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?

JAKE COX
seventh-grader

"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."

HOLDEN SIENA
eighth-grader

"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."

WHITNEY McCOMAS
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."

MADDOX DEMPSEY
seventh-grader

"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."

ZOE EICHORN
eighth-grader

"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."

RICH MORTEN
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."

WILLIAM DING
seventh-grader

"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."

COLETTE TICHENOR
eighth-grader

"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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