComas' Latin class spent the anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination trying to solve a murder mystery.

McComas played the Ghost of Caesar. Head of School Stephanie Harman went as Cleopatra (who ended up being one of the four murderers). And teachers building-wide participated in the dinner theater-esque mystery, dressing up in costumes and handing out clues, which were all written in Latin or Caesar cipher encryption code.

The goal: to help students firm up their Latin, while having a little fun in the classic toga and leaf-crown attire. Nicole Lafond tagged along Wednesday and asked participants: What's something new you learned about the Latin language?


"Since Latin is kind of a dead language, it's fun to do things that maybe would have happened back then instead of doing grammar and that kind of thing in class."


"I learned some new vocabulary and some new history. I loved going around the school on a scavenger hunt; we never usually get to do something like that."

Latin teacher

"My intention was to get the students using Latin in a different way than we usually do and getting them to use concepts we've talked about, like question words and some different pronouns the eighth-graders have been studying. I just wanted to make it a little more interactive and fun than the usual day-to-day. This is the first of this kind I've done before."


"We learned multiple new words. It was really fun because you learn a lot about people, so you're not just learning language, you're learning about how the Romans lived. We learned different cases — instead of saying 'You kill,' we learned 'I kill,' so it was really interesting."


"I learned more about the people involved with Caesar and the history. I'm personally a more hands-on learning person, so getting to see and do things helps my brain remember what's going on."

social-studies teacher

"What's really exciting about watching kids interact in this activity is they're excited about learning Latin. That's the biggest thing. That seems to me a pretty difficult thing to do with this subject, and Whitney does a fantastic job with it.

"She's always having the kids get up and go around and communicate and learn in a lot of different ways. They were able to have fun while learning."


"This definitely helped my vocabulary and my understanding of Latin. It was really interactive, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I really liked how we had to walk around the school and find and answer different clues."


"Especially because we had to look some things up, I learned more words in context better than just working with made-up sentences like we do in class for practice. Doing it like this lets us apply the Latin we know into real life, and we enjoyed it a lot more."

Have a question you'd like education reporter NICOLE LAFOND to ask of students, teachers or administrators? Our inbox is open for submissions — send an email to nlafond@news-gazette.com.


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