Torch:U.S. LXV Winter 2014-2015 - Page 14

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Winter 2015-2016 · Torch: U.S. · YALE CERTAMEN

As we walked into the gothic lecture hall at Yale University, we could feel the excitement in the crisp New Haven air. Students from schools across the U.S. came to compete in the 5th Annual Yale Certamen. Inside the hall, Certamen enthusiasts gathered together, trying to memorize that final declension, meticulously reading each detail of a Greek mythology story, and quizzing one another on the reigns of Roman emperors. Despite one’s Certamen category, each person in that room thirsted to learn about some aspect of Ancient Greek and Roman civilization. Across the room, each player would glance at the other teams, casually checking out the competition. Even though Yale Certamen is a zealous tournament, the level of sportsmanship among all the teams is astounding. This is part of what makes the Junior Classical League such an incredible organization; students that compete head to head during Certamen rounds are genuine friends.

Over the lull of greetings and chatter, Vasilije Dobrosavljevic, a senior at Yale and a fellow Certamen lover, introduced the keynote speaker, Professor Pauline Levin, a professor in the Classics department at Yale. Professor Levin discussed her views of how people learn the Classics through hard work and humor. This familiar method of learning expresses much of how the Classics are taught at Oak Hall and other schools that have very involved Latin programs. Perhaps Professor Levin was able to sum up the key to success in the Junior Classical League by these principles in her approach to learning and teaching.

After Professor Levin’s insight, players began to disperse to their designated rooms in which they would play their preliminary rounds. First, the Novice division rounds occurred. Once the three Novice preliminaries came to a close, the Intermediate and Advanced preliminary rounds occurred simultaneously. Skilled teams from across the U.S. faced one another in these early rounds. The moderator would begin to read each question, and the level of focus and determination escalated. Who would get the first question? Is that other team faster? Countless thoughts run through your mind at the beginning of a round. However, as the round progresses, there is a rhythm to it. The players gain confidence and buzz aggressively. At the end of the exhilarating preliminaries, scores were posted. The nine teams from each level with the highest number of points advanced to the semifinals.

Shortly after the semifinals, the finals started, beginning with the Novice division. In this division Oak Hall (FL) faced Basis D.C. and Boston Latin School (MA). Oak Hall got off to a successful start, answering several questions correctly in a row. Going into the final question, the Oak Hall team was ahead of both other teams by a large margin. In the Novice division, Boston Latin school came in third place, and Basis D.C. (DC) came in second. Additionally, an MVP award was given to the Novice player who answered the most questions correctly of all players of that level. This award was given to Keegan Hogan of Oak Hall. Next, the Intermediate finals took place. The three competing teams were St. Stephens Episcopal (FL), Boston Latin School (MA), and Northside College Prep (IL). In the end, Northside placed third, Boston Latin School came in second, and St. Stephens Episcopal won the tournament. Matthew Thomas of St. Stephens Episcopal was named MVP of the Intermediate division. Finally, after a long day of Certamen, the Advanced final was the last round to be played. In an energy-filled round, Oak Hall (FL) played the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (TX) and Boston Latin School (MA). At the end of the twenty question round, Oak Hall received third place, the Liberal Arts and Science Academy received second place, and Boston Latin School first place. Cass Plowman of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy was given the MVP award out of all the Advanced players. All in all, this was an amazing experience. I highly recommend that your JCL chapter consider attending the 6th annual Yale Certamen next fall.

Yale Certamen

By Sarah Pincus

Left: A video of parts of some rounds at Yale Certamen. tournament.